School Committee looks back on unprecedented year

Jun 7, 2021

What would have happened if everyone knew in April 2020 what the year ahead would look like?

That question was posed by School Committee member Kathleen Amaral at the June 7 meeting meeting, the final one of an unprecedented school year.

“Everyone might have quit,’’ Committee Chair Dr. Shannon Jenkins laughed. “Maybe it’s good we only learned a little at a time — it’s been a difficult year for everyone.’’

But out of the ashes of a year that brought new schedules, technology and physical and mental health challenges, valuable lessons were learned, committee members said.  

“I’m really proud of what we’ve done,’’ Amaral said. “We’ve done really well as a district.’’

Vice Chair Mary Waite said the committee “learned to work in the moment with the information we had,’’ even as the information tended to change frequently. 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford reviewed some of the district’s focus for the year as she informally discussed her mid-cycle evaluation. 

Many times, she said, state guidance varied and uncertainty reigned. “Were we closed?’’ staff members would wonder. “Were we open?’’

Through it all, the superintendent said emphasis was placed on mental health support that was “very important to us,” to make sure everyone was getting through the uncertainties.

Gifford added that technology was also vital as the district worked to ensure that everyone had the necessary equipment and training. 

“We all learned a lot this year,’’ committee member John Nunes said. “I know I have.’’

Committee member Chris Oliver thanked everyone in the district for working together. 

“You needed to lean on each other in order for this to work,’’ he said. “You needed to support each other in order for this to work.’’