MONDAY, MARCH 1, can’t come soon enough for Michelle St. Germain. The Nashua mother, like many parents or guardians with children in the public school system, believes that hybrid learning is the light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel.
After nearly a one-year wait, and if COVID-19 metrics remain consistent, her daughter Hayden will return to Bicentennial Elementary School and join her second-grade classmates with two days of in-person learning and three days of online learning weekly.
Hayden has a new lunchbox ready to go and will be delighted to see her fellow pupils and greet her teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, and principal, Mr. Mahoney.
Concerned parents had been pleading for months to get their children back into the classroom, only to remain in a place of hopelessness.
“Children’s voices have been silent, “ Michelle told me.
And she believes that the Gate City could do better for our youth, so she spoke up.
“We weren’t angry with the Board of Education, but there was a lot of stalling, and we were frustrated. We felt we had no traction.”
On Feb. 15, Nashua’s sixth- to 12th-graders returned to the classroom. Hayden is part of the second- and third-grade returnees, and on March 8, it will be the fourth- and fifth-graders.
That is just in time to meet a deadline announced by Gov. Chris Sununu on Feb. 18.
“This will really benefit the children in so many ways,” Sununu said at the briefing.
Michelle and her husband said they noticed the effect the lack of in-classroom learning was having on their daughter.
Young Hayden was feeling anxiety from the isolation and told her mother, “I don’t have any friends.” It was heartbreaking to hear, and other parents and guardians share similar stories.
Finally, Hayden and many other students will be returning to a sense of normality, structure and consistency with in-person instruction. It’s not full-time classroom learning, but it’s a welcome start as Nashua’s schoolchildren have sacrificed much during these challenging COVID times.
“My hat goes off to Dr. McKinney for his leadership and understanding parents’ frustration in not having our kids in school. He was rooting for the hybrid model, and I felt the momentum,” Michelle St. Germain said of Garth McKinney, the assistant superintendent for elementary schools who was recently named the interim superintendent of schools.
In a perfect world, we would have every teacher here vaccinated at the front of the line. Teachers have given so much to their community as they work hard to educate students and steward their own families through the COVID crisis and unpredictability.
The stress and fatigue are unimaginable, and yet, teachers step up to the plate every time.
Henry Brooks Adams, the late American historian and a member of the Adams political family, said this: “A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Fingers crossed for a successful hybrid learning plan.