Hi everyone. Let’s get right to it and talk about last night’s Southborough School Committee meeting and what I learned in regards to COVID-19 / Coronavirus in the Southborough public schools (K-8 specifically)
Apologies in advance; Normally I am super careful about my writing and try to make sure everything is perfectly edited. But in the interest of time, I am not going to go crazy editing and you may see typos. I’m focusing on reporting the facts that I learned at our meeting as quickly as possible because I’m getting lots of questions.
Our district has been very proactive in preparing for this novel Coronavirus. Here’s what I learned from Superintendent Greg Martineau last night during the 3/11/20 Southborough School Committee meeting (remember, these are my personal notes):
- As of the Southborough School Committee meeting last night, there are no positive Coronavirus cases in our community.
- If you have specific questions about Coronavirus and our schools, your contact is still Mary Ellen Duggan, our district’s Director of Wellness.
- Please keep using preventative measures that have been outlined in Greg’s emails; wash your hands, avoid touching your face, cover your mouth when coughing, and so on. These measures slow the spread of viruses.
- The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has not approved any type of distance learning if schools were to close. This is because distance learning/online learning cannot be equitable for all students in the state (ex. think of students who have no computers at home).
- If our schools were to close, our schools will have plans that will enable students to maintain skills at home. Per DESE’s requirements, no new material will be taught and nothing will be required; rather, families will have the option of maintaining skills that have been learned this year while at home. This will enable students to feel a sense of continuity and not experience a “summer slide” of sorts while schools are closed.
- To answer a burning question my own daughter had: No, we will not continue school into July if we miss weeks of school. If we were to close schools due to Coronavirus, upon reopening, the most school days we could have (per DESE) in this school year would be 185 days. As of today, that means the latest last day of school would be June 23. But right now, I believe our last day of school is June 19, since we have had three snow days.
- Upon return to school, teachers would pick up where they left off in terms of curriculum. How would they make up for lost time? This is an unknown right now. As we’ve never been in this situation, we’d have to see where we stood at that point.
- Where does the decision to close come from? It comes from the superintendent, who is working closely with the Board of Health and the state’s Department of Public Health.
- What about closing proactively, even before a case of Coronavirus is officially diagnosed in town/in our schools? This is an option and the reason to do it would be to slow the progression of the virus and hopefully help healthcare facilities by reducing the number of cases. (My personal note: Here is a good article on the concept of slowing the spread of infection and why it’s important.) We could proactively close as a district whether other districts are closing or not.
- Families who need additional assistance are being worked with right now. Anyone who has specific health needs (student or staff) is being worked with, and families who depend upon the school district for free/reduced lunch will be cared for in the event of school closings.
- Are we continuing to deep clean the schools as we did the weekend of March 7? The district is currently talking about doing this on a regular basis and will update the community if they do this. It is not a prohibitive cost and does not have a huge impact, budget-wise.
- Are classrooms equipped to spray and wipe down surfaces? Yes. At the start of the year, each classroom received spray bottles of cleanser; one for students to use and an antibacterial one for staff to use. Happily, our facility managers were proactive when coronavirus was ramping up and they ordered a lot of cleaning supplies far in advance, so we are not affected by the current limits being imposed by cleaning supply companies.
- Greg will continue to communicate with the community and keep everyone posted on developments.
I will post updates on this blog as I learn them. This is obviously an ongoing and rapidly developing situation.
Also: As I say in my disclaimer below, PLEASE remember this is not the Southborough School Committee blog. There is no such thing. This is my own personal blog and I am reporting what I personally wrote down in my notes during the 3/11/20 Southborough School Committee meeting. I am human and could have written something incorrectly.
If you have questions about what I wrote, please comment below. I will respond as soon as I can (comments are moderated and I work during the day, so my response may not be immediate). If you have general questions about Coronavirus in our schools, please reach out to Mary Ellen Duggan. She and Greg are always your best sources for information.
More to come, I’m sure…
Note to readers: Please remember that this is my personal blog. NOT the Southborough School Committee blog. There isn’t such a thing. All blog posts are my thoughts and opinions, and do not represent the thoughts and opinions of anyone else on the School Committee or in the administration. Please read my blog rules and commenting policy before commenting. Thanks!