NSBORO Update: Medical Advisory Team approved K-5 return to full learning next week (Updated)

Above: NSBORO launched a new Reopening Website focused on Spring 2021 plans (images cropped from website)

The Superintendent of Northborough and Southborough Public Schools posted an update on reopening plans today.

The message to parents explains that the district’s team of advising medical experts greenlit the plans for NSBORO K-5 schools next week.

He also shared that the first day back for elementary students will be a half day for those grades. (Trottier and Algonquin students will have regular dismissal times.)

The update states:

The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough’s Medical Advisory Team (MAT) met yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, March 16, 2021, to review the COVID-19 health metrics and discuss any health and safety concerns to increase in-person learning K-5. At the meeting, the MAT gave its full support of the District moving forward with its plans for elementary students to return. As a result, The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough will increase in-person learning at the elementary level five days a week, beginning this Monday, March 22, 2021.

I do want to note that this Monday, March 22, 2021, will be an Early Release Day for all Northborough and Southborough elementary students. Educators will use this Monday to review all health and safety protocols with students and acclimate students to the new classroom and school routines. On Tuesday, March 23, 2021, elementary schools will resume their regular hours. . .

Monday’s in-person Early Release Time schedule for Southborough Elementary is:

Southborough K-5 schedule for March 22
(click to enlarge)

The District is thrilled to be returning elementary students to in-person learning five days a week. The District’s faculty and staff have done an outstanding job planning and preparing for students’ full return. I want to thank families for their patience and partnership throughout this year.  

For parents with questions about the impact of increased student attendance on buses, the district already had posted FAQs to the website. In the most recent Southborough School Committee meeting, Operations Director Kieth Lavoie reassured members it was under control. He told them they had the buses they need to handle the population within guidelines.

The guidelines still cap one student per bench seat, with an exception for members of the same household. Seats will now be assigned. (Those communications will come directly from students’ schools.)

Lavoie indicated that there had been a number of parents contacting the school to switch students from being driven by parents to taking the bus. Because the Transportation Coordinator had created the bus routes with the potential to cover all students’ homes, adding in the stops wasn’t a major change.

The transportation information is one of several of the administration’s communications that have been posted to a new Reopening Plans website that is focused on Spring 2021. So far, its main focus is the changes for Grades K-5.

As for parents with kids in grades 6-8, the deadline for committing to a learning model (in-person or remote) came and went. According to Superintendent Gregory Martineau, the deadline was for families in the remote only program to make a decision about shifting to in-person. 

Martineau clarified for me that parents with students attending the hybrid model weren’t given the reverse choice:*

Due to the complexities of middle school and high school schedules, we are not able to accommodate shifts of hybrid learners to the Stand Alone Remote Program.

The Medical Advisory is scheduled to give its final recommendation on resuming full in-person learning for the middle schools and high school on April 6th. The return is currently scheduled for April 26th, the Monday following Spring Break. 

Latest District Dashboard

On Monday, the District Dashboard for March 8th – 14th was posted. It shows 7 cases were confirmed in the district last week, 241 over the course of the pandemic. 96 students/staff were isolated or quarantined last week. 

The report shows that participation increased in the district’s screening program still isn’t at their target level (80+%), but there has been some growth in student participation: 

  • For student participation:
    • ARHS increased from 45% to 48%
    • Trottier increased from 47% to 53%
    • Woodward increased from 52% to 56%
    • Neary stayed at 58%
    • Finn stayed at 43%
  • District staff participation decreased from 81% to 79%.

Last week, samples collected didn’t identify any asymptomatic patients as infected.

Below are charts and info from the latest Dashboard and my tracking of their data since the start of the school year.

March 14 - NSBORO Covid-Dashboard p 1 March 14- NSBORO Covid Dashboard p2 March 14 - NSBORO Covid Dashboard p3 March 14 - New cases in NSBORO schools by week March 14 - NSBORO Students-Staff in Quarantine-Isolation March 14 - Southborough Students-Staff in Quarantine-Isolation March 14 - Algonquin Students-Staff in Quarantine-Isolation

*Updated (3/17/21 11:50 am): I had referred to the timeline deadline as apparently inaccurate, since no form was provided to parents before the March 14th deadline. It appears that forms and deadlines were communicated to SARP families only. It appears the district timeline only allows for a one way shift for students. An option to shift to remote wasn’t provided to families whose students are currently attending hybrid but might be worried about the impact of increased population in the schools.

Updated (3/17/21 1:28 pm): Martineau confirmed that hybrid students in grades 6-8 are not allowed to shift to SARP.

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Julie Connelly
3 years ago

Just wanted to give an enormous shout out to the Medical Advisory Team. Our community is incredibly fortunate to have these experts – who are not just our local experts, but are experts in their fields in every sense of the word – devote so much of their time while also being working professionals and parents of school aged kids, during a pandemic, to keep us informed and help school administrators, the school committee, and parents make informed decisions. I have no doubt that the MAT is a huge reason why we are ahead of many other Massachusetts communities in COVID testing and returning to school. Bravo!

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