Superintendent and Mayor Provide Update about Returning to School

Superintendent and Mayor Provide Update about Returning to School

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez joined Mayor Luke Bronin for a press conference at Wish Museum School to provide the community with an update about the reopening of schools for the fall.

At the presser, the Mayor and Superintendent announced the distribution of thousands of smart thermometers for families to use to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. With the thermometers, which connect to an app on smartphones, parents and guardians can take their child’s temperature each day and upload the data so that the City of Hartford’s Health Department can track the spread of illness.

The free thermometers will be distributed to families on Aug. 19 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, at Parkville Community School and Wish. A second distribution will take place Aug. 24, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, at Weaver High school and Global Communications.

In his remarks, Mayor Bronin emphasized the need for flexibility going forward with school reopening plans, as well as the importance of providing students with the option for safe in-school instruction.

The Superintendent discussed the district’s “community-wide” approach to reopening. The thermometers are an example, she noted, because families can use them to help keep sick students home and also provide critical information to the city’s health department. This science and health metric-driven approach informs the district’s reopening models.

“We have a model that allows Prek through 9th grade to be in person every day, with an option for families to learn remotely as well,” she said, adding that older students will attend in a hybrid model.

“We are working urgently to make sure we return to school safely.”

After opening remarks, the Superintendent responded to reporter questions ranging from the start of the year to the instruction models to family engagement. Describing the staggered start to the year the first week, she explained that would “allow time for families to understand what school will look like, sound like and feel like.”

The Superintendent also pointed out that more than 80 percent of families responded to a survey about learning preferences, with 42% opting for in-person instruction and 58% choosing online learning. While families can change their minds about their child’s learning model, the district encourages them to commit to one option – in-person or online – for at least one quarter to allow for continuity of learning and relationship building.

Regarding safety measures, Dr. Torres-Rodriguez outlines the many steps the district has taken, from planning for as much physical distance as possible, mandatory masks with hourly breaks, continuous disinfecting of schools and buses, bus monitors, and the cohorting of students into groups that stay together during the day. Detailed protocols for health and safety, and mask wearing, will be shared with families soon.

Acknowledging the anxiety that families and teachers feel, the Superintendent said, “My message is we are working hard to ensure that we are ready to open safely for our students, staff, and families.“

At the end of the press conference, Majority Leader Thomas Clarke stepped up to the mic to reinforce the safety message with thermometers and other measures. Wish Principal Kesha Ryan was also on hand to answer questions and discuss planning at her school.

For more details about the district plan, review our Return to Learn manual and FAQs.

The first day of instruction for all students is Sept. 8.


Link to NBC story:

Link to FOX61 story:

You can watch the entire press conference here.