WEYMOUTH – School officials have officially canceled April school vacation.
Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Curtis-Whipple said the cancellation of the vacation would restore four school days.
“We changed the last day of school to June 19,” she said on Friday, April 10. “It was on June 20.”
The April vacation period, which is April 21-24, also includes Patriots Day, April 20, a state holiday.
Schools have not been in session since March 16 under emergency declarations issued by Gov. Charlie Baker and Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund.
Baker extended the date for schools to remain closed until May 4.
The emergency order exempts school districts from having to fulfill a state law that requires students to attend classes for 185 days.
Curtis-Whipple said administrators determined it would be better for students to complete academic lessons during the April vacation period because they are at home under Baker’s stay-at-home-advisory.
Teachers in all grades have prepared academic lessons for students, which they access by email, websites, and online-video-conference sessions.
“Some students can be given an activity without having to do anything electronically,” Curtis-Whipple said. “Not everybody has the capacity to do online learning.”
School officials recently distributed 600 Chromebooks to students who don’t have computers in their homes, according to Curtis-Whipple.
The school district has created 70 “professional learning communities,” which consist of academic instruction by electronic and non-electronic methods.
Curtis-Whipple said the schools have an optional learning structure for all students to receive instruction under the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s guidelines.
“It’s a suggested learning structure, but it is not mandatory,” she said.
Curtis-Whipple said the structured lesson pattern was created because some parents wanted their children to have a format to follow while completing their studies.
The academic work is intended to keep students engaged with learning. They won’t be graded during this period, according to school officials.
“We have also changed the grading period,” Curtis-Whipple said. “The third term will be extended until the end of the school year on June 19.”
Curtis-Whipple said the school district’s most important priority is to support the students’ social and emotional needs amid their concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.
The school district is also providing free bagged lunches at Seach Primary School and Abigail Adams Middle School from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on weekdays.
Some of the food available includes fresh vegetables, milk, whole grain muffins, and cheese sticks, according to Elizabeth Sauro, Weymouth Public Schools food services director.
All students are eligible to receive a free meal under the state and federal requirements of the program.
Curtis-Whipple said 15,000 lunches have been provided to students since the program began March 16.
Additional information about the school lunch program is available online at the school district website: weymouthschools.org.
Curtis-Whipple said the coronavirus pandemic is not delaying plans to construct modular classrooms at the primary schools to accommodate an influx of fifth-graders under a school redistricting plan that takes effect in September.
“The foundation work is being done behind Academy Avenue school for the fifth graders that will be coming,” she said.
Curtis-Whipple said she expects foundations to be placed at the remaining primary schools in June.
The modular classrooms are part of a construction plan for a new $164.2 million Chapman Middle School.
Construction is expected to shift into high gear during the fall season, following the demolition of the 61-year-old Chapman building.
The construction plan includes having the fifth graders at Abigail Adams Middle School assigned to primary schools under the grade reconfiguration.
The students entering seventh grade in September who would typically attend Chapman will be assigned to Adams School while the new Chapman is being constructed over two years.
Students that would enter eighth grade at Chapman have been assigned to attend classes at the high school during the construction timetable.
The new middle school will house 1,470 students in grades 6-8 when it’s scheduled to open in September 2022.
Preliminary work has begun in the school’s gymnasium and the unoccupied vocational section to prepare the building for some early demolition later this month, according to the school building committee.
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