Waterbury Public Schools move back to full-day learning

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WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Now that Connecticut teachers and school staffers are getting vaccinated more school districts are bringing kids back into the classroom. One of those communities is Waterbury. Monday, March 15 is the first day of in-person learning for the district.

There are some 18,000 students in the Waterbury school district and many are returning to school on a full time basis Monday. But once inside the classroom they found things a little bit different thanks to COVID-19.

Buses started dropping off students bright and early in the Waterbury schools district. For some it’s their first time back on a full time basis in a year. In September students were attending school either part time or remotely. Here’s how things have changed.

“Unlike previously, they’re going to lunch periods, passing periods, they’re going to see some breaks that will be allowed to take mask breaks,” said Superintendent Dr. Verna Ruffin.

Right now just over 30 percent of students are expected to head back to class full time. News 8 talked with one parent who’s confident in this transition.

“I think they’re handling it pretty well. Since she’s been back nothing has been happening and they keep us informed for everything going on in school,” said Meesh Green, parent.

That level of comfort is the result of mass vaccinations being provided to the public.

“Getting the vaccine for our educators has always been a top priority for us and since Waterbury is working with the city, the hospitals and all of the different clinics we have available, I think it just came at the right time,” said Ruffin.

And not only are teachers and the parents coping with changes…so are the students.

When asked how this has been, student Charlyee Olphonce answered, “a little different.”

A little different to say the least.

“It is very important to us to open the school for the full day so that students can begin getting the instructional design that may be more conducive to some of their learning, and particularly, effecting some of our elementary school students,” said Ruffin.

All students will continue to follow COVID safety protocols, including hand washing, physical distancing and wearing masks.

Ruffin said knowing teachers can get vaccinated for COVID has made the decision easier.

“We’re opening schools on March 15 knowing that’s the best thing for teaching and learning at this time, knowing that eventually, people who want vaccines will be able to get it.”

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