By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – The Northborough and Southborough K-8 School Committees unanimously voted on Feb. 11 to support Superintendent Greg Martineau’s plan to expand in-person learning for grades K-5. The four days a week model will start on March 22. It is contingent on the ongoing review and monitoring of current data to maintain the health and safety of students and staff. The District Medical Advisory Team (MAT) emphasized that moving to this model does not loosen any restrictions in mask wearing or social distancing.
The District will begin planning the four-day model for the middle schools and high school on Feb. 22.
“It’s a very complex undertaking,” said Martineau. “We are not fully reopened yet and this work continues.”
Martineau encouraged parents to sign up their children for the pool screening. The data will give the District information on how the new model is working.
Parent survey data was a key part in the planning process. Very few families in the hybrid model will shift to the fully remote program. A number of families from the fully remote program will shift to the four day in person model.
Faculty and staff were surveyed. Sixty percent of those who took the survey were in favor of the increased in-person learning, and 40 percent were understandably concerned about their own health and safety.
“We have teachers who are dedicated to their students and are willing to move forward with the plan,” said Martineau.
New guidelines for bus capacity limits came out the morning of the meeting, which allows the limit of one student per seat to increase to two. The District will review and analyze the new information deeper with the MAT and share with families.
Do not let guard down
The new model will not change restrictions on indoor playdates and social gatherings even if students will all be together in school again.
District Wellness Coordinator Mary Ellen Duggan said that the District is not loosening any of their mitigation strategies and families should not either.
Well-fitting masks will continue to be key at schools. Mary E. Finn Elementary School Principal Clayton Ryan said kids at the early elementary level are doing a fabulous job helping to mitigate the virus.
“Our kids do a great job maintaining their masks and they do it under conditions that we as adults would find very challenging,” he said. “During gym, outside at recess – where you think one would want to take a mask break, they have them on.”
“We do not want to let our guard down,” said Duggan. “The virus is still here and we don’t have herd immunity, so we still need to stick with everything we have been doing.”
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