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Going Back To School With Backpacks, PPE And Thermometers

Joshua Moses (7) holds his backpack in front of Bellizzi Middle School.
Brenda Leon
Connecticut Public
Joshua Moses, 7, hold his new backpack in front of Bellizzi Middle School in Hartford.

Marlin Johnson is getting her 7-year-old son Joshua ready to go back to school -- a mix of remote and in-person learning to start. Part of that preparation takes the pandemic into account, like reminding him to remember to keep his mask on and to maintain a healthy distance. 

“[I’m] preparing to go back on the bus, also when he’s at school, he has to sanitize, keep his mask on and he cannot play like before, because it’s really important that he keeps his hands clean, that he washes his hands,” said Johnson. 

As families continue get ready for a return to school, Hartford Public Schools and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving helped them out by hosting an event Tuesday that included providing them with backpacks, personal protective equipment and safety information.

As the line wrapped around the corner from Bellizzi School on South Street for the walk-up distribution, families waited patiently to receive supplies. Michaela Mendrygal, a communications assistant at the Hartford Foundation, says the hope is that families return to school with the necessary support. 

“This is definitely a great opportunity to support families in whatever way we can and make sure that families are somewhat ready, with the PPE and school supplies and trying to get back into that mindset since they’ve been away for so long,” she said. 

Families line up, masked and social distanced at the walk-up, Back-To-School give away, where they will receive PPE, backpacks and supplies.
Credit Brenda Leon / Connecticut Public
Connecticut Public
Families line up, wearing masks and social distancing, at the walk-up back-to-school giveaway in Hartford, where they received PPE, backpacks and supplies.

Families also will receive digital thermometers, according to Mayor Luke Bronin and Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez.

“This opportunity for the thermometers and for our families to be actively engaged in monitoring symptoms and temperatures, and also helping us collectively with regard to the spread of illness, matters to us given that we are going to every single day look at the health trends,” Torres-Rodriguez said. 

Thermometers will be distributed to families in partnership with the city’s Health and Human Services Department. School starts in Hartford on Sept. 8 with a staggered beginning. The plan is to provide daily in-person learning for Pre-K through ninth grade with an option for all families to learn remotely. High school students will have cohorts that will attend school in a hybrid model, attending in person twice a week with alternating schedules. 

Brenda Leon is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. 

This note: The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is a financial supporter of Connecticut Public.

Brenda León is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Brenda covers the Latino/a, Latinx community with an emphasis on wealth-based disparities in health, education and criminal justice.

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