HANOVER — South Shore Tech Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey told his School Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 21 that, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 safety guidelines, having students in their school community really matters.
There have been some positive tests among the school population, but Hickey said he is pleased with parent cooperation. They are letting the school know if their children are showing symptoms after possibly contracting COVID outside of school.
Like W-H Superintendent Jeffrey Szymaniak, Hickey said he is looking for more guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on how any decisions on possible future lockdowns might be handled.
“We all know about the COVID map that gets published, usually Wednesday nights or overnight into Thursday, and we know about the red, yellow and green coding of towns,” he said. “Last week, a lot of towns in the Route 3 corridor moved to red.”
He said the state wants schools to think in terms of three-week trends.
“There is no immediate trigger such as, if red, something — like close or go all remote,” Hickey said. “We need to look at the data for at least two more Wednesdays and see what those numbers look like.”
The state would then provide guidance on what might have triggered a red designation within a community.
Senior horticulture student Faith Ryan of Scituate was introduced as the student council representative and also gave an idea of how COVID is affecting the school.
“I think you’re going to hear a different kind of report tonight from her,” Principal Mark Aubrey said. “I think she’s going to speak honestly to you folks about what she’s exploring and what the kids are feeling with the hybrid model.”
Her report was a frank look at the challenges vocational education faces in an online setting.
“I feel like a lot of kids are struggling, because it’s hard to learn online for a lot of kids here,” Ryan said. “As you know, this is a vocational school. Most of us are hands-on learners.”
She said she has spoken to several seniors who are struggling with their grades as a result of not having the access to extra help they would receive at the school.
“It’s preventing a lot of kids from going out on co-op because they’re not getting the proper grades they need because they’re not getting the help they need,” Ryan said. She is not currently on a cooperative education assignment.
Most of the hands-on shops such as HVAC and carpentry are in school all five days each week, but shops such as graphics and allied health are only in the school two days.
“We are educating students on how they get their extra help,” Aubrey said. Teachers are available before and after school, but he said it has to be scheduled, a process that is being worked out.
Clubs and activities are also meeting online, as are regional SkillsUSA competitions.