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2020-09-29 Webinar Q&A
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Questions and Answers from the 9/29 Community Forum

In an effort to be as responsible and transparent as possible, we are publishing the public Q&A stream from the Zoom Webinar on 9/29 verbatim. This might content spelling, grammar and even accuracy issues. If you have any questions or concerns, please follow up with the district directly via email or phone.

We know that the virus is aerosolized, and that there are serious risks involved with eating and drinking inside unless people are properly social distanced, and even then there are debates about this.  Will the students be distanced at lunch, and how will that be enforced?  (I’m not a teacher but wow, that seems really hard.)

Students will be distanced at lunch. They will be 6 ft spaced in all the environments that we are holding lunches.

Will the Student Support Students be integrated with Cohort A & B?  If so, won't this cause cross contamination of the 3 groups? How will this be addressed to keep all kids safe?

Students in the support center come out of the A and B cohorts. While in the support center we still have students distanced and following other health/safety practices like wearing masks. This allows them to work in an environment with the needed supports to make progress, while also ensuring health standards are maintained.

How are plans progressing with Williamstown being “yellow” for cases?  Is this being monitored?

We are monitoring and continuing to collaborate with the state on understanding and improving the metric for small towns.

Williamstown was “yellow” last week and “gray” the week prior to that. The figures for this week will be published tomorrow afternoon.

So, Student Support Center students will remain in the center all day?  Or do they mix with A and B cohorts?

Students access the support centers on the days that they are not moving through their regular class schedules. For example, if a student is in the A cohort, they will be in-person in their classes on Mondays and Tuesdays. They are able to work out of the SSC on Thursdays and Fridays.

So if a child o my has a runny nose, and no other symptoms , can they attend?

We ask all students who show a symptom to stay home and call the school nurse.

Please explain the form the screener will take and how it is to be submitted.

You will log in to PowerSchool (parent log in should be coming your way). There will be a banner so you can click the link and it will take you directly to the screener.

How are you tracking students who have symptoms, but not tested or how long the 10 days/ 24 hours with symptoms/ symptom free?

Hi - all students who have symptoms will be tracked directly by the school nurse through communication with parents.

How will 6 ft distancing work at bus stops?

We request that students maintain their mask wearing and distancing while waiting for the bus, entering the bus and while on the bus. This will be difficult to enforce, but it is a commitment that we are asking families and students to make.

When students are out with possible symptoms, are they to follow the same schedule as remote students?  What schedule will remote students follow?

Hi - Yes, when students are out and able to work remotely they should follow the same schedule as remote students (their same schedule in PowerSchool).  All students should follow their schedule in PowerSchool.

How will the MGHS tents work in Dec/Jan/Feb?  Are they heated with walls?

We do not currently have walls or heaters for our tents.

Part of the potential issue is that walls and enclosed spaces create an interior-like environment. The second issue is the type of tent, walls, lights, emergency doors and heaters that would be required … are extremely expensive.

All of that said, we are still evaluating options.

What is in place to help the new 7th graders on their first day at school, they haven't even been in the building yet and have no idea of the school layout or where their classes are.

The 7th grade team is preparing for this. They are planning to walk students through the space in an appropriate manner. We are also going to have temporary signage that will help students to identify classrooms by subject/teacher on their first few days.

Are bus schedules available?

Bus schedules will be coming out later this week for the elementary schools and tomorrow for MG.

Should elementary students bring their Chromebooks to and from school every day?

Yes, please. Charged, too! :)

Is the screener is filled out every day by the students and the parents?

The screener needs to be filled out by a parent everyday, including Wednesdays.

For WES - if you have 2 kids in different grades, you drop off and pick up at two different spots? Do the drop off spots differ for walkers (vs. kids in cars)?

You drop off at the same spot per our usual drop off. Students have to walk to different entrances. Walkers (students who walk to school) can walk directly to their entrance.

Some families have created 'bubbles' out of school, can these kids sit togther at lunch?

To ensure that health and safety standards are met during lunch, the indoor spaces do not have group seating arrangements. Each student will be given an individual chair/table to eat at. Students will be allowed to sit in more of a group setting, if they access our outdoor spaces, while still maintaining 6 ft distances.

If my HS student opts for remote learning in lieu of attending in the hybrid model, are they committed to remote for the quarter, semester, or year?

Commitments are made by the school quarter.

Will students be spaced out when waiting in line upon arrival?

Students will be distanced while in line waiting to enter the building. We have markers on the ground designed to help students track their spatial awareness.

Where do we find the Cohort for our students in high school?

You should have recieved an email informing you of the cohort of your student. It will also be visible in Powerschool. If you did not recieve the email notice, please contact me cshebar@mgrhs.org

Will teachers be in the hallways before classes begin (at least for the first days) to show new students where their classrooms are?

At all schools, during the first few days of school, we will have school staff outside and inside directing students.

After students are acquainted to the new school practices, we will continue to have staff outside the building and at doors helping students safely navigate.

Where will students be located during the office hours portion of the day?

There are no office hours in our schedule anymore. Following lunch, students have directed study, which is a time that both our in-person and remote students will be able to access additional help from their teachers.

With the remote program, you used your staff.  Did you replace them, and how will that effect teachers in the classroom?  Are there enough teachers to support the hybrid?

We hired additional teaching staff to augment our existing  team of teachers in preparation for the transition to hybrid. If there is a specific question in this regard, feel free to ask a follow-up question.

Directed study is a virtual office hours but where will the kids be who are in school? Are they allocated a class room?

Students are given a classroom assignment for the directed study block.

Where are the sciences and social studies instruction in this curriculum?

Science and social studies will be both a part of the in-person and asynchronous instruction.

At MGRS, will lunch time seat assignments be the same everyday?  If yes, is it possible for us to request that our kids are seated near others with whom they spend time outside of school in order to minimize exposure?

Lunch seats will not be assigned. We plan to fill our eating spaces from the back forward. This minimizes the amount of time that students will move through or past the spaces where students may have already begun eating without their masks on.

Will we be getting information to set up an account for LES parents regarding Power School?

Letters for how LES parents can access have been drafted, and will be out soon.

If a child at MG needs to use the office hours/directed study time to get help from a teacher, how do they do that? Zoom them  while in the gym during lunch? See teacher in person?

Hi Katie - teachers will all have a zoom during directed study so students can "drop in" to specific teachers to get assistance.  After lunch students will physically report to their block 9/10 class and then "zoom" into wherever they need.

Will kids be assigned to classrooms during directed study?

Students do have an assigned room during directed study. For most students it is the same room where their period 9/10 class will take place.

What disciplinary/reporting procedures are in place for students in violation of distancing protocols?

This will be answered through the individual school handbook and updated code of conduct. Of course, we will remind students of the procedures and protocols as a first response.

I hope this Q&A will be part of the recording!

We will also post the questions/answers to our web site.

Will students be able to charge their chromebooks during the day?

We strongly urge all students to be sure to come to school with fully charged devices as outlets are limited.

Where can LES parents find/access the hybrid schedule?

Teachers recieved the schedule for hybrid last night and should be pushing out to students and families soon. If you have a specific question about which cohort your student is in please reach out to the building principal.

If we go back to fully remote will our children follow the remote schedule they're following now or the hybrid schedule they're starting next week?

Hi - If your student is in MG then their schedule will remain the same.  They will follow their schedule on PowerSchool

For HS students remaining remote, do they continue to log in to zoom as they are today?

That is correct. Remote students will continue to log in to Zoom and access our other learning platforms like Canvas the way they are today.

Are you seriously going to allow students to use equipment at recess? This strikes me as an invitation to disaster.

Yes, we are utiliziing guidance from various outlets that says this is acceptable. Students will be sanitiing their hands before and after recess.

When you preorder lunch where/how do kids get it?

 students will take their lunches for the following day.

Where do we park to drop/off pick up children who don't need to be walked in and are going to a door in the bus lane?

The regular drop off lanes outside the WYC if you are thinking of the WES drop off.

Where is the screener located to fill out each day?

The screener will be on Powerschool once it is up and running. There is a letter with specific login information that will be out soon.

When will they return full time ?

The school committee and the Mt. Greylock Educator Association have not yet come to agreement on the conditions for returning full time.

Can you please remind us of the conditions under which MGRSD schools would revert to fully-remote for all students? And under what conditions or timeline might a return to a four-day in person instruction model be considered, as was originally planned for WES?

There are a number of different triggers for reverting to remote learning. Our local, state and federal health officials; a 3% test positivity rate in either member town; and, 3 consecutive weeks “in yellow or red” per the state’s weekly COVID-19 reporting.

The state’s current approach to yellow/red is: an average daily case rate of 4+ over the preceding two week period, prior to the Wednesday afternoon of the reporting. New figures are reported every week. For more information, please see:

https://www.mass.gov/doc/weekly-covid-19-public-health-report-september-23-2020/download

We do not currently have a timeline for return to four days of fully in-person; it is a topic that will be revisited on a regular basis so that the district can determine a practical path to it.

I know Joelle said elementary students should bring Chromebooks every day — is the same true of MG students?

Yes, MGRS students should bring their chromebooks everyday. Students are encouraged to charge their chromebooks every night, so they can come to school with a fully charged device.

For HS students who are goign remote for Q1, what does that schedule look like and where/when can they access it?

Hi Curtis - they should follow their schedule in PowerSchool.  It's the same rotation for remote or hybrid.

For students in the elementary school, if they are out due to COVID-like symptoms, do they follow with their class if they are well enough to "attend" school?

Students can partipate in the asynchronous session of the day. Teachers will be in touch if students are missing in person sessions.

If we go back to fully remote will the elementary students keep their schedule now or the hybrid schedule?

We will keep the hybrid schedule.

What type of instruction will children kept home due to COVID-19 symptoms receive?

If a student is home because that student is sick. Teachers would treat it as any regualar absence or extended absence. If the student is well enough, to attend remotely they may.

Will questions sent in ahead of time be answered during this time?

Any questions that were emailed in recieved a direct response and will be posted on the website with the other asked questions.

maybe I should be more specific:  I assume 7-12 students will be working together, some remote, some in person.

How will teachers manage teaching remote and in person students at the same time?  What will that mean in terms of discussion, in particular?  What sorts of technology support will they have?

Hi - it's not ideal nor easy, but teachers will facilitate discussions in both remote and in person... and at times possibly full class discussions using zoom chat, google docs, or audio.

Would you please clarify what precisely triggers a halt to in-person learning? Can you be specific re the actual case count number? Many thanks!

There are a number of different triggers for reverting to remote learning. Our local, state and federal health officials; a 3% test positivity rate in either member town; and, 3 consecutive weeks “in yellow or red” per the state’s weekly COVID-19 reporting.

The state’s current approach to yellow/red is: an average daily case rate of 4+ over the preceding two week period, prior to the Wednesday afternoon of the reporting. New figures are reported every week. For more information, please see:

https://www.mass.gov/doc/weekly-covid-19-public-health-report-september-23-2020/download

How do we go about walking our children to the school? How close can we get before they have to continue on their way themselves? Is there a place for each grade to leave a bike if they chose to ride it?

Children may certainly ride their bikes to school and park them in the bike racks. Parents/guardians may walk children to the door, give a squeeze, a masked smooch, a wave, etc… and then go on their way. We ask that parents/guardians remain distanced in the line with their children if they choose to accompany them to the door.

With the half day at school is there anyway for a child to have a quick snack? Maybe even outside on break? Just thinking 3 hours without any snack might be pushing it for our child and needing the energy. I understand all the difficulties involved.

No, we are not allowing snack during the in person session at this time.

Will teachers be allowing/encouraging cohort B students to work asynchronously during the A days and vice versa to allow off screen and off zoom time?  Is that something that will be up to individual teachers and if so, how will families know what their students are expected to be doing?

Hi - teachers have autonomy to combine asynchronous and synchronous instruction in their class.  The guidance is for students to engage in 3.5 hours of synchronous work a day

What is synchronous academic support? Do kids get extra assistance with subjects if needed? Can they bring lunch or only buy it, is it eaten at their desks? Are kids grouped in pods/cohorts in class? How early should they arrive to get in the building?

Synchronous academic support is time when students can meet with paraprofessionals live and work on their learning tasks.

That is the best time for “extra help.”

Elementary students will be eating lunch at home. If they buy it will be a “grab and go” model.

Students are grouped in cohorts based on class or grade level.

Students can arrive at 8:20 or 12:25 depending on their cohort.

We have experimented with trying to get through a full day with a fully charged Chromebook and the charge has not lasted the entire school day. Can there be charging stations provided at MG?

Yes, but they are limited.

At WES, when will science and history be taught?  I did not see that on the schedule.

This will be included in content are reading and math. As well as asynchronous learning time.

If our HS student has opted to continue remote instruction for Q1, who do we need to notify?

Please send me a direct email with the name and grade of the student, in addition to clearly stating their learning intention. cshebar@mgrhs.org

So, teachers will be trying to manage remote and in person while not always engaging both simultaneously?

It's not ideal nor easy, but teachers will facilitate discussions in both remote and in person... and at times possibly full class discussions using zoom chat, google docs, or audio.

Has my question about use of equipment during recess been skipped?

Yes, I addressed this not too long ago.

So there is no snack at the elementary level?

That is correct.

Will snacks be allowed on playground during recess at WES?

No, not at this time.

How will social distancing be enforced when students ask to use a restroom.  Will there be limits on how many students can be in the restroom at once?   Aren't the sinks located to close to one another for social distancing?  Is the ventilation system in the restrooms of similar quality as the classrooms?

We will be using a new pass system that allows us to set limits to how many students will be able to access public spaces, like restrooms. This will help us to ensure that only an appropriate amount of students are in the restroom at any give time. We have shut off the water to the middle sinks, meaning students using the restroom will be spaced when washing their hands. Air quality in the restrooms is being tested and monitored the same way it is in the classrooms.

Or are remote students just on their own, following but not able to respond?  Or doing something else?

Again, 7-12.

Hi - remote students will follow their schedule just like their hybrid peers.  They'll be able to respond through zoom (mainly).

To clarify, if we return to fully remote, WES will remain on the half day hybrid (as mentioned above)?

They will follow the same schedule as hybrid if we transition to remote. They will be remote but follow the schedule they have become accustomed to.

How many students will be in a classroom at one time?  Is it still 16?  I know you said that the desks were arranged for distancing, but that seems pretty crowded.

The maximum number of students in any classroom is 16. In many cases, there are less students in each classroom.

Why is there a remote academy for elementary but no such option for hs?

The instruction working group, teachers and administrative team developed separate models for the elementary and middle-high school grade levels for numerous reasons.

Two prominent reasons for the middle-high school to use a hybrid remote/in-person learning model instead of a dedicated remote academy are: (1) middle-high school students are more capable of remote participation in a hybrid classroom than elementary age students; (2) the breadth of course offerings and the high level of differentiation offered for students at the middle-high school level would be very difficult to implement with a separate, dedicated remote academy model (staffed by our own teachers).

Once the numbers come out regarding cases in Wtown tomorrow, and we are yellow  for the second consecutive week, is there consideration to amend the plan to bring students back on Oct 5?

If we are “yellow” for a second consecutive week this week, we will still start in-person school on 10/5.

Will teachers be able to assign fully remote students to a cohort so that they are able to virtually travel with a group of students?  Currently, fully remote students are not in a cohort.

Hi - remote students are essentially in their own cohort, but access class each day with all the other students assigned to their respective class.  Students follow their schedule not necessarily a cohort

Will elementary students be allowed on the playground?

Yes.

So Thanks Mr. Schutz—when you say respond through Zoom you mean type in chat or talk?  And will the student in person have Zoom open so they can see who is particpating and respond?

Hi - Teachers practices may differ.  Some may have all students on zoom (in person and remote) and some teachers may have their own zoom on the screen for in person students to see

can we walk our child to their designated class spot in the morning or close to it? can we park and walk or do we need to be parked in the lane closest to the wyc ? Specifically for the second grade entrance.

We will have normal drop-off procedures and parking behind WES and will evaluate the effectiveness over the first two weeks. Parents should not park in the fire lane in front of the WYC; that is an active drop-off lane. If you would like to park and walk your child to the second grade entrance, please use one of the spots in the lot.

Again, will everybody just be Zooming, some in person, some remote, so all are included, or will it just be those in person with those remote using chat to comment, while the teacher tries to moderate and add the remote students’ comments?

Hi - generally zoom will be the main mode of communication so students are synchronously accessing curriculum.  That said, some times teachers may use more asynchronous means like chat comments.

What are the sources that say it is acceptable for children to play on equipment during recess. It is too easy for a child to forget herself and touch parts of her face or eyes that are not protected. To whom should one object?

If you have concerns about recess, please contact your building administrator. We are sanitizing at exit and entrance to the building. Students can play in the field as well. We are keeping cohorts as small as possible.

Thank you all very much for all of your hard work and attention to detail!

Thank you

In terms of the high school curriculum, do you expect that kids will be taught 100% of what they would have been taught in a normal year, or a bit less less? With the 3 days out of the classroom, I wonder how much teaching and learning may be lost. I hope not much! Thank you for all you are doing!

We have full confidence in our teachers at MGRS to design a curriculum that has learning experiences that will enhance student understanding of material and development of skills. While this year will look different and the learning activities that students engage in may be different than in a normal year, we have taken all steps we can to ensure that our program of studies is impacted in as few ways as possible.

Will MG students be using lockers?

There will be no lockers assigned this year.

What does improving the metric on small town while working with the state mean?

The state’s current metric involves a simple calculation of “average daily case rate per 100,000.” With a small town population, small changes in the case rate can have a dramatic effect on the state’s color-coding.

The state has acknowledged that the current calculations behind their color-coding are overly simplistic and can quickly cause issues in small towns.

This question is about in person band class at Greylock HS.  Wind instruments are particularly dangerous in potentially releasing aerosolized viruses at greater distances at at greater volumes than simple speaking.  What additional precautions are being taken to guard against this.

The DESE guidelines regarding band, chorus, and PE are shared here:  https://wellesleyps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Guidance-for-courses-requiring-additional-safety-considerations-vF.pdf.

What happens to a cohort if a teacher is COVID positive and the students are exposed?

If an individual is at home when they learn they were in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, they should stay at home and be tested 4 or 5 days after their last exposure.

If an individual is at school when they learn they were in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, they should be masked for the remainder of the day and adhere to strict physical distancing. At the end of the day, they should go home and should not take the bus home. They should stay at home and be tested 4 or 5 days after their last exposure.

Will students on the golf team be allowed to ride a bus to practice at Waubeeka on their in person days?

If there is room on one of the six buses going that way, while allowing us to maintain safety standards on the bus, students will be allowed to ride.

If a 6th grader at WES is entering the building, are they using the same door as K, or one nearby? Do they go through the little kids' playground? Thanks!

It wil be the same as the K entrance. 6th graders will use the stairwell to access their classrooms in the upper elementary.

Do I understand then, as regards recess, that only one cohort will be playing on equipment at a time? Is every class having recess at a different time?

Recess times are by grade levels. Maximum about 38 outside on our entire campus (including all field and grass areas).

How do you go out for recess if it rains/snows?  This does not seem safe for my WES student

We embrace the New England weather! Unless the temperature is 10 degree or below, children go out to recess. This year, outdoor time will be even more valuable than ever. We encourage families to purchase gear that is weather-appropriate for any conditions. If a family needs help securing ANY sort of outdoor clothing (boots, mittens, hats, jackets, etc…) we invite you to call the school principal or nurse. We are here to support you!

In the hybrid model, if a teacher needs to stay home, will a sub fill in? Or will they teach from home with all students at home?

Yes, we will call in subs. If they can teach from home, we will staff the classroom accordingly.

Joe are you suggesting that the color coding for Williamstown is being questioned? Is there doubt on the schools part ?

I’ve been concerned since our dept of heath made statements contesting this.

Williamstown’s health inspector disputed the number of cases during a single week a few weeks ago. He indicated that the state’s reported numbers were not accurate.

The question about color-coding is whether or not 3 consecutive weeks of an “average daily case rate of 4 per 100,000” in a town of 7,000 should trigger a move to remote learning. That’s a subjective thing that is still being discussed at school committee meetings, by the administration and within the community. I’m available via email at jbergeron@mgrhs.org if you’d like to discuss further!