By Hector Cruz-Rodriguez
March 23, 2021
Newswriting II, University of Connecticut
HARTFORD — After a spike in exposures and cases during the month of December, confirmed cases have been seeing a steady decline in recent weeks, with staff expected to get their second dose of the vaccine on March 25.
This spike in cases could be attributed to many families choosing to have gatherings and parties over the holidays.
Even with the number of travelers scanned by TSA on Christmas Day being 23% of the total number screened one year before, many districts around the country saw spikes in cases and hospitalizations.
Following the week of January 4, which saw a rise in the number of confirmed student cases to 42, the number of cases halved to 19 the following week.
After three weeks of plateauing, the number of cases declined considerably, with only 1 confirmed student case being recorded for the week of March 15.
Coming out of the holiday season, Hartford Public Schools went through with the decision to return to in-person learning 5 days a week, a change from their previous hybrid schedule.
Genevieve Cordier, mother of Aleena, 12, described the hybrid schedule at her daughter’s school, Noah Webster Microsociety Magnet School, in a telephone interview.
“Her class was divided into two groups. One group would attend class in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and one group would go on Thursdays and Fridays, with Wednesdays being asynchronous for everyone,” Cordier said.
Cordier then described the policies put in place for preventing the spread of COVID-19 among students.
“All the desks are spread 6 feet apart, and to minimize contact while in person the students stay in one room. Normally they’d walk in lines to different classrooms throughout the day, but they instead do their lessons over Zoom when their homeroom teacher isn’t the one leading.”
Cordier mentions that at certain times, the kids will have “mask breaks,” where the kids are allowed to take their masks off to relieve the strain on their face. The children are not allowed to leave their seats during this time, and can only look ahead to avoid spreading germs.
“At one point, Aleena was exposed to a friend that caught COVID, and the school was alerted right away. They escorted her into an isolation room in the nurse’s office, until I picked her up and took her to get tested,” Cordier went on to say.
Even with an initial negative result, the district still required 2 weeks of quarantine for Aleena, and a negative test result at the end of the isolation period.
As the second half of the school year rolls on, the focus now shifts to achieving normalcy and receiving the vaccine.
Deborah Zimmerman-Herz, coordinator for the Hartford Public Schools communications department, expressed gratitude and optimism for the students and their families moving forward.
“With faculty getting their second vaccinations soon, and students moving back to in-person learning full-time, I’d say we’re definitely headed in the right direction. We’re not out of the woods quite yet, but we’re getting there.”
Zimmerman-Herz went on to say that she hopes that things will somewhat resemble normal by the new school year in the fall.
“We’re thankful for the cooperation of all of our parents and families during this time, but this home stretch is going to be the most difficult part,” Zimmerman-Herz said.
“People will start to get excited and anxious, especially with the weather starting to heat up and everything… if we’re all patient and cautious like we’ve been doing, it’ll be over sooner.”
With Gov. Lamont announcing that individuals 16 and older will be able to register for the vaccine starting April 5, the hope is that a majority of people will receive it during the summer.