Successful First Full Week of In-Person School

first_imgBy MADDY VITALEOcean City schools celebrated their first full week of offering all in-person instruction for those who wanted it, while continuing to offer all virtual learning for those who are not quite ready to attend full time amid a pandemic.After a year of virtual and hybrid learning — the blending of in-person and distance learning for the school week — the district has opened the doors to the primary, intermediate and high schools for five-day instruction.In March, grades kindergarten through sixth returned to full in-school instruction. Grades seventh and eighth in the intermediate school and grades ninth through 12th in the high school began offering full in-school instruction last week with all early-dismissal days.“Myself, the Board (of Education), the administration and the students are thrilled to be back and looking forward to finishing out the year together,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor said in a statement Monday.In December, the district formed a COVID-19 committee with School Board Vice President Patrick Kane, a hand surgeon, appointed as its chairman. Dr. Kane, along with other board members, and his medical colleagues hold meetings to discuss how to safely return to a full school day, keeping up to speed on the fluid nature of the pandemic.Some changes were made and many supplies were purchased even before the committee was formed to enable the district to safely operate during COVID.That included Plexiglas barriers on each desk and table, and added signage throughout the buildings for both the primary and intermediate schools to remind students to practice safe behavior while in and out of the schools.Ocean City High School Principal Dr. Matt Jamison speaks during a March 17 Board of Education meeting.The high school has six periods, but has early dismissal with the periods shortened. This is because students could not eat lunch on site due to social distancing guidelines that could not be met in the cafeteria.Ocean City High School Principal Dr. Matthew Jamison said “the week went well.”“Since we have been open all year for in-person learning, the only difference was volume,” Dr. Jamison said Monday. “It was good to have all the students back and feel the energy in the halls and classrooms — that is what makes our students and school so special.”He noted that there were some difficulties, but nothing that was not manageable.“We have had challenges, but our students have been nothing but positive and cooperative,” Dr. Jamison added. “We look forward to a positive close to the year.”Almost to the day of the one-year anniversary of dealing with the pandemic, the district announced back in March its initial rollout plan for reopening for five-day in-person instruction.The year has brought many changes, from cancellations of milestone events to virtual ones or new ones to temporarily replace them.The district recently announced that there will be a prom next month outside on the campus.Then-Education Commissioner Dr. Lamont Repollet and Schools Superintendent Kathleen Taylor shake a graduate’s hand in 2019.Throughout, Dr. Taylor has detailed in letters posted on the district’s website the plans moving forward from week to week, month to month.And on Friday, she posted a letter about her decision to retire effective Aug. 1 after 15 years as schools superintendent.In her letter, she explained how the pandemic has dramatically changed schooling.“Colleagues, associations, consortiums, and education departments will continue to lead the way in responding to this seismic change by creating a more flexible, equitable and resilient school environment designed to encourage each student’s constructive curiosity in exploring personal opportunities to learn,” Dr. Taylor said.She continued, “Therefore, retiring now is a perfect time. The School District is ready for another visionary superintendent, one who can continue to lead this district, continue to challenge the status quo, and maximize the benefits of this evolutionary time for the next generation of students.”The Intermediate School reopened after the purchase of Plexiglas barriers on each desk and table. The district now is offering five days a week of in-person learning. (2019 photo courtesy of JASM Consulting)last_img read more