Schools Wrap Up for Year, Look to the Fall

St. Patrick School graduating 8th grade class. Photo courtesy of St. Patrick School.

Tomorrow marks the last day of school for Lowell area students. Both Lowell Area Schools and St. Patrick School will wrap up classes on Friday, and students will be able to take a break from the books until late August.

After a year that included masks, quarantines and hybrid schedules, local school administrators are optimistic that the fall will bring a return to relative normalcy. “We look forward to normal start up for Saint Patrick School in the fall,” says Principal Scott Czarnopys.

Nate Fowler, superintendent for Lowell Area Schools, says he expects the fall to be “more normal,” but school leaders have a lot of work to do before then. “We are planning on offering some virtual [learning options] for elementary and secondary students,” Fowler says. But the details of that and other school policies and procedures haven’t been ironed out yet. “We do have another busy summer ahead of us,” according to Fowler.

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Changing Regulations Mark End of Year

Adaptability seemed to be the name of the game for the 2020-2021 school year. Students in Lowell Area Schools were given the option of attending classes in person or virtually, but even those who opted to study in-person were subject to hybrid schedules and quarantines if they were deemed to be in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

However, within the last month, quarantine requirements changed as the Kent County Health Department said students no longer needed to quarantine because of a close contact in the classroom. “It’s a recognition that we haven’t seen that much transmission in the schools,” Fowler says. Rather than requiring kids to stay home, “We’re just asking people to keep an eye out for symptoms.”

Another recent change to pandemic-related regulations occurred when the state lifted the requirement for fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors. What’s more, it said all people – regardless of their vaccination status – could forego masks outdoors.

As a result, Lowell Area Schools is no longer requiring masks on the playground, but to comply with CDC guidance, all students and staff have continued to wear masks indoors through the end of the school year. At St. Patrick School, masks have also continued to be required for everyone when inside.

Despite the need to continually adjust to changing protocols throughout the year, administrators seem pleased with how students and staff weathered the storm. “The school year was a major success considering all of the challenges we had to navigate,” Czarnopys says. “Our parents gave us 100% support through the entire school year, and our school will emerge from COVID even stronger due to their unwavering support.”

School Projects Proceeding for LAS

In addition to preparing for the fall academic semester, Lowell Area Schools will be busy this summer with several major infrastructure projects that were initiated as a part of a voter-approved bond proposal.

“Things are going well,” Fowler notes. Lowell Middle School is getting a significant upgrade and expansion, and the superintendent says the mild winter and dry spring have allowed that work to progress ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, the soccer and lacrosse stadium being built along Vergennes Street by Lowell High School is on track to be completed by the fall sports season.

There will also be some work done at Alto Elementary School this summer to enclose classrooms, and the Runciman Building, which houses administrative offices and Unity High School, will be getting a new roof.

Summer Reading and Lunch Programs

Heading into the summer months, Lowell Area Schools is continuing its commitment to feeding both student bodies and minds.

All students in the district from ages birth through 18 are eligible for free breakfasts and lunches. Older special needs students, up to age 26, are eligible as well.

Parents can pick up a 7-day meal package every Tuesday from June 8 to August 17. There is no sign-up necessary, and parents can stop by the cafeteria door at Lowell High School between 9am-10am and 5pm-6pm on Tuesdays to collect each week’s meals.

Contact Brad Stinson at 987.2964 or [email protected] with any questions.

For brain food, students in grades K-5 can sign up for Arrow Readers on the Move through June 13. This summer reading program runs through July 28th and invites students to keep reading and win a prize if they hit a certain number of Accelerated Reader points.

AR tests can be taken online from home, or students can head to Cherry Creek or Murray Lake Elementary Schools to take tests between 9am-12pm on the following days:

  • Cherry Creek: June 15, 22, 29 and July 13, 20, 27
  • Murray Lake: June 16, 23, 30 and July 14, 21, 28

Parents can fill out a registration form online, and email Dawn Emelander at [email protected] with any questions.

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