Principals say first days of school ran smoothly

Sep 17, 2020

Wareham’s principals said that the first few days of remote learning ran fairly smoothly, thanks in large part to months of planning and hard work by everyone in the school system, including teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, and administrative assistants.

Almost all students are learning fully remotely for now, with the exception of a small number of students whose educational needs make in-person learning necessary.

Beginning on October 5, as long as coronavirus numbers stay low enough, the majority of students will return to school buildings for two four-hour days each week, either on Monday and Tuesday or on Thursday and Friday.

“Our teachers and paraprofessionals and staff have done a beautiful job building an online school for us,” said Bethany Chandler, the principal of the John W. Decas Elementary School.

Currently, 352 of the students at Decas have signed up for hybrid learning while 139 will be all-remote. When hybrid learning begins, each class will be about 9 students. All remote classes have an average of 22 students. When hybrid learning begins, the all-remote students will have a mix of live-streamed classes and asynchronous learning, like independent work or pre-recorded videos while their peers are in class.

Minot Forest Principal Joan Seamans said that all of her staff’s hard work and planning since March has paid off. 

At Minot Forest, teachers are either teaching exclusively hybrid or all-remote students. Beyond that, Seamans said, she has let them have a lot of autonomy. Some are teaching in teams, with one teacher handling English and social studies and the other tackling science and math, for instance. Others are teaching all the subjects, as they would during a typical year.

Most students -- 194 -- will be learning through the hybrid model, while the remaining 111 will be all-remote.

“I can’t thank the custodians enough for all the work they’ve done,” Seamans said.

Middle School Principal Tracie Cote said that she was pleased with how the first days of school went, and that students are demonstrating their resiliency.

About one-third of the students, or 193, will be all remote. The remaining 338 will be hybrid.

While the first day included some technical problems, the whole staff – including Cote and the rest of the administrative staff – pitched in to help students and families solve them. 

“It was very strange the first day to see teachers zooming from their classrooms,” Cote said.

At the high school, Principal Scott Palladino said that the success of the first day of school was a credit to the work of everyone in the district, including the students. 

“I can’t stay enough about the staff,” Palladino said. “It was a huge team effort.”

He said he was especially grateful to the school’s janitorial staff. In addition to sanitizing the school, they moved all the excess furniture out of the building — enough to fill the cafeteria one and a half times with furniture.

“It’s been a herculean effort,” Palladino said.

At the high school, 406 students will be hybrid and 189 will be remote.