A unique school year begins next week

Sep 10, 2020 by

Published September 11, 2020

MELROSE — Next week is a big one for the city’s educators, students, parents and other caregivers as the 2020-21 academic year begins amid the on-going coronavirus pandemic.

While school officials have backed a one-week-in-school, one-week-remote return to instruction plan, a lot of kids will only learn from home for at least the first month of the school year. But next week, they will be methodically and carefully allowed to go to their school grounds or campus to collect the materials they will need to start the educational process anew. All school buildings across Massachusetts have been closed since the middle of March.

Supt. of Schools Dr. Julie Kukenberger outlined some of the logistics of a safe return to school Tuesday night during a remote meeting of the School Committee.

On Monday, Sept. 14, for example, incoming freshmen will have a chance to get acquainted with Melrose High. Members of the Class of 2024 will be divided into three groups organized by alphabet and the high school will have three orientations throughout the day. Ninth graders will meet on Fred Green Field with the MHS administration. All students will need to wear a mask and remain physically distanced. The orientation will last no longer than an hour.

The first will be held at 9 a.m. for those with last names from A to G. The goal is to give the MHS Class of 2024 an opportunity to meet the principals, learn about MHS, see the building and familiarize themselves with logistics and expectations. Students will also be led on tours of Melrose High School in small groups. This event is not mandatory and a slide presentation will be shared with all students and families.

On Tuesday, Sept. 15 members of the Class of 2021 will hold a Senior Class pep rally on Fred Green Field.

The first day of school is Wednesday, Sept. 16, during which high school students will rotate through a shortened full-day schedule, will have a chance to meet their teachers, learn a routine and begin building relationships.

On Sept. 16 at Veterans Memorial Middle School, 6th graders will come to the campus for some type of tour. On Sept. 17, all grades will meet with their homeroom and team teachers, and grade 7 students will come to campus to get learning materials. Students will work thorugh a full schedule on Sept. 18, and 8th graders will come to campus to get learning materials.

Anyone coming to school must physically distance, wear a mask and wash their hands.

At the city’s grade schools, learning begins on Sept. 16 and some of the most at-risk youngsters will be taught in-person that day, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Those who will do all-remote learning for the foreseeable future will come onto campus as some point next week to get materials and those in kindergarten to grade 5 will begin remote learning, meeting their teachers and building relationships.

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Also during this week’s School Committee meeting, DPW Director Elena Proakis gave a very detailed presentation on how the schools have been cleaned and maintained this summer as the Maintenance Department prepared the facilities for students’ return.

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