EBC Supplemental: General (Interim) Policy on COVID-19 Related Issues
General (Interim) Policy on COVID-19 Related Issues
The School Committee takes note of the COVID-19 pandemic; resulting disruption of the traditional school day and year; growing concerns of students, families, and the community; and the growing number of issues that will affect public education.
Therefore, the School Committee establishes an emergency, interim policy to:
- promote public safety and safety of students and faculty,
- maintain to the extent possible the high and efficient level of educational services,
- ensure support for students in general and in particular for those at highest risk educationally as well as those at social and economic risk, and
- comply with the emergency orders of the governor and adhere to the extent possible, to the guidance of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and other agencies of state and federal government, and expedite the safest strategy for returning students to school.
The School Committee approved the final plan submitted to DESE, which outlines its strategy for returning students to school and will, in collaboration with the Superintendent, make such modifications to the “back to school” plan. The School Committee will authorize the Superintendent to act expeditiously in executing the “back to school” plan in accordance with current law and regulation and will, where noted, authorize the Superintendent to suspend, revise, or recommend policies, rules, and protocols as needed to serve the best interests and safety of students, their families, and the community.
The Superintendent will designate the appropriate staff members to oversee the safe administration of COVID-19 related policies during the period of the pandemic emergency and shall make such recommendations to the School Committee as needed.
The “back to school” plan shall constitute the policy of the District during the pandemic emergency, and the Superintendent shall exercise the authority provided in law to carry out the plan as needed.
- General district goals affected by the pandemic.
The Superintendent, with the advice and consent of the School Committee, may suspend or modify individual district policies to address the COVID-19 emergency as declared by the governor. Such suspension of policy shall expire upon the end of the emergency as declared by the governor.
The goal of emergency pandemic policies shall be to:
o ensure the safety and health of students, faculty, staff, and all persons who may come in contact with them;
o provide the most effective educational services as possible to students under the circumstances;
o authorize changes to operating protocols as needed to open and operate schools effectively from various venues or platforms;
o conduct the district business and operational functions as efficiently as possible;
o allow the Superintendent and staff to act quickly to carry out a “back to school” plan; and
o facilitate the re-establishment of a safe and productive school day and year.
- Assignment to Schools (File JCA)
Subject to the guidance from DESE, the Superintendent may suspend or revise the assignment of students to schools, including the assignment of new students for such a period as the emergency declaration is in force.
- School Year/School Calendar (File IC/ICA)
Subject to the guidance from DESE and the provisions of collective bargaining agreements, the Superintendent may suspend or revise the school calendar with the approval of the School Committee.
- Time on Learning (Files IC/ICA and ID)
Subject to the guidance from DESE and the provisions of collective bargaining agreements, the Superintendent may suspend or amend requirements for time on learning for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Promotion and Retention of Students (File IKE)
In accordance with guidance from DESE, the Superintendent may propose, subject to the approval of the School Committee, modifications to the policy of the district for grading and retention of students.
- Conditions to Receive a Falmouth Diploma (File IKF)
In accordance with guidance from DESE and modifications to current regulation or law, the Superintendent may propose, subject to the approval of the School Committee, modifications to the policy of the district regarding graduation requirements.
- Special Education (Files IHB, IHBA, IHBAA, IHBF)
In accordance with guidance from DESE and modifications to current regulation or law, the Superintendent may propose, subject to the approval of the School Committee, modifications to the policy of the district regarding graduation requirements. The Superintendent and School Committee should be mindful that attainment of a high school diploma may render certain students ineligible for further services.
- Discipline and Suspension/Expulsion with continued access to education (Files JIC, JK)
The Superintendent or designee shall create protocols for serving students who are disciplined or suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Student Welfare (File JL)
The Superintendent shall provide protocols to principals and teachers regarding students who may require special exemptions from health and safety standards during the pandemic emergency. Such protocols may address exemption for utilizing support animals.
- Professional Staff Positions (File GCA)
The Superintendent may revise job descriptions for district staff, considering the provisions of current collective bargaining agreements, in order to secure the safety and health of students and staff, establish effective communications between school and community, maintain facilities, transport students as needed, provide food services, and acquire necessary materials to operate schools safely and securely during the pandemic. The Superintendent will inform the School Committee of any such changes. Any changes to job descriptions shall expire at the end of the declared emergency situation.
- Students at Risk (JIE, JL, JLC, JLCC)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Superintendent may revise or suspend provisions of policy to facilitate the education of students at risk or with special physical needs or their family caregivers, including, but not limited to, caring for or educating students with disabilities, illness, pregnancy, childrearing responsibilities, or special education needs consistent with law and regulation.
- Student Records (File JRA)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rights to privacy held by students and their families shall not be abridged by the District. Such rights extend to the confidentiality of student academic records, health data, economic status, and other such information as may be considered confidential by law.
The Falmouth Public Schools strictly prohibits students from taking screenshots, pictures, audio/video recordings, and distributing of any virtual educational experience. Students agree to engage in virtual educational experiences in a quiet private area, to the extent possible, and to protect student confidentiality.
- Co-Curricular and Extracurricular Activities (File JJ)
Subject to law, regulation, and standards established by the appropriate and legitimate regulatory body, the Superintendent may propose changes to district protocols for participation in extracurricular activities including sports subject to the rules established by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.
- Student Absences and Excuses (File JH)
Subject to operative law and regulations, the Superintendent may suspend, modify, or adapt policies related to student attendance and absences when appropriate, including the link between attendance and grades, chronic absence policies, and accommodations for students requiring special placements.
Subject to law, regulation, or emergency declaration, the Superintendent may propose protocols, modifications, or suspensions of district policies regarding attendance by students or the public in school events including, but not limited to assemblies, sports events, large gatherings, or other programs.
- Visitors to Schools (File KI)
Subject to current emergency declarations, the Superintendent may propose suspension or modification to district policies regarding visitors to school buildings during the school day and after school hours.
- Communicable Diseases (File JLCC)
Subject to the provisions of the “back to school” plan, the Superintendent may establish protocols for contact tracing. Such protocols will be consistent with law, regulation, and standards to protect the privacy of students, their families, and other persons.
- Transportation and Busing (Files EEA, EEAA, EEAEC, EEAG)
Subject to current law and regulation, the Superintendent may suspend or modify policies related to the transportation of students by the District. Legal requirements relating to IEPs that contain transportation for students shall not be altered without the appropriate family consent. These modifications shall be consistent with the District “back to school” plan.
- Operations and Facilities Maintenance (Files EC, ECA)
Subject to the provisions of law, regulation, and collective bargaining agreements, the Superintendent may suspend or amend current policy to ensure the efficient operation of business functions and maintenance of school buildings and other such offices as the district maintains.