Superintendent David DiBarri announces that students will follow a hybrid teaching model this fall for the start of the 2020-21 school year.
The reopening plans combines recommendations and guidelines from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for all schools and vocational technical schools, and was presented and approved by the School Committee on Thursday, Aug. 13.
The first day of school for students will be Monday, Sept. 14. For this first week only, students will take part in remote learning, where they will meet their teachers and learn the school’s new health and wellness policies and expectations.
Starting Monday, Sept. 21, students will be separated into two groups, which will allow for approximately 50% of students to be in the building at any given time on an alternating schedule. Students will be grouped into cohorts for their academic courses, and will resume their career and technical education through their shops.
The school will maintain its Week A/B schedule, where students will take their academic courses one week and their shop courses the next. During the academic week, students attending in-person and remotely will follow a six period schedule and the school day will be reduced to allow students to take their lunches to go. Remote and in-person learning will alternate every other day.
Families will be contacted prior to the first day of school be mailed with their student’s cohort information and schedule. Parents and guardians will be able to choose an all-remote option for students as well, and will receive an email and reminder phone call from the school on Monday where they’ll be able to make that choice.
“For many reasons, we feel 100%, in-person learning would not be in the best interest of our students, faculty or staff, nor would we be able to meet the social distancing requirements DESE has issued,” Superintendent DiBarri said. “The health and well being of every single member of the Northeast Metro Tech community is and will always be our number one priority, and this will continue to be the key factor in any decisions pertaining to hybrid or remote learning we make going forward.”
Students and staff will follow multiple health and safety measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, such as:
• Masks will be mandatory for students, faculty and staff at all times during in-person learning. All personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, face shields, sanitizer, gloves, thermal thermometers, safety glasses, and nurses supplies, have been ordered.
• Six feet of physical distancing will be required in the building, including in classrooms. Shop spaces have been expanded by removing walls to adjacent classrooms to allow for proper social distancing.
• Students and teachers will be provided their own Chromebook laptops.
• Each teacher and secretary desk will have a plexiglass shield.
• Hand washing and sanitizing stations will be available throughout the school’s facility.
• Nano septic touch pads are being installed throughout the building to kill viruses on commonly used surfaces, such as handrails.
• An outdoor mobile nurse’s station has been set up.
• Professional disinfectant sprayers and equipment, and UV-C high power disinfection system have been purchased to be used for thorough, daily classroom cleaning. Air purifiers with UV lights have been ordered for every classroom as well.
• An airflow consultant will be evaluating all shops and classrooms, and HVAC upgrades are being done to drastically improve airflow in the building.
• A staggered start and end time to the school day will be implemented to facilitate the transportation requirements outlined by DESE.
DESE’s guidance also provides specific health and safety guidelines for the culinary arts, early education and care, cosmetology, automotive technology and automotive collision, and graphic communications and marketing programs for the initial months of the academic year. These guidelines include limiting interaction with the public, setting up disinfecting stations, providing appointment-based services only and utilizing online payment methods.
Additionally, co-op placement and internships will be limited to seniors only. Furthermore, clinical sites for health careers are not accepting students at this time due to the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. It is expected that students will not be able to work at these clinical sites for at least the first two months of the school year and the district will share any updates after that time.
The plan will be flexible in order to adapt to any changes that may need to be made as the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic changes, and the district is prepared to transition back to 100% remote learning if necessary.
An online version of the plan will be available to read on the district’s website in the coming days.