Dartmouth High to return full time May 13

Apr 26, 2021

Dartmouth High students will return to full in-person learning on May 13, the district announced Tuesday.

“In anticipation of the high schoolers returning, there’s been a lot of work going on,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford noted at an April 26 School Committee meeting.

During the school year, students either learned remotely or were on a hybrid schedule with classes divided alphabetically to attend school on alternate days, with those not in the building learning virtually from home. 

Since April 5, Dartmouth’s elementary schools have been fully in person. Middle schoolers will return full time on April 28.

When the high schoolers fully return, classrooms will look a bit different.

More desks will be placed in each room at 3 feet apart

In rooms like the art, science, and computer labs — where 3 feet distance is not possible — additional safety measures were put in place. 

“In those classrooms, our maintenance staff worked diligently to install plexiglass barriers in between those work stations,” Principal Ross Thibault said.

For rooms that cannot fully accommodate the larger number of students, that class will be scheduled to an alternate space in the high school. 

Those continuing with the remote only option will continue to learn through Edgenuity courses. If they are to transition back to being at the high school, classes will continue to be accessed through the virtual learning academy, but with the ability to get in person support.

Only students who are required to quarantine will be permitted to join their classroom through Google Meet.

The biggest challenge in preparing the school, Thibault noted, was with figuring out how lunch periods will look. He added that “we’re going from 450 kids in the building at once to 900.”

Under current guidelines, lunches are conducted providing 6 feet of space between students.

To create more dining space, lunches will also be consumed in the auditorium, library, outdoor patio, stage, and — as a “last resort” — the band room.

“We would offer that space to our music and band students,” Thibault noted. “We thought it was important since it’s their space primarily.”

Passing periods were also a concern. 

The principal said with additional students going from class to class, there will “need to be a renewed sense of vigilance” about maintaining as much distance as possible.

Consideration was given to staggering the class transitions, but Thibault said he trusts that his students will continue to follow guidelines established during the pandemic.

“Those mitigation measures that we know are so important — I’m very comfortable with saying that they’re well established,” he added. “Our students have done a great job with it this year.”