NEW BRITAIN, CT (WFSB) - New Britain High School students returned to in-person learning on Thursday after a day of remote instruction.
New Britain High School students will return to the classroom on Thursday despite a district decision that had been made to go remote for the rest of the week.
Principal Damon Pearce said he wanted the school to hit the refresh button after fights and vandalism happened inside of the school.
However, state leaders came in and said behavior issues are not a valid reason to switch to remote learning, as school officials originally planned for the rest of this week.
So, New Britain High School has been working on a plan to address the issues happening inside of the school.
It said it’s a group of about 50 to 70 kids who are causing the issues.
Classes began about two weeks ago, and the school year has been off to a rocky start.
Fights, vandalism and violence were reported.
“One of the kids comes over and kicks the stall door,” explained Jacob Cantu, a senior. “It doesn’t open. I’m just sitting there, staring. Then, out of nowhere a trash can comes down and I try to stop it.”
As students at New Britain High School will head back to the classroom on Thursday following a decision to go remote this week that was later reversed, a victim of the violence happening at the school is speaking out.
Officials said the behavior is a combination of students being out of school for more than a year and a social media TikTok trend.
Pearce wanted the school to hit the “refresh” button while students learned from home, but the state Department of Education said virtual learning is for COVID-related reasons.
So, students went back to in-person learning on Thursday.
“The staff needed the time to regroup and come up with a plan to improve those behaviors,” said Mayor Erin Stewart.
“I wouldn’t have made the request if I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary,” Pearce said.
In a letter to parents on Thursday, the principal outlined a game plan that is now in place. It covered everything from pinpointing which students aren't following the rules, and how the school determines what to do next.
"I’d say it is better than it was a couple days ago. Though a lot of kids were absent today," Cantu said Thursday when Channel 3 caught up with him.
On Thursday, the principal shared how the school is tracking down students who aren’t in class after the bell rings.
Taking a holistic approach, administrators sit with students and review grades, attendance, and any prior disciplinary actions to determine what’s next.
During the meetings, the school said it discovered sometimes students struggled with their schedule or attempted to skip class.
Consequences range from scheduling expulsion hearings to suspensions to detentions.
Now, students hope they can return to class without interruptions.
“It’s not fair to any of the others like myself that have to deal with the troubles because some kids can’t behave,” Cantu said.
During a town hall Wednesday night, school officials said they needed time to pull support staff together and identify the students causing the issues.
Administrators said the school now has a three-step plan to work with the students who are creating the problems.
They also explained why they won't suspend all of the students.
"We are under direction of the state Department of Education. We also have to follow the laws that have come out that protect students," said Donnah Swaby, district coordinator of special education. "The state did a lot of research around juvenile justice, around what actually causes a change in behavior. All of that research tells us that punitive measures don’t necessarily correct behavior.”
Wednesday’s remote learning day will be made up on Election Day.
Thursday and Friday will be early dismissal days.