HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and school officials announced that Hartford Public Schools will continue with in-person learning five days a week instead of switching to a hybrid model.
The truth is in the data and in the case of COVID-19, the colors. Hartford school district is working in the ‘yellow status’, allowing for in-person learning
“This is a close call and not an easy one,” Mayor Bronin said Monday.
The discussion came after an increase in COVID-19 cases among staff and students in Hartford Public Schools.
Even with the recent increase, according to the State School Learning Model, the Leading Indicator risk category in Hartford schools is low. Only eight people a day are testing positive per 100,000 people. The seven-day average shows a positivity rate of 1.8%.
Hartford school district officials say that the current learning model will continue for the week of Oct. 19, but that they will reevaluate again early next week to decide if a change needs to be made for the week of Oct. 26.
“We still have not yet identified significant transmission inside schools and we’ve always said that would be an important factor,” Mayor Bronin explained in a press conference Monday
He went on to say, their decision to continue in-person learning also factored in the over 7,000 students currently attending classes in-person, and that changing that would be a “massive disruption to the educational opportunities for our kids.”
Last week, the superintendent and the mayor decided to get together to figure out whether they should go back more toward an online hybrid model or stick with all in-person classes. With the hybrid model, students would have been in class for two days and learn remotely for the rest of the week. But parents News 8 spoke to echoed the mayor’s sentiment, emphasizing that it’s difficult not having the resources, not having the devices or the laptops for the computers to move online – even partially.
“You have to look at the parents that are working without daycare, or do they have enough resources with computers and laptops,” asked Meddy Kiwanuka.
15,000 devices and 1,000 hot spots have been provided for remote learning.
Our priority continues to be providing daily in-person instruction and supports to our beautiful and capable students, and after carefully examining the health metrics and evaluating what we’ve seen in our schools so far, we will continue operating in the current model through next week.
We will continue to work closely with our health experts and monitor the data every day and we are prepared to make the transition in our instructional delivery models when needed based on the totality of the evidence.
We are very grateful to our students, families, teachers, and the entire team at Hartford Public Schools for working with us to build and maintain a safe and healthy environment for learning.”Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez
Of the 18,086 students and 3, 569 employees in the city’s school district, currently 33 students, 11 staff members, and four of the district’s community partners (including bus drivers) have tested positive for the virus.
Of the nearly 40 schools in the city. Two have recorded more than half-a-dozen cases each. Environmental Sciences Magnet at Mary Hooker with seven cases, then Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School with six.
While we are seeing more cases than we were a few weeks ago, last week our indicators were steady overall, and I fully support the decision to continue in-person learning and evaluate again next week.
There’s a strong likelihood that the district will have to shift models at some point, but we know that for thousands of children and families, that shift will present enormous challenges, and we want to continue to offer a fully in-person educational option for as long as we responsibly can.
I want to thank students and families, as well as all of our educators and school staff, for their patience and flexibility as we work through these complex decisions in partnership with the Superintendent and her team.”Mayor Luke Bronin
Leaders say it has also been a struggle to get families to respond to track and trace teams, which contributes to the difficulty in stopping the spread.
Officials are tracking the cases online.
“We are going to give it another week…We are going to be going week-by-week. If we see indications that the trends are accelerating or additional transmissions in schools, we will be ready to make that switch to a hybrid model,” the mayor said.
If a family in Hartford doesn’t have internet access – it’s free from Comcast. Just go to www.internetessentials.com, or call: (855) 846-8376
Also, free COVID-19 testing is being offered this Thursday at Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker in Hartford.