Fall 2020 Planning Updates
Hybrid Transition UpdatePosted by Pam Beaudoin on 10/9/2020 12:00:00 PM
At its October 6th meeting, the MERSD School Committee voted to transition to the hybrid learning model. We are currently preparing to implement the hybrid program beginning the week of October 19th for students in K-2 and the week of October 26th for students in grades 3-5. At this time we believe that we will be able to offer a full-day option for in-person cohorts, and information about cohort and bus assignments will be available mid-week next week.
I have heard from several families with questions ranging from safety to how the model will work. To help make the information easier to find, we’ve put up an Elementary Hybrid Information page that includes an overview of the model and information about safety procedures. We will be adding to the page as we move through the process.
Thank you for your continued patience and support as we navigate our way through the next phase of our reopening plans. We are looking forward to having the children back at school!
MERSD Back-to-School UpdatePosted by Pam Beaudoin on 9/15/2020 12:00:00 PM
Good Afternoon MERSD Community,
After three great days of on campus events, we are excited to officially start the 2020-2021 academic year tomorrow! In preparation for the start of the year, faculty and staff have been participating in professional development and training in the hyflex model of remote learning. Our model is designed to provide students with a structured and synchronous academic day, and it utilizes a combination of best practices that will include live whole-class instruction, teacher-led small group work, and independent student work. Although we will be starting our school year remotely, our goal remains to bring students back to in-person learning as soon as possible.
MERSD Parent Help Desk Support
Hours of Operation: 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Parent call-in procedures:
- Calls to the helpdesk will be answered by MERSD’s technology partner, Axis Computer Networks.
- When calling in, parents should inform the help desk operator (or voicemail if you leave one) that they are calling from Manchester Essex schools
- Please be aware that you may also receive incomings calls from Axis Computer Networks if they are following upon your prior inquiry
A good Internet connection is important to your child’s ability to access remote learning. Please be aware that home use of the following may impact internet speeds: online streaming apps, video gaming, streaming music, Netflix, and/or any type of downloadable content.
MERSD has a web filtering program for our devices while they are on campus in our school buildings. However, when these devices are home and attached to an external Wi-Fi/Internet source, devices will not be connected to our district internet, and, therefore, all student devices must be monitored by parents for proper use. We will retain the ability to push out apps to our IPads and through our G-Suite program and our Student Learning Systems, but we ask that parents monitor students’ internet usage on school-owned devices.
MERSD Grab & Go Lunches
Meals will be available to all MERSD families at no charge for pick up between 10 am and 12 pm on weekdays. No advance ordering is required. Breakfast and lunch options will be available.
- In Manchester, the pick-up location will be at the Middle-High School. Please use the community entrance, which is the set of doors to the right of the main building entrance.
- In Essex, the pick-up location will be at Essex Elementary. Please use the doors by the cafeteria, to the right of the main entrance.
Entrance into MERSD buildings is not currently permitted due to safe distancing protocols. A member of the MERSD food service team will meet you at the doors for meal pick up. Please send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
MERSD is committed to two-way communication with our families to ensure that we are transparent in our decision making and that we are providing families with information as soon as it becomes available. Not only will you receive weekly emails from your school principal, but you can also expect to regularly hear from your child’s teacher(s) to ensure you have a clear understanding of your child’s learning expectations for the fall. It is important that we hear your perspective regarding your child’s learning needs as well as his/her/their social-emotional development in order to put a plan in place for your child’s continued growth. Please do not hesitate to contact your child's teacher, counselor, or building principal with any questions or concerns you may have about the upcoming year.
Have a great first day of school!
Back to School UpdatePosted by Pam Beaudoin on 9/4/2020 12:00:00 PM
Good Afternoon MERSD Community,
I am very excited about kicking off the new academic year by welcoming our students back to campus for our in-person community building days on September 11th, 14th, and 15th. As we approach the beginning of the new school year, you’ll be hearing from your building principals on a regular basis with details about remote learning, technology pick-up, curriculum, and our in-person community-building events. Please do not hesitate to contact your child's teacher, counselor, or building Principal with any questions or concerns you may have about the upcoming year. Additionally, I welcome and value your input so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have a suggestion or need assistance with an issue.
A Few Updates & Reminders
- As you know our remote learning model is designed to provide students with a synchronous academic day. If you prefer an independent or asynchronous approach, you may be interested in either the DESE sponsored remote learning academy. You can find information on our reentry page - Independent Remote Learning.
- If you are in need of child care support, the North Shore YMCA, our valued community partner, has organized a full-day child care program for our community for students in grade K-5. The YMCA is a certified child care service provider, and it has been providing affordable child care that has adhered to the state health and safety guidelines during the pandemic. Information is available on our Fall 2020 Reentry / YMCA Child Care.
- Internet Access - If you have any concerns about internet access in your home, please reach out to your student's principal for assistance.
- Student lunches will be available for students beginning on September 16th. We are currently working to establish pick-up sites in Essex and Manchester, and we will have more details available next week.
Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.
8.14.20 Fall 2020 Planning UpdatePosted by Pam Beaudoin on 8/14/2020 4:00:00 PM
Dear MERSD Community,
At its August 11th meeting, the MERSD School Committee voted unanimously to begin the 2020-2021 school year with a remote learning model that prioritizes in-person learning for our high needs and special education students. Additionally, we will be taking advantage of the good weather and available outdoor space to provide in-person community building activities to begin the year. Throughout the fall we will continue to monitor the plan and make preparations for a phased-in return to the classroom for all students.
The MERSD Remote plan is designed to provide students with the structure, engagement, and breadth of the curriculum we typically offer through our onsite program. Additionally, the remote program has been designed to work with the hybrid model, allowing for the opportunity to phase into in-person learning as conditions allow. You can review our current planning documents on our Fall 2020 Reentry Plan page. We will continue to revise our plans and post updates on the site, and I will continue to provide planning reports at upcoming School Committee meetings. Additionally, we have scheduled a Community Town Hall for Tuesday evening - please see the details below.
I would like to thank the Fall 2020 Advisory Group as well as the entire MERSD community for sharing input, feedback, and support. Thank you for your continued support and patience as we work to put the final details to the reentry plans for Fall 2020.
MERSD Community Town Hall
Please Join US for a Community Conversation on the Fall 2020 Reentry Plan
Tuesday, August 18th @ 5:00 pm
The Elementary Level will be the primary focus of our meeting but all are welcome to attend.
We are collecting questions ins advance to assist us with time management.
(Meeting ID: 767 7889 0085 / Passcode: 3jUiKi)
8.11.20 Fall 2020 Planning UpdatePosted by Pam Beaudoin on 8/12/2020 12:00:00 PM
Good Afternoon All,
Last night the MERSD School Committee voted unanimously to begin the 2020-2021 school year with a remote learning model that prioritizes in-person learning for our high needs and special education students. Additionally, we will be taking advantage of the good weather and available outdoor space to provide in-person community building activities to begin the year. Throughout the fall we will continue to monitor the plan and make preparations for a phased-in return to the classroom for all students.
I know there are many questions still to be answered, and I will be providing a more detailed planning update at the end of the week. You can review the slide decks used for last night’s presentation by going to the School Committee Presentations and Reports page or viewing the meeting recording on the 1623 MERSD School Committee playlist. It typically takes a day or two for the meetings to post.
Thank you for your continued support and patience as we work to put the final details to the reentry plans for Fall 2020.
8.6.20 Fall 2020 Planning UpdatePosted by Pam Beaudoin on 8/6/2020 5:00:00 PM
Thank you to everyone who joined us at the lengthy School Committee meeting on Tuesday evening. We had over one hundred seventy participants join in to listen to our planning updates. If you weren’t able to be at the live meeting I encourage you to listen to the recording to hear the latest thinking on the potential options for Fall 2020 - School Committee Playback. At the meeting, we updated the 2020-2021 school year calendar to move the first day of school for students to September 16th, in accordance with the state mandate to provide training for educators at the beginning of the school year. We will be revising the year-long calendar and reissuing over the next few weeks.
The Fall 2020 Planning Report included presentations on the feasibility study conclusions to date as well as a detailed presentation of the Middle and High School Hybrid Model. Links to the individual slide decks are below or you can view the presentations by watching the 8.4.20 School Committee meeting.
Feasibility Study Conclusions to Date:
- The MERSD School Committee has established a six-foot social distancing guideline.
- The cost of the district-wide in-person and/or hybrid models will require an investment of $1.5 – $2 million dollars.
- In-person models require significant investment in additional staffing.
- MERSD cannot accommodate full in-person learning and meet the social distancing and DESE health and safety guidelines.
- MERSD can achieve a K-12 hybrid in-person/remote model that meets the six-foot social distancing guideline and DESE health and safety guidelines.
- Implementing the hybrid model at the high school level in a manner consistent with DESE safety guidelines does not allow for full access to the current program of studies and requires the implementation of heterogeneous grouping and a modified curriculum to achieve the cohort structure.
- In the hybrid model, providing the full high school program of studies to students would require four classroom changes per day and the following cohort levels. As outlined below the cohort levels do not meet DESE safety guidelines.
- Cohorts = Grade 9/10 @ 60
- Cohort = Grades 11/12 up to 125
- 60 students per day / 120 students per week
- Implementing the hybrid model at the middle school level in a manner consistent with DESE safety guidelines does not allow for full access to the current program of studies and requires the implementation of heterogeneous grouping and a modified curriculum to achieve the cohort structure.
- Implementing the hybrid model at the middle school poses some challenges in terms of minimizing movement and maintaining a low number of student interactions for faculty and staff. Cocooning cohorts to one classroom / one teacher daily does not allow for the full academic program to be delivered.
- Moving only teachers exposes teachers to 60 students per day / 120 students per week.
- Creating standalone cohorts (1 teacher / 12 students) would put teachers in the position of supervisor and not allow them to teach their typical course load. This may result in the need to provide an independent remote learning option that students can access while supervised by classroom teachers.
- Survey results show the community has a strong interest in the hybrid model; however, anecdotally, at the high school level access to the full academic program is of equal or greater importance to stakeholders.
- Implementing the hybrid model at the elementary level allows for the full academic program and results in standalone cohorts (1 teacher / 12 students).
Our next meeting is on August 11th. The meeting will focus on Fall 2020 Reentry Planning and will include a general planning update along with presentations on the elementary hybrid model and special education.
Lastly, we have updated our fall 2020 Planning Timeline
Fall 2020 Planning Timeline
SC Meeting - Implications of Hybrid
- Secondary Program & Schedule / Safety GL
Week of 10-Aug
Continue Plan Development / Update
- Cohort Assignment Process
- Health & Safety Protocols
- COVID Identification Response (collaborative w/ towns)
- Continued Staffing Assessment
Remote Plan Outline
Plan Update to be Posted 8.14
- Implications of Hybrid Elementary Program Schedule
- Determination of Open Model / Plan Submission
Teachers Return to School – Training / Professional Development
Students Return to School
July 27th Planning Update & Return to School SurveyPosted by Pam Beaudoin on 7/27/2020 4:00:00 PM
Good Afternoon MERSD Families,
This week we are reaching out to you with an update on the planning process and a request that you complete the Return to School Survey.
Update on Planning Process
Please note that this is a working copy.
Return to School Survey
7.21.20 Fall 2020 Reopening Planning ReportPosted by Pam Beaudoin on 7/21/2020
Fall 2020 Advisory Group Meeting Weekly
The team is comprised of principals, directors, school committee members, parent representatives from each school the presidents of the teachers’ association, and representatives from the department of health. The advisory group assists in the development of a plan that includes provisions for in-person, hybrid, and remote learning. The group works collaboratively to assess the feasibility of ideas, solve problems, and gather feedback.
July 22 – August 4
- Revise Draft Plans (In-Person & Remote)
- Share Draft Plans with the community and seek feedback via Return to School Survey
- Process and Revise Draft Plans
- Implement Teacher Training & Professional Development for Remote Learning
- Implement Remote Learning District Professional Development Training Plan
August 5 – August 18
- Finalize Plans – Week of August 10 submit to DESE & share with the community
Next week, we will be reaching out to share draft plans and ask for feedback with a Return to School Survey that addresses the DESE guidelines, schedule, and structure for a return to in-person and hybrid instruction this fall. Additionally, we will be hosting a series of virtual town halls during the first week of August. Dates and time will be included with the survey information.
Summer School Committee Schedule
- August 4 & 18
- WebEx Call-In information is posted the Monday afternoon before the meeting on the district Website & Facebook Page
If you are unable to call into the meeting, video Recordings are available on 1623 Studio YouTube Channel - MERSD School Committee PlayList.