By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Assabet Valley Regional High School has cancelled classes and co-ops, and rolled out a variety of measures to care for students rattled by the sudden events of the past month.
“Our actions are in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts and across the Nation which is unprecedented and ever changing,” superintendent Ernest Houle wrote in his first statement announcing the closure March 13.
Assabet, the region’s sole vocational school, faced a unique challenge in deciding when and how to cancel schools earlier this month as administrators and teachers wrestled with the consequences of losing academic time as well as “shop” time in student’s chosen vocational focus areas. As other districts initially closed schools, Assabet waited slightly later into the month to make their announcement.
When they did close, however, aware of their school’s unique identity, administrators also moved to cancel out of district “co-op” placements in local businesses where students are encouraged to apply and develop shop skills for a career after graduation.
As that facet of their decision was unique though, Assabet, like other districts across the state, has seen its closure of schools extended by a statewide order from Gov. Charlie Baker, launched “enrichment programs” for students, and provided guidance to parents with students struggling emotionally.
Those enrichment programs, according to statements from Houle, aim to keep students learning during this period of social distancing but will not be graded, per guidance from the state.
The latter issue of self-care, Houle explained, is an important one as well, encouraging students who are out of school to maintain routines, healthy eating habits, and exercise regimes.
“[As this is an] unprecedented and ever-changing situation that has continuous coverage on all news and media outlets, it has been causing stress and anxiety for people of all ages,” Houle wrote, seeking to validate student stress.