New Britain school officials reversed course Wednesday and announced New Britain High School students would be returning to in-person learning Thursday and Friday for half days.
The announcement came less than a day after New Britain High School principal Damon Pearce sent an email to parents telling them school would be remote for the rest of the week due to a series of issues at the high school.
The issues included vandalism and fights, according to Mayor Erin Stewart.
On Wednesday, Pearce said some of the vandalism was related to the "Devious Licks" TikTok trend.
Officials said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the general behavior issues are not necessarily criminal, that a police presence and the schools are not unsafe. They noted in many cases it is more a matter of broken school rules and "acting out."
The decision to return to in-person learning was made after the district heard from parents who complained having their kids remote was a hardship for many of them, according to New Britain's school superintendent, Nancy Sarra.
"We heard our parents last night. We understood the hardship it was going to cause - even for our high school students who have been waiting to get back to the school," she said in a news conference Wednesday.
Stewart said there is now a plan in place to address the problems. Administrators explained there will be consequences for bad behavior but they will be nuanced based on the needs of the students.
Officials said the issues being experienced are not unique to New Britain and that the pandemic has created a situation that has made it difficult for some students to adjust and transition back into the full in-person experience.
Sarra said the Connecticut Department of Education told them the remote days would not count towards the required 180-day school year and would have to be made up.
The remote day held Wednesday would be made up on Election Day, Sarra said.
In a letter sent to parents Wednesday, Pearce said after the one day of remote learning, students would return to school for half days Thursday and Friday and a normal school day beginning Monday.