NEW BRITAIN – The first day of school was a rainy but happy one for students and staff, reuniting after summer break and for some, more than a year of remote learning at home.
The Consolidated School District of New Britain began the 2021-22 school year fully in-person, armed with face masks, cleaning products and optimism, even amidst the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s incredible,” Gaffney Elementary School Principal Anita Fazio said as classes began for the day. “I’m happy to see so many of our students who were fully remote here again. I can’t believe how much they’ve grown. The first day of school is always my favorite day of the year, but this year is more special than ever before because we’re all here as a Gaffney family. I’m extremely excited.”
Superintendent of Schools Nancy Sarra made her rounds to all of New Britain’s schools throughout the day, greeting students, while thanking parents and teachers for their teamwork.
“I’ve been to seven schools so far,” Sarra said around midday. “It’s beautiful seeing all the kids inside the buildings. They’re happy to be there.”
Student drop-off ran a little later than expected Wednesday morning due to the rainy weather and the fact so many parents opted to drive their kids to school.
The school district has taken careful precautions to protect people, requiring all school staff to get vaccinated, encouraging parents to vaccinate their children over 12 and implementing strict building sanitation protocol.
“I want to say thank you to the families,” Sarra said. “Your kids are in good hands. We understand the covid virus is still among us and we have to continue prioritizing mitigation.
Three-year-old Annabelle Segarra was one of the younger students in the district’s pre-K program, so the first day of school was actually her very first day of school.
“I was a little nervous how she would react but as soon as she got here she hugged the teacher and took her hand,” mother Tammy Segarra said.
Melanie Gonzalez organized a video chat on her cell phone while she waited for her son Logan Ricketts outside the entrance to Gaffney’s pre-K center.
“I’m beyond excited,” Gonzalez said. “I have the whole family on Facebook Messenger waiting for him, grandparents and aunts.”
Chamberlain School is currently being renovated, so students were bused to the Pope John Paul II School on Farmington Avenue, where they will be attending classes this year.
Alexandra Acosta dropped off her son Aliexier Orta, about to be 10, a few minutes late.
“We got lost,” his older sister Zulaivam said.
When asked how the family felt about Aliexier going back to school during the pandemic, Acosta said it was no big deal.
“I had covid already and they didn’t get sick,” she said. “We’re all vaccinated now. This is the same as going to the park or supermarket.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.