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New Britain Schools Reopening After One Remote Day To Address Student Behavioral Issues

Tom Foley, Erin Stewart
Jessica Hill
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart (shown here in 2014 with Tom Foley) was not happy about the high school switching to remote learning this week because of bad student behavior. Her office posted on social media that the move was unfair to students who wanted to be in school for learning.

Just a day after being told that classes would go remote for the rest of the week, New Britain High School students will return to in-person learning on Thursday.

School officials said the move to remote learning stemmed from student behavioral issues that included vandalism and fighting.

High School Principal Damon Pearce said that while most students were acclimating well, a small portion of students was having a hard time adapting to being back in school. After 18 months of pandemic learning and the trauma that comes with the coronavirus, challenging student behaviors weren’t unexpected.

What does that small portion look like? Roughly 50-60 students out of a 2,500-plus student body.

“They are just having a really challenging time connecting and engaging with school. We want to do right by them,” Pearce said. “We are a public school, we exist for every child that walks in the door and have to do right by those students.”

The decision to go remote drew sharp criticism from Mayor Erin Stewart’s office, which said in a social media post that it wasn’t fair to students who wanted to be in school to learn.

But Pearce said the decision wasn’t just for students, but it was also for teachers and staff to have time to identify and support students in need.

“It’s been a very productive day. We’ve accomplished quite a bit, and we’re confident that we’ve got a good plan going forward to help those kids,” Pearce said.

Superintendent Nancy Sarra said her office spoke with the state Department of Education and determined that the remote day would not count as a school day based on the 180-day requirement. The district will make up for Wednesday’s missed in-person instruction on Election Day.

Catherine Shen is a Connecticut Public’s education reporter. The Los Angeles native comes to CT Public after a decade of print and digital reporting across the country.

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