Dedham’s 2020 class graduates, underclassmen face uncertain return to school

Dedham?s 2020 class graduates, underclassmen face uncertain return to school

DEDHAM, Mass. — Many school districts across Massachusetts have done variations of graduations from virtual to drive-through, and some have been forced to cancel them.

In Falmouth, a ceremony planned for Saturday was canceled because district leaders said some students may have been exposed to COVID-19.

In Dedham, graduation was held on a sweltering morning at Barnes Memorial Park as students sat apart from each other, wearing masks. There was no stage to walk across, and diplomas were not handed to each graduate. Names of graduates were read, and families sat behind a roped-off student area clapping and waving from afar.

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It was not a normal graduation but families tell us they were appreciative to have been given a ceremony.

“It’s just amazing to see everybody, and see everybody graduate,” said Allajhahne Myers, a member of the 2020 class.

Graduates threw caps into the air at the end, one tradition that remained even in the pandemic-era graduation.

“It’s better than winning the Megabucks,” said Charmaine Burrell-Reid, Allajhahne’s mother.

Lexi Mallios says she is thrilled to be moving on after graduation but is also concerned about her little sister, an elementary school student who plans to return to school in the fall though a return-to-school plan has yet to be finalized.

“I’m nervous for her it’s hard for them to learn with the Chromebooks,” said Mallios. “She’s so young.”

School districts across the state are quickly crafting return-to-school models required by the state which will need to be submitted soon for in-person, remote learning, and a hybrid of the two.

This past week, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or DESE published new guidance on how to handle cases of students who are symptomatic, as well as recommendations for socially distanced buses, among other guidelines.

“I think I’m going to opt out of that bus routine,” stated Elizabeth Mallios, whose other daughter, Stavroula will enter 5th grade this fall

Mallios, director of a child care center said she has been working through state requirements for her job and feels it’s imperative that students return to school for in-person learning even if it’s reduced from the traditional five-day schedule.

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