“I miss my friends and my teacher,” said Harldaley Baltimore, a third-grader at Wish Elementary School in Hartford.
Baltimore was one of an estimated 2,000 students who received free school supplies from the Hartford Foundation on Tuesday. She said she’s excited to return to school next month.
“My teacher, she actually understands me how I learn other stuff, and these are people who understand me,” said Harldaley.
Her mother, Pinky, said she’s ready too, but feels the district’s plan has been unclear.
When asked if she was comfortable with the plan she replied, “no, but not sending the kids to school, that’s not a plan. I just don’t know how it’s going to happen.”
Nikki Ager said she is also uneasy about the plans laid out so far.
“I would like to hear that there is a full plan in place so when we do put our kids in that environment, we don’t have to go with the consequences of them getting sick,” said Ager.
“As a parent myself of a middle schooler and a freshman that’s going away to college, I have my own feelings about all of this. So, I want to validate that. You know it’s still abstract. I believe to some of us. We’re not fully in yet. So, as we continue to try to plan as best we can, it’s still not right in front of us to see and feel it,” said Hartford Schools Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez.
Torres-Rodriguez said the district decided to move back the start of school to September 8 to give their families and staff more time to prepare for a safe return. The start will be staggered, with some elementary and middle school students starting on the 8 and the rest beginning the school year on the 9. She also said 10th through 12th graders will only spend two days in the classroom and the rest learning from home.
Monday, the state’s largest teachers union called the Connecticut Education Association, recommended that every district teach students and staff for the coronavirus weekly. While the Hartford Public Schools are not putting plans to do that in place, Hartford Mayor Luke recommended that anyone concerned about the virus get tested on their own for free at one of dozens of sights throughout the city.
“Anybody who is a part of the school community whether as an educator or as a student who feels that they need to be tested please do so. We’ve worked hard to make sure that testing is available throughout our community for a reason,” he said.
Torres-Rodriguez said 54 percent of students will be learning online while 32 percent will return to the classroom. She said the district is waiting on the rest of the families to decide which learning path their child will take.