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Message from Superintendent Duerr

July 10, 2020

Dear Staff and Families,

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer and finding ways to relax and renew. We are busy planning both summer learning opportunities and the reopening of schools in September. Today’s letter will provide a few reminders and updates.

Family Survey. I released a Reopening Schools survey through email to all families just over a week ago. If you have not already done so, please complete one survey form for each child in your family. The information we gather through this survey influences our decision-making for reopening schools. If you have any questions or would like support in completing the survey, please reach out to the administration office at 508-548-0151 extension 137. I’m extending the deadline for the survey through the weekend to give everyone a chance to complete it. The survey will be turned off at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, July 13, 2020. We have over 2100 surveys completed as of this morning. We need 100% of our students accounted for in this survey for accurate planning. Many thanks to the parents and guardians who have already completed this survey.

Reopening Schools Plan timeline. FPS will submit the Reopening Schools Plan to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) by July 31, 2020 as required. 

Prior to submitting the Plan: 

  • Our administration develops district-wide and individual school plans with the input from district teams, school planning teams, the Falmouth Educators’ Association (FEA), and the Parent/Staff Reopening Schools Advisory Committee to inform the overarching plan.

  • Parents/Guardians complete the Reopening Schools Survey to inform the plan.

  • DESE provides guidance and requirements for developing the plan.

  • Administration will share the plan with the community for feedback.

As a reminder, DESE is requiring districts to prepare for three scenarios during the 2020-2021 school year. The purpose of the three scenarios/models is to ensure districts are prepared to move between models as needed based on the status of COVID-19. The three required models are as follows; however, they are drafts that will continue to shift as guidance is clarified, parents make final decisions, and available health data changes. 

  1. Full in-person learning with accommodations

    1. FPS is planning on opening schools with this model for grades PreK-8. 

    2. This is subject to change based on the status of COVID-19. Governor Baker and Commissioner Riley could move the district/state to a hybrid model or a fully remote model at any time during the school year based on Massachusetts COVID-19 data.

    3. This is also subject to change if we cannot meet the transportation health and safety requirements. This is one reason your response to the survey is critical for planning purposes. We appreciate those who responded that you are willing to drop off and pick up your children to decrease the number of students on a bus. This will definitely help in ensuring we can have all students in school.

    4. Within this model, we plan to offer a fully remote option for parents/guardians who are not yet ready to send their children to the physical school building.
       
  2. Hybrid model

    FPS is planning on opening school with this model for Falmouth High School students.

    1. This is subject to change based on the status of COVID-19. We are hopeful that at some point during the school year, we will be able to have all high school students fully in school. However, at this time we believe that this model is the only safe way to begin school, meet the safety requirements, and remain within our budgetary constraints.

    2. As noted above, this is also subject to change if we cannot meet the transportation health and safety requirements. This is one reason your response to the survey is critical for planning purposes.

    3. Within this model, we plan to offer a fully remote option for parents/guardians who are not yet ready to send their children to the physical school building.

  3. 100% remote

    1. FPS educators are engaged in ongoing professional learning to prepare for the return to remote learning if necessary based on the status of COVID-19.

    2. Digital Classrooms are being prepared on two platforms: GoogleClassroom for PreK - Grade 6 and Schoolog for Grades 7 - 12.

    3. Orientation, navigation, and support information and videos will be available late summer.

Parent/Staff Advisory. Members of the Advisory had the opportunity this week to hear about ongoing efforts at each school to determine how principals and their leadership teams are able to configure classrooms in alignment with the initial guidance released by DESE. Members also reviewed early results of the return to school survey to which families have responded. Until the survey closes, we know that early trends may not be the same as the ultimate outcome. The committee would like me to share a few new developments since the last information was shared.

  • Students will be allowed “mask breaks” during the day when they can maintain at least 6 feet distance from other students. Opportunities such as outdoor instruction, recess, and movement breaks will give students a chance to remove masks. When the weather does not cooperate, students will be able to visit the gymnasiums, auditoriums, and other open spaces for indoor mask breaks. [Remember students in grades 2-12 are required to wear masks during the school day. All students must wear masks on the school bus.]

  • During breakfast and lunch, students will be at least 6 feet apart, so they can remove their mask to enjoy their meal. Principals are completing plans so all students will have a designated space for eating lunch. Spaces for eating lunch may include classrooms, cafeterias, gymnasiums, and outdoors areas. Spaces will be sanitized between cohorts in shared spaces.

  • Students will remain in cohorts of 16-20 students at grades K-8 (smaller sizes for PreK).

  • Although the guidance requires three to six feet distance between students in the classroom, we are able to provide distances greater than 4 feet in most situations. 

  • We will provide you with FHS updates soon. We are working on multiple plans to determine which option will work best for our students, staff, and families.

Stay dry this weekend. Complete the Survey. Be safe and well. And thank you for all your support.

Sincerely,
Lori Duerr, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Falmouth Public Schools