An Important Return to School Update from Ms. Azarloza

This email was sent to the FRCS Community on Wednesday, 12/23
 
Dear FRCS Community,
 
Last night at the FRCS Board Meeting, the Board voted, based on a thorough review of four specific areas of consideration, to extend the first possible hybrid start date to no earlier than January 25, 2021.
 
This extended possible start date will allow for our students and staff to quarantine, if necessary, for two weeks following the holidays. With that said, we ask that families do not extend their travel plans because of this new date. Please click here to review the Foxborough Regional Charter School COVID-19 student and staff travel protocol.
 
As a Reminder: Key factors to reopening for our unique district are based on (1) Health, (2) Technology; (3) Staffing; and (4) Quality of Education, as each plays a critical role in the quality of instruction.
 
Should the key factors allow for us to return to campus for in person instruction on January 25th, the hybrid phase-in schedule would be as follows:
  • January 19, 2021 – All Staff
  • January 25, 2021 – Kindergarten and Grade 1
  • February 1, 2021 – Grade 2, Grade 3, and Grade 4
  • February 8, 2021 – Grade 5 and Grade 6
  • February 22, 2021 – Grade 7 and Grade 8
  • March 1, 2021 – Grade 9 and Grade 10
  • March 8, 2021 – Grade 11 and Grade 12
Please note that when we are able to return to campus, we will not be opening the building to students until 7:25 each morning. This way, students will go directly to their classrooms and minimize contacts. Also, for this same reason, we will not be offering our afternoon Extended Day Program this year. We realize these decisions may be an inconvenience for some families, but our priority is always to keep our school community safe and healthy.
 
Four Key Areas of Review – December 23 - Status Update
 
Health Metrics
 
As of December 17, 2020 (As published in the COVID Weekly Public Health Report by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health)
  • 91% of FRCS students live in high-risk communities.
  • 9% of FRCS students live in moderate-risk communities.
  • “Big 6” weighted positivity rate is now at 8.52%.
  • Weighted positivity is now at 8.17%.
Technology
 
In order to continue with four days of synchronous learning, FRCS has been working to increase the bandwidth of internet from 2gb to 10gb. Until this installation is complete in the school buildings, the school is not equipped to support the four days of synchronous learning that teachers can provide to students working remotely. The school has made great progress, but there are some final connectivity issues that must be completed by Verizon before the school will be prepared for all teachers to live stream in the building at the same time. For this reason, it is decided the value of instruction is higher through the current remote platform than it would be in a hybrid setting.
 
Staffing
 
We continue to work on building our substitute pool so we are able to staff all classrooms once the school reopens for students.
 
The Impact:
 
Many FRCS teachers are also parents with school-aged children and are impacted by their child’s school district’s decisions on hybrid, remote or in-person instruction. Teachers, as parents, are already struggling with the same issues that you are dealing with daily, including: exposure and isolation of them or their children, quarantine directives due to close contact, waiting on COVID testing results, and symptoms that present like COVID, which exclude them from entering the building. All of these factors potentially prevent teachers from regular attendance. It is crucial to remember that with teachers unable to be in the building for all of these reasons, and a statewide shortage of substitute teacher candidates, instruction will be inconsistent and disrupted on a regular basis.
 
Quality of Education
 
As stated above, installation of our 10GB internet is still ongoing. The school is making significant progress with the installation, but until it is complete, we remain at the status quo.
 
The Impact:
 
At this time instruction is synchronous, meaning the teacher is able to provide direct instruction to all students four days a week. Should students return to hybrid at this time, our current technology challenges would change the quantity of time that students receive direct instruction. Under the hybrid model, with the technology issues we are currently experiencing, students would attend in-person 2 days a week and would work independently 3 days a week with guidance limited to teacher office hours at the end of each day. For this reason, the board decided that the quality of instruction at this time was more effective if students remained remote while technology issues are resolved.
 
On behalf of the teachers, leadership team and the Board of Trustees, I want to personally thank you for your patience and support during this anything BUT normal school year!
 
I will continue to keep you informed as decisions are made and I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday and restful December Vacation week!
 
Warmly,
 
Annie Azarloza
Interim Executive Director
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