As the state instituted guidelines calling for a return of five-day, in-person learning in both middle and elementary schools, in Longmeadow, the high school will also be returning to five-day, in-person schooling next month.
Starting April 26th, Cohorts A and B will be phased out and two Cohorts will remain: Cohort C which will be fully virtual, and Cohort E which will be in-school five days a week. This will also mean that there will no longer be a half day on Wednesdays. That same day middle school students will also return to school five days a week (as mandated by the state), while elementary school students will return earlier on April 5th.
Although schools are still waiting for guidance from the state on returning high school students five days a week, LHS is taking this step preemptively and expecting that there will be mandates for high school students to return to in-person, five-day-a-week schooling, too. Longmeadow is taking this step as more students from Cohort C are coming back to in-person school this April: 133 will leave Cohort C while 214 students elected to remain remote for the rest of the year. To achieve this return, Longmeadow will be following the state’s recommended three-foot distancing rule, but will continue to distance all students six-feet away during lunch.
Superintendent Dr. Marty O’Shea, at the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 16th, said that he remains “concerned about the lack of available substitutes and the challenge that we will likely face covering classrooms over the course of the next few weeks and months.” He mentioned that as teachers take their vaccine doses there will be an increase in absences as a result of adverse reactions to the shots. “That’s a very real challenge that is on the horizon for us,” he says.
While administration has explored keeping a half day or early release schedule for Wednesdays, Dr. O’Shea says that with the state’s guideline of five and a half hours of school a day, such a plan would be “impossible.”