By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Medfield Public Schools are back in session with full-time in-person learning. Providing there are no further COVID-related complications, the 2021-2022 Medfield school year will be the first conducted entirely in person since 2019. Students could not be more thrilled, while teachers are ecstatic to have students filling their classrooms.
But that doesn’t mean the work is done yet. There’s still much to do to ensure students stay in classrooms this year.
Despite the contentiousness often portrayed in the media involving adults across the nation, students in Medfield seem to have taken to wearing a mask in school without a problem. “The kids have been great," says Mary Garcia, an English teacher at Medfield High School. "They have to be masked, vaxxed or not. They haven’t complained about them. Sometimes they slip down a little bit but you just remind them, and it goes back up.”
It’s easy to understand why kids want to return to school this year.
“For the most part, I think it was so weird and uncomfortable to be in and out of school all the time,” explains Garcia. Last year’s hybrid model had kids switching back and forth from learning at school and learning virtually. With this semester is expected to take place solely in person, kids will spend less time and energy on transitioning back and forth. “It’s just better to be altogether.”
There have been a few modifications made to ensure student safety this year. For one, students are asked to distance themselves at lunch and take advantage of the good weather to eat outside. Teachers and students are already thinking about what will happen during the winter months when eating outdoors is not an option. “We’ve done more crazy things; we can get creative with lunch,” says Garcia.
The great success of the year relies heavily on the school nurses. More than ever before, they have been tasked both with ensuring that students stay healthy and providing aid during the pandemic for teachers. Along with volunteer pool testing, teachers are repurposing one of the oldest tools they have: the seating chart. By using each class' chart, nurses can see who may have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 and alert them quickly.
With some safety protocols, teachers are all hoping to ensure that this year goes on without interruption for students and staff. “All of this is to keep everyone safe with the goal of keeping everyone in school. Sometimes the things that we’re doing aren’t as comfortable or are kind of awkward, but the goal is to keep everyone in the building. We also don’t know who lives with their grandma, who has a baby sister at home. We have to be cognizant of that,” says Garcia.
The situation with COVID-19 is constantly changing. There’s no telling whether any new virus variants will prove to be a wrench in the gears of this year’s school plans. Given the difficulty of the last two years, though, teachers are more than ready to plan for anything when it comes to the pandemic - especially if it means keeping their students in school.