Part 2 – Return to Full School at DHS?

Part 2: Remote Options


Sophia Waite

Members of the DHS Spectrum enduring their remote cohort day.

Editors’ Note: All week the Spectrum will be publishing a series of articles that take a look at what a full return to DHS will look from a variety of perspectives.

The Dartmouth Middle School opens fully on April 26 and the town elementary schools are already fully open, while the DHS students are still waiting to hear what might happen for them. With changing COVID safety guidelines and the vaccination of students unclear, it is understandable that a number of students would have concerns about the impending transition from hybrid to full in-school learning.

DHS Principal Ross Thibault addressed these concerns, among others, in a recent interview. 

When asked if he expected students to feel unsafe in the building with the rather sudden change in schedule, Mr. Thibault said that he believes that most students will be able to feel safe within the school building, as the “school is a safe environment with several mitigation strategies well established this year.”

However, he also acknowledged that there may be some students who may “feel uneasy or unsafe when everyone returns to school.” To address the concerns of these students, and to ensure that everyone who returns is in a positive mindset, Mr. Thibault said, “It’s important that students feeling unsafe speak to a trusted, caring adult.” Once these students express their worries about coming back to school, the Dartmouth high community “can ensure they are as comfortable as possible.”

Mr. Thibault explained that it is understandable that because students have had a year away from complete in-person learning, the transition may be difficult for some.

Still, Mr. Thibault is optimistic for the change and said, “We will do our best to help them adjust.”

If students, or parents of students, do not wish for their children to return to school, the fully-remote learning option of Edgenuity will be available, said Mr.Thibault. Hybrid will no longer be an option for students, “so it would be full in person or fully remote.”

Because most students at this time are unvaccinated, and can still get sick with, or be exposed to COVID-19, and therefore have to be quarantined, methods of support must be available.

Mr. Thibault explained that fully in-person students who are sick, or who must be quarantined, due to contact with COVID-19 will have the option of attending their classes through Google Meet, the platform that has been used for hybrid learning this year. Only students “who have extended absences due to medical reasons will be allowed to attend using Google Meet.”

Students who are not comfortable in the school will use the fully remote option. Mr. Thibault explained that if a student must stay home for a long period of time, due to COVID guidelines, or possible other reasons, the school nurse will notify teachers of the extended absence. Students will then be given “additional time to complete any assignments they might have.” Students also have the opportunity to take advantage of the PASE period in order to make up outstanding assignments and receive additional support from their teachers.

The rapidly changing aspect of the COVID-19 situation has been present since the beginning of the pandemic, and can be distressing to students. However, the school is committed to providing options for students, and making sure everyone feels safe and supported.