My name is Hamlet Hernandez, and I am the superintendent of Branford Public Schools. I'd like to welcome you to the 2021-22 school year. We are excited to have your children return to school; we've been looking forward to this day ever since the last day of school last year. We are prepared to welcome your students back and to give them a wonderful experience in our great school district. Like last year, we find ourselves still in the middle of a pandemic; however, things have improved significantly since last year. We return this year, not in a hybrid model but full in person. We return this year with staff being mandated to be vaccinated when last year we did not even have a vaccination for COVID-19. Just those two simple things show the progress that we have made, and I am confident that we will continue to make progress towards normalcy in the months ahead.
There are a few things that you can look forward to this year. One, our public health decisions will be guided by the Department of Public Health. Our school district will continue to collaborate and coordinate its decision-making with our local health department. We have every intention of keeping schools open full in person for the entire year. We will continue to have isolation rooms in our schools, and we will continue to do contact tracing and, when necessary, students will be placed in quarantine and, if deemed necessary, the class will be put into quarantine.
Having said that, it is our intention to try to avoid those situations. How can we do that? First and foremost, we all must wear a mask in school. It is a mandate issued by the governor and reinforced by our local board of education. Masks must be worn by all employees and all students in our school district. I also encourage all of you to do your part by getting vaccinated. If you are eligible for a vaccination, please do so. This is a great step towards keeping all of us safe as well as keeping our schools open for the entire year.
As we prepare to enter the school year, many of you may have questions. Those questions are best answered by your building principals. Many of your answers can be found on the website under COVID-19 resources, including in our safe return to in-person instruction plan, which was just recently updated on the 23rd of August. I know, as of today many families have already received notifications from their building principals about class assignments, team assignments, or schedules. Communication will continue to come from building principals regarding school-specific activities and expectations.
We look forward to receiving your students on the 8th of September, which is the first day of school. I know it's a little late, but we needed to start school a little later this year so that we can finish the school construction project. We are very very pleased to report that we have received our certificate of occupancy and the school will open up on September 8th, both phase 1 and phase 2. We also will start this school year with our Pre-K students, something we did not have last year because of the pandemic. And, lastly, our high school students will be entering high school and being exposed to a new schedule that is supportive of their social and emotional learning as well as enhancing their connectedness to the high school. All of these things are just examples of major milestones that we have reached as a school district. Despite the pandemic, we should all take great pride in the work that we have done to get to this point, and we look forward to an exciting 2021-2022 school year, and we look forward to our partnership.
Thank you, and have a great year.