HANOVER — The COVID-19 pandemic has not interfered with South Shore Tech students attaining industry-recognized credentials during the 2020-21 school year, according to Superintendent-director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey during the School Committee’s meeting on Wednesday, March 17.
The information was part of Hickey’s review of his goals for the year — most of which were pandemic-related.
“We know that the school has done very well under the circumstances,” he said, noting he would update the committee on the efforts of students to obtain credentials later in the year. “But the pandemic has not prevented our students from getting access to those credentials, which is absolutely essential.”
Principal Mark Aubrey said preparing students with the criteria they will need for careers in the trades, military or college continues to be a primary concern.
Efforts are also underway to get students ready for September. Late buses have been added to the schedule as fully one-third of students stay after school — for athletics or clubs that meet in person.
Parents are also being helpful in picking students up after athletic events.
As in-person instruction schedules begin again, there will be a return of normal practices to the school day, Aubrey said. No more hats is one of the rules coming back.
Students had been allowed to wear hats during in-person days over the winter when windows had to be opened to keep air circulating.
“We’re going to start tightening up on all of that,” Aubrey said. “We’re going to start easing up into the environment. We’re looking for more ways to start bringing students back in.”
Aubrey also commended Hickey for his leadership during the pandemic, making sure the school’s faculty and staff do the best they can for students.
A graduation committee is already at work planning an outdoor event, probably taking place at the school the weekend of June 5 and 6, most likely on the stands at the football field.
“We’re going to work it like we did at last year’s events,” Aubrey said of the drive-in graduation at the Marshfield Fairgrounds, with one car per spot for families to sit and a limited number of tickets available.
Aubrey said the school is waiting for guidance from the Mass. Department of Public Health before making any decisions on prom.
“We’re looking more at a kind of semi-formal kind of dance because I don’t want kids going out and renting tuxedos or buying gowns for something that might not happen,” he said.
In any case, the event would be held outdoors and would be for seniors only after graduation. Seniors and parents are involved in the discussion to make sure whatever is decided on is something that can be delivered.
“I don’t believe we have the capacity to do much more than what we’re about to do,” Hickey said, noting the school doesn’t have enough classrooms for academic days. Most of the 28 classrooms the school does have, do not have the space to permit spacing all students three feet apart.
Waivers for full returns can be followed by a site visit by DESE, which Hickey has done, but elementary and middle schools are getting priority.
“We may be very close to the end of our maximum safe capacity,” he said. The schedule being planned at this point is three days of in-person instruction on an academic week and two days of fully engaged remote instruction. During shop weeks, instruction would be full-day in-person weeks.
“I do think the three-feet distancing rule is going to be the next hurdle for us,” he said. “If that, by September, is not relaxed, then we’re going to have to take a hard look this summer about … the capacity to come back.”
Transportation guidelines being relaxed would also be a big deal, according to Hickey. He does see the mask requirement continuing.