Reopening Shawsheen to 100% In-Person learning
Dear Colleagues and Parent/Guardians:
On Friday, March 5, 2021, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to authorize the Commissioner of Education, Jeffrey Riley, to “determine when district-wide hybrid and remote learning models no longer count for structured learning time.” This vote provides the Commissioner with the sole authority to order schools to return to “full-time, in-person learning with appropriate school-based mitigation measures in place.”
On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the Commissioner announced the following timelines:
- Districts and schools are required to shift their learning model for elementary grade levels (Grades K-5) to full-time, in-person instruction five days per week, effective Monday, April 5, 2021;
- Districts and schools are required to shift their learning model for middle school grade levels (Grades 6-8) to full-time, in-person instruction five days per week, effective Monday, April 28, 2021; and
- The details and timing of the high school phase will be announced by Commissioner Riley sometime in April.
While this information is frustratingly vague, Shawsheen is moving forward under the assumption that we will be required to shift to full-time, in-person instruction, for all students, five days per week, before the end of the current school year. Shawsheen’s current model having all students only in-person for their shop weeks has served Shawsheen well and offered our students more face-to-face, hands-on learning opportunities than most high schools in Massachusetts. Now, the increases in vaccine availability to educators as well as the opportunities for a more extensive use of outdoor spaces for learning make this a good time to make this shift.
Today, I met with Shawsheen’s administrative team and we began to develop a plan to accommodate all of our students in-person for both their academic and shop weeks. In addition, I will be reaching out to the leadership of the Shawsheen Teachers Association for their assistance and guidance in the planning process. In order to provide some clarity to the planning process, I established a target date for implementation of early May 2021.
While a specific date for when we will return to 100% full-time, in-person learning for all students has not been established, for now I am writing to inform you that it is no longer a question of IF we will return to 100% in-person instruction this year, but it is now a question of WHEN. I will continue to keep all members of the Shawsheen community informed as our plans unfold.
Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.