September 29, 2020

Options for Reopening Seekonk Schools

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Seekonk School officials are considering three options for the 2020-2021 academic year, including in-person instruction, a hybrid model, and remote learning. Factors to be considered in the process include student and staff safety, instruction, physical space, and transportation.

A preliminary reopening plan has to be submitted to the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), along with the findings of a feasibility study before July 31. A comprehensive plan is due to DESE on August 10. The details will then be released to the public. “I think almost everyone (including parents, teachers/staff, principals, and myself) prefers in-person instruction over remote learning, but to be safe and to keep proper distancing, full in-person instruction may not be able to happen in time for the opening of school in September,” Superintendent Rich Drolet said in an e-mail message to the Reporter.

In a video sent out to parents, Drolet explained the reopening process and the procedures students and staff will be expected to adhere to. “We’re trying to make the best decision and smart decisions, but it’s very complex,” Drolet said.

On Monday, Education Commissioner Jeff Riley announced the start of school in Massachusetts will be delayed by 10 days to allow for more educator training. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade will start in the middle of September, and the school year will be reduced to 170 days. Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy explained on the association's website that the delay would "give educators crucially important time to plan."

Preventing the spread of Covid-19 will be a top priority for administrators and faculty when Seekonk schools do reopen. “If we have all students back in school, there’s a significant amount of training we’re going to need to give staff and to students because it’s going to look different than it ever has before,” said Zachary Waddicor, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, noting if students have to wear masks, they won’t be wearing them the entire school day.

Staggered start and end times for the schools will also be considered in an effort to maintain social distancing. “Some of our decisions may be based on what transportation guidelines we get,” Woddicor noted.

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