The news that Hopkinton schools, like the rest of the state, will remain closed through the end of the school year “creates a sense of loss for all of us,’’ Superintendent of Schools Carol Cavanaugh said.
“The loss of classroom community sits heavily on us,’’ she stated.
Cavanaugh urged parents not to worry about whether their students will progress to the next grade, or, if they do, whether they will fall behind.
The state’s commissioner of education plans for every student to advance a grade, she said. The commissioner is working on establishing “power standards,” defined as the most critical learning for all children, she added.
Hopkinton identified “power standards” before launching online remote learning. “Our students have had access to high quality, standards-based remote instruction for quite a while,” she said.
This means that as students move forward with online learning, “they are right on track,” she said, “or as on track as kids can be in pandemic.”
The school community has “gathered our strength and continues to learn and live within the stay-home order,” she said. She thanked administrators, faculty, staff, families and students for making this happen. “You have all been amazing,” she said.
Although the remote learning “is of the highest quality,” she acknowledged that “nothing replaces the face-to-face instruction students get in the brick and mortar classroom each day.”
She reassured the school community that “in the fall, we will revisit the learning that didn’t take place this spring, and we will remediate as necessary.”
The main focus now, she said, should be on “our health, both physical and mental. That’s what matters most. Always.”
She encouraged students and families to reach out to the schools’ counseling staff or Hopkinton Youth and Family Services. Both are available, she said, “to help anyone feeling the loss of our school community this spring.”
The premature end of the school year is perhaps felt most keenly among seniors, who will no longer be able to participate in traditional end-of-school activities.
On the Patriots’ Day holiday, April 20, the high school administrative team, along with many teachers and staff members, planted a congratulatory lawn sign in the yard of every one of the 289 graduating seniors.
This was done, she said, as “a little tribute to the class of 2020 in light of the uncertainty of what the graduation ceremony might look like this year.”
She said the signs represent a message: “Our hearts are with you, Class of 2020.”
The loss of traditional senior activities has been “devastating for all seniors” as well as staff, Hopkinton High School principal Evan Bishop said.
“Hosting a traditional graduation probably won’t be allowed,” he said. “We’ve got to come up with another way to celebrate this class.”
He described the class of 2020 as “a wonderful class.” The loss, he said, has “hit them pretty hard.”
He said he hopes to receive more guidance on the specifics of the graduation ceremony in the weeks ahead. “Maybe this lifts a little and we can have a ceremony at the end of the summer,” he said.
During this uncertain time, keeping students and staff connected is vital at all levels, he said, including teacher to student, student to student and staff to staff.
Staff members have forged their bond by hosting activities such as a virtual trivia night, he said. “It’s so important that we continue with these opportunities,” he said.
“The challenge of this is staying connected,” he said. That supersedes even grades and curriculum at this point, he said.