NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — Students returned to New Britain High School Thursday, just a day after confusion and controversy over remote learning. The big difference now is that there is no more confusion as to why kids were sent home.
“Today [Thursday] was super positive for our NBHS students and staff,” New Britain High School Principal Damon Pearce wrote in a letter to families Thursday afternoon. “The plan we implemented had an immediate and positive impact on the climate of our school.”
News 8 spoke to students earlier in the day who hope things have changed.
“I can’t really focus because there’s always people fighting, kids breaking the bathrooms, so it’s hard to work and learn,” Irving Lopez, a junior at New Britain High told News 8.
The bathroom vandalism is part of a social media trend on TikTok. School officials say all the fighting is because most students have not been in school for the last year and a half, and they’re having trouble adjusting.
School officials decided to do three days of remote, at-home learning, then re-start school next week. After some major backlash Wednesday, a change came later in the day.
“We are not kicking kids out of school,” Mayor Erin Stewart (D-New Britain) said at a press conference with the school’s superintendent. “We are talking about a tiered approach, a systemic approach in solving some of the behavioral problems that have impacted students who have not been in school for a year.”
Senior Jacob Cantu felt the impact literally. He says on Tuesday, someone tossed a full garbage can on top of him while he was in a bathroom stall.
“I was just using the bathroom, didn’t know who did it, and they threw it over, and I’m still physically hurt because of it,” Cantu said. “My lower back is screaming in pain.”
School officials say about 50 of the 2,000 students are causing trouble, and security officers are working on the problems. For students, it comes down to one question: Do you feel safe in your school?”
“Not so much anymore,” Cantu said. “Before, I could walk the halls and not really have to watch my back. Now, after all of this, I feel like I have to be a lot more aware of what’s going on around me.”
Things are not entirely back to normal. The high school is holding half days Thursday and Friday so staff can work on improving the climate of the school, according to school officials.
Early this morning, I met with our Campus Safety Team and outlined their role,” Pearce wrote in his letter. “Specifically, the campus safety officers worked with me in identifying students who were in the hallways after the classroom bell without a pass. Students who were out of compliance were escorted to meet with an associate principal or a dean of students.”