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Message from Superintendent Duerr

Dear Staff and Families,

I hope everyone is continuing to enjoy the beautiful Cape weather.
In today’s communication, I will share additional information from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE); preliminary results of the Reopening Schools Parent/Guardian Survey; timelines for developing, approving, and submitting the Reopening Schools plan; an invitation to a parent/guardian forum to discuss the plan; and information about a district-wide book read.

DESE FAQ. Commissioner Riley understands the need for updated and relevant information as well as the changing conditions captured in changing health data. Commissioner Riley released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document focused on steps for reopening schools. You can use this link to access the DESE FAQ.

A few highlights on new guidance:

  • Although students in grades 2 - 12 are required to wear masks, students in kindergarten and grade 1 will be encouraged to wear a mask/face covering or a face shield if masks are not tolerated. Schools should aim to keep kindergarten and grade 1 students six feet apart though lesser distances are acceptable (but no less than three feet).

  • To increase facility ventilation, schools are encouraged to keep classroom windows open, if feasible, as much as possible throughout the school year.

  • Students must be six feet apart in the cafeteria or any eating space as it is assumed that masks/face coverings will not be worn during meals. It is preferred for those without masks not to sit facing each other.

  • School districts are responsible for students who are engaging in remote learning. Remote learning models shall include the following requirements:

    1. procedures for all students to participate in remote learning, including a system for tracking attendance and participation;

    2. remote academic work shall be aligned to state standards;

    3. a policy for issuing grades for students’ remote academic work; and

    4. teachers and administrators shall regularly communicate with students’ parents and guardians, including providing interpretation and translation services to limited English proficient parents and guardians, consistent with 603 CMR 27.08.

  • Parents/Guardians can choose to send their children back to school to in-person learning if they started the year remotely. When parents/caregivers communicate early that a child is returning to school, it allows for more thoughtful planning by their child’s school.

    • FPS will develop a process for parents/guardians to move from remote to in-person learning as well as from in-person to remote learning during the school year.

We are still waiting for guidance on bus transportation, band, music, athletics, and extracurricular activities.

Reopening Schools Parent/Guardian Survey. I would like to share the district-wide highlights from the survey. Each school is analyzing their individual school data. The survey results that follow are preliminary data. We still need about 700 surveys to be completed.

Number of surveys completed to date: 2426

Preference for Beginning the School Year
In-Person Learning
54.1%
Remote Learning
6.5%
Undecided
19.4%

Parents/Guardians who are Undecided gave the following reasons:
Waiting to see the number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts closer to the start of the school year
63.3%
Waiting to see State Guidance
52.3%
Waiting to see school plans for in-person learning
68.3%
Waiting to see school plans for remote learning
44.5%
Undecided if child will return to FPS
11.4%

Comfortable with In-person Learning
4 - Completely Comfortable
31.5%
3 - Comfortable
35.4%
2 - Less Comfortable
22.8%
1 - Very Uncomfortable
10.3%

Transportation
Prefer to Drive
30.8%
Willing to Drive
16.8%
Walk or Ride Bike
3%
Bus AM Run
25.8%
Bus PM Run
28.2%

Thank you for completing the survey. The information is extremely valuable for planning purposes. An extra special thank you to the large number of parents/guardians willing to drive your child to school even if it was not your preferred method. This may make the difference that allows us to have full in-person learning for PreK - grade 8. Bus Passes will be issued to the parents/guardians who indicated they will require bus transportation.

We are reaching out to those families who have not yet completed the survey by email and phone. You may also email or call Sharon Reid at the administration office for assistance at sreid@falmouth.k12.ma.us or at 508-548-0151 extension 137.

Timeline. A preliminary plan is due to DESE on July 31, 2020. We will be presenting the preliminary plan at the July 28th School Committee meeting. You may join us through remote access on Zoom, watch live on Channel 14, or watch the recorded meeting through the FPS YouTube channel. The meeting access information will be posted to the Town and School websites as well as social media. The School Committee will vote to approve the plan at a second special meeting. The final comprehensive plan is due to DESE on August 10, 2020.

Parent/Guardian Forum. Commissioner Riley has asked that we hold off on announcing any final decisions about what reopening will look like for the fall until early August. Therefore, we have set a parent/guardian forum for August 4th at 6 pm. We will send out the remote access information closer to the date.

Summer Read. The district administrators, principals, School Committee, and PTO/School Council book clubs are reading White Fragility, Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo this summer. This book was chosen for our district-wide read to build common language for discussion and a foundation for additional professional learning throughout the school year. We encourage all our staff and families to read this book along with us. If you would like to join a book club, please reach out to your PTO president or School Council.

Thank you for your continued support as we navigate the waters toward reopening.

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