Wayland elementary schools begin taking field trips once again


Credit: Nadya Chase

Wayland elementary schools begin to take field trips again after two years of being unable to due to COVID-19. For several Wayland residents, field trips have been an exciting and memorable elementary school experience, and many are excited to see these trips being implemented once again. “With everything that gets lifted, and we get a little bit closer to normal, it’s a sigh of relief knowing that the students are going to have something joyful returning to their lives,” Claypit Hill Elementary School Principal Christie Harvey said.

Nadya Chase

As spring advances and COVID-19 restrictions lighten, Wayland elementary schools begin to implement field trips into their curriculum once again. From now until the end of the school year, each elementary school grade level is expected to have at least one field trip or spring event to look forward to.

Since COVID-19 is still present in society, elementary school teachers and administrators must get each field trip approved by the Wayland central office before they can begin to plan the trip. As of now, the field trips that have occurred have mostly included limited COVID-19 limitations and follow the COVID-19 guidelines used at school.

“[When we went to Plymouth Plantation earlier this year] we didn’t have to social distance, but we had to wear masks,” Loker Elementary School third grader Alexis Kliem said. “We were actually supposed to go on a fancy bus with a TV inside and watch a movie on the way to Plymouth, but with COVID-19, they needed to open the windows. They couldn’t open the windows in that bus, so we had to go on a regular school bus.”

Before Wayland elementary schools were approved to go on field trips again, elementary schoolers took part in virtual field trips, where museums either came directly to the elementary schools, or the children visited the museums online. However, the in-person field trips are preferred by the majority of elementary school administrators, parents, teachers and students.

“Part of being an elementary school student is the socialization [skills they learn] and the [memory of having] fun with [their] friends,” Claypit Hill Elementary School Principal Christie Harvey said. “The learning that happens [on field trips] from those real experiences out in the world is incredibly valuable and memorable for our students, and we want them to have those memorable, joyous moments that they will carry with them.”

According to Happy Hollow Elementary School second grade teacher Miriam Morrison, not experiencing field trips in person was harmful to the development of many children, and it has created present problems. One of these problems includes behavioral issues. In order to resolve these problems, teachers are working to teach the kids about the importance of being responsible and acting in a respectful manner to their peers and surroundings.

“These students, especially having had their learning be somewhat interrupted by COVID-19 these last two years, really need real life experience,” Morrison said. “Social emotional learning has been the most important thing for these kids in getting back to a more normal school environment. In my opinion, they’ve had too much time on screens, and the more real world [activities] we can do, the better.”

For Wayland elementary school administrators and teachers, field trips are especially important because they allow students to experience real life situations outside of school. On field trips, students have the opportunity to make their own decisions with the guidance of their teachers and parents and are exposed to necessary skills for the future.

“[Field trips] give teachers and students a chance to apply [and practice] skills that they have been working on in the classroom,” Harvey said. “For example, the North End field trip. The [second grade] students work all year learning about money, addition, subtraction and real world problems in math, and all that comes to life when they have their own cash to spend and budget for [during] the field trip.”

For many Wayland residents, the second grade North End trip was one of the most memorable field trips of elementary school. Many second grade teachers were especially upset about their students having to miss this field trip the past two years due to the pandemic but are excited to be implementing this meaningful trip once again.

“[The North End field trip] is an almost a perfect COVID-19 trip because the kids are in very small groups,” Morrison said. “Maybe more people will opt to eat outside, but lots of the time people do eat outside if it’s a nice day anyway. We’re allowed to put all the kids on the bus that we usually do, [and] they’re not restricting that, so I think [the trip] will be similar [to what it looked like before the pandemic].”

The majority of the Wayland community is excited about this important step in the shift back to normalcy. Next year, Harvey is hopeful that all field trips will be approved without COVID-19 restrictions, and that the elementary schoolers will finally have a completely normal year for the first time in two years.

“With every [COVID-19 limitation] that gets lifted, we get a little bit closer to normal,” Harvey said. “It’s a sigh of relief knowing that the students are going to have something joyful returning to their lives. They have missed out on a lot, and I think anytime we can give them back another piece of normalcy, it’s something to cheer for.”