By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
A year ago, Medfield public schools shut down in-person learning as the country tried to get a grip on COVID-19. What was expected to be a two-week closure soon evolved into learning from home. In September, students and teachers were welcomed back for part-time in-school learning. Finally, on Monday, March 22, after over a year of waiting, students were invited back for in-person learning, five days a week. The momentous occasion called for celebration. Students from second to fifth grade were welcomed back to their respective schools with a glittering event to commemorate the day.
As it did for everyone, the pandemic flipped students' lives upside-down. Suddenly, they went from seeing friends every day to only talking to them over Zoom and FaceTime, and perhaps occasionally meeting for a rare outdoor hello. No longer were their classrooms in Dale or Wheelock, but rather their kitchen tables and bedrooms, with parents helping with many aspects of their education. Many friends were still separated when cohorts began going back to school, each one on specific days of the week. For many friends, Monday marked the first time they'd seen each other in person since March 13, 2020. “We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” explained one Dale Street parent. “My kids are probably more excited than I am. They need this.”
Students arrived at Dale Street and were greeted by the sound of the music being played by two DJs, one at each drop-off point at the school. On one side of the school, kids arriving spotted chalk drawings with encouraging messages as they got off buses. They were cheered on by teachers and parents volunteers waving shiny pom-poms in the air.
Cars dropping off kids were decorated with balloons, paint, and streamers. One car had “YAY!” written on its back windshield, capturing the shared feelings of everyone on the day. Another car noted “No more Zoom!” celebrating the end of virtual instruction.
Students gathered in a crowd as they arrived. Many kids ran to greet their friends, forming little pockets in the group as if they had never been apart from each other. “One of my friends isn’t here yet,” said one young student to a teacher, as she scanned the crowd. “I haven’t seen him in, like, a year!”
As the crowd built, teachers revved their students up. Armed with pom-poms and party favors, and with one teacher managing a megaphone, fourth and fifth-grade students were full of energy, ready to start the rest of their school year. “Are you guys ready?” one teacher asked a group of students.
“Ready for stuff to be normal again!” a student replied.
Soon, the doors were open and the crowd rushed towards the front steps of Dale Street School. For the first time, possibly ever, every student seemed excited to be back at school. For many, it was the first sign that normalcy is just a few steps away.