NSBORO Phased path to 4-days in person for K-5: Webinar Tues; Parent decisions by Feb 7; launch Mar 23 (Updated)

Northborough-Southborough Public Schools are pursuing a phased “path” to return students to school four days per week. That would double the number of days most Hybrid K-12 students are currently allowed to attend.

The district will still continue to offer its Stand Alone Remote learning model. It would also allow parents to plan switching students into or out of the SARP model due to the change.

The commitment to a model for K-5 students is due a week from Sunday – February 7th. After that point, no switches will be allowed through the end of the school year. (And anyone who doesn’t respond will be considered as having chosen to remain in their current model.)

[Editor’s Note: Superintendent Gregory Martineau clarified for me that the 2/7 deadline is just for K-5. He will send a follow up email to parents in grades 6-12 to clarify that.]

The phased rollout focuses first on K-5 students. While key education and decision points in the timeline are next week, the earliest target date for the launched increase is March 23rd. (A caveat for the date is “if conditions allow”.) That would be a full year and 10 days since the schools closed their doors to full in person learning.*

A webinar will be held on Tuesday night, February 2nd. The session will focus primarily on the K-5 plan, but Martineau tells me that it will be helpful for all NSBORO parents “as it will provide the latest research and information on COVID-19.”

The phased scheduled indicates that middle school and Algonquin dates for increased learning are not yet certain.

Below is the full announcement emailed by Superintendent Gregory Martineau to parents and guardians last night:

Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s):

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller. The partnership between educators and families has never been more critical as the COVID-19 Pandemic has required parents, educators, and students to adapt, adjust, and accommodate. I know it has not been an easy journey for many families, educators, and students. I am grateful for these partnerships and humbled to have the opportunity to lead The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough during these challenging times.

Over the past several weeks, I have presented the Family Learning Model Survey results to the school committees. These data have provided the District with insight into growth areas and families’ thoughts about and interest in increasing in-person learning to four days a week. I have linked the three presentations for your information: Northborough Family Learning Model Survey Results, Southborough Family Learning Model Survey Results, and ARHS Family Learning Model Survey Results.

As we look to the weeks and months ahead, the District’s goal is to increase students’ in-person learning. The District has begun the planning and preparation to increase learning to four days per week. The District will first focus on increasing in-person learning at grades kindergarten through grade five, and then, once implemented, it will focus on grades six through twelve.

Families are critical stakeholders in this process and will have the option of four in-person days a week (Monday will remain remote) or the Stand Alone Remote Program (SARP). A family’s selection of a learning model will be for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year, and families will not have the option to switch models. On Monday, February 1, 2021, I will share a form that asks families to select either four in-person days a week or the SARP. The form will close on Sunday, February 7, 2021, at 5:00 PM. The District will interpret a family’s ‘no response’ as a family’s decision to have their child remain in his/her current learning model (Hybrid students would shift to four days and SARP students would remain in SARP).

To provide families with information to make decisions, the District is hosting a Parent and Guardian Increased In-Person Learning (for K-5 students) Webinar. The Webinar will feature The Medical Advisory Team (MAT), principals, and District leaders. The MAT will provide an overview of the current medical research, and the District team will answer questions. To sign up for the Webinar, please click the link below. Kindergarten through grade five will be the main focus.

The NSboro Parent Webinar: The Path Forward – Increasing In-Person Learning
When: Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Where: Zoom Link (Limited to 1000 participants)*
*The Webinar will be recorded and made available

Timeline of Increasing In-Person Learning

Key Information

  • Provide weekly COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, and staff
  • Each Monday will remain a remote learning day to allow District to conduct contact tracing after screening students on Thursday or Friday of the prior week
  • Sign up for weekly student pooled screening
  • Maintain six-feet of social distancing during lunches
  • Maintain social distancing of four to six feet in classrooms. We would endeavor to maintain the greatest social distancing possible. Most classrooms would be closer to five to six feet.
  • Continue mask-wearing
  • Continue hand-washing
  • Continue screening of symptoms
  • Disband the hybrid model and implement a Four-Day In-Person Model
  • Continue Stand Alone Remote Program
  • Endeavor to not disrupt teacher assignments and student placements. This will not be possible for students who shift models.

The District is committed to partnering with families throughout this process. Our students, faculty, and staff’s health and safety remain the highest priorities. The District is committed to implementing its plan for increased in-person learning; however, the COVID-19 Pandemic remains dynamic and the District will continue to make evidence-based decisions based on the most current research and data.

Gregory L. Martineau
Superintendent of Schools

The message was part of the weekly update, issued one day early. The linked roll out plan included internal steps already taken starting last week:

  • Meet with association presidents to formally launch the process
  • Communication to staff
  • Reconvene school-based reopening committees
  • Forum for PK-5 educators with the Medical Advisory Team

Other information in the update included a reminder about the about to be launched weekly Covid screening offered to students:

As the District prepares for adding students to its weekly COVID-19 screening, which will begin in early February, I am asking families to sign-up in advance. The weekly screening is optional. Participating in the screening will help us to evaluate if there are any asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals in our school community. Screening is an additional tool we can use to help slow the spread of the virus. We highly encourage families to have their children participate as an additional strategy to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

*On March 12th, the District announced that NSBORO schools would be closed on March 13th for cleaning. The following day, the decision to close through the end of the month was announced. Of course, subsequent decisions at a state level extended that to the end of the school year with remote only learning. The reopening of NSBORO schools this fall was also a phased rollout for K-12 Hybrid students. The 2-days in person model started with K-5 in-person on September 26th/27th, Middle schoolers on September 29th/30th, and Algonquin on Octobober 6th/7th. (PreK students have been attending an in person only model since the week of September 22nd.)

Updated (1/29/21 4:01 pm): The email message didn’t specify that the commitment deadline of February 7th referred to learning models for K-5 students only. I sought clarification since the webinar is focused on the elementary students. Martineau confirmed that the deadline for middle and high school students won’t be next week.

However, he did note that those parents may still find the webinar helpful (PreK parents as well) since it will “provide latest research and information on COVID-19.”

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3 years ago

I know it is challenging, but the administration absolutely needs to be more flexible. The “Endeavor to not disrupt teacher assignments and student placements” feels like a goal for their convenience rather than doing what is in the best interest of the students and families.

I am all for doing whatever it takes to get our children more time with teachers. The “asynchronous” learning has gone terribly, but the details laid out here are extremely lacking. It seems rather unfair to ask for a permanent commitment in such short order when so much is unknown about the plan and what the status of the pandemic will be in two months time. In those two months, as spring approaches and vaccines take hold, death rates may plummet, but we are in the heart of the worst of it right now and the threat of new strains may have people reasonably questioning if the current downswing is permanent. Just like in science, people have the right to change their minds as the data changes.

3 years ago
Reply to  Parent

I could not agree more with you. The situation is so variable, with new variants of the virus spreading, and potentially vaccines on the horizon. To ask parents to pick a model and remove flexibility seems like a really bad idea. Is the district not changing its position now, by going from 2.5 to 4 days a week? Why take that flexibility away from parents?

3 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

You’re right, my bad.

3 years ago

Where can we find the webinar recording of… The NSboro Parent Webinar: The Path Forward – Increasing In-Person Learning? Thank you!

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