The link to the slide deck is here.
Summary: Dr. Nolin recommended starting school in a hybrid model based on the balance of the low risk of Covid cases in the area and the risk of social/emotional impact, parent employment and loss of learning with students being out of the school building. Dr. Nolin is awaiting information from DESE about what Covid positivity rate informs decisions about moving from a hybrid model to a full remote model for the district. The School Committee voted to adopt a hybrid model to start the school year, with an option for parents to opt into a full remote curriculum using Edgenuity. This was a vote for the high level model, details within the model will be released later.
A survey will be sent out tomorrow from NPS asking for parent decisions within the hybrid model - either sending their child into school buildings every other week and going remote every other week or going fully remote with the Edgenuity program and NPS teacher support. No specifics were given on either of these models other than what has been shared in previous meetings. The survey will stay open for about a week. The choice to go fully remote does not need to be medically supported by a Doctor's note. Concerns were raised by Ms. Sonneborn and parents about the "chicken and the egg" issue and the difficulty of filling out a survey and choosing a model with such limited information about the models. Any questions about filling out the survey can be asked through the Speak Up Portal or to school principals.
The School Committee voted to extend Dr. Nolin’s contract until 2026.
The School Committee voted to adhere to two policies to protect students, teachers and staff.
The policy on face coverings is here. This policy requires face coverings for all grades in school and on school buses. There are some exemptions to this policy for students which required a doctor’s note. Masks will not be required during mask breaks, eating and while outside. Students must provide their own masks, but extra masks are available at schools if needed.
The other set of policies relates to being able to make fluid changes to school schedules, class size, attendance, job descriptions and other items related to Covid. The policy is here.
Mr. Wood, co-president of the Teachers’ Union (EAN), shared that goals of EAN are a safe reopening and providing the best possible education for all students. EAN and the School Committee are both willing to continue discussion about in person learning in a hybrid model or remote learning with input from Board of Health, Mr. Gadson (Facilities), Ms. Sherlock (YMCA program). Read the full document here. No specifics about surveys to teachers or teacher opinions were given.
Ms. Sherlock, COO of Metrowest YMCA, spoke about experiences with the YMCA program.
Open since late March serving 60-80 students in the spring for emergency childcare for essential workers
Open for 400 kids in summer camp every day
Utilize cohorting children in groups of ten, masks, handwashing and daily health checks
Social Distancing within cohorts has been the most difficult piece to adhere to for elementary students
The YMCA building in Framingham has a brand new HVAC system, although the summer program is outside most of the day.
YMCA is not participating in a testing program, temperature checks were unreliable, relying on daily health checks with parents
They have not had a child or staff who have tested positive for Covid
Mr. Gadson, director of Facilities for the Town of Natick, spoke about Covid-19 Initiatives.
Doing everything they can do to get everything as safe as possible, limiting and restricting exposure should Covid show up in building
HVAC systems have been cleaned, upgraded filters to MERV 11, doubled fresh air intake ratio
Determining effectiveness of MERV 13 filters (balancing air flow versus higher filter)
Investigating Air Sanitizers/UV systems and air purifiers for Nurses stations and Quarantine Areas (try to contain spread if there is Covid)
Bathrooms - touchless handwashing stations in progress or will be installed, urinals and toilets will not be touchless per BOH requirements
Buildings will have plexiglass installations in classrooms, offices and meetings rooms (not required from Board of Ed)
Logos and Arrows will be on floors to encourage students to social distance
Custodians will have schedules for cleaning daily, nightly and weekly
Restroom cleaning at least daily
Common areas, high touch points daily
Deeper clean at night with sanitizing wands
Every school will have two canopies for student mask breaks during inclement weather, not for holding class
Students will wipe down their desk at the end of the day
Principals will have handbooks available to all families with school specific protocols (no date given to when these will be distributed)
Classroom doors and windows will be left open when possible but exterior doors closed for school security
All safety measures are happening in the old and new Kennedy buildings, including upgrading air filters
Concern: This model actually provides more possibilities for exposure - one with their cohort for the in person week and one with childcare during the remote week.
Dr Nolin: We have reviewed this model with the Board of Health and they agree that it is best. The nine day span that students won’t be in the building mitigates risk of spreading the virus.
Concern: What about students entering and exiting school buildings and crowding?
Dr. Nolin: Principals are working on this. Attendance will be less than 50% on any given day. Protocols will be in place.
Concern: Equity among in person learning and parents who choose to go remote must be a concern
Dr. Nolin: Having the surveys filled out by families will allow for the creation of models. We hope all of the models will be very strong.
Concern: Metco students and how they will be affected by going hybrid (especially if Boston goes full remote)
Dr. Nolin: Metco students are Natick students, so they would follow all Natick policies even if Boston adopts a different model. The every other week hybrid model allows for cohorting with transportation.
Question: How will NPS know if they need to switch from Hybrid to Fully remote?
Answer: The State will release guidelines, DESE will release guidelines but Natick could always be more conservative if needed. None of these guidelines/metrics have been released yet. Dr. Nolin and the School Committee will create their own metrics that make sense for the school system using community infection rate history (Dr. White of the Board of Health would be involved in this). If the district needs to pivot from hybrid to fully remote the schedule itself wouldn’t change.
Friday, Dr. Nolin will file handbook (mentioned above) and model to State. As soon as this is approved it will be available to the public. A survey will come out tomorrow to parents and will be open until Monday of next week and then will bring back to you models with schedules. If there are questions regarding the survey parents can use the Speak Up Portal or contact their principals. This survey is binding for parents and a family's decision to go fully remote does not need to be medically necessary, but can be for any health concern and does not require a Doctor's note. In the meantime the School Committee is negotiating with teacher's union about working conditions and coming to agreements about teacher and staff reopening. A plan will be provided to the School Committee once negotiations are complete with the teacher union and have been approved by the State (no timeline for this given).