Seventh-grade students at Hancock Grammar School enjoy fuller classrooms following updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The guidelines, which were relaxed in March, allow for masked students to learn 3 feet apart from one another, rather than the initial 6 feet. “With that 3-feet distancing, we can fit more desks in [classrooms],” said Principal Joanne Harriman. Students who choose to may now attend in-person learning four and a half days a week. PHOTO COURTESY HANCOCK GRAMMAR SCHOOL

Hancock Grammar School students go back to school

HANCOCK — Signs that life amid the pandemic may be returning to normal — or at least a new normal — were reflected in fuller classrooms starting last Thursday at Hancock Grammar School (HGS). 

Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines allowing three-foot social distancing among students (unless they are eating), the school is allowing all students who want to return to in-person instruction back in the classroom for four and a half days a week.

“We’re all so excited to have the kids back in-person together,” said Joanne Harriman, the school’s principal. “With that 3-feet distancing, we can fit more desks in [classrooms].”

Roughly 180 students have decided to return to in-person learning for the nearly full week, with about 20 students deciding to learn remotely. 

Since the start of the school year, students have been divided into two cohorts, with half of the students attending Monday, Thursday and every other Wednesday for half the day and the other half attending Tuesday, Friday and every other Wednesday. 

“Teachers have been doing synchronous learning here,” which means that children who are attending school remotely tune into in-person classes, Harriman explained. 

“They’re all in the lesson together but half of them are in-person and half of them are home.”

Following the end of the school day Friday, Harriman reported, “It’s gone really well.”

With the return happening right before the week of April vacation, she said students and staff got the “newness” out of the way before getting to enjoy a week-long break.

At the Lamoine Consolidated School, all students who have wanted to learn in-person have been since the start of the school year. 

“Everyone who wants to be here is here,” said Principal Dawn McPhail. 

Out of the school’s 109 total students, 10 are choosing to learn remotely.

McPhail shared that the school has not had to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

“It’s been a lot of work … to make that happen,” she said, including having parents be diligent about keeping students home if they are feeling ill and following travel guidelines.

“Things are good. It’s a hard year,” McPhail said. “It’s hard to be in masks all day long, but we have had great attendance.”

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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