Wareham High’s driver’s ed program continues through pandemic

Jan 21, 2021

Despite the pandemic, Wareham High School’s driver’s education program is busier than ever, reported director Tina Clark at the Jan. 21 School Committee meeting.

The program has been in existence since 1999, and allows students to complete both the book-based classroom and in-car portions of driver’s education.

Since the early 2000s, the program has been priced slightly higher than that of nearby private schools to avoid taking away from local businesses - a policy suggested by the School Committee at the time.

On average, the school educates between 110 and 140 students each year.

In 2018, the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles upgraded its computer system, which created new requirements that other schools found hard to meet. One local driving school closed, Clark said.

Additionally, prior to the shift, about 10 to 15 percent of students only completed the book portion of their education with the school and did their driving hours elsewhere. Now, only about one percent of students do that.

To keep up with the demand, the program added a third instructor more than a year ago. In March 2020, Clark said she was finishing the paperwork to purchase a second car to be used for driving hours -- a process waylaid by the pandemic. She is now working towards making that purchase. 

And Clark said that if demand continues, she may look into hiring a fourth instructor.

Beginning in April 2020, instructors began teaching students the book-based portion of driver’s ed remotely. And in June, driving hours resumed, with many covid precautions including mask wearing, driving with the windows open, and only driving with one student in the car at once.

The program is entirely self-funded.

For more about the driver’s education program, click here.