GUILFORD — Guilford High School and Adams Middle School students will be welcomed back into the classrooms four days a week starting Monday, March 15.
“While we have seen over 100 positive students’ (COVID-19) cases in our schools and over 30 adult cases in our schools, we’re confident that in none of those cases have we seen in-school transfer,“ said Guilford Superintendent of Schools Paul Freeman, during a ZOOM Board of Education special meeting Thursday, Feb. 25.
“That leads us to believe that at this time, with the community numbers coming down, it is time to get our students back in school,” he added.
Freeman also sent out an announcement to parents and staff on Friday, Feb. 26 about the changes. In his letter, he stressed that all COVID safety protocols will be maintained, which include “lunches in classrooms at the elementary schools and Baldwin; plexiglass dividers in classrooms and offices; cleaning thoroughly; social distancing as much as possible in classrooms; a no visitor policy; no school assemblies or field trips; directional signage throughout the buildings to limit incidental contact; and continued contact tracing and quarantining in response to identified positive cases.”
Freeman’s recommendation was agreed upon by the Board of Education o Thursday.
Previously, Pre-K to grade 6 were in-person four days per week and one day remotely. Students in grades 7-12 had been in a “a hybrid model of two days in-person and three days remote” since the beginning of this school year.
However, with the new plan, parents can decide to keep their children fully remote, but there will no longer will be hybrid learning, explained Freeman.
Remote learning will continue on Wednesdays for deep cleaning of the facilities, “at least for the foreseeable future,” said Freeman.
In addition, after school activities will not be opened up for in-person gathering.
“We want to make sure we change one big variable at a time,” said Freeman.
This will likely please many Guilford parents, 375 of whom signed a petition on the website change.org, pushing to return to full-time in-person education.
Sarah Celotto, who started the petition along with Jennifer Murphy, said she is very happy about the decision.
Celotto, who has children in Adams Middle School and Guilford High School had said she believes it is best to get the schools open and welcoming students into the classrooms.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for just so many people and for me personally, as well as my family,” she said.
“Just to know that there’s going to be some sort of normalcy coming back in two weeks for these children and for the families and for the parents who’ve just been struggling, juggling work,” she added.
“I truly believe that once we get in and get going on this, we will be successful at it and we’ll be fine right to the end of the year,” she said. “I’m only disappointed we didn’t do it earlier; I truly believe we could have.”
Freeman explained that teachers will be offered vaccinations beginning Monday, March 1.
“We anticipate that it will take the entire month to get all of our school staff vaccinated, but that’s good news,” he said.
“That is a positive in any way you think about it. It will help to strengthen and harden our community and reduce further spread and that’s a positive and we’re happy to have that happening in concert with the schedule change.”
The superintendent is hopeful that the schools will be back full time by the end of the school year.
“It remains our hope that we will be five days a week before we close this school year,” he said.
“I don’t know when that will be,” he added. “We will make that decision after we make this one, based on the metrics that we see in town and when we are confident that this change is stable and hasn’t cause us to see less success than we have seen so far.”
Contact Sarah Page Kyrcz at firstname.lastname@example.org