Back to school looks a lot different for students during a pandemic.
Waterbury students start school in a hybrid model Tuesday.
Thursday, the district took NBC Connecticut through three schools to see the safety precautions that have been put into place.
“Definitely a different look, different feeling and different appearance In school buildings as we welcome our students back on September 8,” said Superintendent of Waterbury Public Schools Verna Ruffin.
Whether students are learning in person or online, the district wants the community to feel confident and comfortable with their priority to keep kids safe.
“We also want to ensure everyone that learning is going to take place,” said Ruffin.
With just a couple days until the start of school year in the Brass City, district leaders checked in on the changes from social distancing signage and spacing, to travel patterns marked for students, and teachers gifted cleaning kits to get the year started.
“Since we closed on March 12 all of those divisions -food, technology, maintenance - have been working every day to get us to this point,” said district Chief Operating Officer Will Clark.
Because each building is different, each school had to be uniquely configured for coronavirus safety standards.
“The regulations and the expectations are one thing but actually implementing them in your physical building is entirely different," said Clark.
Ruffin said she of course has some concerns as the district navigates a global pandemic, like keeping up with ever-changing state guidance.
And, “We have buildings that do not have AC. I think that when we have a very hot day that’s going to be challenging for the staff member as well as the students to comfortably have a mask on all day long.”
She said the district will debrief every day, listen to concerns, and quickly make necessary changes.
But with all of these changes, Clark reinforced that school budgets weren’t designed for this. So they, like so many districts around the state, will continue to need additional financial support.
“Our goal is to make these healthy and safe places. Oases of support for these children,” said Clark.