Part 1 – Return to Full School at DHS?

Part 1: Busing and Entrances


Joshua Moniz

Due to COVID rules, students may now enter through the band hallway on the DYSA side of the school or by the athletic office on the student parking lot side.

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.

With the anticipated possibility of returning to a full in-person model, a major concern in terms of COVID-19 safety remains transportation and entrances.

Principal Ross Thibault confirms that the three entrances will remain in use just as they are now. The main entrance will still be for buses, the band entrance for dropping off students, and the athletic doors for student drivers.

The delayed attendance will continue for at least the first few weeks to allow students to adjust. Mr. Thibault says he wants to return to the 7:30 am attendance if able to, but stresses the importance of a smooth transition, with as little stress as possible.

The bus scenario is also not changing much.

Bus windows will be required to remain propped open by at least two inches and mask-wearing by all bus riders will remain in effect. 

When asked about bus regulations and expectations, Mr. Thibault cited a document by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

DESE’s School Year 2020-21 Reopening Transportation Guidance document, updated February 11, 2021, says, “Capacity limitations and physical distancing requirements for students on buses are lifted, except for middle and high schools in districts with high community prevalence.”

As for communities who have high case numbers, the document says, “For middle and high schools in districts with high community prevalence, capacity limitations and physical distancing requirements on buses are amended to allow 2 students per bus bench.”

Elementary schools in the district returned to the full in-person model on Monday, April 5. School buses in the district utilized the lifted distancing guidelines.

Bus 27-A driver Joanne Bousquet said, “For elementary, I have had to double up [because] I now have 35 kids.” Instead of one student per seat, some elementary students are having to sit two to a seat in order to fit all of the bus riders.

While students may be closer together, the other protocols remain a priority.

Mr. Thibault says, “The important thing is everyone is expected to wear a mask, number one. Number two, windows should be open two inches.”

When asked what she was most looking forward to, Ms. Bousquet said, “A vacation.” After a laugh, Ms. Bousquet said that she’s looking forward to all the students back together as one. “A-B days are more difficult” to keep track of in the hybrid model. She said it’s difficult to remember which stops to pick up with the alternating cohort days. This is heightened when students attend classes remotely or do not take the bus on days when their cohort is scheduled for in-person learning. 

Freshman Shubban Swamy said he’s most concerned about “going on the bus. Those barely fit everyone when it was normal. No idea how they’re going to social distance and keep everyone in.”

A DHS junior said, “I got my license this year, but even if I had not, I would still have been driven versus taking the bus because my parents weren’t comfortable with me being on a bus.”

Junior Ben Moniz said, “I am ready to move forward and get to see all my friends in both cohorts again.”

Others expressed their dislike in the staggered exit dismissals, feeling that students ignored these protocols and social distancing.

Mr. Thibault emphasized his main goal is to have “as many students back into the school as possible, five days a week.” 

“This year has been a significant challenge and [there] will be bumps along the way, [but] teachers have done their very best, students have done their very best,” said Mr. Thibault.