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Mascenic moving forward with hybrid model for reopening

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/29/2020 12:39:24 PM

In a split vote, the Mascenic School Board officially decided to open with a hybrid model in the fall.

In the Mascenic plan, half of students will attend school in-person on Monday and Tuesday, and the other half Thursday and Friday, with remote learning the rest of the week.

School Board members Julie Lampinen and Vice Chair Rachel Anderson voted against the measure, both saying they wanted benchmarks or a timeline in place to move the district toward full-time in-person instruction.

“I do not feel comfortable making a motion that hasn’t been fully discussed,” Lampinen said during a virtual School Board meeting on Monday. “There’s been no discussion on what our benchmarks are to reopen.”

Lampinen noted that the district was already reporting one or less active COVID-19 cases.

“I just have concerns that we’re going directly to hybrid when our numbers are zero to one. I think we’re starting at the wrong point,” Lampinen said.

Anderson agreed, saying she felt the conversation had been “rushed” and that there hadn’t been an in-depth conversation about how or when the district could return to full-time in-person instruction.

Other board members disagreed. Chair Steve Spratt said even though locally numbers are low, the district still had to deal with the “reality” that the United States currently is reporting more cases than anywhere else in the world. He said the hybrid model was a good compromise.

“I don’t believe if we chose any one of these options, we would make everyone happy,” Spratt said, referring to returning all in-person, a hybrid model or all-remote. “There is no one answer that will serve all the needs of all the people.”

School Board member Mike Pellerito said the district needs to be “preventative and prepared” and that the hybrid model was the correct choice for the district. Member Tom Falter agreed that it was a “good middle ground.”

Prior to the vote of the board, principals of all three district schools presented their reopening plans, which varied slightly from school to school, based upon what is developmentally appropriate for their grade levels.

Mascenic Regional High School will be switching to block scheduling, with four classes per semester and longer class periods, Principal John Barth explained. The school plans to return to its regular schedule next year, but Barth said the schedule would condense the amount of subjects for remote learning students to keep up with.

“We took feedback from families, students and teachers that remote learning in the spring was overwhelming,” Barth said.

High school remote learning students will have access to recorded lessons, and be expected to complete between three and half and four hours of work per day. There will be time flexibility so students complete work as time allows, and complete and turn in work on a weekly basis. Students will be able to sign up for and take advanced placement classes, even if they are 100 percent remote.

High school students can purchase breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, but must social distance. 

At Boynton Middle School, classes will also be extended to 65 minute blocks. Students working remotely are expected to work for about four hours a day. Students will move between classrooms, and mask-wearing will be encouraged. Lunch will take place in the cafeteria with social distancing.

At Highbridge Hill Elementary, in-school students will follow a schedule that resembles closely to last year’s, pre-COVID-19. Recess will continue to be allowed, but classes will be rotated between multiple play areas, such as the playground and the sports fields. Lunch will take place in the cafeteria, with the possibility for additional students to eat in the gymnasium if there is not sufficient room for social distancing.

The issue of masks and when students would wear them remains under discussion. Superintendent Chris Martin told the board that the district is in discussion with the Mascenic Education Association, the teacher’s union, on protocols, but hasn’t finished those discussions.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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