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Why The Pandemic Means New Kinds Of Lessons For Connecticut Kids

Students get off a bus on the first day of school in Connecticut. The first few days will be about setting expectations for mask wearing and social distancing according to superindendents.
Ali Oshinskie
/
Connecticut Public Radio
Students get off a bus on the first day of school in Connecticut. The first few weeks will be about setting expectations for mask wearing and social distancing, superindendents say.

The first day of school always comes with transition. But as districts across the state open up classrooms and laptops this year, back to school will require a different kind of adjustment given the ongoing pandemic. Superintendents say they have a new set of expectations for the first few weeks of school. 

At Waterbury Public Schools, lesson No. 1 was “how to go school during a pandemic.”

Superintendent Verna Ruffin says students are learning about “the procedures so they’ll be comfortable with where they’re going to eat, how they’re going to be able to get their food, how they’re going to be able to have mask breaks.”  

Bridgeport Superintendent Michael Testani says the first couple of weeks in his district are about building habits -- and acknowledging that not everyone has been following the same rules since the pandemic began. 

“I think for some of our young learners, our primary grade students, I think that’s gonna take a little bit longer just to get them used to things that maybe [haven’t] happened so much at home over the last several months,” Testani said.  

Students at home should also expect a learning curve. In Ruffin’s district, 60% of students will be learning remotely, and she wants their first few weeks to involve teaching them how to actively engage their education. “Just handing a tool of a computer is insufficient,” Ruffin said. “We want students to feel comfortable connecting and [seeing] what that looks like in real practice.”

In Bridgeport, Testani is keeping things in perspective. “I think sometimes as adults we overthink things a little bit. Kids kind of just go with the flow,” he said.

And in that case, the students might just become the teachers. 

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

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