Return to School Update

January 29, 2021

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FPS STAFF RETURN TO SCHOOL BUILDINGS: FEBRUARY 1, 2021

All FPS staff are returning to their classrooms or offices on February 1, 2021. It is critical that our staff return to our buildings in order to become acclimated with the facility changes and COVID-mitigating guidelines and protocols that have occurred since last March. FPS staff will report to and work from their classrooms and offices beginning February 1, 2021 in anticipation of the start of the hybrid model unless they have otherwise been notified of a district-approved accommodation.

ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING DAYS: FEBRUARY 1, 2021 & FEBRUARY 2, 2021

February 1st and 2nd will be asynchronous learning days. Teachers will plan independent, asynchronous lessons for students to complete on these days so staff are able to prepare for students who are returning to in-person learning. However, there will be a live check-in each day for teachers to meet with students directly and attendance will be taken. Schools and teachers will share more information about their specific check-in times directly with students and families.


PHASE I & II STUDENTS RETURN TO SCHOOL BUILDINGS: FEBRUARY 3, 2021

All Phase I and Phase II students are invited to return to their classrooms on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. If your child is in isolation or quarantined because of COVID-19, they must stay home until they are cleared by the Board of Health and their school nurse. Please email your school nurse to notify them of your child’s COVID status. We are extending individual COVID-19 PCR testing to all students returning in Phases I and II. Consent information is being provided to families. PCR testing for students will shift to pooled testing once that is rolled out with the return of students in Phases III & IV.

PHASE III & IV STUDENTS RETURN TO SCHOOL BUILDINGS: FEBRUARY - DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED

I am pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has confirmed that they have approved Framingham’s pooled testing application. The District submitted more detailed information to the DESE this week, as requested, and we expect to be receiving notification early next week about the testing vendor that will be assigned to work with our district. Based on this information, I anticipate that we will be able to start Phases III & IV shortly after February vacation, but I cannot confirm that until I know when the pooled testing can start in our schools. I will provide an update ASAP.


Please note that students identified to return in Phase III (Cohort “S”) will be attending school every week. Students identified for Phase III will be receiving a communication from the district with this information.


Students in Phase IV who elected to return for in-person learning will start a hybrid schedule. When Phase IV students begin their Hybrid Schedule, they will alternate between weeks of in person and remote learning.. Students in the ‘A’ Cohort will be in school during an ‘A week’ and students in the ‘B’ Cohort will be in school during a ‘B week.’ Students will learn remotely during their alternate weeks. Cohorts were designed to keep siblings on the same Hybrid schedule.


Cohort assignments and bus information for students in Phase IV will be sent in the coming days. Please continue to listen to the robocalls (or read emails) from the District for information on your students’ return plans.

ATHLETICS & EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Athletics

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) issued this statement on Fall 2 Sports and Sport-Specific Modifications on January 29, 2021.

Consistent with the anticipated return of all Phases (I-IV) in February, the tentative start date for “Fall II” Athletics is Monday, February 22nd. Fall II sports that will be offered include:

  • Boys and Girls Cross Country

  • Boys and Girls Soccer

  • Co-Ed Field Hockey

  • Girls Volleyball

  • Girls Swim & Dive

  • Unified Basketball

  • Football

  • Co-Ed Golf


More information about the ramp-up period for the MIAA created “Fall II” Season will be provided by the Athletic Department and FPS coaching staff. Please register at https://www.familyid.com/organizations/framingham-high-school. Student physicals must be up-to-date. If you have any questions please email pspear@framingham.k12.ma.us or apaulsen@framingham.k12.ma.us.


Fine and Performing Arts

All Fine and Performing Arts activities at the middle and high school level will continue virtually through the month of February. Once Phases III and IV return to in-person learning, some in-person meetings at Framingham High School may occur. These would include: Jazz Band, Theatre, and Marching Band, as well as, the Art and Photo clubs. We will follow and encourage the proper use of PPE and safety protocols as guided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). More information will follow as planning continues.


Clubs, Organizations & Explorers Programs

Middle and High School clubs will continue virtually through the month of February. Once Phases III and IV return to in-person learning, some after school clubs will resume in person. More information will become available at that time.


Once Phases III and IV return to in-person learning, elementary Explorers will resume all before and after school programs. Contact information for the Community Resource Development (CRD) Office can be found at fpscrd.org.

CURRENT PUBLIC HEALTH CONDITIONS

Below are important informational links that highlight the current COVID-related public health conditions in Framingham:


Click to see the FPS COVID Dashboard

Click to review the City of Framingham Weekly Data Analysis (PDF)

Click to access the City of Framingham COVID Resource Page

RETURN-TO-SCHOOL DASHBOARD

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.

Big picture

(Text from the table above)


Return-to-School Target

City Positivity: 4% (or less)

New Cases (Daily): 10 (or less)


Current Status (January 25, 2021)

City Positivity: 6.33%

New Cases (Daily): 46.89


Current Trend

↘︎ Lower than last week


Historical Trend

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

COMMITMENT TO EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM MODEL

Once we begin our long-anticipated hybrid educational model, families who wish to shift from hybrid learning to remote only 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 provided that space is available given the need to maintain 6-foot physical distancing. Another Family Decision Checkpoint will be offered on May 10, 2021.

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

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. The District will provide personal protective equipment (“PPE”) to all staff. This will include reusable masks for all employees. Parents are responsible for providing students with face coverings or masks. Schools will have backup disposable masks available for students who need them. Staff may choose to wear their own mask or one provided by the school. 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

I am pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has confirmed that they have approved Framingham’s Pooled Testing application. The District submitted more detailed information to the DESE this week, as requested, and we expect to be receiving notification early next week about the testing vendor that will be assigned to work with our district.


All students returning to in-person learning will be asked to submit consent forms to participate in Pooled Testing. This is provided and recommended by the state. These 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. If a pooled test result is positive, then all individuals in the pool must be retested individually.


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. The District expanded its offering of COVID-19 PCR testing to ALL FPS staff who will now be working in the schools starting Monday, February 1, 2021.


COVID-19 PCR Testing for Phase I and Phase II Returning Students

We are extending COVID-19 PCR testing to all students returning in Phases I and II. Consent information will be provided to families of Phase I & Phase II students in the coming days. 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.


Attestation App

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).


Vaccination

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 in February or 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.

KEY TERMS

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):

Synchronous Instruction

  • 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):

Asynchronous Instruction

  • 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.

Framingham Public Schools

The mission of the Framingham Public Schools is to educate each student to learn and live productively as a critically-thinking, responsible citizen in a multicultural, democratic society by providing academically challenging instructional programs taught by highly-qualified staff and supported by comprehensive services in partnership with our entire community. For news, updates, and announcements, follow Framingham Public Schools (@FraminghamPS) on Facebook, Twitter, and (@framinghamschools) on Instagram. You can also join the conversation using #FraminghamSchools.