New initiative hopes to combat chronic absenteeism of Hartford students struggling to get to class in remote, hybrid models


 HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Over the last year of largely remote learning, a lot of Hartford kids have just stopped going to class. But a new initiative hopes to use special initiatives to get students back in the classroom.

The initiative is backed by a $75,000 grant from Travelers, which has partnered with the Village for Families and Children and Hartford Public Schools.

Students who miss 10% or more school days in a year are considered “chronically absent.” Nearly a quarter of Hartford Public School students fall into the category.

The new initiative reaches eighth-grade students and uses a multi-tiered approach. There’s a parental component, incentives for individual students, as well as schoolwide incentives.

They did something smart: they asked the children what they needed. Their reply: a way to connect.

Aldwin Allen, the senior director at The Village for Families & Children said, “It’s a staff endeavor. So staff join, there are icebreakers that are done, small group discussions. There are opportunities for peer challenges. They can do teamwork activities together, and win prizes.”

Evette Avila, the chief of schools for Hartford Public Schools added, “The whole group concept is really supporting students to feel like a team and a class, even though they don’t physically [gather] in a class or a team right now.”

Avila said that similar to raising student’s voices, raising parent voices and family voices around what’s happening is imporatnt.

She added that some of the parents need support with respect to the technology of remote learning.

Just this week, Hartford’s pre-k through ninth-grade moved back to fully in-person learning five days a week.

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