BHS students head back to class at borrowed school

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 12:07 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2020 at 6:34 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - After staying home for the first three months of the school year, students from Burlington High school get their first taste of in-person learning. COVID has disrupted learning more in most schools but BHS students are facing even greater uncertainty because of the PCB contamination that has closed their school indefinitely. Our Ike Bendavid tells us about Monday’s small step toward normalcy.

Edmunds Middle School once served as the city’s high school. It is serving that purpose again on a temporary basis. Class is back in session for students at Burlington High School, just at a different location.

“It’s a little weird. This is my middle school,” said Cooper Smith, a BHS junior.

Edmunds Middle School played host to BHS students Monday morning. A familiar spot for some but for others, it’s just more change in an already chaotic year.

“I’m a Hunt student. I have never been in the building before,” said Elise Holway, a BHS junior.

BHS students have not had in-person classes since March when the pandemic forced education to go online. Just as school was beginning in September, students were forced to leave the BHS campus again after high levels of PCB chemicals were found.

“Today is our first opportunity for in-person learning of the school year,” said Noel Green, the principal of BHS.

Meaning Monday was an exciting day for some to get back in the classroom.

“Schooling at home is not easy because there are lots of interruptions. It’s harder to get work done because you’re constantly distracted by what’s going on in your house,” said Gonzalaiz Arakaca, a junior.

“I’m definitely nervous because I haven’t been in school since March but I’m excited to be able to see people and talk to my teachers and stuff,” said Adi Leddy, a sophomore.

Half of the more than 900 BHS students learned in-person Monday, the other half will be in on Tuesday.

After Thanksgiving break, the high-schoolers will use the Edmunds building on Wednesdays, the one day a week it is empty of middle-schoolers. One day a week is not a lot but it will help fill a void for the students.

“We know that in-person learning matters. We know that students and working with their teachers in person is where the magic happens in terms of learning,” Burlington Schools Superintendent Tom Flanagan said.

The use of Edmunds is only temporary. The school district hopes to move students into the old Macy’s department store in downtown Burlington by the end of February.

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