CHESHIRE — Despite the global pandemic, schools around the state are trying to keep things as normal as possible for students.
Many districts, committed to keeping students in school as much as possible, have created new programs or adapted old ones to accommodate for social distancing guidelines, and are continuously testing and monitoring students and faculty to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
Dodd Middle School, led by Principal Mike Woods, has remained committed to its students. Part of the effort includes finding a way to keep one of the biggest middle school traditions on the school calendar this year.
“It’s been a really difficult year for all of us. It’s been really hard on our teachers who plan and work so hard every day to teach our students,” Woods said. “But despite everything, we really want to try to keep our eighth grade Washington, D.C. trip planned, and I think we can do it.”
As of now, the Dodd D.C. trip is scheduled for May 26 to 28. Woods believes keeping this trip “as is” will be extremely beneficial to those who plan on participating.
“Most parents I’ve heard from are happy we’re still having the trip,” he said. ”We are maintaining every precaution...I think that we can still do this and keep our kids safe.”
Each year, as a part of the social studies curriculum, eighth grade students learn about the different branches of government. The culmination is an end-of-the-year trip to D.C. to see the monuments and buildings that house some of the nations most important documents and serve as home to the leaders of the federal government.
“Every year, our students head to the Capitol and they learn so much. We really wanted to try to keep this tradition alive as much as possible,” Woods explained. “I think, after a lot of conversations with Dr. Solan, that this is something we can pull off.”
The pandemic forced Dodd to cancel the planned 2020 trip
“We are working with a new hotel provider, and have factored a lot of different testing measures into the trip as well,” Woods said.
The D.C. trip isn’t the only trace of normalcy that Woods would like to see at Dodd. He also hopes that students will be able to return to rotating classrooms, provided that COVID-19 cases trend downward.
“It is our biggest hope that students will rotate again next year,” he said. “These students have had to sit in the same room all day with the same peers. It’ll be so much better for them to see their friends and move around when they can.”
Currently, Dodd has forgone the traditional rotating schedule to ensure that students are kept separate from one another, although data suggests that schools are not the biggest areas of community spread of the virus.
“We were all nervous that, when this pandemic started, kids would not keep their masks on,” Woods said. “But they’ve actually done an incredible job at maintaining distance and hand-washing”