Miguelina Felix

West Haven Public Schools
West Haven, Connecticut
Miguelina Felix (Lina), Communications Director

The West Haven Public Schools District has been successful in reopening schools due to the safety commitment of all staff members, administrators, parents, and students. All nine schools across the district opened on a shortened day schedule.

In preparation, plexiglass barriers were ordered for tables in classrooms, hallways were taped and marked for one-way traffic to allow maximum social distancing. Schools set up sanitizing stations, posted signage throughout the building, and repurposed the gyms to serve as alternative learning spaces. Extra cleaning staff and security were hired. The outdoor spaces were set up at various schools with picnic tables, transitions were minimized, and breakfast and lunches became “grab and go” All classrooms prepared individual student supplies and special elective teachers pushed into classrooms to truly keep those transitions at a minimum.

Currently, when weather permits- classes take place outside such as music class and story time. Additionally, ample mask breaks throughout the day have been worked into every classroom schedule. Yet, it hasn’t just been all the safety protocols put into place that has made us successful in reopening, it has been the creativity teachers have used to make sure students engage and socialize safely inside and outside of the classroom. Field trips may not be an option right now but teachers are bringing field trips to the schools such as recreating the outside of the school yard into their very own pumpkin patch.

Teachers have also creatively integrated technology into their lessons to encourage individual learning and knowledge retention for both in person and distance learning. They have designed their online classrooms for students at home with bitmojis, videos, aligned curriculum, and interactive projects.

Some classrooms have students on touch screen laptops- marking, highlighting, and circling on their short stories. Other classrooms show students listening to a story out loud on the projector and following along while answering questions. Classroom teachers at our various schools are adapting and using today’s circumstances to re-imagine education and continue to keep schools safe and open. In just a few short weeks, our students are thriving again. They arrive happy and eager to learn. Our district rose above the pandemic and we continue to learn, adjust, and improve our current model to preserve the best quality education to all our student at our schools.