Better Late than Never: SHS Students Return to Full-Time Learning

Better Late than Never: SHS Students Return to Full-Time Learning

Ella Ward, Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, March 22, 2021, the SPS school committee made the decision to send grades 6-12 back to school full-time. Students will return to full-time, in-person instruction on Monday, April 12. Subsequently, on Tuesday, March 23, SHS Principal, Dr. Lisa Maguire, sent an email to students and parents titled, “School Reopening,”  announcing the long-awaited return to school.

You might think students would be excited to return to some form of normalcy; however, that’s not the case for all. Many students have expressed their concerns about returning to school through conversations with their teachers, parents, and the school committee. These students have expressed their concerns over parking and, of course, safety. 

Per the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, social distancing of six feet is still highly recommended, if feasible; however, they are allowing a three-foot distance to accelerate the return of students back to full in-person school. You can imagine how this makes many teachers, parents, and students, feel–uneasy and unsafe. For almost a whole year now, citizens have been told to maintain a 6-foot distance between themselves and others at all times in public spaces. This sudden switch in the rule is nerve-wracking for many.

An article published in The Scituation on March 29, by Mary Stevenson, Samantha Roman, and Sydney Washburn, titled, “Return to Regular School Schedule Met with Mixed Enthusiasm,” discusses a survey that was sent out to students in Mr. Gross’s B Block physics class: “0 out of the 11” students who took the survey want to return to school fully in person. This statistic is staggering! 

These opinions, which are coming directly from the student body, give a clear representation of how some people are feeling about the transition. It is important to keep in mind how greatly affected the students and teachers will be by this new adjustment, as the pandemic has been extremely difficult for so many. 

Parking has also become a huge concern for numerous teen drivers who attend SHS. While following the hybrid model, the school’s parking lots have been sparse considering half of the student body is learning from home three out of the five days of the week. This has been great for all of the newly licensed drivers: more space, a quick walk to the building, and no problems with anyone swooping in and stealing your assigned spot. Returning to school full time means more students commuting to school every day.

Dr. Maguire acknowledged the school’s parking lots are not necessarily spacious enough for all the returning students. Plans have been arranged to have drivers—mainly juniors—park at St. Luke’s parking lot, which is located across the street from the Town Hall building. With the arrival of this news, many students are not only unhappy about the return to full in-person school, but they are now upset about the inconvenience of parking across the street: crossing the main road, an unanticipated walk to the building, and the risk of getting stuck in traffic and being late to class are among their complaints.

During a recent press conference with members of the Honors Journalistic Writing Class, Superintendent Burkhead emphasized his concern for student safety; therefore, plans are being made for a police detail to assist students as they cross First Parish Road to and from St. Luke’s each school day.

The return to school—understandably—is nerve-wracking and unsettling for some students. If all goes well, getting back into a structured routine and a sense of normalcy will help students feel more comfortable, and most importantly, excited about coming back.

Hopefully, seeing friends and teachers will bring some enthusiasm to the student body. Times are very hard in the world right now. It is important that the community unites together and helps one another get back into the swing of things once again.

As students, teachers, and administrators have proven all year, SHS can conquer the challenges that have been thrown our way!