Sippican School K-2 students to return to the classroom full time on Feb. 22

Feb 8, 2021

MARION — After Mattapoisett and Rochester sent their kindergarten, first and second grade students back to the classroom full time, Marion will follow suit. 

The Marion School Committee voted on Feb. 8 to pivot to a full in-person learning model for Sippican School’s youngest learners starting Feb. 22. 

The decision follows a School Committee vote at a Jan. 19 meeting to begin preparing Sippican School for a return to in-person learning. 

While the current hybrid remote and in-person learning model will be dropped to accommodate for the full time in-person model, families will still be able to opt into a fully remote learning model.

Like Mattapoisett and Rochester, the pivot to in-person learning for Marion requires the use of large, open spaces like the library and band room to accommodate for six feet of social distance between students. 

All the kindergarten classes will stay in place, and the first and second grade classrooms have been moved to obtain the space necessary for social distancing. The school’s first grade classes have moved to the library and band room, with the second grade classes moving to larger open classrooms. 

“I don’t even think those pictures do justice for how much work has been done in a short period of time,” Old Rochester Regional School District Superintendent Michael Nelson said.

During recess, students will still be grouped by class and maintain six feet of social distance at all times, “because we need to keep track of where everybody is — and that’s more difficult with this setup,” Principal Marla Sirois said.

Unlike Mattapoisett and Rochester, the Marion School Committee was given the opportunity to decide between two different versions of an in-person plan: One where kindergarten, first and second grade students would be in the building four days a week, and another where they would go back full time — just as Mattapoisett and Rochester have. 

Sirois said that the four-day model would allow for more collaborative time between teachers, ensuring students in the remote and in-person models were more in sync. 

But the committee ultimately voted to follow in the footsteps of Mattapoisett and Rochester, approving a full time return to school. 

“Every teacher that I’ve spoken to has absolutely loved being back the five days,” committee member Nichole Daniel said. 

The return to a fully in-person model will occur right after the district’s February break, and Sippican School’s nurse will contact any families who may have traveled over the break to inform them of the necessary safety protocols. 

In addition, families will be reminded by the district of the protocols before the beginning of February break. 

And while no plan has yet been released to bring the school’s older students back full time, the school committee and district are keeping an eye on how that may be able to eventually occur. 

“I think we’re always thinking about that,” Sirois said. 

Nelson said the district is anticipating new guidance on the state regarding social distancing and transportation protocols, which could help give flexibility to allow for more in-person learning opportunities for students above second grade.