Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee, November 18, 2020

Update on COVID-19 Cases in Our Schools

We’ve been in our hybrid schedule for nearly five weeks.  In this time, we have had a total of eight positive COVID-19 cases in our school community.  This number includes students in our hybrid cohorts, students in the fully remote cohort, faculty, and support staff.  Of these eight cases, only one was determined to be in the present in the building while infectious, which required the identified “close contacts” of this person to quarantine.  The majority of our positive cases to date have been students in our fully remote cohort.  In the very rare instances where a COVID-19 positive person was in school while infectious, we have no evidence of any close contacts becoming infected. 

I also wanted to remind our community on our process for handling a report of an infected individual.  We are following the Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios, July 17, 2020 (Updated September 14, 2020) from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  As outlined in this process, positive test results are reported to local boards of health through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  The local board of health or the Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative will then contact the individual with the positive test in order to identify any “close contacts” of this individual.  The Masconomet District will assist the local board of health with identification of potential close contacts, but it is local board of health that determines who meets the definition of a “close contact.”

When we are alerted to a positive case in the Masconomet District, either through the local department of public health or through a direct contact from a parent, we activate our COVID Response Team.  This group is composed of a District Administration, the appropriate building principal and school nurse, Boxford Department of Public Health personnel and personnel from either the Topsfield and Middleton Departments of Public Health as necessary, the Superintendent of the Tri-Town Elementary School Union, and me.  The purpose of this group is to share information with the relevant stakeholders regarding the positive case, to identify any close contacts of the positive individual and to determine next steps regarding the positive case.  This group has been very effective in allowing us to coordinate our response to positive COVID-19 cases in our school community.

Finally, as we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, I ask that you consider these recommendations from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. We have been very fortunate to have relatively low COVID-19 case numbers in our schools. Following these guidelines will help us to continue in our hybrid learning model after the holidays.

Schedule for Week of November 25, 2020

November 23 and 24 are full school days and will follow our regular hybrid schedule.  Students in Cohort “A” will attend school in person on November 23 and students in Cohort “B” will attend on November 24th.  Wednesday, November 25th is scheduled to be a half-day and will be a “remote” learning day for all students.  No students will physically attend school.  We will hold four classes (Periods 1-4) from 7:35 AM until 10:50 AM in the following schedule:

Schedule for November 25, 2020
StartEnd Duration 
7:358:2045Period 1
8:259:1045Period 2
9:1510:0045Period 3
10:0510:5045Period 4

Students are expected to attend all of their classes remotely through Blackboard.  Teachers will be taking period attendance and reporting student absences from class as usual.

We will return to school on Monday, November 30 with Cohort “A” attending in-person learning and Cohort “B” attending remotely.

Hybrid Schedule Update

Members of the Executive Leadership Team and the Masconomet Education Association have met four times since October 27 to discuss changes to our hybrid schedule.  We are very close to having an agreement on a change to the schedule. We hope to be communicating the details around this change to the community in the next few days.  We have also scheduled a meeting for early December to continue exploring more substantial changes to the hybrid schedule.

Standardized Testing in January

While the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) cancelled the MCAS Test administration last spring for all sophomores, it did not relieve these students of the requirement they pass the test in order to achieve a high school diploma.  We have received notice from DESE that all of our current juniors will be given the MCAS test during the week of January 18, 2021.  Additionally, we have received notice from the College Board that the PSAT will be administered for juniors on Tuesday, January 26th.  Given our social distancing and space requirements, all other students in the District will be learning remotely beginning on Tuesday, January 19 and return to hybrid in-person learning on Wednesday January 27 in order to facilitate MCAS and PSAT testing for our 11th grade students.

Winter Weather Plan

Because of our ability to quickly change modes from hybrid to remote models, school will not necessarily be cancelled outright in the event of inclement weather.  As students and faculty all have the ability to continue instruction electronically, we now have the option to institute remote learning days when weather conditions make physically commuting to school hazardous.  Using a remote learning day will allow us to avoid having to make up missed school days in June.  In some cases, events such as large-scale power outages in our communities may necessitate the outright closure of school.  The decision to institute a remote learning day or to cancel school outright will be communicated through the same channels as prior years:

Once the decision is made to institute a remote learning day or cancel school for all students and staff, it will be communicated through the following outlets:

  1. All Media Communications will be sent out as soon as a decision has been made regardless of the time, and will be before 5:30 AM on the morning of the remote learning day or cancellation.
    1. Twitter:  follow @mascosuper.  This will always be the first place for remote learning day/cancellation announcements.
    2. WBZ TV (Channel 4) and WBZ Radio 1030 AM.
    3. WCVB TV (Channel 5)
    4. WHDH TV (Channel 7)
    5. WYCN (Channel 10)
    6. WFXT TV (Channel 25)
    7. NECN
    8. Masconomet Website on the front page under “Superintendent News and Announcements.”
  2. Direct Contact Communications through Blackboard via telephone and email will be sent out prior to 8:30 PM if a decision to institute a remote learning day or cancel school has been reached on the evening prior and at 6:00 AM if a decision is made on the morning of the remote learning day or cancellation.

Published by mascosuper

Superintendent of the Masconomet Regional School District

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