COVID Update – January 11, 2021

COVID Update   Monday, January 11, 2021 Happy New Year everyone!

We will be so happy to see our students and teachers back in the classroom this week working together. After what I hope was a relaxing winter break, we are excited to be back at it in person and resuming our hybrid schedule. The main purpose for my message today is to update everyone on an issue that was brought to our attention concerning this week’s Professional Development Day on Friday, January 15th. After speaking with the people responsible for planning and carrying out the program for that day, we have decided that it is too late to move the program since it has been planned for some time and we are using consultants who have already booked the time with us. If this were not the case, it would be easier to move things around but we have already committed financial resources and consultant’s time for Friday. Having said this, we all agree and understand that the Wednesday/ Friday Cohort has missed a disproportionate amount of in person time in school due to the impact of half day Wednesdays for holidays and conferences, the Friday before Christmas and now this Friday on the PD Day.

 

While we are not able to fully adjust for this time, we are going to make Monday, March 15, 2021 an additional hybrid in person day for the Wednesday /Friday cohort which means those students will come to into school and the Tuesday/Thursday cohort will be remote. We will not follow the typical Monday schedule and that week the Monday/Wednesday cohort will attend school in person on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   The school calendar was developed last spring before we knew exactly what COVID was going to do. We all hoped that by now this virus would be in the past but probably knew it was not going to be that easy.   The schedule worked for most of the fall but, with schedule changes around the holidays, it created an issue for the Wednesday /Friday students in person school time. While students were still being provided with instruction remotely each day, we know a consistent schedule makes things easier and everyone looks forward to these in school days.

 

I expect there to be consistency as the year moves along unless we are unable to keep COVID from coming into our schools and transmitting to staff and students. I want you to know that the school calendar follows a very similar pattern each year and we have often scheduled the professional development days on Friday before a long weekend for families to enjoy. Teachers however do not get the day off because they are required to attend all training sessions but it does allow them to end their week learning with their peers on topics that are important and useful to them. This was the case when we originally made January 15th a training day for teachers and a no school day for students.

 

Many of the emails I received have urged us to schedule all training and conferences etc. on Monday since that is a remote day for everyone. While that seems like an easy fix, our Mondays are planned to support the models (hybrid and remote) we are using in this unprecedented year. As we planned the transition from full remote hybrid, discussions with our staff helped us realize that teachers needed and deserved some portion of Monday as designated time to prepare lessons and materials for the week and meet with colleagues to plan for students with individualized educational plans. Time is also used to collaborate with colleagues on curriculum, unit planning and coordination of services. With this in mind, we developed a Memorandum of Understanding with our teacher’s union to have them teach students in the morning and provide asynchronous lessons for students to work on while the teacher’s use this needed time to ensure that the hybrid and remote teaching can work as well as they do.   There is almost nothing that is the same for teachers this year and I appreciate the fact that our teachers will be forgoing that coveted and valued time on March 15th to offer another day of in person learning for the Monday/Friday students and a full day of instruction for the remote students.

 

I hope this provides you with the information and time you need to make the necessary arrangements for this schedule change and if you have any additional questions or comments, please contact me at jacobsc@georgetown.k12.ma.us Have a great night and I will be in touch soon! Stay safe and well! Carol