ANDROSCOGGIN VALLEY — For the first time since March, students were back in school Tuesday.
“Day one was great,” said SAU 20 Superintendent of Schools David Backler. “I visited every school, and students and staff alike were happy to be back in school.”
“The kids were excited to be back. You could see it even under their masks,” said Berlin Elementary School Principal Tammy Fauteux.
Both Gorham Elementary and Gorham Middle High School opened for all grades Tuesday. Backler said 90 percent of students have physically returned to school. Ten percent will be taught remotely.
Milan Village School opened Wednesday because the gymnasium was used as the town’s primary polling place.
The Berlin School District decided on a phased approach for the first week. The elementary school and middle high school will host two grades each day to allow students to get used to the new protocols put in place because of the COVAID-19 pandemic.
“It went amazing,” said Berlin Elementary School Assistant Principal Sandy Pouliot.
She said the elementary school started Tuesday with grades two and fifth because the students are more experienced and familiar with the school routine.
She said the kids understood the protocols put in place because of COVID-19. Students in both districts are required to wear masks and practice social distancing. Additional wash stations have been put in the Berlin schools.
Pouliot said the phased approach worked well — those teachers without students were able to assist those other teachers as well as students.
Opening day at the Berlin Middle High School had eighth- and ninth-graders in the school and Principal Michael Kelley said the day went “very well”.
The phased-in approach continued Wednesday and Thursday and Friday was set aside to allow the remote learners to pick up materials at the two schools. Pouliot said on Friday staff would review how the week went and make adjustments in anticipation that all grades would be in the buildings starting next week.
SAU 3 Superintendent of Schools Julie King estimated last week that 70 percent of students have signed up for in-school instruction, while 30 percent will continue to be remote learners.
Schools in the state went remote on March 16 per order of Gov. Sununu due to concerns over the coronavirus. With only a week to plan, the local schools had to figure out how to educate students remotely and to how to continue to provide breakfast and lunch. Over the summer, staff turned its attention to preparing to reopen schools with extra precautions in place to protect both students and staff. Sports have also started back up.