IMPORTANT INFORMATION AROUND PHASE ONE FULL IN-PERSON RETURN PLANS FOR HOLBROOK PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I am reaching out to share an update around the efforts being made to increase in-person learning for students within the Holbrook Public Schools. The social, emotional and academic toll that the pandemic has taken on all aspects of teaching and learning, (despite the valiant efforts of students, staff and families), will be felt for many years to come. It remains the top priority of the HPS to keep all members of our learning community safe and to strictly follow all protocols outlined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and our local board of health. That said, we are pleased to share our Phase One plan to begin with some full in-person return beginning with our youngest learners at the John F. Kennedy School.
When developing safe plans for in-person return, several factors presented as challenges. To stay in line with regulations from DESE, DPH and the local board of health, requirements including physical distancing (in schools this is a minimum of three feet while masked and six feet unmasked), mask wearing, hygiene practices, staying home when ill, contact tracing and quarantining will still need to be implemented as no waivers or exceptions to these protocols will be accepted by the state. Most challenging for Holbrook Public Schools (as well as many other districts) is the fact that student desks in each classroom must allow for a minimum 3-foot distance from chair edge to chair edge, with 6-feet of distancing being the optimum goal. In addition, all students must have a minimum of 6-feet of distancing whenever masks are removed including mask breaks, snack time, and during lunches. On average, the class sizes in Holbrook are comprised of 24-25 students, which does not include new students enrolling/transfers and students coming back from fully remote learning or home schooling programs. Taking into consideration the current distancing requirements, including the need to provide 6-feet of distance when unmasked, our facilities and the average size of our classroom spaces, cannot accommodate many of our full student population for full in-person learning at most grades. At this time, the Holbrook Board of Health has communicated that they are not comfortable with a 3-foot distance between desks as a standard.
Classroom model with 23 desks spaced at 30in. apart (less than state’s minimum requirement). * In order to meet the 3ft minimum standard, 18 desks can fit in one space.
Phase One of Our Plan
Beginning the second week in March we hope to bring back our kindergarten students for full in-person instruction for four days a week (Wednesdays will remain remote). We will closely monitor this new change and hope to then bring back our first graders one week later. To accomplish this safely, a teacher will be added to both kindergarten and to the first grade which will accommodate the distancing requirements while also making a full return at those grade levels feasible.
Next Steps (Additional Phases)
We will continue to work tirelessly to find innovative ways, to bring back even more of our students to full in-person instruction while maintaining a safe environment. The promise of the COVID vaccine gives us hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel coming. We ask for your continued patience as we work towards our goal of furthering in-person experiences for our students moving forward. We can’t wait until the day when all of our learning community members are safely back in classrooms. More information will be coming to parents from the John F. Kennedy School Principal as we approach the start of Phase One. Stay tuned!
Julie S. Hamilton
Superintendent of Schools