During a Wellesley High School All-Parent update led by WHS principal Jamie Chisum, the unknown loomed large. Ideas about what attending school in the fall might look like, to how students will get back up to speed academically, to whether school sports will be in play all were punctuated with a big question mark. See the meeting here on Wellesley Public Media.
About the current state of remote learning, Chisum said, “We are not as good at teaching our students remotely as we are in person.”
Superintendent David Lussier was on hand to offer a big picture view. “First priority is the social and emotional support for our kids and families, knowing how much anxiety is out there. I think that will continue to be an ongoing focus area for us in addition, of course, for us to be thinking about our curriculum and many other elements.”
As schools across the state wait for direction from Governor Charlie Baker about what’s ahead for schools’ re-opening, Wellesley has begun planning for a variety of fall options. Lussier laid out three possibilities:
- All kids return to school and “we work on social distancing restrictions in place on how we move about the building and interact.”
- We could have a “blended environment where kids are coming to school two or three days a week” complemented by remote learning.
- It’s possible at the outset or sometime during the year that “we could be in a closure again.”
WHS Math Department head Elisa Morris said teachers are in meetings focused on curriculum adjustment work to figure out how to approach learning next year. As a way to highlight the sequential nature of math learning, Morris used Algebra 2 as an example. She noted that Algebra 2 teaching won’t start in its usual place (even assuming review time typical at the beginning of each year) because Algebra 1 material from early March going forward was abbreviated. “There is certainly the recognition that standards will have to be adjusted across the board.”
We could use a little guidance
From the guidance end, department head Dana Plunkett said, “we’ve been creating a tremendous amount of communication” via a weekly email and a weekly newsletter. There will be a final senior seminar the week of May 18, which will be “the final touchpoint with seniors to talk to them about their post-secondary plans and get eyes on them one last time before they graduate.”
Sophomore and junior guidance seminars are on hold. The content is posted online.
Plunkett encouraged families to “Keep kids as engaged as possible and let them know anything they do now will put them in as good a shape as possible for starting school in the fall.”
Assistant Principal of Bradford House Sarah Matloff answered the question about final grades: June 16 is the last day of school for kids. June 17 is the last day for teachers. So grades are likely to be ready by June 18 to go to transcript. Grades will be posted to Power School.
At one point the sad realities of finishing up a school year with no students in the building or outside playing sports got to Chisum who became a little emotional. “What I would give to watch a high school baseball game right now,” he sighed.
But Chisum perked up when it was time to talk about the upcoming graduation parade.
He said that families can expect to receive a packet with instructions soon with all the information on how the line-up of cars will be organized at Babson College on June 6. On that day, the 380 members of the Class of 2020 will celebrate with an 8-mile car parade that will wind its way through town before ending at the front doors of WHS. The idea is for the event to be a community-wide celebration as people along the parade route wave to the seniors, all practicing social distancing, of course.
The families will be in the cars with the students so that excited kids won’t be driving. The parade will end up at the WHS parking lot, which will be filled with faculty members there to greet the students. Then the families will one-by-one pull their cars up to the front door of the high school, where Chisum will be waiting in protective gear to hand each student their diploma.
All the things
In a perfect world, seniors will receive their yearbooks and caps and gowns before the parade. Then at the doors of WHS they will receive their actual diplomas.
Those orders have been in for months, but none of the companies was an essential service that remained open, so there have been challenges with shipping.
The caps and gowns, for example, are coming from Minnesota. “Believe me if it was a Massachusetts company, I’d go and pick them up myself,” Chisum said.