HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state and in the capital city, Hartford Public Schools will move from in-person learning to a hybrid learning model for grades K-9.
Mayor Luke Bronin and Health Director Liany Arroyo joined Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez in a press conference on Monday afternoon to discuss the changes being made to Hartford Public Schools’ learning model.
Bronin made the announcement that Hartford schools will be moving from in-person learning to a hybrid learning model as of Nov. 16 for grades K-9. Students will be in school two days a week and learning remotely for three days a week. Grades 10-12 will learn remotely.
You could really see the disappointment in their eyes: the mayor, the health director, and the school superintendent. Very upset they have to go backwards to a hybrid model because they have been doing so well with in person learning and their COVID numbers have been down.
Mayor Broning said, “This is what makes the decision so difficult, for all of us, there have still not been all that many confirmed cases of in-school transmission.”
In the past eight weeks, Hartford public schools have had 53 students test positive out of 7,000, very low numbers. But what they don’t know are the numbers of asymptomatic students and how that contributes to community spread.
“We also know there is a lot of asymptomatic carriers of the virus among younger individuals,” Mayor Bronin added. “And so there may well be undetected spread that we are not finding.”
So the first cohort will go in-person Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday will be online learning for everyone. Thursday and Friday will be in-person learning for the second cohort. The school superintendent upset they have to go backwards after making so much progress.
Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said, “We knew of the opportunity challenges, we knew of the lack of access, we knew of the inequities and it’s really hard for me to stand here and say that it is the best thing.”
The health director stepping forward and saying right now they are going to the hybrid model because of the community spread, but as they look at the numbers and the track and trace she says it may be safer for them to go back to school and be in school to keep the spread down.
Hartford Health Dir. Liany E. Arroyo explained, “We think it is important to follow the science. We will see and learn lessons from what Europe is doing right now. They are going back into lockdown and still leaving their schools open to some capacity. “
The superintendent says they have made great strides, from April and May when all of a sudden things just shut down and everyone was caught unprepared.
They have been preparing over the summer and they have been preparing over the last eight weeks for the hybrid model. They are hoping it will go smoothly and hope to roll out some type of in-person teacher interactions as they move forward.
READ: Full statement on move to hybrid learning from Mayor Luke Bronin
Our collective goal from the beginning was to offer full, in-person learning for as long as possible. Full, in-person learning is crucial to long-term academic as well as social and emotional development, and Hartford Public Schools has done everything they can to offer that for more than two months.
I fully support their decision move to hybrid learning in two weeks given where we are with coronavirus transmission, and I ask every Hartford resident to help us get back to a place where we can offer full, in-person learning.
We have been in daily contact with the Superintendent and her team, and I know that this was not an easy decision, given the profound impact on families and the lack of clear data showing that schools are vectors of transmission – as well as the fact that the number of suspected cases of in-school transmission remains very low. But given the continued and significant rise in cases in Hartford and the region, this is the most responsible decision right now.
I want to thank the entire team at Hartford Public Schools for doing a tremendous job of creating a safe learning environment for students, teachers, and staff, and I want to thank the entire Hartford Public Schools community for their patience and flexibility.– Mayor Luke Bronin