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What will school look like in the fall?

  • The Mascenic Class of 2020 graduation ceremony took place in the high school parking lot Friday evening, June 26, 2020. (BEN CONANT / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Copyright Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to news@ledgertranscript.com. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic Class of 2020 graduation ceremony took place in the high school parking lot Friday evening, June 26, 2020. (BEN CONANT / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Copyright Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to news@ledgertranscript.com. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic Class of 2020 graduation ceremony took place in the high school parking lot Friday evening, June 26, 2020. (BEN CONANT / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Copyright Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to news@ledgertranscript.com. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/8/2020 3:56:46 PM

As midsummer approaches, school districts are working on at least three different models for how the return to school this fall might look.

State officials put forth a series of recommendations to Gov. Chris Sununu on June 30, though local School Board officials said those recommendations haven’t come down to the districts, yet.

During the final state task force meeting, held via teleconference on June 29, the state Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut called the recommendations a “living document,” and subject to change if the state reverted to a previous reopening standard, noting that other states have already backtracked in some areas after opening up.

But districts have been moving forward with their own planning processes, most of which are similar to the state task force recommendations.

Namely, according to Julie Lampinen, a School Board representative on Mascenic’s reopening task force, the district is preparing for three different eventualities – essentially low-, medium- and high-risk models.

The options on the table include continuing with fully virtual learning, a hybrid system with some in-person learning and some online instruction, and returning to in-person instruction full-time.

These are the same models being looked at by ConVal, Wilton-Lyndeborough, Mason and Jaffrey-Rindge School Districts, too, though all districts are still embroiled in hammering out the details of what each of those models would look like, and soliciting parent feedback through surveys.

Jaffrey-Rindge Superintendent Reuben Duncan, during a School Board meeting via teleconference on Monday, told the School Board that online, hybrid or in person are “very broad” categories, each with many issues to iron out. A reopening committee is expected to meet several times in July, and plans to have a “preliminary plan to move forward” by its final scheduled meeting on July 23, Duncan said.

Similarly, the Mascenic reopening task force is also anticipated to have a plan or recommendations to put before the Mascenic School Board, which could occur as soon as its next scheduled meeting on July 20 according to Mascenic School Board Chair Steve Spratt.

ConVal has formed seven different reopening committees involving over 120 people that represent all internal and external stakeholders. The steering, wellness, instruction, facilities, school operations, technology and post-secondary committees are tasked with identifying the district’s needs in those arenas  and have identified 17 guiding principles for any eventual plan, according to a recent communication from steering committee members.

Mason School Superintendent and Mason Elementary School Principal Kristen Kivela said Tuesday that she and several teachers are working on those reopening plans, and hope to be able to present a preliminary plan to the Mason School Board during its next meeting on July 20, but expressed frustration at a lack of clearer guidelines from the state to guide them.

The Mason Elementary School has class sizes that range from 12 students to 17, with one class per grade. If the state is going to require or recommend certain class numbers for in-person learning, that would be good to know now, Kivela said.

In fact, there are several issues that districts are discussing that she would like more guidance on, including whether students would be required to wear personal protective equipment, and how lunches, recess and bussing would be managed.

“I think right now, the majority [of parents] are hoping we get to come back in the fall. But if we have to have masks, no cafeteria or recess as we know it, that might give them a different opinion,” Kivela said.

Spratt agreed that transportation is going to be a big hurdle for a lot of districts. If the number of students on busses is capped, for example, he said, there are a number of stops on the Mascenic district’s route with large numbers of students that would likely exceed that cap.

“We need to look at how we’re getting students to school,” Spratt said.

Spratt said he’s hoping for firmer guidance from the state this week, before the committee presents to the school board, so that the district can begin to make firm plans, but said everything right now is still in the works.

The WLC, Jaffrey-Rindge, Mason, and Mascenic School Districts are currently seeking feedback  from parents through district  surveys on what model they would prefer to   see in their district. Links to surveys are available on the district websites.

 

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


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