For many Bourne students, this week marked the first time they returned to their school buildings since the pandemic forced the closure of schools back in March.
On Tuesday, October 13, seven months to the day since Bourne schools closed, the district opened its doors to students to begin its hybrid model of instruction.
Under this model, the student population has been split into two cohorts that alternate in-person and remote learning weeks.
While the students with the highest needs in the district—students in the integrated preschool, English-language learners and students who learn in substantially different learning environments—entered the buildings in the middle of September, the bulk of the student population is starting this week, with the second cohort beginning in-person next week.
Superintendent Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou said she and members of the administrative team spent the day visiting each of the district’s schools and, by all accounts, the day went very well.
“So many teachers and staff expressed how great it was to welcome half of our students back,” she said.
The feeling seemed to be mutual, she said, having spoken to students across the four schools as well.
“I was able to speak with high schoolers who expressed that they were so glad to be back and witnessed kindergarteners bounce off the bus with backpacks almost as large as them,” she said. “Even the middle schoolers seemed happy to be back during a socially distanced lunch period.”
Dr. Zhou said everyone anticipates an adjustment period, and school officials are allowing time for students and staff to acclimate to the new schedules and experiences that come along with in-person education this year, but she said she is thankful to the staff and families for their support.
Bourne High School Principal Amy Cetner agreed the transition to the hybrid model is off to a great start.
“It’s so great to have students back in the building, and they have been extremely cooperative and positive,” she said.
She credited the hard work and professional development the teachers have been doing for the smooth transition as well as the planning that went into the virtual learning the district started in the fall. Ms. Cetner said at the high school planning included a new bell schedule, which is still being used now that students are back in the building.
As a result, students are already aware of the expectations.
The remote cohort has been tuning in to the live classrooms this week using streaming methods. Ms. Cetner said this will allow those students to be on the same page as students who are learning in the buildings this week.
“All in all, I feel like our plan was well executed and supported by our staff, and in turn this has benefited our students,” she said.