The headlines in my local newspaper are clear: “Schools to open for full learning K-12 on April 5th.”
Score one for the protestors. And hopefully, the kids will benefit.
Signs read “We’ve Waited Long Enough,” “Give Us Hope,” and “Our Kids Deserve Better,” to name a few. It’s as if the public school system intentionally perpetrated the pandemic on them.
Winthrop will return to “full in-person learning” three weeks ahead of the proposed April 26th opening, one week following Spring break. So the protesting is over returning kids to school two weeks ahead of time.
But I guess that means kids will be out of their homes two weeks sooner.
Department of Education Protocols
On March 10th, the MA Department of Education released new protocols for in-person learning.
The protocol called for classroom reconfiguration of three-foot distancing to allow for full attendance, meaning removal and storage of current furniture, the purchase of over 1,000 desks, rental of tents to provide additional room for meals that require six-foot distancing.
Start and end times for the school day were taken into consideration to allow for removal, delivery, and storage of furniture, with much of it taking place during school vacation week.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) mandated grades K-5 return by April 5th and grades 6–8 by April 29th. They had not released a date for the return of grades 9–12.
Lisa Howard, Superintendent of Winthrop Public Schools, proposed a plan to comply with the return of grades K-5, have grades 9–11 return by April 26th, three days before the recommended date, and grade 12 on April 5th, given the shortened school year.
The Winthrop School Committee turned down her proposal.
Students returning on April 5th will have chairs but may not have desks. One committee member suggested clipboards. The committee feels it is more important that all students return to the classroom simultaneously and deal with the discomfort of not having furniture.
Howard says she would rather that all students have access to equitable resources and not possibly sitting on floors or without desks. But if this is what the committee wants, she will make sure it happens.
What will also be most likely happening is that movers will add to the population during school hours. This is not the best scenario for students and much less so for teachers who have yet to be vaccinated.
Of note here is the fact that 51 positive cases of COVID were reported on January 1st due to a lack of adherence to public health guidelines. Town Manager Austin Faison stated that this put the infection rate at about “25% above the state average.”
Let’s hope the cost of two-weeks isn’t another spike in positive COVID cases.