School Update: Start pushed to September 16th; New survey due Sun afternoon, and more

by beth on August 8, 2020

Post image for School Update: Start pushed to September 16th; New survey due Sun afternoon, and more

Above: The first two months of the NSBORO 2020-2021 school calendar have changed. (images cropped from new version)

On Wednesday night, the Combined School Committees agreed to adopt the state’s option for adding more Professional Development days to the calendar. The first day of school for students is moving from September 2nd to the 16th.

The School Committees approved the Reopening Plans and the new calendar with the caveat that there may be changes made if necessary. (You can watch their discussions in Wednesday’s meeting here.)

There were multiple exchanges and comments about working parents of young students worried about daycare/supervision for remote learning days under a Hybrid Model. One option suggested was having kids dropped off at school tents or gyms for supervised remote learning outside the classrooms. Superintendent Gregory Martineau didn’t promise anything, but also didn’t rule out supporting the needs in some way.

Martineau said the focus has been on getting the Reopening Plans set. Once that is done and a starting learning model is chosen, they will reach out to organizations that support the schools to see if there are ways they can help them support parents. He referred to SOS (Southborough Organization for Schools) and NEF (Northborough Education Foundation) as examples.

The new survey released by the district includes asking whether parents would need help finding daycare or if they are “willing to support other families in finding childcare” and how. Parents are also again asked to let the district know their model preferences, whether or not they would participate in in-person learning, etc.

The district is asking parents to again quickly respond to the survey. This one is due tomorrow, Sunday, August 9th, by 4:30 pm.

Results will be used to inform an important vote this week. In Friday evening’s update to parents, Martineau wrote:

On Wednesday, August 12, 2020, the Northborough, Southborough, and Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committees will discuss reopening plans and vote on a reopening strategy. 

As for the school delay, it adds 10 Professional Development days to the calendar. School Committee members agreed that giving time for teachers and the administration to work through how to make new learning models work was important. There was a preference noted for quality over quantity of teaching days. 

Teachers will begin as originally scheduled on August 31st. To allow follow up instruction based on the rollout, another district Professional Development Day originally scheduled for September 1st is being split into two half days in October: Mondays, October 5th and 19th (with Heritage Day/Columbus Day falling in between.)

Already scheduled were other follow up days on November 3rd (Election Day) and March 5th. You can see the new calendar here.

Another important item in the district’s Friday evening update was on student’s tech devices. The district wants Grade K-8 students to use school provided devices for learning in and out of school, even if they have their own.

Click here for Superintendent Gregory Martineau’s full message to parents.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Diane R. August 8, 2020 at 8:23 PM

Thank you, Beth, for posting this. If interested, school districts that surround Southborough have posted information that might be helpful to everyone. For example, on the Westborough School District website it says that the every other week hybrid model is better for limiting transmission of the virus. On the Hopkinton School District website it says that educators have favored the every other day hybrid program because it better resembles regular school. These are not regular times and I would encourage everyone to try to stop the transmission of the virus and to put safety first. (I think Southborough is doing well in terms of the number of cases.) Two other adjacent towns, Framingham and Ashland, (and I’m not sure about Marlborough) will begin the school year with remote learning.

Everyone needs to know as much as they can to make an informed decision….

Thanks again, Beth, for posting the information from the Superintendent.

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2 Tim Martel August 10, 2020 at 10:18 AM

Beware of walking into echo chambers…

Instead, look at real data – like the actual numbers of current hospitalizations and ICU capacity usage. Which are both way, way down into normal levels. I believe I have posted links to this data in the past. I can renew it upon request.

In the 14 days prior to Aug 5, Southborough has had a total of ONE positive test for Covid.
Link: https://www.mass.gov/doc/weekly-covid-19-public-health-report-august-5-2020/download

The real data shows a very different picture than what the teacher’s union would have you believe. The real data shows that, unlike last April, we are now ready to send our kids back to school. Its clear to all, including the School Board, that the kids desperately need to go back to an In-person Schooling Model. Unfortunately, fear and politics have taken control of our administration, just like whats happening in the surrounding towns…

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3 beth August 10, 2020 at 11:24 AM

In the 14 days prior to August 5, it looks like Northborough had 5 cases confirmed. However, the Town also has Nursing homes/assisted living facilities and I couldn’t tell you if cases were there vs the general population.

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4 beth August 10, 2020 at 11:28 AM

I have to correct that. I was adding the 2 shown last week to 3 shown in the prior week’s report. I initially didn’t notice that the weekly report shows the data for past 14 days. Northborough actually only had 2 cases in last two weeks.

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5 northsider August 10, 2020 at 12:49 PM

Fastest way for those numbers to spike up is to open up schools. Let’s be honest, we have no real way to truly track everything and it’s even harder to trust that hundreds of families are behaving properly. First half full remote would be much safer, going hybrid 2nd half.

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6 Tim Martel August 10, 2020 at 3:13 PM

The fastest way for numbers to spike is to do what the sunbelt states have done – open bars and stadiums without limitations, and gather in large numbers without masks or social distancing. That is how the current spikes are being generated in other states. i.e. Just really stupid behavior.

On the other hand – opening the schools in a cautious manner consistent with MA Dept of Health and CDC guidelines is not going to cause the numbers to spike. The experts themselves are repeatedly saying this.

Please do not conflate these two very different scenarios.

We don’t need our stadiums open. Our children very much need our schools.

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7 Diane R. August 12, 2020 at 10:15 AM

In case anyone is interested, the Superintendent of the Natick Schools opted for the every other week hybrid program for safety reasons:

“Under the plan created by Superintendent Anna Nolan, school would start on Sept. 16 with Natick students split into two cohorts. The cohorts would alternate between one week in class and one week of online learning.

“This allows for time to pass for cohort attendance should we see infection trends rise,” Nolin wrote in a draft of the policy released in July.”

8 Eileen August 10, 2020 at 1:29 PM

I think the fear is understandable. I don’t see how politics is playing any part in these decisions.

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9 Diane R August 10, 2020 at 3:11 PM

Hi Tim,
Your reply was predictable. Please consider
#1) I really don’t know what the teacher’s unions are supporting
#2) In my post I referred to the low numbers in Southborough.

The issue for me is that there is a State mandate to get the kids back into the buildings. You can read it on their website. SAFTEY IS NOT THEIR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY. That’s a problem because we have family members who are at high risk. Please note, however, that we are opting for the Stand-Alone Remote Learning Model so whatever Southborough votes on will not necessarily affect our family.

Moreover, while it’s very nice that the District continues to provide us with information about how the kids with special needs will be served by the district, it’s simply putting the cart before the horse and the narrative is that everything is okay with returning to school.

Clearly, it is not.

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10 Diane R August 10, 2020 at 3:14 PM

One more observation: Southborough is a community of residents that must go outside its limits to access services like grocery shopping, health clubs, etc. We are not a bubble.

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