Industriousness & Creative Sustainability: How Bristol Aggie is facing school reopening challenges
Dighton, MA: As the school re-opening guidance from MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) trickles down, schools across the commonwealth are employing unique and creative methods to develop the three required plans for the start of school. All schools are submitting three distinct learning plans to the DESE for approval: in school learning, hybrid (in and out of school), and entirely remote learning.
Bristol County Agricultural High School is faced with the unique challenge of being in the midst of a $1.3 million Massachusetts School Building Authority construction and renovation project. “As you can imagine, this is a challenging time for all schools, but compounding the pandemic restrictions with a new campus layout that includes new structures and the renovation of established buildings, magnifies these challenges immensely,” said Bristol Aggie Superintendent, Adele Sands, “ However, where there is challenge, there is opportunity.”
The school’s new Student Commons building, which will house the new cafeteria, media center, offices and public meeting space, is post and beam structure. When Gilbane Inc., the construction company executing the build, had spare pieces of large beam, they approached Facility Director, Ryan Miranda, to see if there was a use anywhere else on campus. Immediately, Miranda and the school’s dedicated foremen and custodians took action. Miranda said that with the new spacing guidance, a major challenge was in the food service area. “We just don’t have enough room in the existing building.” Pre-pandemic, Bristol Aggie students could be seen enjoying lunch outdoors, even in weather that might seem questionable to some. “Our kids love to be outside and these extra beam sections seemed like an incredible opportunity to build additional outdoor seating for our students”. The facilities team installed short sections of telephone poles into the ground to serve as the post supports for the long pieces of beam. The finished product is a wide, long, family style table for students to enjoy their meals, socially distanced.
Superintendent Sands said, “Today, creativity in schools is not stopping at schedules, curricula, classroom setups and technology. Today’s educators have to think way outside of the box. Bristol Aggie is so fortunate to have the most industrious, resourceful, and creative faculty and staff and that’s critical in order for this school year to be a success.”