Return to School Update
January 15, 2021
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WORKING TOWARDS A SAFE RETURN
Despite some public opinion that it is the District’s intention to keep FPS doors closed for the remainder of the school year, we continue to work toward a safe return to school, in-person, this school year. With that in mind, it is important to note that return-to-school metrics remain in place and it is our resolve to start bringing back our staff and students (based on commitment form responses) for in-person teaching and learning and extracurricular activities.
SPECIAL EDUCATION TESTING
I am pleased to announce that we will start/restart appointment-based special education testing for students on January 27, 2021. We anticipate that the COVID-19 attestation app will be in place ahead of the special education testing so that students, families, and staff members will answer a series of COVID-19 related questions via the mobile app and based on the answers, the app will flash red, meaning you are not permitted to enter the school or green, meaning you may enter the school. In addition, we will continue to use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as sneeze guards and face masks to assist in risk reduction.
CURRENT PUBLIC HEALTH CONDITIONS
The graphic below will be updated weekly and includes key community metrics that will impact our return-to-school. In addition, the district will work closely with the Framingham Department of Public Health to constantly assess both the risk (e.g., in-school transmission and upward data trends) and risk mitigation efforts (e.g., weekly testing and downward data trends) which will also impact the target return dates for Phase I & II and Phase III & IV.
(Text from the table above)
City Positivity: 4% (or less)
New Cases (Daily): 10 (or less)
Current Status (January 11, 2021)
City Positivity: 7.61%
New Cases (Daily): 62.32
↗ Higher than last week
**Important Note: Return-to-School dates will shift until the positivity and new cases numbers start to consistently trend downward. You can reference the January 8th update to see what was communicated last week. The addition of testing for staff and students may allow an earlier return-to-school, even if the target is not met. Departments of Public Health at all levels (local, state, federal) have identified regular testing as a key risk management strategy along with physical distancing, PPE, and the many facility and HVAC upgrades that have been made. Until recently, regular, in-school testing, has not been available to FPS.
RISK MITIGATION EFFORTS
We believe that a combination of facility safety upgrades, personal protective equipment (PPE), physical/social distancing, regular (weekly) COVID testing, and the introduction of a vaccine will be exactly what it is needed to confidently return to school.
COVID-19 Pool Testing for Students
FPS completed a survey expressing Framingham’s interest in participating in the COVID-19 pool testing rollout that has been offered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). This is a significant development and one that will provide much needed risk mitigation and restore confidence in a safe return to in-person teaching and learning. The district is now awaiting approval of our application to the DESE and planning for the associated logistics to be arranged.
COVID-19 Testing for FPS Staff
This week we completed our first round of COVID-19 PCR testing for our in-person staff without any apparent issues or concerns. This free, voluntary COVID testing is offered to all FPS staff who regularly work in our buildings. The purpose of this testing is to provide another level of COVID risk mitigation for staff working in the buildings three or more days each week. Staff who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 within the last three months are not eligible for the testing. Staff who are on quarantine due to a school exposure will be eligible for drive through testing. The COVID Team is working to have the testing take place on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in order to have test results back before the weekend for contract tracing.
The Framingham Public Schools are adopting MyMedBot App in order to allow all staff and families the ability to engage in a daily attestation of health with regard to COVID symptoms. Students, families and staff will answer a series of COVID-19 related questions via the mobile app (accessible on both mobile phones and computers) and based on the answers, the app will flash red, meaning you are not permitted to enter the school or green, meaning you may enter the school. Our Technology Department and COVID Team met with MedBot this week to discuss the technical aspects of the implementation, and our Health and Wellness Department worked with the Office of Multilingual Education to ensure the attestation of health was culturally appropriate and translatable. The COVID Team is planning a campaign to provide awareness and support for our families with the App.
Here is the detailed schedule that identifies key decision-making and implementation dates. This schedule is based on the improvement of public health conditions and added risk mitigation efforts.
Phase I: Students and staff who attended school, in-person, starting in October.
Phase II: Students and staff who attended school, in-person, starting in November.
Phase III: Students and staff who were scheduled to return to school in December, but who did not return due to the shift to remote in consideration of the community public health conditions.
Phase IV: All remaining FPS students and staff not included in Phases I, II, and III.
In Person (Schedule): A schedule where students are receiving instruction in person in a classroom setting from the school.
Remote (Schedule): A schedule where students are receiving instruction from a location outside the school setting via the computer (virtually).
Hybrid (Schedule): A schedule where students are receiving instruction on a rotating schedule that includes both in person and remote experiences.
Concurrent Classroom Model: A model in which students attend class in person and others attend virtually. The teacher in a concurrent classroom attempts to meet the needs of the students in class and online simultaneously.
Synchronous Instruction (live):
Occurs in real-time, with participants doing something together or “in sync” with others;
May include Zoom/Google Meets meetings or be streamed; live video is not required for synchronous learning;
May include scheduled learning experiences, assessments, or collaboration to be completed at the same time as others; and/or
May provide additional structure, accountability, and opportunities to engage with others in the learning community.
Asynchronous Instruction (not live):
Occurs on one’s own time or pace, with no requirements to be in lock-step with others;
Allows students to work independently, or potentially with others, at a flexible pace that meets their individual needs;
May include experiences, assessments, or collaboration to be completed within a window of time, but not necessarily in real-time with others; and/or
Allows teachers to work synchronously with one or more students while others are engaged in asynchronous learning tasks.
Asynchronous instruction does NOT mean that a student is “offline”, as in not engaging virtually with content.
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