Full classrooms, excitement in Concord and around the state after more than a year

Josie Albertson-Grove, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester
·2 min read

Apr. 19—For the first time in over a year, almost all Concord High School students are back in the school building.

"It was palpable both when they were coming in, in the morning, and as they're passing through the hallways," said Concord High Principal Michael Reardon on Monday. "There are a lot more kids here, that's for sure."

Concord is one of the school districts resuming full-time in-person school Monday, after Gov. Chris Sununu ordered an end to half in-person, half remote "hybrid" school.

Nashua and Berlin are among the other districts resuming full-time in-person instruction Monday.

Londonderry had planned to come back to full-time Monday, but had to put off reopening until Tuesday because so many teachers were under the weather Monday after weekend vaccination clinics.

Schools in Manchester, the Monadnock School District and most schools in Keene are putting off reopening until May 3, citing staff shortages and difficulty arranging social-distancing on school buses.

Busing was a worry in Concord, said Superintendent Kathleen Murphy. But because enough parents opted to drop their children off at school, rather than use the bus, there was enough space on school buses for each child to have his or her own seat. Only siblings were allowed to share bus seats. The downside, Murphy said, was heavier-than-usual traffic at schools Monday morning.

A significant number of Concord students — Murphy said somewhere between 600 and 700 of 4,000 students total — are still learning remotely. Middle school and high school students are video-conferencing into in-person classrooms, Murphy said.

For the elementary schoolers, Murphy said, there is one teacher per grade level working with children learning remotely.

Some children who had been learning remotely all year came back to in-person school Monday, Murphy said. Because those children had been in the remote "classroom" all year and on Monday entered an in-person classroom, they were met by new teachers.

Despite these small hiccups, Murphy said she is thrilled to have students back full-time.

"Kids belong in school, belong with their peers and their friends and their teachers," she said.