Shrewsbury’s April school vacation to be modified due to pandemic

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Shrewsbury – The Shrewsbury Public School District will have a different type of April vaction this year due to the pandemic. On April 8 the Shrewsbury School Committee voted four to one in favor of altering the school calendar so that Tuesday, April 21, Wednesday, April 22, and Thursday, April 23 would be remote learning days instead of previously scheduled April vacation days.  Monday, April 20 is Patriots Day and Friday, April 24 will remain a vacation day.

Remote learning is expected to keep students connected to educators and classmates with a focus on providing support to help students learn at home, maintain and develop key academic and critical thinking skills and to help students learn academic content.

Dr. Joseph Sawyer had initiated a survey prior to the School Committee meeting which was sent to the school community seeking feedback on this proposal.

It was reported in a memorandum on the Shrewsbury Public Schools website that 2,304 families and 740 staff members participated.

The memo: “SPS Covid-19 Update – April 10, 2020” stated: “Both families and staff conveyed a significant, clear preference to modify the April break to include remote learning days.”

Of the families who responded, 65.06 percent of the respondents which amounts to 1,495 who strongly agreed that some of the April vacation days should be converted to remote learning days for students.  Overall a significant majority preferred converting three days rather than four. As such, Sawyer recommended that the Committee vote accordingly.

The dissenting vote came from committee member Lynsey Heffernan, who has young children in elementary school. She said she doesn’t feel that her children are making any educational progress but did recognize that “teachers are trying”.

“It’s a little different from my vantage point having an eighth grader and a high schooler. I’ve seen the momentum that we’ve gained over the last week…I feel that they are getting onto a more regimented schedule, they’ve got Zoom meetings scheduled and they have work that has been assigned. I’d hate to see that momentum lost,” said Jon Wensky.

“The feedback from the surveys and other messages we have been receiving have underscored how important it is to recognize that you all are experiencing the pandemic crisis in very different ways, depending on the specific circumstances related to your health, finances, work demands, and family situations,” Sawyer remarked. “It has never been more important for us all to work together with empathy, grace, and compassion. We will get through this together, as a community, by helping one another.”

For more information about the Shrewsbury School Department’s response to COVID-19, visit https://schools.shrewsburyma.gov.