Return to School Update
February 12, 2021
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PHASE III STUDENTS RETURN TO SCHOOL BUILDINGS: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2021
We are now ready to welcome our Phase III (Cohort “S'') students to in-person learning! Phase III students will be attending school every day each week starting Wednesday, February 24, 2021. As part of this return, students will be provided with weekly COVID-19 pooled testing through our testing vendor, Project Beacon. Pooled testing consent information will be provided to families as students return. We strongly encourage student participation. Information about busing and school return logistics will be sent next week. (See the Risk Mitigation section below for an explanation on Pool Testing)
PHASE IV STUDENTS RETURN TO SCHOOL BUILDINGS: MARCH 3 & 8, 2021
We look forward to starting our hybrid model with Phase IV students on March 3, 2021 and March 8, 2021. Welcome back!!
It is important that our testing vendor, Project Beacon, has sufficient staffing to manage all aspects of pooled testing for the thousands of students who will be returning to in-person learning in the hybrid model. A phased return will help to ensure a smooth transition for our students and families.
Cohort assignments have been provided to Phase IV families, please note the start dates below:
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3, 2021 (B-Week/Cohort B Returns)
Students in Cohort B will attend in-person on “B-Week” and learn remotely during “A-Week.”
MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2021 (A-Week/Cohort A Returns)
Students in Cohort A will attend in person on “A-Week” and learn remotely during “B-Week.”
'A' and 'B' Cohorts were designed to keep siblings on the same Hybrid schedule. Communication regarding Phase IV cohort assignments was emailed to families yesterday (Thursday, February 11, 2021). If you are seeing this and chose to have your child return to school in-person but DID NOT receive an email, please contact your child's principal. Due to scheduling logistics and required physical/social distancing in classes, changes will not be made to cohort assignments.
Information on the high school start time will be forthcoming from the FHS administration. The last day of “Universal Lunch” at the Elementary Schools is Tuesday, February 23, 2021.
CURRENT PUBLIC HEALTH CONDITIONS
The District will continue to 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, vaccinations, and downward data trends), which may also impact the target return dates for Phase III & IV.
(Text from the table above)
City Positivity: 4% (or less)
New Cases (Daily): 10 (or less)
Current Status (Latest Report)
February 8, 2021
City Positivity: 4.58%
New Cases (Daily): 27.74
↘︎ Lower than last week
↘︎ Lowest in 5 weeks
February 1, 2021
City Positivity: 5.25%
New Cases (Daily): 38.29
↘︎ Lower than last week
January 29, 2021
City Positivity: 6.33%
New Cases (Daily): 46.89
↘︎ Lower than the previous week
January 22, 2021
City Positivity: 7.51%
New Cases (Daily): 53.53
↘︎ Lower than the previous week
January 11, 2021
City Positivity: 7.61%
New Cases (Daily): 62.32
↘︎ Lower than the previous week
ELEMENTARY REPORT CARDS
Elementary report cards will be available through the Aspen X2 Student Portal on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. A communication was sent to parents on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 which provided directions on how to access the report card. A reminder email will be sent on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 when the portal officially opens.
FHS ATHLETICS UPDATE
COMMITMENT TO EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM MODEL
Once we begin our long-anticipated hybrid educational model, families who wish to shift from hybrid learning to remote may request to do so at any time. Requests should be directed to the building principal so that proper notice may be given to the teacher(s), transportation office, etc. Requests to shift from remote to hybrid learning will be considered on March 19, 2021 for an April 5, 2021 return. Another Family Decision Checkpoint will be offered on May 10, 2021 for a May 24, 2021 return. The District is required to maintain 6-foot physical distancing when students return to school. Requests to shift from remote to hybrid may not be possible if 6-feet of distancing cannot be maintained.
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.
Masks/Face Coverings are among the most important single measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Masks must cover both the nose and mouth. Masks must be worn by everyone at all times with rare exceptions. Families must ensure their child arrives at school wearing a face covering and ideally has an extra on hand. Time will be built throughout the day for mask breaks where students and staff don’t have to wear masks.
COVID-19 Pooled Testing for Students
We are pleased to report that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has approved Framingham’s pooled testing application. We are currently working with our DESE assigned vendor on testing logistics and consent paperwork which we will be aligning with our scheduled return of students. Pooled tests combine respiratory samples from several students and then conduct one laboratory test on the combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. If a pooled test result is negative, then all individuals within that pool are presumed negative and may remain in school. A positive pooled result indicates that one or more individuals in the pool may be positive for COVID-19. Each individual in the pool will receive a follow up individual PCR test. Students in a positive pool will remain out of school until they receive a negative individual PCR test result.
COVID-19 PCR Testing for ALL FPS Staff
Testing has proven to be a key factor to getting students back to school in communities where percentages of positivity and daily new COVID cases are higher than recommended community targets. ALL FPS staff are encouraged to participate in weekly COVID-19 PCR testing that is provided at each of our schools.
COVID-19 PCR Testing for Phase I and Phase II Returning Students
We have extended COVID-19 PCR testing to all students who returned in Phases I and II. PCR testing for students will shift to pooled testing once that is rolled out with the return of students in Phases III & IV. Testing of students in school will prove to be a much more reliable indicator than relying solely upon community health metrics.
The Framingham Public Schools have adopted 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 each school day via the mobile app (accessible on both mobile phones and computers). While staff are already actively engaging in this attestation, families will soon be provided with instructions.
As a school district, we do not control vaccines or their distribution in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The FPS COVID Team has been working with the City’s Department of Public Health and neighboring school communities to offer a regional clinic for educators as soon as the vaccine becomes available. We support and encourage the Commonwealth to prioritize staff, including bus drivers, and we strongly encourage all staff to receive the vaccine.
On behalf of the entire district, our District Leadership Team would like to acknowledge the amazing dedication of the Framingham Public Schools COVID Team. In addition to the outstanding leadership of Inna London, Judy Styer, Tiago Gadens, Stacey Cugini, Scott Penrod, Rochelle Santos, and Ann Mariano, specific acknowledgement goes to our amazing contact tracing nurses Cheryl Aglio-Girelli, Susannah Hann, and Jennifer McLeod. Gratitude is also extended to Stephanie Ristuccia, Cindie Pagano, Elise Makowski, Cindy Brown, and Amy Kane, as well as Mynette Shifman for working with the Office of Health and Wellness to organize COVID testing to our student community. In addition, welcome to our new COVID Parent Call Center Staff: Wanda Blanckenberg, Danays Fernandez, and Natan Pirete. We are grateful to you for providing this multilingual service for our families. Thank you also goes to Stephanie Ristuccia from the Office of Human Resources for overseeing the Call Center.
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.
PREVIOUS / RECENT UPDATES
- From the District's STEAM Coach, here are some awesome STEAM-related activities to do over break. Enjoy!
- For Updates on Athletics, Fine and Performing Arts, and Extracurricular Activities, please look at the Return to School Smore from January 29th.
- Until the MyMedBot Application is launched for Phase I and II students, we're asking that all families complete their own ‘attestation’ at home each morning before children attend school in-person. Please review the Wellness and Symptom Checklist.
- This is a reminder that, in most instances, travel outside of Massachusetts will require COVID PCR testing and quarantine until a negative PCR test is received. Read the communication from Friday, February 5th for answers to some common questions on this topic: Travel Advisory Reminder and Questions