Massachusetts vocational schools to reopen with alternate form of hybrid model

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In less than two weeks, students enrolled in vocational schools in the Greater Lowell area will return with their pencils, backpacks and face masks, ready to resume their studies as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

Unless these courses are academic.

School officials at Shawsheen Valley Technical High School and Nashoba Valley Technical High School announced last month that their students would only physically attend school for in-store classes and that all academic classes would be held at distance.

“At the end of the day, we were convinced that if we were to prioritize in-person learning time, it had to be learning the technical program,” said Nashoba Valley Superintendent Denise Pigeon. “When we were completely away, one of the hardest things for our students to learn was their technical education. “

  • The 350-seat performing arts center, normally used for large events, has been transformed into a socially remote classroom for students of Nashoba Tech’s TV & Media Production / Theater Arts program.

  • Joshua Morin, Automotive Technology Instructor at Nashoba Tech, prepares the student workspace for social distance learning.

  • Cosmetology instructors Sheriley Farrand, left, and Sayda Betsold, new this year, show just how socially distanced workstations are.

  • Celeste Foley, the dental assisting instructor at Nashoba Tech, presents the new dental lab, with sufficiently spaced workstations.

According to Pigeon and Shawsheen Superintendent / Director Bradford Jackson, their schools didn’t have enough space to bring all of their students back and maintain a 6-foot distance between them, and they thought classes like carpentry or the journeyman electrician would be a lot. more difficult to teach. distance as courses like English or history.

Additionally, the hybrid model with which Nashoba Valley and Shawsheen are heading into the 2020-21 school year has freshmen and juniors spending the entire week in store classes and sophomores and seniors. who study distance academics all week, with their schedules changing weekly.

Both schools will also require that all teachers, including those who lead distance courses, stay in school while they teach, although Jackson has said university teachers with school-aged children will be allowed to. take them to supervise.

“We thought it was important for them to have all the tools available to them in their classrooms,” Pigeon said. “It’s really difficult to set up a structure where all these teachers have everything they need at home. “

However, unlike Nashoba Valley and Shawsheen, students at Greater Lowell Technical High School will take in-person lessons one day a week and learn remotely the other four days.

Students will also receive school-provided Chromebooks or laptops, along with take-home learning kits for tech programs, according to GLT’s plan to reopen.

“We recognize that the circumstances of every family and staff member are different and that no plan will ultimately satisfy everyone in our community. I am confident that our Back to School Task Force explored all the options available to us, ”wrote Superintendent / Principal Jill Davis in a letter to the community.

As with all other schools in Massachusetts, plans to reopen all three schools were created based on guidelines from the state Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Elementary Education. and state secondary.

The first day of school for Greater Lowell Technical and Shawsheen is September 14th. The first day of Nashoba Valley is September 16.


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