Hello Heath School Households,
I was not able to get out a summary last week, so I am including a summary below of the latest two meetings of the Ad Hoc Remote Learning Task Force (https://www.brookline.k12.ma.us/Page/2621).
As the school year gets underway, I expect you will be receiving many updates by email from the central administration (https://www.brookline.k12.ma.us/reopen), from Heath leadership (https://www.brookline.k12.ma.us/domain/718), and from your classroom teacher. So, to limit how many emails you receive, this will be my last summary for the time being. I have enjoyed writing them, and felt they were valuable in keeping our community aware and informed over the summer months. The task force is continuing to meet every Friday (and everyone is welcome to join us), and I will provide an update if there is something critical that I think our community should know. And I will continue to work with the Heath PTO to help our community however is best. So this won’t be the last you will hear from me. =)
Alright, here are the main summary points from the August 28 and September 4 meetings:
School Starting and Updated Calendar - The summer is quickly coming to a close. The teachers started back last week, and the students’ first day is a little more than a week away, on Wednesday, September 16 (see the updated 2020-2021 school year calendar at https://www.brookline.k12.ma.us/calendar). Although many questions remain, the district’s central administration has provided answers to many frequently asked questions (https://sites.google.com/psbma.org/psb-reopening-2020-21-faq/), and are providing updates to the FAQ page as additional questions and answers are available. Also, Mariah Nobrega, a School Committee member, wrote a recent guest commentary in the Brookline TAB (https://brookline.wickedlocal.com/news/20200831/opinion-guest-column-summer-preparation-brings-fall-education) that describes how the efforts and investments put in place this summer have made returning to school possible.
Expert Advisory Panel Updates - Each of the expert advisory panels are continuing to meet (https://www.brooklinema.gov/calendar.aspx?CID=110) and working on multiple fronts (https://www.brookline.k12.ma.us/Page/2621) to assist the central administration with their reopening efforts. For example, Panels 1 and 2 are working to set up parent resources that would be part of both a physical start-of-the-year kit of materials and an online parent hub. The resources will include short, digestible tips for parents on such topics as setting up routines and a space for remote learning, health and safety measures, and managing students’ frustration. Panel 3 has run a number of workshops for educators on topics including best practices for teaching on Zoom and for teaching asynchronously (https://sites.google.com/view/professional-learning-opps/home). And Panel 4 has continued efforts on ventilation, testing, and benchmarks for school opening and closing. Panel 4 has also continued to update their evidence review document that analyses available studies and evidence on the safety risks associated with school reopening.
School Hours and Daily Schedules - In the PSB’s Reopening Blueprint (https://www.brookline.k12.ma.us/cms/lib/MA01907509/Centricity/Domain/25/PSB%202020-21%20Reopening%20Blueprint%20FINAL.pdf), the central administration has said that “School hours, regardless of learning model, will consist of a full day similar to the 2019-20 school year” (p. 10). Although to my knowledge, the details of the daily schedule have not yet been determined or released, the idea underlying that commitment is that even in a remote or hybrid model, the expectations will be that students should be “in school” from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM on most days (on Friday the school day would end closer to 1:30 PM), similar to what a typical school day was like pre-pandemic. In the blueprint, there was also a sample daily schedule (p. 14) to provide a sense of how a day is likely to be structured in a remote model. In the sample, there are regular blocks of time devoted to synchronous activities with the teacher and a class or smaller group of students, and then other blocks of time devoted to asynchronous activities that a student does independently. Each school, grade level, and teacher may do things a little differently, but I expect that the more general commitments will be true for all students' experiences this fall
The next meeting of the Task Force is scheduled for September 11. See the Town calendar for upcoming School Committee meetings. You are always encouraged to listen in and submit comments or questions.
Even though this is my last summary, I am planning to continue to attend the task force meeting, so if you have a perspective that would be relevant to the Task Force, please do reach out to me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share your thoughts or ask questions.
Eli Silk, Heath School Parent Representative