The first day of in-person school came a little late this year. After three months of remote learning at the end of the 2019-2020 school year and three months remote learning for the current school year, students were finally able to set foot in a classroom, six feet away from their fellow classmates.
During Monday night’s School Committee meeting, Superintendent Lisa Howard expressed the many emotions that came with the first day of hybrid learning.
“There was a lot of anxiety and anticipation before and during the first moments of being inside the building,” said Howard, who made her way through all three school buildings throughout the day. “In the high school, it felt like it was freshmen year all over again for all grades. The kids were excited to be there and they followed all the rules, maintaining a six foot distance from one another and keeping masks on at all times. The staff and students were excited to be back in the school itself even with the new rules and guidelines.”
Howard said that it was obvious that students had watched the instructional videos that were created by seniors Jenna and Maura Dorr as well as those made by the staff. The sisters worked with Principal Matt Crombie and Digital Media teacher Brian Donnelly to map out the information that would be beneficial to students. After filming the video, Jenna and Maura edited and published the video to the school YouTube channel.
At the Arthur T. Cummings School and the Gorman Fort Banks School, students were glad to see their teachers and there was a lot of hype about the variety of masks that the students were wearing.
“As funny as it sounds, there was a lot of talk about eyebrows. Students and teachers talked about how they could tell if the students were smiling based on the way their eyebrows moved.”
Many parents shared positive reports about their children’s first day. Beth Caraglia, mother of a first-grader in Ms. Fucillo’s class, spoke highly of her son’s experience.
“Lorenzo thought it was great to be able to go back to school. I noticed that he mostly commented on the social aspect of it, like being with his friends and seeing Ms. Fucillo in person, which is why I think it’s so important for the younger students to be back in the classroom. In the last three months his reading and math skills improved a lot through remote learning, but I noticed that his confidence was low because he didn’t have the positive reinforcement you get from teachers and peers with in-person learning.”
Other parents commented on the solid safety protocols that were in place.
“I think the school is doing everything they can to make it safe, so I feel comfortable sending my daughter back to the classroom,” said Christina Chapdelaine, mother of a first-grader at the Gorman Fort Banks School. “Maya loved her first day back and it was great to pick her up and hear her talk so excitedly about her day once again.”
Howard was glad to hear the noise from the ATC playground from her office window.
“I’m so glad the weather was decent on the first day and that students were able to get outside and feel the release of being in the fresh air.”
While the excitement of being back in the classroom was evident in parents, students, teachers and staff, there is still work to be done and the COVID count will continue to be assessed daily.
“As we move forward, I understand the concern of parents regarding the outside numbers and increased cases in the community, and we will continue to watch and analyze these numbers every day. It is our mission to put safety first.”