Minutes – September 24, 2020 – Zoom/Facebook
BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Great Barrington Stockbridge West Stockbridge
SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Teleconference Meeting via Zoom
September 24, 2020 – 6:00pm
School Committee: S. Bannon, D. Weston, B. Fields, S. Steven, M. Thomas, A. Hutchinson, R. Dohoney, J. St. Peter, D. Singer, A Potter
Administration: P. Dillon, S. Harrison
Staff/Public: T. Lee, K. Farina, B. Doren, S. Soule
RECORDER NOTE: Meeting attended by recorder and minutes transcribed during the meeting and after the fact from live recording provided by CTSB. Length of meeting: 1 hour, 0 minutes.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Steve Bannon called the meeting to order immediately at 6pm.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The listing of agenda items are those reasonably anticipated by the chair, which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed, and other items not listed may be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. This meeting is being recorded by CTSB, Committee Recorder, members of the public with prior Chair permission and will be broadcast at a later date. Minutes will be transcribed and made public, as well as added to our website, www.bhrsd.org once approved.
- Superintendent Report: Dillon – Welcome everybody. There are a number of things we want to talk about tonight. I think the good news is people are working extraordinarily hard and I really appreciate the teachers and staff who are doing that. It is quite remarkable. The other good news is we are starting to reestablish really thoughtful connections with kids and families and I particularly would like to appreciate kids and families. Rolling out a new learning management system is not for the faint of heart and it is complex and there are issues around technology. We had a terrible thing that happened at the high school where there was an issue with all kids at the high school with kids with the name beginning with “S”. It just so happens that the S’s are a really powerful group of students and parents in the community so those 15 people really gave us a run for our money. That is now resolved both locally and on a broader level. Thank you everyone for your patience around this. Other things will pop up but hopefully we are through some hurdles there. What we are talking about tonight are the building protocols. We shared some documents around health protocols and what happens there. These protocols are more facilities driven and cover everything from arrival and dismissal to water fountains and bathrooms, etc. We can go over those briefly and respond to questions. We have a proposed vote on an MOU for Units A & C. We have something on the agenda that we are going to postpone to talk about later which is a COVID-19 testing policy. I am waiting for additional feedback from our attorney on that. I don’t want to roll out something that is not thorough.
- Good News Item(s):
- Review Building Protocols – P. Dillon – The building protocols, there are three of them. One from Muddy Brook, and one each for the middle and high school. The Muddy Brook looks more like a narrative and the middle and high school are more closely aligned. The content in all of them is largely the same. They are shifted a little bit developmentally. I am happy to respond to questions or thoughts people have on those if you have had a chance to look at them. I think they are thorough. We are continuing to get teacher feedback and I think in this day and age these will be the documents we have multiple versions of and as we learn new things as we start to implement, we will make additional shifts as the year goes on. They will always be dated so that will be clear. Fields – I have a question on the high school team locker room. For anybody that has been at the high school, those locker rooms are very small. I can’t believe that there would be six feet of physical distance especially if kids are changing. I would like to know if consideration was given, I don’t know if Kristi can answer this; why are locker rooms even being open. P. Dillon – we are not going to use them. Kristi is on the call and can speak to that. K Farina – we began sports this week and we are not using the locker rooms. We don’t plan to use the locker rooms for PE. Students need to be prepared and dressed in what they are going to practice in. If we have to revisit this as Peter said, we will do so as the situation allows to revisit. We agree with you Bill. In order to maintain safety and distancing that is not the plan at this point. B. Fields – On October 5th, football begins. K. Farina – it is pre-season conditioning practice. There is no equipment. It is all conditioning work. That is the same for volleyball and for soccer. P. Dillon – we will keep you updated on those and in the next day or so we will share those. Staff has links to those and can see them but we will share it with families tomorrow. We have a couple of little edits to make on the high school one but we are largely done.
- Dillon – one of the things I forgot to mention when I was giving an overview, I did want to revisit what we talked about last week when Tim made his early childhood proposal. That dovetails nicely with the MOU. Last week the school committee was ready to vote to support Tim’s proposal and I stopped you from doing that because I wanted a little more time to talk about it in negotiations. I think you all felt it was a strong proposal and if somebody would like to make a motion to support Tim’s proposal for early childhood learning, I would very much appreciate that and I would encourage you to do so. MOTION TO APPROVE ENDORSE THE PLAN PRESENTED BY PRINCIPAL LEE REGARDING THE EARLY CHILDHOOD LEARNING R. DOHONEY SECONDED: A. POTTER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Proposed Votes
- MOU-BHEA Unit A & C – P. Dillon – I would like to give a little context on this. We met for six weeks on this, maybe longer; many times for 10-12 hours a week and all sides did additional work on their own. On the union side, Donna Asion, Helen Eline, Elisabeth Sparks and Laura Passetto did a really great job and I would like to thank them. On the district side it was Steve Bannon, Anne Hutchinson, Molly Thomas and myself. Negotiating an MOU is extraordinarily complex and it is very much sausage making. What we came out with I think works well for kids, works well for the district and works well for our staff but it was complicated and we delved into things like air exchange rates and we all know more about that then we ever would and what different models of learning could look like and very granular details about what happens from a health perspective. As I was saying before, it is a nice agreement that is a frame for us to continue to frame dialogue and do work. I don’t think it is a perfect agreement and I think there are things everybody wishes was slightly different or better. There are probably things people are happy about or are upset that they didn’t. All that being said, I think it is a good one. In Stockbridge on Main Street, there is a fountain and on the side of it it said utility is preferable to grandeur. I think this agreement represents that. I really would like to thank the people that worked on it. I think in addition to those people, people in the buildings worked on it and responded to it too and I would like the school committee for their support of it. We will post the agreement on our website tomorrow and make that public document. I am also happy to respond to questions if you have any. Dohoney – did the union take action on the MOU yet? P. Dillon – yes, the unions took action on the MOU. My understanding is they did today. They had a majority vote so they approved it. It is our practice that when we have an agreement we let the union or unions approve it first and then after they do, you do if you so choose. This was a lot of work. I think it gets us to a good place. I think it let’s us move forward and I strongly encourage you to support it as the union supported it. S. Bannon – the reason it hasn’t been posted yet is simply because it was finished around noon today. B. Fields – does it have to go to the entire association membership? S. Bannon – accordion to the association the membership committee is who votes on this. R. Dohoney – so we vote favorably on it now, then it is agreed and a done deal. P. Dillon – yes. R. Dohoney – I know the agreement is not publicized yet, but the agreement ratifies the school committees’ vote that we will be starting hybrid on October 5th and sets forth a path to go full time hopefully not too far after that. P. Dillon – the other thing that I think is important, and people will ready this tomorrow, is this is tied to Principal Lee’s proposal and why I asked you to vote on that first; it became increasingly clear to us that our youngest students are not particularly well served by a remote model. They don’t have the facility around doing that. This agreement let’s us start face-to-face with our PK, EK and KDG and 1st grade students and in all likelihood our 2nd grade students and we need to talk more about that. We think we figured out the spacing and we can get our youngest students in four days a week and we are very happy about that. We think that is good for kids, and good for teachers and for families. I wanted to highlight that. Of all the things we did in the agreement, that may be the most impactful. MOTION TO ACCEPT THE MOU FOR UNITS A & C A. HUTCHINSON SECONDED: A. POTTER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Dillon – one of the things that came up recently, we have been doing a lot of family forums and different things and yesterday in a forum some questions came up. We thought we would have Ben speak a little bit to the whole school committee around what the hybrid model will look like at the middle school. We are doing the hybrid because we need to. From an instructional perspective, either end is probably better. Full remote or full face-to-face are two stronger approaches and the hybrid approach is in the middle. I wanted to give Ben some time to talk about what he is doing and perhaps to respond to questions. B. Doren – it was nice to see a bunch of families on the forum yesterday. The recording was emailed to me so I will send that out tomorrow in my Friday week-at-a-glance so folks who weren’t able to join us have the chance to listen or watch the video. The hybrid model I explained a little bit about but it is pretty forward. We have kids in crew right now which is advisory and then kids are in six different academics similar to the high school; four core, English, Math, Science, Social Studies. Then we have two specials or in 7th and 8th grades we have our foreign language support classes. Kids have six academic experiences plus crew. Advisory has really grown over the years. Kevin Costello started advisory about six years ago and we were using it as a way to help 8th graders make a transition to high school and then we brought in restorative practices and circles and it worked as a core for social/emotional learning. We moved that about three years ago to also being academic support and a way for kids to learn academic skills, make plans and build a lot of confidence for their abilities for kids who do academics. We really doubled down on that with changing to what we call “crew” which has a lot to do with not just the social/emotional learning and building a school identity but also managing academics but also this real core value we have at the middle school which is students as leaders of their own learning. As we started of the school year, we knew we really wanted to replicate what was successful for us in the spring at the middle school with collecting, connecting and engaging kids and really use advisory and other crew programs as a way to make sure all kids are engaged, working together and building their skills. There is a lot of crew that is going on right now in distance learning. It is about two four hour sessions plus about a 45 minute connection on Wednesdays as well as for the 5th and 6th graders we are doing it five days a week with shorter sessions. That isn’t taking away from the core academics. The teachers work really hard to put together some really strong learning activities. For this last week, this week and the coming week it has been super successful with student engagement. We have very high attendance; well over 95% at this point which is really strong because we do a lot of support for our highest needs kids and getting them connected. We also provide some pretty engaging activities for our students who are above grade level. That just maps to the hybrid model. For the hybrid model, we come in and instead of the six learning academic blocks that happen over the week, each of those blocks happen in a 45 minute period though the day. We start off with crew, we go through the six block, with lunch and recess and end with crew and repeat that for Monday and Tuesday coming in then and again for the kids on Thursday and Friday. The groupings are very small. In some classes, it is as small as eight but it goes up to about 12. This is a pretty amazing ratio that allows us to go deep with the student because it is very small group. 45 minutes with 9 or 10 kids is a pretty effective learning experience especially if the relationships have been built. One of the things that we are doing is working in team so we move even the exploratory team which is a very difficult move them but we broke up the exploratory team and embedded the exploratory teachers even in the 5th, 6th and two 7th and 8th grade team, green and orange, so all teachers are all in, as well as paras, on a team. They are talking about kids and supporting them and connecting with them. This crew experience coming into school on Monday and Tuesday is really important because it is about managing the academics, it is about looking at Canvas, making sure students understand what they do and making sure they are working as peers but also connecting kids with their science teacher, art teacher, if they have questions; figuring out how to do support. That is going to be big because I think there is a concern around what if you are in school Monday and Tuesday for your crew experience and your six learning blocks and then you go off to Wednesday where you have work from home and a check in for crew then on Thursday and Friday, you have 45 minutes of crew in the morning and about 25 minutes of crew in the afternoon and the same thing happens on both of those days. So where is the connection with the math teacher, the science teacher, the art teacher? It is 72 minutes of synchronous learning that is going on both Thursday and Friday as well as 45 minutes on Wednesday. It is working right now as we transition into hybrid as I discussed last night in the forum. That is focusing on crew. That has a lot to do with the fact that we have a compelling curriculum. We are focused on deeper learning. We are making those relationships and kids know what to do in between. If they don’t, they need to check in with the crew leader. Also, it is really hard to imagine trying to do some of this work back and forth between in person and remote so there is not only a lot of academic support but social/emotional support and just identity just trying to understand who I am as I am moving through this. It isn’t an easy time in a child’s life so crew is important. If we stick around in hybrid for more than a few weeks, what we will be doing is moving much more into those academics so students are getting some really strong core experiences on those two days when they are in and then the academics would really shift in that Thursday/Friday time where we would be focusing more on checking in and getting some support from a math teacher, science teacher, art teacher, spanish teacher and the like. There is a plan. What I am hoping is we have a successful run of only several weeks in hybrid, that we support these kids, we maintain the relationships, we maintain the deeper learning and the kind of rigorous work we are doing with curriculum and then we are right into in-person learning where we are just doing a bunch of crew but we are also five days a weeks in academics. Hopefully that is clear. It is what I discussed last night at the forum and I know there was some concern about how much time wer are going to spend learning math or art, etc. P. Dillon – Steve, did you want to entertain questions first from the committee on that? S. Bannon – yes. R. Dohoney – Ben, I emailed you earlier but we voted on July 28th on a plan that was submitted to this state on which our authority to do hybrid which is not legal without the authority of the state that our plan…and I am going to read right from this; on the remote learning days, teachers will use the learning management system Canvas to provide acynsynosis and synchronous learning lessons to students. Do you believe what you just described works with that? B. Doren – I do Rich because there are lessons that are going to be on Canvas, there will be multiple lessons in each of the academic areas and the idea behind crew and efficiency based learning system is that students who are the ones who are engaging in those lessons and then they are getting connected when they need help. The idea behind it is we want students to be leaders in their own learning. We could easily have a short 20 minute lesson with each of the six teachers across Thursday and Friday. That would be a way to do it. There is really no way to provide the kind of learning middle schoolers need to be able short change the kids who are there during the school day to give that same direct learning to the students who are at home in the remote experience. This is a similar thing that other middle schools are doing. It is an important time in kids’ lives. They do need time working on their own work but they do need time connecting with their crew leaders. Their crew leaders are working on teams. They understand what the math expectations are and what the PE or spanish or english expectations are and they are helping kids navigate the Canvas system. It is a really enriching curriculum that people were putting together and exists on our learning management system in Canvas and the learning activities are there and they are elaborations of what kids did on their in-person days. R. Dohoney – operations but not new lessons. No new curriculums are going to be taught to these kids three days a week. B. Doren – I don’t know if I would say no new curriculum. They are new activities that would be taught if we were face to face. If we were in four days a week of face to face, the students would be involved in direct lessons for part of it on new material while introducing it and then there would be expectations of elaboration and summative assessments, these activities that students are doing to show that they transferred their understanding to the new activities. It is new curriculum; it is not finishing up just whatever you worked on Monday and Tuesday. You finished that up Monday and Tuesday. You submitted things on Wednesday and then there are new things you have to do to show transfer of understanding on Thursday and Friday. It is just part of the curriculum. R. Dohoney – so it is three days of homework. What a layman would understand to be homework. B. Doren – it is work that is done at home. All work is done at home when they are home but it is not a simple worksheet that kids are doing that just does the same thing they did on Tuesday. It is new material that students are doing and they are getting a chance to check in with their crew leader so the crew leader can connect them with help if they need. A lot of our students don’t need the help. They need to dive into the material. They needs to get their hands dirty and to engage with it and they also need to struggle with it and if they struggle with it and they are successful they can hand it in and if they struggle with it and they are not successful on Wednesday or Thursday, they still have a chance to check in with their math teacher or other teachers. R. Dohoney – so 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders are going to get lessons from a teacher, from a math teacher, just two days a week? B. Doren – direct lessons yes, but they are going to have lessons four days a week. R. Dohoney – so a teacher is going to teach the same lesson plan twice? B. Doren – to a very small group. You can really dig deep with a group of 9, 10 or 11 students so the amount of learning is accelerated across two days. It’s not like two 45 minute periods; we have 24 students in our classes you can do just so much across 45 minutes. These are small groups of students so we are going to be doing a lot of really deep learning on those two days which will prep the kids for those other days of learning. S. Bannon – the problem I have with this is it is not what I was told I was voting on when I voted and not what we submitted to the state I don’t believe; and second of all all through negotiations this isn’t how it was explained what hybrid was. I am really not comfortable with two schools doing it one way and one school doing it another way. I think we have to be a unified district and I think we have to do things all as one for the sake of students and parents. I am very uncomfortable with this. S. Stephen – I want to make sure I have this perfectly straight. There will be no lessons taught, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? B. Doren – I would say that there are no lessons taught by the teacher to the students. S. Stephen – so no teachers will be interacting with students in a classroom environment Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. B. Doren – that is not accurate but what is accurate is that a math teacher will not be interacting with every one of their five math sections. We have crew leaders who are really connected to the curriculum and understand what is expected of the students and they are going to help the students navigate Canvas which is a learning management system. It is the curriculum. It is a place to deploy lessons. It is our school. S. Stephen – so what is the teacher interaction going to be on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? B. Doren – Wednesday from what I understand is a lighter day of teacher work so it is not a day of instruction. R. Dohoney – we were told that upfront, I always understood that. I am more worried about Thursday/ Friday. B. Doren – Wednesday there is still instruction. Teachers are checking with their kids in crew and making sure they understand what is going on in Canvas and then there are 72 minutes of direct synchronous instruction by the crew leader for their students. That is still only about 9, 10, 11 students at the most but most of our groupings are 10 or 11 so there is direct instruction for 72 minutes; it is an hour and 12 minutes. It is really important for middle schoolers to have an understanding and not just be cycled through a series of six quick learning experiences. What they should be doing is really understanding what is going on in the learning management system to understand the work that is expected of them and teachers are preparing work students can do that extends what they learn on Monday and Tuesday and gets them further lessons the following Monday and Tuesday. It is 144 minutes of instructions across two days of synchronous instruction and students do have the day like they do on Wednesday to do their work. There will also be other things going on like outreach for specialized instruction, support for some of our highest need students, etc. but we also have the ability to ask kids to go much further in their learning because they understand what to do and they are ready to do what they are asked to do. P. Dillon – One thing is important to consider. This could look very different in different scenarios. If we are in school for two or three weeks, the explicit focus on crew or advisory and building this us might make a ton of sense. In particular then if we transition to full face to face, if we are doing this for two week you probably will bat an eye. If the conditions around this change and we are obligated to stay in a hybrid model, at that point Ben and his staff might pivot dramatically and start doing six lessons a day, checking in for the group that is face to face on Monday and Tuesday. On Thursday and Friday checking in more discreetly subject by subject each of those days. What I think is hard in understanding this is we are all looking at it monolithically. I think part of Ben’s plan is that it evolves over time depending on the need. In the upfront part, he wants to wait and invest in the social/emotional learning and building relationships and getting kids working on specific self-directed projects. As we go on, I think that shifts. Ben, does that help clarify it a little? B. Doren – yeah, I think so. I think that is really good. If we really stick in hybrid for a long time, hybrid is a really difficult model to produce deeper learning because we are working with small groupings of kids and having to spread our resources and our faculty across those small groupings of kids. At the middle school we have a value where we really want to build these deep relationships with teachers and students whether it is in crew or core academics or arts or any of the other areas we work in. If we have to stick in hybrid, we are going to have to focus much more on academics over the long term. Building those relationships in middle school, is not just the social/emotional learning that is learning because we know that is true for all students, but it is also relationships around academic rigor, and student sense of success and self. If we a can build that in the first couple of week of the transition to hybrid, I think we can really focus a lot more on academics in the long run and pivot to more discrete academics over time where we have check in’s with the teachers on the learning management systems with the kids, with the academic teachers and then the direct instruction. R. Dohoney – Peter, when you drafted the response to DESE and submitted it to us for a vote, is this what you were contemplating? P. Dillon – it has evolved. I submitted it six or eight weeks ago. I got some feedback from that meeting last night and some of the concerns you are voicing I share, I also spent a lot of time talking to Ben today and really dug deeply into this and I would like to afford him the opportunity. One of the things we talked about, it may make sense for this not to be a conversation but for Ben to put together a two, three or four pager explaining this in explicit detail so both the school committee and the parents and families with kids at the middle school can grasp this and what it means. The other thing that you have the authority to do it if you think this is bonkers and it doesn’t make sense, to say it’s bonkers and it doesn’t make sense and we want you to rework it and we both serve at your pleasure and we will do that. R. Dohoney – I don’t know what the solution is but you touched on another issue is the governance issue here. There was a plan rolled out and reviewed in July, reviewed and rolled out three different times. There was a change about how we were handling the PK in the elementary school that Principal Lee put together a written proposal and put it to us and we voted on it. None of those procedures were followed in this which I view it as a really dramatic change from what was presented. I may be appropriate. I don’t know. P. Dillon – I agree with you. It very well may be a dramatic change. We have a little time before we are starting this. We are still in remote for a while. Ben has some time with his staff and me to work through this and clarify it and if necessary to make adjustments. It is pretty clear you are asking us to do that so we will. S. Bannon – my calendar and your calendar are a little different. I thought we were starting hybrid October 5th. P. Dillon – right. S. Bannon – we are on September 24th right now. We don’t have a lot of time. P. Dillon – I am not saying we have a lot of time. I don’t think people grasp what Ben is articulating. Ben and I have an obligation to commit that to writing and share it with you. At that point if you are supportive of it we go forward with it, if not we make additional shifts and adjustments. The number of things we are working through and juggling is incredible and I’m very happy about the timing of Principal Lee’s proposal and that we presented that to you in two parts and you voted on it and approved it and we folded it into the MOU. We have some more work to do here so we will do that. S. Bannon – we had planned to cancel next weeks’ meeting because we are all meeting out but if we cancel next week’s meeting, there won’t be any chance for us to look at this before October 5th so we will have to meet next week. That also doesn’t give parents any time between the 1st and the 5th to understand this. S. Stephen – this is a problem. This is a last minute thing when everybody has been planning their lives for a long time about how they are going to get through schooling and planned for childcare, etc. and now we are throwing wrenches in this. P. Dillon – I don’t know if this changes the broader structures around it. It does change the details within it. If you have a middle schooler and they are in Cohort B, they are in school Monday and Tuesday and they are at home on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It is not changing that they are home on those days. It is changing how they are spending some of their time on those days. S. Bannon – you may think we don’t understand it but 72 minutes means parents have to be much checking on their kids and helping their kids during the rest of time as opposed to when they have classes they are responsible to go to. P. Dillon – that is fair. S. Stephen – it is a big planning issue and it is a very short time to get people organized to allow people to get organized and deal with it. If I can get this in writing so I can actually review it within the next day or two, that would be wonderful but at this point I just don’t know what parents expect out of middle school. P. Dillon – I don’t think we are going to get it to you tomorrow. I think I can work with Ben to get you something on Monday or Tuesday at the latest to give us a little time. R. Dohoney – we are where we are. Hybrid is starting in a week from Monday. Whether we like or don’t like or understand what is going to happen, that is clearly what has been planned for. I don’t know Ben could turn the ship around before next Monday anyway. This was rolled out to parents last night. The die is cast on that. I wish we were not in this position but if we have to not deal for this for two weeks and review it once the hybrid is already in place and make shifts as Peter said earlier than maybe that is the only viable solution. I don’t want to create a fire drill at the middle school for the start of hybrid. I would rather start with an imperfect but implemented plan and then try to jam something in now. P. Dillon – we will get you something on Monday and obviously Ben and I will spend a lot of time tomorrow talking about it but we will get you something on Monday that has a few variations. His plan is presented; his plan and a progression to another plan and then maybe separately another plan. You will get A, B & C as the discussion will be about when we move form one to the other. It will be in a coherent and thoughtful way on the scale of a plan. You will feel good about it and it will be clear and aligned with what we said to the state. I would remember that what we said to the state what at a certain point in time and our thinking did evolve in some ways and some of the constraints when we wrote the initial plan we were not aware of. A. Hutchinson – the teachers can’t teach both the kids in the classroom and the kids at home. S. Bannon – but this is not asynchronous really because they aren’t going to have direct contact with their content teacher on Thursday and Friday. A. Hutchinson – but no one has direct contact… S. Bannon – but they will have asynchronous in the other schools. P. Dillon – it is a blend of all sorts of things. The elementary school is largely going to be face-to-face, PK to 1st grade and maybe 2nd grade. In the high school there are bigger chunks of time in periods so some teachers may work jointly with kids in the building and kids at home then separate them into groups and do different activities. There are a whole host of things going on and we will talk about it some more as we start doing it. The other thing is and I’m trying not to talk too jargony, I had a good conversation today with two folks who are working on this stuff more globally. We initially said we would try to have a really good feedback loop where we gather information about what is working and what could be improved upon and try to do it in relatively real time so get feedback from students, families and staff, ideally every six weeks so we can make adjustments throughout the year, marking period to marking period and I am working on that now, how to frame some of those questions in a way that is not overwhelming and then we can work through that data and make shifts. There will be more updates on that soon. S. Bannon – I think the school committee has had their say. J. St. Peter – this is what I expected from a hybrid model. To be honest, I don’t know, unless we had two teachers for each class, how a teacher on the days that they are off can be teaching both in school and out unless they have video camera zoomed right in and obviously we don’t have that. I am a little curious as to how it can be done successfully any other way. To me, it seems we either get four days of teachers splitting their attention and not the greatest of focus on either or two strong days in school and then two day completely off. To me, hybrid is not any improvement from an academic standpoint. I think the social/emotional benefits make it superior at this point rather than remote and ideally it is a bridge to full in-school learning. In my opinion I think Ben has done a great job since he has been here. I trust him and if this is what he feels is best at this point, I am willing to go with it. Ideally if they had four days with a second teacher that would be great but I don’t see how that can be done. That is how I feel personally. P. Gibbons – I have been listening to this since you started and I have to admit that Rich and Jason, I was a little sceptical of this. Did I hear correctly that the classes at the middle school are going to be 10 or 11 students? S. Bannon – because it is hybrid and they are split up, yes. P. Gibbons – if that is the case, why can’t they just go to school four or five days a week. It sounds like there is plenty of room to socially distance just like you are going to do across the street at the elementary school. P. Dillon – I would love to do that but the issue is there are more kids at the middle school and it would be hard to get them all in. B. Doren – it is splitting our class sizes in half so we can’t have kids go four days a week in half class sizes without increasing our faculty by 70% or more. P. Gibbons – my last comment is that eventually you are going to have to figure something out because I have a feeling that this hybrid model is going to last about three weeks and there will be so many problems with it that you will have to abandon it. S. Bannon – I am hoping it will only last a few weeks and be able to go back to school in person so we will see what happens. B. Fields – what are the teachers thinking. Have you flown this by teachers? B. Doren – we would like to be back in school. There is a whole safety issue which everyone is grappling with but everyone wants to be back full time face to face with the kids. It has been exciting the past couple of weeks to be connected with the kids. I have gotten huge positive feedback from families. Teachers feel really successful. They are exhausted and overwhelmed but they are excited to see the kids on October 5th. They are excited about the plan. They are excited about the crew connections and excited about working as teams. They really want to be able to give kids enriching activities to do in between the in-person days. Right now it is hard to say how they are feeling because right now they are feeling so overwhelmed with all the work they have to do. They are working hard and being successful. B. Fields – what I am hearing from people is this is not what we gave to the state. They are going to have to deal with this kind of change. Have they been prepped for this kind of change or is this what we have been hearing tonight that this is suddenly a change from what they are planning on. B. Fields – you mean about the suggestion to change the hybrid model? B. Fields – is it my assumption that they were working under what we gave to the state first and now have the gears change with them that now they have to turn around and do something they haven’t planned on doing. B. Doren – this would be a significant change and a huge lift to make this change. R. Dohoney – I think the origin of the concern, I think people me included have been pleasantly surprised with the remote. There are dramatic improvements from the spring; the teachers are putting in tremendous effort. It is going very well and in my mind as both a parent and a school committee member, up until last night, I thought what my daughter was going to get on her remote days was going to be roughly equivalent to what she got this past week. Finding out that is not the case is disconcerting. I don’t know that we need to beat this dead horse anymore. If what we are doing is the perfect option, I can be convinced of that. You will never ever convince me that this wasn’t a massive breakdown in communication between the administration and the school committee. B. Doren – I want to take some responsibility for that Rich and I apologize for the miscommunication and not being clear. I have been talking about it for a few weeks but it is very clear to me that if I had talked about it more clearly and explicitly, this would be such a surprise. S. Bannon – we discussed this and had a good respectful discussion. Ben knows where some of us stand. It is a communication issue as much as anything else and we have beaten this horse to the end so let’s just move on. P. Dillon – did you want to take some public comments or do you feel the next step is to reframe it, come back and have a conversation in the context of that? S. Bannon – I am more than willing to take public comment if anyone has any questions. R. Dohoney – we should take it on everything. If you put it on the agenda, I think it covers anything anyone wants to talk about at this point.
- COVID-19 Testing Policy
- Business Operation
- Education News
- Old Business
- New Business
- Public Comment – Arielle Pink, Housatonic – I was wondering what we are doing to solicit feedback from students on how things are working? Dillon – that is a good question. That is part of this feedback loop that I am trying to put together. I am working with two people in other districts to frame a simple survey that we might do five or six times during the year. We can look at how responses change over time and then I think for the younger students the survey makes less sense but some sort of check in at advisory or at crew time to run this as a focus group. I will share a draft of that in the next couple of weeks. A. Pink – I think there is a vast range of experiences that are happening right now and I would anticipate that would be true again when hybrid begins so just making sure we are capturing all ends of the experiences. P. Dillon – I very much agree with you.
- Written Communication
MOTION TO ADJOURN – A. POTTER SECONDED: S. STEPHEN ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
Meeting Adjourned at 7:00pm
Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
School Committee Secretary