School Surveys: Fall “Hybrid” Reopening, Start Times, & Strategic Plan surveys seek feedback from parents/community by Monday (Updated)

by beth on June 2, 2020

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Earlier today, Northborough and Southborough public school parents received the monthly newsletter from the Superintendent. In it, he asks for responses to three surveys with deadlines Monday, June 8th.

One survey relates to planning how to reopen this fall. Another relates to long term planning for School Start Times and bus tiers for the following fall.

There is also an opportunity to provide feedback on the Draft Strategic Plan.

2020-2021 Fall Reopening: Hybrid Models

One survey, for families of students, asks for feedback on potential “Hybrid Models” for reopening school in the fall. The survey is to help prepare the administration to plan for possible reopening scenarios.

The newsletter explains that Schools may reopen as usual (and hope to). But they also may stay closed, reopen under a specific plan dictated by the state, or need to to pursue a “hybrid” reopening. In that last scenario, only half the school’s population would attend at a time.

IPotential Hybrid school scenarios from May newslettern case a hybrid reopening is required, the school wants to prepare for planning by getting feedback on which version families would prefer and why. The two options given are a “full week” model and “split-week”. In the full week, students’ weeks alternate between in-person and remote schooling. In the split-week, students alternate days over the course of two weeks. (Click on image right for the details.)

The survey explains:

We understand that both hybrid options have pros and cons and may require families to adjust their family and work schedules. Families’ input and feedback are essential as the District plans for reopening in the fall. Throughout the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to communicate to families as I know that families will need time to plan and prepare for the fall.

The data from the survey will be used by the committee created to plan for the fall. The newsletter explains:

Although the DESE is expected to release reopening guidelines to districts across the Commonwealth sometime in the next couple of weeks, the District is taking a proactive approach and has convened a Reopening Advisory Panel (RAP) to study options and plan accordingly. The Panel includes school nurses, principals, educators, and District-wide leaders across our ten schools. By reviewing lessons learned from other countries and states, we are predicting the hybrid approach is highly likely

The survey closes on June 8th. Parents can click here to weigh in. (This survey is anonymous.)

Parent/Community – Start Time Proposal Survey

I previewed earlier this spring that the proposal for new School Start Times in fall 2021 hinges on reducing bus tiers. The Task Force is scheduled to provide an update to school committees this month. In preparation, the Task Force is asking the community to weigh in on the concept:

The School Start Time Task Force is pleased to share with the community that it has identified a viable solution to having a later start time at ARHS. Before moving forward with a recommendation to the school committees, it is seeking input and feedback from educators, families, and community organizations. The Task Force is asking that you review the proposal and provide feedback via a survey. The results of the survey will be shared with the community and will be used to make adjustments, identify concerns, and ultimately be used to decide if there is support to make a recommendation to the school committees for their approval. If approved, the adjusted start times would be implemented in the fall of 2021; this year will give stakeholders time to prepare for the change and for the District to make final adjustments.

For those not fully familiar with the issue, the newsletter introduced with some background: 

Over the past six years, the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough have studied the impact of a 7:20 AM start time on Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) students. In fact, ARHS is included in the minority (10%) of high schools across the country that start school before 7:30 AM. Because of ARHS’ start time, students have to wake up earlier than experts recommend so they can catch the bus or drive to school.

The early start time has been identified as problematic for ARHS’ student body and is thought to be one of the factors contributing to students’ stress levels. Sleep quantity and quality are correlated to mental well-being and academic achievement. Knowing that teenagers’ sleep needs do not match the body of scientific knowledge prompted the continued study of ARHS’ start time. 

The newsletter and survey share the proposed new start times for each school in Northborough and Southborough and the new bus tiers. (For those whose kids don’t yet attend Southborough schools, the current three tier schedule transports Algonquin Regional High School students, then Neary and Trottier students [grades 4-8], then Finn and Woodward students [grades K-3].)

proposed school start times[Right] is the Proposed Start Time Changes for the 2021-2022 school year. The times in green are the current start/end times for our 10 schools. The times in yellow are the proposed changes that would take effect in the fall of 2021. The “Tier” indicates which students will be riding together for each town. For example, ARHS students will be riding with middle school students in Tier 1.

The survey closes on June 8th. Click here to weigh in.

Draft Reauthorized Strategic Plan – Feedback Welcomed

The newsletter also included an option to provide feedback on the schools’ draft strategic plan:

This school year, we have been engaged in the extensive process of writing a new strategic plan for the District. This has been guided by the Planning for Success model from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In addition, we used the Profile of a Graduate process to define our vision for success. Throughout, we have invited a wide range of stakeholders to participate. In addition, we have benefitted from the insight and support of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee which is made up of community members, School Committee members, teachers, and administrators.

At this time, we would appreciate your perspectives on the draft Strategic Plan for the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough. Please provide feedback by completing the linked survey Strategic Plan Feedback Form 

Before you answer the survey, you’ll want to read the draft. Click here.

To read the full May NSBORO News Update, click here.

Updated (6/4/20 9:59 am): Initially, the deadline for the three surveys was this Friday, June 5th. This morning, the Superintendent issued a new email focused on the surveys with a deadline of Monday, June 8th.

Updated (6/22/20 12: 13 pm): I inserted a link to previous coverage of the School Start Time issue.

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