HANOVER — South Shore Tech was granted a return to school waiver following a site visit from officials with the Department of Elementaty and Secondary Eduation (DESE), according to Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey reported to the South Shore Tech on School Committee on Wednesday, May 19.
The waiver is only good through the end of the school year.
“We can continue as we are for the remainder of this school year, which can now be very easily interpreted as kids are in school eight days out of 10,” he said. “They’re in every shop day and they’re in three days a week out of five for their academic week.”
Hickey said the school will push the limits where there is the space to do so.
Starting May 24, students were returning to class for full days of instruction, no longer having staggered starts in the morning.
When seniors sign out, Hickey said freshmen will be in school for a full day everyday because there is adequate capacity in the building without the seniors in the building.
“Our plan … [is] we will have a schedule that will look a lot more like a normal year,” Hickey said. “We’re planning for September with the assumption that there’s still some sort of distancing between kids — three-foot distancing.”
The school will then be open without additional modifications needed for the 2021-22 school year.
“It’ll be nice to see some of the hallmarks of a normal school year,” he said.
Hickey said he expects that indoor mask-wearing requirements will continue for the remainder of this school year, but for outside activities including shops, gym class and sports teams will no longer be included under the mask rules.
The outdoor mask guidelines have not been clear on whether they apply to adults, he said however.
Masks will not be required at graduations, according to the state, Hickey said, but unvaccinated people will still be encouraged to wear them.
Final guidelines for the June 5 graduation ceremony was being relayed to parents as soon as possible.
The Parent Advisory Council has asked for a breakdown of grading philosophy for the school as part of the school improvement plan, approved by the School Committee May 19, which already grades academic achievement and work ethics separately, Principal Mark Aubrey said.
Providing more information on school rules and improving communication are other goals.
“We do a really, really strong job communicating with our families about what is going on, what they can expect from us, but I had a number of [freshman] parents who, obviously, went through a different year this year,” Aubrey said. “They were able to pinpoint some things they felt we needed to work on, which I felt was good for us to hear.”
Continued Zoom meetings, which they see as beneficial to families who can’t attend meeting otherwise. Cooperative education, which is seeing the best year so far, according to Aubrey, is explained well to students, but parents have asked for a separate informational meetings.
Assistant Principal Sandra Baldner said 135 students took part in the coop program with 120 earning a combined $140,000 so far in 35,000 hours of employment.
Parents have also asked for a career pathway with the guidance department, whether students are planning higher education, the military or a path into the workplace.
Freshman Andrea Fernandez has suggested a student saving program to help plan for the high cost of yearbooks, prom expenses and other graduation-related costs when they become seniors.
“There’s a lot of money that goes out of the house in that two months,” Aubrey said.
Some parents have also suggested that union sponsorships be sought to help defray costs of the student service learning trip.