Remote learners in Hartford Public Schools will be returning to full-time in-person learning on March 29, the district announced Thursday. This will be five days a week learning.
The school district cited the COVID-19 case and positivity rates and vaccinations in making the decision.
"COVID-19 cases and positivity rates in the City of Hartford and Hartford County are now similar to what they were in the fall, and all HPS teachers and staff who wanted the COVID-19 vaccine have received their first dose through a partnership with Saint Francis Hospital. That includes a total of 2,171 educators, staff, and school-based partners," the district said in a release.
The district said it will continue to follow health and safety protocols, including mask wearing, hand washing and sanitizing, social distancing, and optimization of ventilation systems.
“The mass vaccinations of staff, along with our robust health and safety protocols, are key steps in returning staff and students back to the environment where we know our students learn best, the classroom,” said Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez in a written statement. “We also firmly believe there are several benefits to our students returning to the classroom full-time. Those benefits include equitable access to academic and social-emotional support, and deeper connections with their peers and caring adults to improve their well-being.”
The Hartford Federation of Teachers responded with a statement disagreeing with the plan:
"The Hartford Federation of Teachers believes the return of virtual students to full in-person learning should wait until after our staff is fully vaccinated. That date is April 19. Rushing to bring students back any earlier places increased numbers of students inside classrooms that already cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance, as well as forces families who chose the virtual option to return their children to classrooms sooner than they may feel comfortable. Although we agree that students benefit the most from in-person learning, that transition must be done with adequate notice to ensure the health and safety of the entire HPS community."
The superintendent will hold a virtual town hall on Wednesday, March 15 to answer the community's questions. It will take place from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. in English and 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. in Spanish.