SOUTHINGTON – Despite returning to school following town flooding, Southington schools opened without a hitch and students are off to a strong start this school year, according to local administrators.
Southington High School Principal Michael Crocco said no flooding occurred at local schools following Hurricane Ida, and were able to open on-time Sept. 2 thanks to the redirecting of bus routes to avoid flooded areas.
“While we anticipated that there might be issues, we didn't lose power and didn’t have flooding,” he said. “We were able to get kids to school on time and get the school year rolling as normal.”
Since then, Crocco said, things have “been going great” at Southington High School.
“It’s good to see the kids back at school,” he said. “I’ve been hearing good feedback from students. I just met with student representatives who said that they were excited to see their friends and be back into some sort of normal routine.”
Crocco said covid-19 mitigation precautions, such as wearing masks and spacing students out, are still being taken, but the schools look “a lot different than they did a year ago.”
DePaolo Middle School Principal Chris Palmieri said, so far, things have been going “absolutely fantastic.”
“It’s great seeing everyone back,” he said. “We were open all last year, except for kids whose parents chose to be remote. This year, it is back to being all full-time, in person teaching.”
Palmieri said remote learning is only being offered in the case of a medical issue or covid-19 diagnosis. In this case, the schools would offer live streaming of the classrooms.
Another big change in Southington schools this year is students are once again traveling between classrooms to learn from different teachers. Last year, students were in “cohorts” and remained in the same classroom while teachers for various subjects came to them.
“It’s back to being closer to our normal routine,” Palmieri said.
During lunch, students are being separated into one of three lunch rooms for each grade. But the schools have gone back to letting students choose where they want to sit during lunch.
At Hatton Elementary School, Principal Robert Garry welcomed children back in style.
“We did a grand reopening with tuxedos, prom dresses and a red carpet out back behind the school,” he said. “It was like a Broadway opening with a DJ and music.”
Since coming back, Garry said elementary school students are also off to a fantastic start. Many children, he said, are excited to see friends they were unable to see during the summer.
“Our kids, families and staff are very resilient,” he said. “They were well-practiced with our safety routines.”
At the elementary school level, kids are also leaving the classroom to attend special classes such as music and art. Recess also affords young students an opportunity to take off their masks since they’re outside.
“They’re kids so they don’t spend too much time standing next to each other,” Garry said. “They’re running around all over the place. Last year, we were still in cohorts outside. This year, we’re letting the kids mingle with different classes in their grade level. It’s good for their social emotional health.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.