Waterbury parents, school officials at Regan Elementary adjust to distance-learning amid COVID-19 pandemic


WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — School has been back in session for nearly two months now. While some students are back in the classroom, other districts are adjusting their day around coronavirus cases.

From the masks to spaced out desks and some students learning remotely from home, education during a pandemic looks a lot different and parents have more to worry about.

“For me, my practical brain is telling me, I know its going to happen, it’s just a matter of hows it going to look and when is it going to get here,” Kendra Thompkins, parent.

Kendra Thompkins has a third grader at Regan Elementary in Waterbury, a school that, so far, remains COVID-19 free.

Her daughter is part of the 40 percent of students in the district who chose to learn in-person after experiencing remote learning early on in the pandemic ..

“It’s definitely difficult trying to manage getting the student on, and getting them to do their work at the same time I do my work,” Thompkins says. “You definitely gain an appreciation for what they do every single day when you have to become that teacher.”

The in-classroom learners go to school in the morning and finish the afternoons at home.

Regan Elementary Principal Angel Razza says things are for the most part running smoothly now two months into the school year, although they recognize the work is still just beginning.

“There was definitely that loss of learning because a teacher wasn’t directly in front of them. So that definitely is going to take time to catch up, but I am confident, I have an awesome staff. We are going to get these kids back on board and get to our goals,” Razza explains.

Of the more than 18,000 students in the district, about 250 have had troubles connecting this school year. District Spokeswoman Sujata Wycoff says that doesn’t mean they weren’t learning – they had to figure out a workaround until new equipment came in within the last week.

“A good amount of them had a device at home. A family computer, so they were able to follow along with assignments, maybe not in real time,” Wycoff says.

Thompkins says the biggest challenge for her daughter is staying focused when her learning continues at home around noontime. “Trying to get her to re-engage after having that break is the hardest part, but we do what we can.”

But Thompkins and district officials say the masks, social distancing and other major changes to their in-school procedure have gone better than expected. For that, families should feel proud of their kids.

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