By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer
Marlborough — The Marlborough School Committee has moved the scheduled Jan. 19 hybrid learning return date for Grades 3 – 12 to Monday, Feb. 1. The Committee will revisit the timetable at their next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
During their Jan. 12 meeting, the members acknowledged that this is “one of the most difficult decisions” they have ever had to make, and several said they were truly “struggling” with the decision.
Students in Pre-K through Grade 2, special education programs and EL 1 & 2 will continue in-school learning.
February vacation week discussed
The Committee acknowledged that bringing students back on Feb. 1 only allows for one week for each cohort to be in the hybrid learning model before the scheduled February vacation. There has been no decision on any changes to the vacation schedule at this time. Superintendent Michael Bergeron said that changing anything on the approved school calendar may include union negotiations. He added that he was going to speak with teachers and administrators about the process if it is something that comes up for discussion at the next school committee meeting.
Positive case data for the District
The COVID-19 positive case data in the schools as of Jan. 26 included a total of 57 cases: 18 at Marlborough High School, 11 at 1LT Charles W. Whitcomb School, four cases at the Sgt. Charles J. Jaworek Elementary School, five cases at the Raymond C. Richer Elementary School, eight cases at both the Goodnow Brothers and Francis J. Kane Elementary Schools and three cases at the Early Childhood Center. Many of the positive cases involved students learning remotely so there were not entire classrooms quarantined in all cases, according to Bergeron.
Concerns regarding teacher stress
Bergeron explained that there have been classrooms of students that have had to quarantine more than one time due to positive cases and contact tracing. Teacher Eileen Barry, representing the Marlborough Education Association, reminded the committee that teachers in Pre-K – Grade 2 classrooms have been in school full-time and several have had to go back and forth to remote learning due to classroom quarantine protocols. She added that she wanted to make sure “those teachers were part of the committee’s discussion.”
“I don’t want to go out too far (with the hybrid return date) so let’s see how the next two weeks go and we might have a clearer track on the vaccines,” Mayor Arthur Vigeant, who is also the School Committee chair, said.
The state’s vaccine rollout plan has all teachers scheduled to receive the first dose of the vaccine in February.
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