This message was sent to families on Friday, October 10, 2020.
As you know, over the last two months, I have been monitoring the Weekly COVID-19 Public Health Report posted on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website. Based on the state education commissioner’s recommendation to school district leaders, our decisions about changing instructional models should be based on at least three weeks of the data presented in the weekly report along with other key metrics unique to our school. Several metrics used to inform the decision whether to transition to Hybrid on October 19th are summarized below.
In the past three weeks:
- The percentage of students residing in communities at moderate to high risk, increased steadily from 69% to 73% to the highest level to date of 79% this week.
- 13 of our districts have been in the high and/or moderate risk categories at least 2 of the last 3 weeks.
- 11 of our sending districts have seen an increase in average daily case rates in at least 2 of the last 3 weeks; and
- 9 of our districts have seen an increase in the % of positive cases in at least 2 of the last 3 weeks.
- Positivity rates for municipalities in our sending districts continue to be higher than the state averages.
- Please click here to view an illustration of these health metrics.
Due to these public health metrics along with other considerations – including the status of, and impact on staffing, transportation, and technology, the Board of Trustees has voted to continue Remote Learning through at least the end of October.
The decision to remain Remote was not an easy one. We understand this decision has an incredible impact on families. And while there is no substitution for in-person learning, our Remote Learning program is sound and continues to improve each day and our students and teachers are settling into a productive routine.
Moving to a Hybrid Plan, only to transition back to Remote Learning due to troubling public health trends, will only disrupt the learning process further. Additionally, the contact tracing that is necessary for in-person learning should cases trend upwards will negatively impact classroom instruction and impede learning.
As you know, our Operations Department has been working tirelessly to make safety improvements and technology upgrades here on campus. We must however rely on external partners for many of these technology-related projects. This process has proven to be a challenge – as schools across the state and country are working to make many of these same upgrades and are competing for a short supply of resources.
In order to consider re-opening in a Hybrid model, we would need to see three weeks of positive data metrics and trends. As a result, our Hybrid phase-in model will begin no earlier than Monday, November 2, 2020. This would allow us to assess data beyond this week’s high/moderate risk rates with the hope of seeing the necessary positive trends to bring students back to the classrooms.
Given positive results over the next few weeks:
- Week of November 2nd: Grades K, 1, 5, and 6 Hybrid students return to campus through the cohort model.
- Week of November 9th: Grades 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, and 10 Hybrid students return to campus the through cohort model.
- Week of November 16th: Grade 11 Hybrid students return to campus through the cohort model.
- Week of November 30th: Grade 12 hybrid students return to campus through the cohort model.
Remote Only students will continue learning through the remote model throughout this time.
Please note that any negative trends or data over the next several weeks could alter the schedule for when Hybrid students return to school. We will provide regular updates and keep our school community informed.
I appreciate your continued patience and support. I want my own kids back in school, not only learning but also developing relationships with their teachers and peers. However, the rates and trends as determined by the state across our region do not support a transition at this time. We, of course, will continue to monitor and adjust accordingly and will provide periodic updates throughout this process.
Early next week, you will receive an email regarding your selection of hybrid or remote learning, given this updated re-opening plan.
I encourage you to continue to keep the lines of communication with your child’s teacher open. They are here to help you and are committed to your child’s success. Please also visit our website for additional resources that can help FRCS families through these unprecedented times.
Dr. Mark Logan