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Elementary Students Return to School; Some Districts Could Seek Delay for Middle School

The doors at Forestdale Elementary School in Sandwich, MA.
Forestdale Elementary School Facebook Page
Sandwich Public Schools
Forestdale Elementary School in Sandwich, MA.

Monday marked the official return to full-time, in-person learning for many students in local elementary schools. But with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases on Cape Cod, some districts are considering asking the state for a delay in the return of older students.

In Sandwich, Superintendent Pam Gould said the high school has less space for social distancing than the elementary schools.

Although minimum spacing has been reduced to three feet, Gould said if a student tests positive, anyone within six feet has to quarantine.

She said the district is facing the question, “If we're all back in, and we're going to be quarantining kids all over the place, is that better than the model that we had?”

Gould said she plans to talk with the Sandwich School Committee Wednesday about whether to apply for a state waiver.

At this point, the waiver would only be necessary for middle schoolers, because the state has not set a return date for Grades 9 through 12.

Sandwich’s STEM Academy for Grades 7 and 8 is in the same building as the high school. The state deadline for middle schoolers to return in person is April 28.

Meanwhile, elementary students in Sandwich are now attending in person five days a week instead of four. Previously, they learned from home on Wednesdays.

Gould said she knows what a difference that can make for parents, by giving them time to work and a more consistent schedule.

“I would imagine, [for] those that do have to work, this will be fantastic,” she said.

Remote learning remains an option. In Sandwich, 123 students are learning remotely in Grades Pre-K through 6; 1,084 are learning in person.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.