High School Students Talk About What It's Like to Return

Students missed homecoming, field trips and classes, while also handling anxiety and economic precarity. Now, they must leap into the future, with the school’s help.

WATERBURY, Conn. — This fall, there is a surreal swirl of newness and oldness in the hallways of John F. Kennedy High School: Black Lives Matter face masks and exhortations to pull them up — “Over your nose, please!” — but also ribbing and laughter, bells ringing, hall passes being checked and loudspeaker reminders about the dress code (collared black or navy shirts and khaki or black bottoms).

Kennedy was open for in-person learning most of last school year. But families in this working-class, majority Hispanic and Black school district in Waterbury, Conn., opted out in large numbers, with…

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