“Return to Normalcy” Plan Removes Indoor Masking Requirement

Challenges remain, but there is optimism

By Dennis Dobe

Although it seems that it will take a very long time for all things to return to normal in our school and community after the most devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to make substantial gains toward restoring normal conditions for students, staff, and families at AE/MS.

After a fall of 2021 rich with student activities and a return to fully in-person learning (which we actually started the previous spring), we have been able to provide a minimally disrupted academic program so far this year. Higher than normal student and staff absences due to COVID have been our greatest inhibitor of progress. We have further expanded improvements in student life this winter to include: a return of The Andover Players, who assembled a school and community production of The Wizard of Oz; a return of middle school interscholastic basketball, hosting Andover Recreation basketball; a return to collaboration with the Andover Recreation Department to afford students an opportunity to participate in an alpine skiing/snowboarding program at Ragged Mountain and a skating program at Proctor Academy; and expanded enrichment opportunities for our middle school students during their lunch and recess time.

Another very notable aspect of our return to normalcy plan for AE/MS was the removal of an indoor masking requirement for students and staff (and the general public) beginning on February 14.  

With our days getting longer, with more daylight and milder temperatures, and the recent lifting of indoor masking requirements in our school, everyone is feeling more comfortable, at ease, enthusiastic, positively engaged, and joyful.  Thankfully, we are now moving at a quicker rate to all that our school should be for our students, families, and the greater Andover community. 

Despite the incredible efforts of our school staff and the solid partnership of our staff and families, the past two years have been extremely difficult – and it has been extremely hard for any of us to feel truly successful in our work.  Now it appears that things are turning around, and turning around quickly at AE/MS.  It is definitely starting to feel like AE/MS is the school that it should be, and we are overjoyed to be in a position where it feels that, at long last, we are truly and substantially gaining.  

Although how people stay together and struggle through adversity is the true measure of a person, organization, or community’s character, and we’ve all done fantastically well, it surely would be nice not to be challenged so significantly in the time ahead.  Although not completely out of the woods yet, there is reason for great optimism here at AE/MS – and we are now seeing evidence of true progress each and every day in your community school.