SUDBURY, Mass. — It was a perfectly normal scene. But the kind, these days, that would have some doing a double-take. Students marching in single file out of the Peter Noyes Elementary School in Sudbury, after finishing their first day of class.
Like many towns, Sudbury schools opened using a hybrid model - meaning students will engage in both on-site and remote learning. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education made that option available to districts last summer, as a way to keep students physically distanced, even if districts didn’t have the space to properly do so.
That is accomplished by splitting the student body into cohorts which, theoretically, will not mix.
It was a mix of a different kind which suddenly changed opening plans at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. Teens held a party over the weekend sufficiently crowded that Grades 9-12 will be going remotely until the end of September.
Among those affected was Kerri Tabasky’s daughters.
“For safety reasons and we totally understand,” Tabasky said. She describes her girls as ‘self-starters’ who wanted to go back, but aren’t sweating the two-weeks of virtual work.
She was, however, very thrilled her youngest daughter, who has Down syndrome, went back Tuesday to the Ephraim Curtis Middle School.
“We went to the school on Friday to take a look at the classroom and she was crying she was so happy to be back,” Tabasky said. “She needs that socialization. She was very isolated... she was regressing. And as much as the school and her teachers were so great at trying to help the situation and trying to accommodate...it was very, very challenging for her.”
Still, going back was not without some anxiety.
“One of her friends who she’s gone to school with since preschool is staying home and he’s going to be going to school remote,” Tabasky said. “So she’s very sad he’s not going to be there. But she has a lot of new friends and the teachers are excited to have her back.”
Amy David dropped her 8th grader off at Ephraim Curtis this morning, as well.
“It’s been about six months. We were all a little nervous,” David said. “But it was very seamless. The staff worked so hard to make it a great transition for the kids who were all probably pretty nervous.”
Parents in Sudbury, like everywhere else, know the new school year comes with no guarantees.
“It could change tomorrow,” Tabasky said. “I know that everyone’s doing the best they can. Everyone’s just hoping for the best. And we are too.”
“This whole pandemic has taught us to live day by day," said David. "So you know we are happy that today we have our health and that our kids are healthy.”
Uncertainty is well-known to produce anxiety, according to Maxim Lianski, MD, a psychiatrist at Metrowest Medical Center in Framingham. Lianski says it’s a pretty fair bet that if parents are feeling anxiety, their kids are feeling it too and it actually makes things better if adults reasonably discuss with children what’s bothering them.
“I think they just have to learn that not everything in their life will be black and white... will be known,” Lianski said. “And they won’t have all the answers that they want and again they have to learn to live with that feeling.”
These days they have little choice.
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