Editor’s Note: Superintendent Everett V. Olsen announced at the July 28 School Committee meeting that he is recommending a hybrid model of learning for students this fall. The hybrid allows students to occupy the school building for half a week. The remaining time will be spent learning at home. The concern stems from the deadly COVID–19 virus. Social distancing and face masks will be required inside the building. Olsen’s other options, as provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, were to return all students to the building at once or to shut out students from the building entirely and teach them remotely.
Here’s how he came to his decision:
“Over the past six weeks we have had 57 people…working on developing a framework…The initial submittal of this plan is to be sent to the Department of Education this Friday, July 31st. Any modifications for this plan based on your input to us…will be incorporated in the final draft which is to be submitted to the community presentation August 10th. This plan does not make everyone happy..We were giving three instructive choices by the Department of (Elementary and Secondary) Education. A plan that calls for the full return of students. A hybrid which involves some in-person teaching and remote learning and a full remote learning model.
I am recommending a hybrid learning model to the staff and to the community. I’m doing so because I do believe based on some of the research that has been done of a medical nature, some of the psychological information that has been presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics, I do believe with the precautions we’re taking it will be safe for students to return to school and for staff to return to school on a limited scale. I’m trying to move everyone back to education as we have known it for many, many years. But with the safeguards the DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have advised us on, in developing this plan what we have consistently drawn on is the information of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health and from the medical consultants who have been advisors to the Commissioner of Education. Commissioner Jeff Riley. Those consultants have indicated that based on statistics associated with the current number of COVID–19 patients they do believe it’s safe for us to return to school.”