Friday, April 19, 2024

Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School principal Damon Smith and district superintendent Kenneth Salim gather Monday in front of the high school before the start of classes. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The Cambridge Rindge and Latin School welcomed students to full-time, in-person classes Monday, one week ahead of the mandated reopening of all high schools issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in late April.

Families had the option of continuing with remote or choosing to attend in-person classes.

At the high school, 857 of 1,840 students, or 47 percent, will attend in-person beginning Monday, the administration said in a press release. Overall, high school enrollment is down roughly 100 students from the previous year. Additional demographic information regarding learning choice will be available at the end of this week, superintendent Kenneth Salim said during a Monday morning interview in front of the school’s main entrance. CRLS principal Damon Smith and Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui also took part.

The high school continues to offer students the full range of classes, Smith said.

“Nothing’s happened to the schedule,” Smith said. “We’ve developed a number of ways that we need to do remote or in person, whether that be extra distancing in the classroom or space outside – and in some cases, still remote.”

Smith added that no classes have been cut, with staff working to adapt to the parameters set by the state.

“We were really focused on not having to change the classes,” said Smith, adding that his team focused on maintaining consistency by ensuring that students remain with their core teachers, and that student schedules – for instance, math and English in the mornings and electives in the afternoon – remained in place.

Coming back from Covid

Most students at the high school were wholly remote until March 1 (with some exceptions for students with disabilities and English-language learners), when students could choose to attend classes in a hybrid in-person model that included fully remote Wednesdays.

In late April, the state mandated that district high schools offer students an in-person, five-days-a-week option, with an average 5.5 hours of structured learning time per day.

“We’re thrilled to finally have CPS public schools safely open full time at every grade level,” Salim said in the press release. “We thank our students, families and staff for their flexibility and understanding. ”

Monitoring and prevention

The school district and Cambridge Public Health Department continue to monitor Covid-19 within the school community and adjust health and safety protocols as needed, officials said. District Covid-19 guidelines include contact tracing and quarantine protocols; investment in personal protective gear, building ventilation, hand sanitizer stations and sinks, and building sanitizing equipment; and infection control teams at each school.

Staff have access to twice-weekly testing, and in-person students may be tested once per week, with all student athletes, whether in-person or remote, required to participate in weekly testing.