The Southborough and Northborough School Committees have posted an agenda for a joint special meeting this Thursday. The committees will vote on increasing in-person learning.
The committees will be voting on the administration’s recommendation to shift elementary school Hybrid attendance from 2-days in person per week to 4-days per week.
While technically, each committee could choose a different path, it’s unlikely. The administration has advocated for both Towns to be on the same page, both for Covid related issues and other major decisions. In the past, committee members have supported that view.
The District has been pursuing a plan to phase in the increased learning starting with K-5 students on March 23rd. (Since the committees also cover grades 6-8, it is possible they’ll also discuss the target date for the middle school phase which has yet to be specified.)
Returning students to “Full In-Person with health and safety precautions” was the next phase in the administration’s 5 phase reopening plan initially laid out last summer. In the webinar held last week on updated plans, Assistant Superintendent Stefanie Reinhorn explained the reasons for maintaining Mondays as a fully remote day.
Mondays will continue to be used for important “building maintenance” for Covid safety. The remote day is also a buffer to allow the planned Covid screening program to work. (Students and faculty would turn in their self-administered tests on Friday mornings with results coming back in time to prevent those who test positive from attending school on Tuesday.)
Parents were instructed to choose by last Sunday whether their K-5 children would participate in the Hybrid or the Stand-Alone Remote Program learning model given the change.
One concern that SARP parents expressed is that the shift could prompt more families to switch into SARP than out of it. Parents had already complained that some classes of 25+ kids were too large. In last week’s webinar, Reinhorn said that they were working on hiring and some staff currently used to support students on asynchronous hybrid days could be reassigned. They’d have to wait for actual numbers to see what issues need to be resolved.
I’d expect school committee members to learn more on Thursday about how many families plan to switch models and if there are resulting staffing challenges.
Traditionally, the school committees tend to defer to the administrative and support their recommendations. However, there have been times members pushed the administration to take more time to explore issues further. Conversely, this summer the phased roll out for the 2-day in-person learning was tightened by a week at the committees’ urging.
To learn more about the increased learning plans, read past coverage here.