Elementary students return to full in-person learning

Apr 6, 2021

All of the Old Rochester Regional School District’s elementary schools resumed full-time classroom learning on April 5, and students and school officials alike were excited about the return.

Rochester Memorial School Social Worker Jamie Pacheco said April 5 was “like the first day of school.”

She said that while figuring out how to move students throughout the building safely and efficiently was a challenge, the students were adaptable.

“They’re all super flexible, so it’s awesome,” Pacheco said. “I think they’re all just happy to be back.”

Elementary students returned to full in-person school after over a year of alternative learning models.

At the beginning of the school year, students were either learning fully remotely over video call, or through a hybrid model, splitting their time between learning in the classroom and learning at home.

When full in-person learning returned for all students at Rochester Memorial School, Sippican School, Old Hammondtown School and Center School on April 5, the hybrid learning option went away for all elementary students. 

Now, all elementary students in the Tri-Town are either fully remote or fully in person.

“We feel confident we’re offering a high level of service to both in-person and remote students,” Old Rochester Regional Superintendent Michael Nelson said.

April 5 was a milestone for Nelson, too. It was the first day since he became superintendent last year that students have been in the classroom full-time.

“I definitely think there’s a sense of a new normal,” the superintendent said.

At Sippican School, Principal Marla Sirois said that the first day of full in-person learning was a testament to the school community.

“Having the entire school community back for in person learning is a relief and a true sign of our commitment to support our students and families,” she said. “We look forward to continuing to provide the best educational experience to all Sippican students.”

Sirois noted that the district has “made every effort to make sure our students have remained connected through the pandemic,” adding “the children have been resilient. I couldn't be prouder of the students at Sippican.”

For many students, April 5 was the first day in over a year when they saw all their classmates at once.

One student at Rochester Memorial said it was his first day of full in-person learning since starting school at the district.

“You could really tell they were excited to see their friends in person and not virtually,” Rochester Memorial Principal Derek Medeiros said.

While students at Rochester Memorial and Sippican school returned to their typical school buildings, the shift to full in-person learning in Mattapoisett was pretty different from the pre-pandemic normal.

The return to full in-person learning for Center School and Old Hammondtown saw students organized by grade, rather than by their home address. In-person kindergarten, first, and third grades students now attend Center School, and second, fourth, fifth and sixth graders attend Old Hammondtown.

Nelson said that across all the district’s elementary schools, students have transitioned well to full in-person learning.

“The transition has been smooth, which is what we wanted,” he said.

Nelson said that he was proud of the work the school officials did last year to put together learning models that allowed the elementary schools to shift to full in-person learning. He added that none of the schools in the district have had to pivot to a remote-only model this school year.

“We’re definitely excited about the direction we’re moving in,” Nelson said.