With the continuous threat of COVID-19 still looming, this school year is set to be one of the most unconventional and unpredictable that Cheshire students have ever faced.
The Cheshire School District finally welcomed children back to in-person schooling on Friday, Sept. 11, for the first time since March when the pandemic forced the state and the country to go into quarantine to help limit the spread of the virus.
In the days leading up to the beginning of school, students were divided into three groups and attended orientation at their respective schools, going over what they should expect this year, and introducing the students to the new social distancing protocols put in place by health officials.
“The orientation days were absolutely critical in making sure all of our students were on the right path and understood what we are asking from them,” said Cheshire High School Principal Dr. Mary Gadd. “The students knew exactly what was expected of them, which made for a really great day.”
During the orientations, students were reminded about mask vigilance, how to properly social distance in the hallways, and how and where to take appropriate masks breaks throughout the day.
Superintendent of Schools Jeff Solan rode the bus with children to their orientations before the official first day, and got a firsthand experience as to what Cheshire students are dealing with.
”Riding the bus was certainly an experience,” Solan mentioned. “The kids are really eager to be back, and they know exactly what they are supposed to do with their masks and social distancing. Its great to see.”
Friday, according to Gadd, was successful, and any first day anxieties were quickly quelled once students were allowed to be together.
“It was so nice to see everyone again; it was long overdue, and clear that everyone was just happy to be together,” she added.
For the elementary schools, the day went similarly well to CHS, with students and faculty happy to be reunited with one another after so many months of separation.
“It was so good to see everyone again,” said Chapman Elementary School principal Diana Burns. “We are a great community here and we really wanted to get back together as safely as possible.”
While the day was full of long overdue reunions and a lot of adjusting to the new normal, Burns did highlight a one difficulty that the District can hopefully fix.
“The trouble spots were during morning and dismissal times,” Burns indicated. “Obviously, a lot of parents wanted to drop their kids off in the morning and pick them up at the end of the day, but that poses a lot of traffic issues when we are trying to get the buses and other teachers and staff out of the building in a timely manner.”
“Hopefully we can reach out to parents and see if they can help us out during those critical times,” Burns continued.
Although morning and afternoon dismissal times were difficult, Burns did indicate that lunch time, which was another area of anxiety for the District, went smoothly.
“You spend all night the day before thinking of all the things that could go wrong, but all my anxiety was soothed when I walked into the door and saw the kids once again,” she said.
Despite some neighboring school districts announcing they have positive cases and they will be switiching back to remote learning, like Wallingford and Hamden, Solan is dedicated to keeping students in the physical building as long as possible.
“We hope and pray we can keep our students doing inperson learning as long as possible,” Solan said.