NSBoro Schools: Update on uncertainty of what reopening will look like

Today is the last day of Northborough and Southborough Public Schools. Superintendent Gregory Martineau issued a farewell to the strange year. In it, he provided an update on what reopening will look like for in September.*

For now, planning hinges on pending guidance from the state. While details are still uncertain, don’t expect the new year to kick off in the traditional style.

His message parents and families promises to continue to keep us posted over the summer:

On behalf of the District, I want to recognize the unprecedented task that was asked of our students, faculty, staff, and families and express our appreciation to the school community for partnering with the District on making the best of challenging times. I’m hoping that this school year represents a “once in a lifetime” experience.

I’m sure I’m not alone in liking to have predictability about the future. However, the idea of certainty is an idea I have to set aside for the time being. Author Tony Schwartz’s quote helped me frame letting go of certainty. “Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose upsides.”

As we begin the summer, I am certain that there will be a 2020-2021 academic year. What I am uncertain about is what reopening will look like in August. Regardless, faculty, staff, and student safety remains the District’s greatest priority .

The Reopening Advisory Panel has met several times and has brainstormed ideas, reviewed the results of the survey data, and explored how other countries and states reopened their schools. As a District, we are now in a holding pattern, as we are waiting for specific and prescriptive guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

On Friday, June 12, 2020, Jeffrey Riley, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, shared with superintendents across the Commonwealth that guidance will be released in the next few weeks (he mentioned sometime during the first two weeks of July). He did share that Districts will need to prepare for moving along a continuum including in-person learning, hybrid, and remote learning models as the health data may require different responses during next year.

Once we receive the guidelines, we will set a course and plan for the fall. This summer, I will communicate with families on a consistent basis. There will be many opportunities for input and feedback as plans are finalized for reopening in the fall. For now, we remain open, curious and willing to embrace the paradox as suggested by Tony Schwartz.

Again, on behalf of the District, I’d like to wish families a safe and healthy summer.

*Martineau refers to August reopening in his message. That’s the normal starting time in Southborough, and this year is still the start of Professional Development for teachers. But, under the currently adopted 20-21 district school calendar, September 2nd is targeted for the first day of classes this year.

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