NEWINGTON – Students and staff are adjusting well to school outside of school.
After the COVID-19 outbreak worsened and the decision was made to keep students home statewide, Newington Public Schools immediately implemented an online learning model. More than a week later, school communities are operating completely virtually and pretty successfully so.
“I would say our distance learning program is going quite well,” Superintendent Dr. Maureen Brummett said. “Parents and kids are getting used to it. We’re trying to modulate if we’re giving the right amount of work. I’m communicating with our families frequently to make sure they’re not overwhelmed.”
Gov. Ned Lamont announced this week that schools would remain closed at least until April 20.
Newington Schools are on vacation April 13-17 and that week off will still be honored, along with the Good Friday holiday. School will resume on April 20, whether in-person or by distance learning.
Newington families have been sending the district photos of their kids busy at home-based work stations, completing activities and talking with their teachers.
“It’s been all hands on deck,” Brummett pointed out. “Even kids who require special services are getting support virtually or by phone. It’s really taking on a variety of different pathways.”
Teachers are planning lessons together virtually by grade level or program and using a variety of platforms, including Google Classroom.
Students are not being graded on any assessments, at least for the time being.
“We’re mostly interested in having the kids participate; connecting with their teacher and having opportunities to continue their learning in some way shape or form,” Brummett explained.
When normalcy resumes and students and classes head back into their school buildings, whenever that may be, Dr. Brummett is confident all involved will take something away from this experience.
“I think as we get back to a traditional setting we will still be using some of these education models,” she said. “I think it will help us to be better about how we integrate technology into the educational setting.”
Another part of the school day that’s been turned upside down is mealtime. On Tuesday, school staff distributed a record 689 meals from three different sites and by buses to apartment complexes in town. School nurses were even deployed to distribution sites to answer questions and provide support.
“A lot of parents have told us they’re really grateful for this,” Brummett pointed out. “Some have lost jobs or have reduced hours right now so we’re thrilled to provide meals for students and other children in their households. It’s been an extremely positive experience.”
The last day of school will remain June 15 and graduation is still set to take place on June 12.
“If the governor allows it I will have a graduation ceremony for our kids,” Brummett said.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.