After nearly a year of remote and hybrid learning, students in Waterbury headed back to almost full in-person learning on Monday. It's part of an effort to get students back to normal and give them face-to-face interaction.
The Waterbury Public School district is switching from half days to full days on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will remain a half day with remote learning in the afternoon.
The schedule change affects students who are learning in-person and those who are learning remotely.
Odalize Rivera said her 8-year-old daughter is thrilled to be going back to school
“At first I was a little worried, but I realized it’s better for her educationwise going in. There’s a lot more distractions at home than there is in school,” Odalize Rivera said.
Pathrice Adair said her son has been learning remotely since October and was excited to return to the classroom.
“It’s challenging because I work at night so when I leave work I have to come home in the morning to homeschool with him,” Adair said.
Bringing her son back into the building wasn’t an easy decision, but she said she feels better about it now.
“I feel pretty confident that he’s going to do well. He always wears his mask and stuff and he’s been having a hard time. He wanted to go back. And it’s easier for me because I couldn’t afford to do the all day at home,” she said.
Waterbury Superintendent Dr. Verna Ruffin said she worked with the mayor and Public Health Department to reach this decision.
She said this will give students more face-to-face interaction that they are missing right now.
“It's very important to us to open school for the full day so students can begin getting the instructional design that may be more conducive to some of their learning," Ruffin said.
Those coming in-person will still follow safety procedures like wearing a mask and physical distancing.
Remote learning will also still be offered.
Ruffin said out of the 18,400 students in the district, about 30 percent are learning in person and 70 are remote, but she expects more in-person learners as time goes on.
Ruffin said the staff is also becoming more comfortable as more of them are getting vaccinated, but the vaccine side effects are still leading to staff shortages.