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Chailyn Berrios in her prom dress at Quassy Amusement Park
Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

Chailyn Berrios, 17, is wearing an aqua blue prom dress and matching eye shadow. Several teary-eyed family members take her photo outside her home in Bridgeport. In a few minutes she’ll get out of her heels, put on her driving shoes, and drive herself to Quassy Amusement Park for prom.

vastateparkstaff / Wikimedia Commons

Another school year in a pandemic is winding down. That means parents have been thinking about summer plans like summer camps.

The Lamont administration has said it will invest COVID-19 relief money to make summer camp experiences accessible to all Connecticut students.

This hour, we talk with a camp director and hear from state agencies that serve kids.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Sage Paglia recalled being in virtual high school in February when a student-driven lesson began on the sensitive topic of bias. The teacher of this lesson? Celebrity Kanye West, who argued that the month of observance does more harm than good.

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

As Connecticut legislators debated a proposal Tuesday to remove the religious exemption to mandatory vaccination for school-aged children, a large crowd of people opposed to the bill gathered outside the state Capitol in Hartford in protest. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Pharrell Bright sat in a plastic folding chair in the middle of a gym auditorium at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.

The Capital Preparatory Magnet School senior had just received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"I saw a lot of the commercials that the hospital has been posting on TV and through the news and it’s saying, 'get vaccinated, it could save some lives,'" he said. "And I felt like I just heard it enough times that I was like, you know what, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing to do." 

Rep. William Petit, left, and Rep. Jonathan Steinberg debate a bill curtailing religious exemptions for school-age vaccinations.
Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

The state House of Representatives approved a bill early Tuesday that would remove Connecticut’s religious exemption from mandatory school vaccinations, a major step for a hot-button proposal that has been raised three years in a row with no vote in either chamber until this week.

Alvaro Barrientos / AP

The weather’s getting warmer and residents are rolling up their sleeves to get the coronavirus vaccine. But the state Department of Education is telling students and families that it’s no time to let their guard down. 

In guidance, called Finish Strong, the department issued a reminder to keep up the standard practices of masking and social distancing. Communications Director Peter Yazbak said it’s important to remember that the pandemic isn’t over yet.

RN Jenni Eckstrom draws 0.5 ml of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as the City of Hartford’s Department of Health and Human Services hosted a vaccine clinic for Hartford residents 75 and over at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford on February 06, 2021
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Connecticut has been among the states leading the pack nationally on vaccinating its residents overall, but deep disparities remain. This hour, we get the latest from Connecticut Public Radio reporters about what’s driving the state’s racial inequities in vaccination rates.

Updated March 23, 2021 at 10:51 AM ET

In a year when so much about schooling has changed, add this to the list: A significant increase in the number of households where students were homeschooled.

That's according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey, an online survey that asks questions about how the pandemic is changing life in U.S. homes.

Sheree Baldwin Muhammad, teacher at New Beginnings Family Academy

Starting this week, teachers and child care providers are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

This hour, we talk with three Connecticut teachers and hear about what this past year has looked like for them and their students. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

An overwhelming number of people signed up to testify Tuesday during what was expected to be a contentious public hearing on school vaccination requirements -- so many that lawmakers, by a majority vote, decided to cap the duration of the virtual hearing at 24 hours.

The limit was criticized by several Republican members of the state Public Health Committee, as well as those who testified throughout the day. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

As Gov. Ned Lamont rolls out his budget proposals for the coming biennium, education funding seems poised to become a battleground. Lamont wants to freeze the state’s contribution to public schools, the pot of money called Education Cost Sharing, or ECS. Instead, he would boost districts by using federal coronavirus funds. And that’s raising alarm among educators and advocates.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Several public health proposals are making a comeback to the legislative arena this year, including a couple that have sparked significant controversy in past sessions.

The COVID-19 pandemic cut short the 2020 legislative session. Lawmakers managed only a few weeks of committee meetings and a handful of public hearings before the Capitol was shut down in late March.

New Haven School Buses Roll Past Protesters

Jan 19, 2021
Protest scene as some in-person schooling resumed in New Haven.
Leigh Busby / @busbyleigh Instagram

School buses headed out of the First Student company campus before dawn Tuesday morning to cries of “What disinfectant do you use?” and “We are here for you.”

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Connecticut student-athletes have gotten the OK to play again.

A board of control for the governing body of state public high school sports, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, approved a return to play that’ll allow students to practice January 19 with games beginning February 8.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

The youth sports shutdown in Connecticut -- one caused by the coronavirus pandemic -- may soon end.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The holiday season is coming up, but Coronavirus cases are on the rise. This hour, we check in with Governor Ned Lamont. Many of us want to see our families, but is that the best thing to do for our state and our health?

Many of Connecticut's surrounding states have been placed on Connecticut’s travel advisory list. And Connecticut's own positivity rate is rising.

Students get off a bus on the first day of school in Connecticut. The first few days will be about setting expectations for mask wearing and social distancing according to superindendents.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

The academic year is well on it’s way. How are students and teachers in Connecticut adapting to their second semester of online learning? 

This hour, Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Miguel A. Cardona joins us to answer our questions and yours on the state of Connecticut’s schools. 

When public schools in Ann Arbor, Mich., closed last spring Betty, an undocumented domestic worker, feared losing her job if she stayed home to help her children navigate virtual schooling.

But even if she could stay home, she worried that she didn't have the English proficiency to support her daughter, a ninth-grader at a public high school in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job.

School buses
Yehyun Kim / CTMirror.org

 

More than a dozen schools in Connecticut have gone remote in recent days as COVID-19 outbreaks flared up. Public health officials and school administrators spent the summer trying to craft plans that would avoid shutdowns and keep students in school as long as possible. Other schools seem set on staying open even if their plans don’t end up working out. 

Waterbury Public Schools school buses
Franke Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

A new report from Connecticut’s Child Advocate finds staff at Waterbury Public Schools have called the police hundreds of times on elementary and middle school students experiencing mental health crises.

Some of these children were as young as five years old.

By the first day of school, Waterbury Public Schools had yet to contact the entire parent population. 10% were still unresponsive to what the district classified as repeated attempts.
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The start of school always means a flurry of communication between the district and parents. This year, that communication has become both more important, and infinitely more complicated, as coronavirus restrictions change all the usual procedures. In Waterbury, some parents and schools are struggling to get on the same page.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

High school football players and their parents from across the state are urging the governing body of high school sports to change course and allow for a football season this year.

Students get off the bus at Prospect Elementary School Tuesday. Buses were sparsely populated, and many parents chose to drive their children to school.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

Brian McGovern reached out of his window to tape a sign to the outside of his mom’s car as they pulled into the parking lot at Prospect Elementary School on Tuesday. In his best fifth grader handwriting, he wrote his name, year and classroom so he could be identified and guided to the proper entrance.

“Are we doing this right?” asked his mother, Liza McGovern.

With Limited Mental Health Staff, Waterbury Calls Police On School Children Under 12

Sep 1, 2020
Frankie Graziano / WNPR

Maria was having a hard time calming down at her elementary school in Waterbury. On a December day just before holiday break in 2018, she was hitting and kicking staff and knocking books off the bookcase. She had recently entered foster care, and this was her third behavioral episode in three weeks.

So the school staff called 9-1-1, telling the dispatcher there was a “four-year-old female out of control.”

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public

After a protracted back-and-forth with state health officials, Connecticut’s governing body of high school sports will go ahead with a fall season.

Pixnio

The first day of school is just around the corner for many Connecticut students, but “back to school” will look very different for families across Connecticut. 

This hour, we hear from from students, parents and educational leaders.

File Photo, July 30, 2020: Mirtha N. Aldave, a Hartford HS bilingual teacher showing support as the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) and AFT Connecticut organized a car caravan past the Governor's Residence.
Joe Amon / New England News Collaborative

Parents and relatives got to see what life will look like for socially distanced students at Bridgeport’s Central High School Monday. Superintendent Michael Testani led a group through sparsely furnished classrooms and into a cafeteria marked with caution tape. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

The pandemic is raising questions about what’s best for children as they head into a new school year, as many schools continue to finalize plans for this fall and parents make individual decisions for their families.

Megan Goslin, a clinical psychologist and research scientist at Yale’s Child Study Center, said it’s a difficult time for everyone. 

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