SOUTHINGTON — Although overnight flooding changed some bus routes, local public school students started a new school year on Thursday without any major hiccups.
More than 6,000 students returned to in-person learning. Students and staff wore masks, a reminder of the lingering pandemic that also affected two previous school years.
Steve Madancy, school superintendent, was concerned about flooded roads making bus travel difficult but was able to divert buses to get students to school.
Madancy was hired this summer to replace Tim Connellan. The flooding was caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
“Your first day as superintendent, you don’t want to make a weather-related call,” Madancy said.
Localized flooding didn’t delay school’s opening and Madancy was pleased with the first day overall.
There was no flooding at any of the schools.
“All the administrators and teachers did a great job welcoming back students,” he said. “Kids were excited to be back, staff was welcoming.”
Uncertainty about reopening
School leaders faced uncertainty over what opening day would look like and what pandemic restrictions would be in effect.
School officials say the policies, such as a mask requirement and no option for remote learning unless a student is being quarantined, are required by state directives.
When parents and residents turned out for a board meeting on Aug. 12, many opposed requiring masks for students.
Madancy cited Gov. Ned Lamont's executive order 13A requiring masks, saying it's in effect until Sept. 30.
Board of Education chairwoman Terri Carmody said it's unclear what will happen after that as Lamont's emergency powers could be extended.
On Thursday, Carmody said she hadn’t heard of any issues with reopening and was glad for a smooth start to the school year.
David Derynoski, a school board member, has made it a habit in past years to visit the schools on opening day. Due to the pandemic, he didn’t make his usual visits to see teachers and students.
“I stayed away,” Derynoski said Thursday.
He hadn’t yet gotten too much feedback on the day but had no reasons for concern.
“I haven’t heard anything except so far, so good,” Derynoski said.