Westborough Superintendent says distance learning going well

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Last day of school anticipated to be June 17

By Jennifer L. Grybowski, Contributing Writer

Westborough – Superintendent Amber Bock updated the School Committee at its meeting May 13 on the status of the district’s distance learning. She reported that the district had submitted to the state for approval Wednesday, June 17 as the last day of school, and that she would notify everyone as soon as she hears back.

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“The reason we can apply for that date is we were up and running so quickly,” she said. “Westborough was quickly responsive and able to provide meaningful instruction very early and our sense of how to move forward to this has been grounded and thoughtful.”

Bock said the workload is now stable and that teachers have modified and adjusted pacing for different grades as needed.

“We are helping teachers focus on different areas,” she said. “It is going very well. We have moved into a stable implementation for the next six weeks until the close of school.”

She also reported that there is a well-framed materials pick-up process for students that is underway and will continue in coming weeks. Teachers are coming into the building in rotation to close out their classrooms. Plans are underway for senior week, and creating thoughtful opportunities to celebrate the graduating seniors.

Bock said food service delivery for needy families is still going well, and that a notice has gone into the meal bags urging families to call the town hotline if they need access to more food support.

“Our goal as public schools is we are plugged in with the work of supporting our community,” she said. “I’m immensely proud at how Westborough has responded during this time.”

Mayer reported that attendance has been high in recent weeks, with 95 percent at the elementary school and 90 percent at the high school. But he said the district was starting to prepare for what the fall is going to look like.

“I don’t think anyone is expecting us to come back at 100 percent in September,” he said. “We need to start shifting conversations to prepare for different scenarios.”

He said likely scenarios are putting school back in session and then closing down again, and having a new system in which some students come in on one day, and others come in another day in order to maintain social distancing.

However, he acknowledged the unknowns in the situation, saying he wouldn’t expect the state to give clear guidance on reopening until middle to late summer.

Bock agreed, and asked that as new information comes out, the community give school administration some breathing room to digest it and plan around it. She said often when a new directive is given; she is flooded with e-mails from people who want answers.

School choice

In other news, a public hearing was held regarding school choice.

Bock said she did not recommend Westborough participate in school choice because class size guidelines are already at capacity with current residents.

“We have a very robust and active enrollment in our district,” Bock said. “We have a stable and continually growing population in Westborough.