Bath, ME (May 10, 2021) - Like many schools across Maine, Woolwich Central School (WCS) has been anticipating the return of full-time, in-person learning. WCS, which serves children from Kindergarten to 8th grade, brought grades K-5 back full-time on December 7, and grades 6-8 back on April 26.

“Honestly, it’s been a tremendous amount of work, but if we’re able to end the year with all of our students back in class, that’s a huge accomplishment,” said Principal Jason Libby. “We’ve made the most of the hybrid learning model, but it’s not a replacement for having students in class five days a week.”

Libby said the school was quick to acknowledge the difficulties of forcing students to adapt to new teachers and schedules with only six weeks left in the school year.

“If we just brought kids back (like it was a typical school year), it was going require a restructure of everything we were doing academically,” Libby said. “Instead, we’ve chosen to replicate the hybrid learning schedule at school and keep students with the same teachers they’ve been working with all year.”

Former remote learning days are now in-person support days at WCS. Students are assigned to classroom “hubs” with a small group of peers and teacher supervision where they can work on class projects and assignments. Motor breaks and exercise accompany the in-person support days, followed by an enrichment period at the end of the day.

“During the enrichment period we might bring in guest speakers or engage the students in a STEAM-related activity,” Libby said. “Our main goals are to get the students back into the routine of going to school five days a week, provide educational support, and help meet student social and emotional needs.”

Ed Tech II Linda Styles oversees one of two 6th grade hubs, which she calls “safe and positive” environments for students to reacclimate to school. Styles said her students were excited to see one another and were “really pleased, overall, to have their routine back in place.” As much as she enjoys helping students academically, she hopes the additional social interaction will also benefit student mental health. 

Libby echoed her sentiment.

“Teachers are frontline workers to the recovery process. If we can end this year with all students here in the building, together again, it will give so much hope to everyone. We’ll go into the summer knowing that we are moving forward,” he said.