Schools prep for students’ part-time in-person return

Sep 28, 2020

Several weeks after a virtual first day of school, most Wareham students will return to school buildings for two short days each week beginning on Monday, October 5.

“We’re quite excited and looking forward to having students back in the classroom,” said Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood.

For most students, this will be the first time they are back in the classroom in nearly 7 months, after schools shut down in early March due to the pandemic. 

The students whose families opted for the “hybrid” system, with some in-person and some online learning, have been divided into two cohorts by last name. Half the students will be in school for short days on Monday and Tuesday, while the other half will attend school in person on Thursday and Friday.

In-person days at the high school will begin at 7:35 and end at 11:10 a.m. At the Middle School, classes will run from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Minot Forest students will be in class from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Decas students will be in class from 9:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

“Everybody is so excited to have made contact with students. We’ve missed them. I know that its overwhelming for some of our students and our families, and I would just ask if they have concerns to reach out. We’re here to help, and we want to work collaboratively with them,” Shaver-Hood said.

To prepare for students’ return, the schools have been deep cleaned and the HVAC systems have been repaired. All the extra furniture has been removed from school buildings, and stickers guiding students have been applied to the floors. 

Students will need to have their masks on all the time when they are on the bus or in school except for during mask breaks. During those times, students will go outside, spread out, and take off their masks. 

At Minot Forest (currently housed in the Middle School), the Middle School, and the Decas School, there are large tents set up outside the school buildings so that teachers can hold class outside if they so choose.

Students will not eat lunch at school or on the bus, but may have snacks during mask breaks.

As students get off the bus or are picked up by a parent or guardian, they will be given a bagged lunch and breakfast.

There are some procedural kinks that are still being figured out. 

At the beginning of the school day, parent drop-off of students will look slightly different than in past years. Shaver-Hood asked for families to be patient and follow the instructions of staff members who will be stationed outside the building.

Additionally, students attending school in person will be sent home with meals. For those learning remotely, and in-person students on the days they will be learning from home, meals will still be distributed. However, the sites and procedures may change because the bus drivers who have been distributing meals since the spring will now be back to driving students to and from school.

Shaver-Hood said the schools are working with the Board of Health to keep an eye on the coronavirus numbers in town to see if the school needs to change back to all-remote learning — a change that could also be mandated by the state.

Shaver-Hood said that she hopes the district will be able to lengthen the in-person school days from the four hours currently planned later this year as the coronavirus numbers stay down.

“If anybody’s feeling ill, please, please keep them at home,” Shaver-Hood said. “We just want to keep everyone safe and we want to keep our schools open.”