On Monday, I provided the School Committee with an update regarding the next steps towards a full reopening for in-person learning. The purpose of this communication is to provide a summary of next steps.
Pool Testing: Currently, we are building out our pool-testing program with a hope of achieving a 70-80% participation rate. If you haven’t signed up and would like to, please use the link provided by your building. Pool testing is a key strategy in ensuring the safety of our students and staff as we plan to welcome more students into the building full-time. Here are two videos that have been shared with students to better understand the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of pool testing: older student video, younger student video.
Family Survey: In order to understand the factors influencing families’ thinking about in-person learning, we are asking each family to fill out the survey linked here. The survey will close on Monday, March 1st, and is for informational purposes only and is not an enrollment form.
Working Groups: Representative staff working groups from each building will be addressing key logistics and make recommendations which the Sudbury Administrative Leadership Team will incorporate into a coordinated plan for increasing in-person learning. Sudbury Education Association leadership will play a key role in plan development and implementation. We anticipate releasing a timeline for expanded in-person learning late next week.
Guidance: Yesterday, the Governor, Charlie Baker and Commissioner of Education, Jeff Riley, stated that they would be requiring districts to have students return to school 5 days a week. Riley said this would be a phased approach and DESE would be providing more guidance in the coming weeks. In recent weeks, there has also been new guidance at the state and national levels. The overarching theme is that with proper mitigation strategies, it is safe for schools to reopen in full and furthermore that they should do so in a timely manner in order to meet the academic and social emotional needs of students.
As a district, we have consistently recognized that having students in-person with their teachers is the most effective model for learning and for well-being. We have also consistently acknowledged that health concerns are family specific and remain committed to maintaining a remote option for the duration of the school year. While some mitigation strategies, such as masking, may continue into the next school year, we have budgeted for a full in-person return.
This has been a challenging year but we have much to celebrate. Our families and staff have worked hard to keep students safe and provide a quality learning experience. Returning in full is an intricate process and may require a number of adjustments to schedules, spacing, and day-to-day operations. I will continue to provide updates to the School Committee and the community throughout the process.