New London Public Schools launched a new program this week offering year-round schooling for students in kindergarten and first grade.
"This is a brand new initiative. We are being bold and innovative," said Cynthia Ritchie, superintendent of New London Public Schools (NLPS).
The year-round program is a pilot program for kindergarten and first grade students. Both grades learn together with two teachers in each classroom. Students attend school for six weeks and then have two weeks of vacation.
Ritchie said the process to start the program began after conversations with parents and teachers.
"What are some new and innovative ways we can meet the needs of students and families in a different type of model," explained Ritchie. "One of the initiatives I really wanted to keep, as well, was choice. So making sure families had choice whether they wanted a traditional schooling model or this type of model which really follows a different type of calendar year."
The year-round pilot program launched this week and will last for two years, however Ritchie's vision is to extend and expand the program. She would like to see the year-round option offered to students all the way up to graduation. Thirty students are enrolled right now across three schools.
Jalonii, a first grade student in the program, said he is excited to be in school again after a year of virtual learning.
“It’s good to be back in class," said Jalonii.
Jalonii's grandmother said she thinks this program will help him, especially after last year.
"He just needs to be engaged all the time so I thought it would be good for us," said Lynette Singleton, Jalonii's grandmother.
Family engagement will play a big role in the year-round program. Connecting with the community will also be important.
"Help what you are learning in the classroom, come to life at home," said Ritchie.
Jennifer Hills-Papetti, assistant superintendent for NLPS, said she cannot imagine a better time for NLPS to introduce the new approach and try something different.
"Education changed last year more than we have ever seen it change before. This is an opportunity for acceleration and to bring new ideas to the table," Hills-Papetti said.