The longtime traditions of hosting springtime proms, special school events and sports games may have to be altered a bit during these challenging times with the novel coronavirus, commonly known as COVID-19.
As viral worries and concerns move on, area schools are dealing with ongoing remote learning schedules while teachers and staff also add in some much-welcomed fun events via video and online sources to keep students and their families smiling and connected.
And some schools are making decisions to postpone popular springtime traditions in the meantime.
Pinkerton Academy is known for many strong traditions of the past remaining to this day. Now the high school is planning to start a new tradition when it comes to the annual junior prom.
Pinkerton announced that the prom, traditionally held for the junior class in May, is now being moved to October.
In a statement by Pinkerton Headmaster Timothy Powers, moving the prom to a tentative date of Oct.24 was a difficult decision to make.
"As one of the largest proms in New England with an attendance of over 800 people, we felt this was the best decision to make for the health and safety of our class members," Powers said. "The Class of 2021 will truly leave its mark on Pinkerton's history by having its first fall 'senior' prom. We promise that your 'senior' prom will be as memorable and spectacular an experience as every prom that has come before."
Pinkerton's graduation ceremony is still scheduled for June 8 with a backup date of July 13 if necessary.
Derry administrators also said the district's grading system policy doesn't align with the current climate of remote learning. School board members voted to suspend the policy at a meeting April 1.
"The grading system does not fit right now nor do we want to put that additional stress on students," said Derry Superintendent MaryAnn Connors-Krikorian at the recent meeting. "Grades are not our focus right now. The assessment system is more about learning, instead of attaching a numerical grade."
Connors-Krikorian noted with the way students are learning at home, staff and administration will continue to focus on ways for students to succeed.
Londonderry High School Principal Jason Parent noted in an online statement to families that the schedule remains set for school events in May and June, but that could change.
Parent said the school has a contingency plan in place for senior events in case school closures go longer than anticipated.
"We plan to make every effort to honor the Class of 2020 and will do everything we can to hold these special events for them," Parent said in a statement. "We will make those event decisions as we receive more information from local and state officials."
Parent added he is proud of what is being accomplished during these trying times and said all students, families and teachers should be proud of what they are doing
"There is no perfect system," Parent said. "There will be set-backs, and we’re all in this together. Time will be on our side to work through hurdles and challenges."
In Windham, school Superintendent Richard Langlois reported in a statement that transition to remote learning has been effective, but due to continuing coronavirus challenges, all are being urged to stay at home.
That includes any staff or officials that were on site at the districts school offices. All school facilities, including playgrounds and fields, are also closed as of April 7. Federally-mandated food service programs and other services dealing with facility needs and protection will continue.
While students continue learning at home, some area families are saying their children are adapting well to the daily schedule, while also keeping up with friends through various video and online opportunities.
Bethany Layne of Derry is the mother of two, one in elementary school at South Range Elementary and another middle-schooler at West Running Brook Middle School.
She said her children are very independent and handling the at-home schedule well. They are learning while also connecting with friends.
"They are getting used to the routine. And the teachers are incredible," Layne said. "They work so hard."
Teachers at Derry schools have planned car parades around neighborhoods to wave to students and make sure they remained connected. West Running Brook teachers also offered a lip-synching video for students to enjoy, Layne said.
Layne also works in the education field as a physical therapist at the Ellis School in Fremont. She said tackling remote learning with her own students is challenging but all are adapting well.
"I'm definitely working harder than when I was actually in the school," she said, adding she works one-on-one with her students and parents are very involved.
Layne also works in a pediatric nursing facility in Groton, Massachusetts, where the work load is extremely challenging while staff make sure they remain protected as well as keeping their young residents safe.
"Kids there are very, very fragile," she said.
Layne said the recent challenging times have offered her family many opportunities to stay close, connected with the outside world through online sources and a lot of quality learning time as well.
"We are loving a lot of it," she said. "We have a lot of extra time with the kids. A lot of family time."