Wilmington School Committee To Discuss What School Might Look Like This Fall At Meeting TONIGHT

WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington School Committee meets this Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 7pm.

The bulk of the meeting is expected to focus on the school district’s reopening plan. Agenda items include:

  • The Wilmington Public Schools Reopening Advisory Group will provide an update and discuss next steps.
  • Superintendent Brand will share the state’s Department of Elementary & Secondary Education’s Reopening Guidance, plus Local Health Recommendations and Building Capacity Assessments.
  • Superintendent Brand will announce the results of the recent Parent/Guardian Survey on reopening.
  • The School Committee will review a revised district policy involving Inoculations of Students (Policy JCLB).

Stay Informed & Get Involved

The meeting can be watched live on Wilmington Community Television — 9 on Comcast, 37 on Verizon, and wctv.org/live.

The meeting can also be viewed live on Zoom at https://us04web.zom.us/j/79477441559?pwd=K3NZampPLzhGY2plSDgwVER1a2RNQT09.

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The public can submit a comment or question to be read during the meeting’s “Public Comments’ section by filling out this Google Form — https://forms.gle/jRzcBG76w4eZZmPUA.

Wilmington Apple will be live-tweeting the meeting HERE. Wilmington Apple will be publishing an article this Thursday or Friday.

Read Dr. Brand’s July 10th Letter On Reopening Issues

Dear Members of the WPS Community:

In late June Governor Baker and Mr. Jeff Riley, Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released initial guidance pertaining to the reopening of schools this fall. If you have not have the opportunity to review this guidance, we have attached the full report. For additional updates, please check our district website under the COVID‐19 section.

The primary goal of this guidance, that which aligns with my overarching commitment to our district, is to establish the conditions to allow for the return of as many students as possible to in‐person learning when schools reopen in the fall. I believe that this situation provides for simply the best approach to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of our students.

The DESE guidance outlines specific expectations and requirements of school districts throughout the Commonwealth as they prepare to implement plans for reopening. The information contained both within this initial guidance, as well as the anticipated final guidance, will serve as the central source of information around which our WPS Reopening Advisory Group will draw upon to develop reopening plans in Wilmington. Our WPS Reopening Advisory Group will provide a brief update to our School Committee at their next scheduled meeting on July 22.

The primary highlights of the initial guidance issued by DESE include the following:

  • The medical community has concluded that in‐person education for students and staff can occur with appropriate safety measures.
  • Safety measures that have been identified to be important include masks/face coverings, physical/social distancing, hand washing and regular clearing and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces.
  • The initial DESE guidance has indicated that districts must prepare for reopening with all students Grades 2‐12 required to wear face‐masks/covering and physical distancing between students of six (6) feet where possible but no less than three (3) feet in classrooms.
  • School districts are obligated to develop and submit to DESE this summer three (3) separate plans for student learning in the fall i) a model of in‐person student learning with new safety measures and protocols; ii) a model of hybrid instruction where students experience learning both in‐person as well as remotely; iii) a model that includes full remote learning.

It is clear that, of the above guidance, the issue of masks/face coverings and physical distance represent the two most prominent and important areas of any reopening plan which will impact many aspects of operations and largely will shape the reopening of any school and district during these times.

In an effort to develop and implement our approach within the Wilmington Public Schools we have been in close collaboration with three members of our WPS Reopening Advisory Committee who also serve as our local health advisors. These individuals include Dr. Mark Curdo, MD (WPS School Physician), Ms. Shelley Newhouse, RS (Director, Wilmington Board of Health) and Ms. Doreen Crowe, BSN, RN (WPS Coordinator of Health Services). Based upon extensive consultation with these advisors their current consensus and recommendation to me at this point in time is for the following:

  • Masks/face coverings will be mandatory for all students Grades 1‐12 and all staff. At the Pre‐kindergarten and Kindergarten level masks will be strongly recommended but not required. The decision to expand the DESE requirement of face masks/coverings for students at the Grade 1 level is predicated upon the fact that, within our district, this age of student is educated within the same facility as our Grade 2 and 3 students. As a result, it is strongly believed that a lack of consistency within the same building will present more operational challenges to contend with.
  • Classrooms will be organized with six (6) feet physical distance between students when possible but with no less than three (3) feet distance in all cases.

The work of our reopening committee is already in the process of developing protocols around the masks/face covering aspect, and our school leaders are currently measuring classrooms in order to assess the actual ability to accommodate students physically with the above constraints.

Finally, I want to point out the fact that we will be reaching out to both parents/guardians and our staff shortly in an effort to gather additional information about individual perspectives and individual anticipated plans with relation to our reopening.

I recognize that there are an endless number of questions at this time and still much work to unfold with many decisions to be finalized. Please know that members of our advisory group and our school and district leaders will continue to work behind the scenes to prepare for our reopening as we await final guidance from DESE.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support, patience and understanding as we all try to navigate these very demanding, challenging and uncertain times together.

Glenn Brand Superintendent of Schools

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