HANOVER — The silver lining of communications has brightened the dark cloud of dealing with the coronavirus as a new school year begins at South Shore Tech, officials say.
Superintendent Dr. Thomas J. Hickey and his administrators provided a report on the district’s first “regular, not-so-regular” first day of school during the Wednesday, Sept. 16 meeting of the region’s School Committee.
“We were always great at communicating with our parents and families, but we have really raised that over this time,” Principal Mark Aubrey said. “We have the Cadillac version of hybrid learning right now.”
Parents are communicated with regularly via Zoom meeting and school administration, teaching, transportation, paraprofessional, custodial staff have worked all summer to ensure the successful start to the school year, Aubrey said.
School Committee Chairman Robert Heywood of Hanover spoke of a note he received from the parents of an incoming freshman.
“[They] are blown away by the openness — the information highway you have developed — they said it took 90 percent of the anxiety away from sending their child to a new school,” Heywood said.
Whitman committee member Dan Salvucci said he knows a 2003 SST alum whose son now attends the school.
“He is really impressed” with the communication with parents, Salvucci said.
Students had a full in-building orientation day and another day of remote instruction beginning Monday, Sept. 14 for two grades each day. The hybrid model began Wednesday.
There were seven days of staff training, including all new COVID protocols and procedures as well as an opportunity for staff to work on the development of digital content.
“We’re no longer in that emergency scramble situation that everybody in the country was, at least in the Northeast was [in March],” Hickey said. “In a 10-day period, most of our students are in the building seven days out of 10, most students go to shop every day and all students come to school two days out of five for their academic week.”
The model permits officials to maximize use of the school building, with bus drivers able to follow a staggered schedule with upperclassmen coming into school on shop weeks from 7:40 a.m. to 1 p.m. Everyone else attends class from 9:05 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. Buses are cleaned between runs.
Students eat lunch at their desks, which are spaced six-feet apart. All students may have free lunch and breakfast, with three menu options available for each meal, through the end of the year, if they want it, as well.
Students may also take breakfast and lunch home the day before remote learning days, as well.
Flu shots were rolled out for students, as well. Only the name of the insurance is required. No ID numbers or money is required.
All school bathrooms are monitored by QR codes which track when students leave a classroom and enter/and leave lavatories.
Fewer than 25 students in total are on remote learning plans, according to Assistant Principal Sandra Baldner, of which only “a handful” are fully remote — taking even shop instruction at home, taking a regular school day, at home. Students attending class at the school are required to wear a mask at all times, and behavior during remote instruction days is graded.