District Plans for In-Person Learning
The School Committee is considering an in-person education plan that would begin on April 5th, with students in grades pre-k through five; the district’s highest need Special Education students; students with limited or interrupted formal education; and vocational students in grades 10 through 12.
Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick said the proposed plan is contingent upon successful negotiations with the district’s unions and that the inclusion of elementary school students by the April 5th date is a direct response to the announcement by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) earlier this week. The department announced that it is seeking to mandate the return of all elementary students to in-person learning five days per week beginning in April. However, the Springfield Public Schools plan proposes a hybrid return model, which would include a mix of in-person and remote learning for students in a single week.
Warwick said the district plans to seek a waiver to allow the hybrid return rather than full-week return based on the City’s current COVID-19 status, which is red. He added that under DESE’s proposed mandate, families still retain the right to choose remote education for the remainder of the year.
The plan, presented to the School Committee during a working session last night, also includes a phased-in return for students in grades six through eight, followed by high school students. The School Committee is expected to vote on the plan in coming weeks at a regularly scheduled meeting.
Warwick added that the district had already been preparing for a hybrid return this spring, but the DESE announcement required adjusting the timing of elementary school students.However, Warwick added that health and safety aspects of the district’s plan were fully complete and remain intact.
Ventilation upgrades have been made in every school building, classroom by classroom, Warwick said. And the district is fully stocked with personal protection equipment.
“We have been working very hard ever since the pandemic first hit, to put measures in place to help ensure a safe return and we are ready to go in that regard,” Warwick said, adding that the district has spent millions of dollars on COVID-related upgrades, equipment, and supplies. “Mayor Sarno and the School Committee made it very clear from the start, that health and safety of students and staff is the highest priority, and, at every turn, they made the funding available to support that.”
Warwick said schools are in the process of reaching out directly to families and providing detailed information about health and safety measures and the protocols, routines and practices of in-person learning.
In preparation for school doors eventually opening once again for students and staff, Springfield Public Schools has spent the past year entrenched in a process to ensure the ventilation systems in every school building provides high of standards of added protections. To learn more, please view this episode of SPS Spotlight.
Local 4098 Member of the Month
Betty Jack has worked as a Para-educator in the Springfield Public Schools since October 1, 2008. Betty currently works at Alfred M Glickman Elementary School where she serves as the Building Representative. She is also a member of the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals Professional Development team.
Nancy Hand, fellow Para-educator at Glickman writes, “Betty Jack is a devoted Paraprofessional and has a heart for the students to thrive in their learning, as well as a deep concern for their well being. She is always willing and able to lend a helping hand when needed. I am blessed to work alongside of her and call her friend!”
Dr. Elizabeth Bienia, Principal at Glickman writes, "Betty Jack is a model paraprofessional who has garnered the respect of staff and students alike. She consistently goes above and beyond to assist students, even meeting with them on her lunch break to ensure they are successful. Betty communicates with families in a way that is real and honest; often providing a bridge between staff and our Spanish speaking families. She is the epitome of tough love and for that Glickman is ever grateful."
"Betty goes far above and beyond her duties as a paraprofessional. She is extremely dedicated and enjoys building relationships with students. When working in small groups she provides engaging and challenging lessons. She is eager to learn new technology and implement it with students. She signs up for many professional development opportunities to increase her knowledge which helps students to be successful. She initiates conversations with staff when looking for clarification or seeking resources to benefit students. She is extremely organized and willing to step in to communicate with parents to resolve issues a student may be having in the classroom." writes Brenda McDonald, one of Betty's co-operating educators.
Congratulations Betty and thank you for Making A Difference.
Simulating Equalized Pay
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