All high schools in Massachusetts were required to reopen for full-time, in-person learning Monday, though some have received state-approved delays.
Massachusetts school officials announced the mandated return to classrooms for all high school students last month.
Some school districts have successfully applied for waivers, while others brought students back sooner. Massachusetts education officials did not respond to requests for the number of high schools that received waivers for Monday's deadline.
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In Andover, about 1,500 students return Monday to a building that’s struggled with overcrowding, making it hard to maintain social distance.
Andover’s Interim Superintendent Claudia Bach says last-minute preparations finished up over the weekend. Some will be eating and learning outdoors to help maintain social distance protocols.
“We’re creating tents, we’re creating spaces where there haven’t been classrooms before, we’re feeding students throughout the building, where we haven’t fed them before,” Dr. Bach said. “This has been a huge effort to do.”
About 200 Andover High School students have opted to stay with remote learning.
Andover parent Rhonda Musikar-Rosner’s two youngest kids have already been back in school full-time. And now hybrid learning will come to an end as well for her son Mason, a sophomore at the high school.
“He’s not doing school at a desk, he’s doing it from his bed, from the couch, I’d rather see him in school at a desk with a teacher in front of him,” said Musikar-Rosner.
Students are experiencing a range of emotions.
“I haven’t seen so many people,” junior Sofia Beraldi said. “I forgot how to interact with people, I’m really nervous and really scared; I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
“When you can’t talk to the teachers in person, like asking questions online, it’s just not the same, doing labs online, you don’t learn the same as you do in school,” sophomore Zoe Magenheim said.
“This year has been pretty bad,” junior Abby Murnane said. “But you’ve just gotta have a good perspective on it and just keep rolling forward and do the cards you have been dealt.”