With New Britain deemed moderate risk level for coronavirus, school district decides to continue hybrid model

Published on Monday, 14 September 2020 16:56
Written by Catherine Shen


NEW BRITAIN – A week after schools officially reopened, the Consolidated School District of New Britain will continue to operate under the hybrid model.

The decision was made based on data provided for New Britain and Hartford County by the state Department of Public Health. The data currently shows the city at the moderate risk level, which favors hybrid learning as recommended by the state Department of Education.

Superintendent Nancy Sarra said the district will be making determinations on a day-to-day basis and mitigation strategies are in place to handle any changing scenarios.

“We are pretty good problem solvers here in New Britain and we try to anticipate any of the difficulties,” she said. “I do have confidence in all of the orchestrating that we did, such as transportation operations and directing traffic in the hallways. We’re like a mini-city here and all of these things had to be thought about.”

Schools that returned under a hybrid model allows both in person education and distance learning. Families can also choose to opt for complete distance learning. Currently, about 50% of students are doing the hybrid model and 50% are learning remotely. Roughly 30 students have opted to be homeschooled

“I want our parents to feel confident that we’ve done our due diligence here in New Britain to make sure the kids are safe. We want our kids in class for as long as we can and for them to be safe in the building,” said Sarra, referencing to the number of schools across the state that have closed since school started last week.

East Hartford, Westbrook and West Haven high schools have switched to remote learning until Thursday after students tested positive for the coronavirus in those buildings, as reported by the Associated Press Monday.

Killingly High School and Bridgeport’s Tisdale School were closed for at least Monday after positive tests there. The Dag Hammarskjold Middle School in Wallingford said it will be closed until Wednesday at the earliest while the local health department conducts contact tracing on a member of the school community who received a positive coronavirus test. And the Chase Elementary School in Waterbury remains open, but students in a specific classroom have been ordered into quarantine after a classmate tested positive, according to the Associated Press. That class will switch to remote learning through Thursday.

Sarra said with students and teachers being back at school, it gives them the chance to catch up and see where the needs are.

“There’s a lot of new technology that we need to build capacity in our students as well as our staff,” she said. “We did reduce our student day from seven hours to six, which will give our staff additional time to get more comfortable and familiar with the situation. I think we all anticipate that there will probably be another closure at some point before vaccination. We are hopeful that it won’t happen, but we have to be realistic as well.”

Decisions regarding the status of the district’s learning models will be made each week based on current covid-19 data, according to the district. The district is in direct consultation with the city’s Public Health Department and the state Department of Health and Education.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Monday, 14 September 2020 16:56. Updated: Monday, 14 September 2020 16:59.