Sunday, August 9, 2020

Franklin Public Schools: Superintendent's message on Re-opening Plan

 August 3, 2020 

Dear Franklin Community, 

The overarching goal of the Franklin Public Schools at this time is to return as many students and staff as safely as possible to our school buildings. The health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic is our number one concern. With school closures come learning loss and negative impacts on social-emotional health and the Franklin Public Schools, in our quest to reopen schools, will prioritize both the quality of education and social-emotional growth and development. While we do not believe that remote learning will ever replace full in-person school, we plan to begin the year using a predominantly remote model. We believe both social-emotional and academic learning progress is independent of the way in which it is delivered and that in-person learning will be so dramatically different that it no longer serves as the same comparison it did prior to the pandemic. Within a predominantly remote start, High Needs Students will be prioritized for in-person instruction, in order to meet their learning needs, and as required by DESE. Additionally, we plan to open the district’s Early Childhood Center in an in-person model, recognizing that, as preschoolers, many with special needs, require in-person services. 

A Reopening Taskforce has been meeting since June to contribute to the district’s Comprehensive Reopening Plan. This team of administrators, teachers, school nurse leader, counselors, parents/guardians, School Committee representatives, Facilities personnel, Health Agent, School Resource Officer, consulting school physician, and our Communications Coordinator met throughout the month of July and early August to interpret agency guidance and develop protocols, resources to support students’ and staff social-emotional learning (SEL) upon return to school, and a framework of three instructional models: full in-person instruction with health and safety practices in place; a hybrid model of both in-person and remote learning with smaller cohorts of students alternating between the two; and a plan for fully remote instruction. 

Remote instruction for 2020-2021 will be considerably different and more “robust” than the emergency remote learning of the spring closure. FPS remote instruction will involve: 

  • a full day of instruction in order to meet the “structured learning time” requirements, sometimes referred to as the required number of days/hours of “time on learning” required by the state 
  • live instruction to students, while also building in screen breaks and low-tech learning experiences 
  • familiar instructional strategies as well as highly effective novel strategies leveraging technology  
  • curriculum that is aligned to the relevant standards, including the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks 
  • grading of student work 
  • attendance and accountability 

The District has used CARES funding from the state to invest in additional Chromebooks in order to provide access to technology to all students. 

By opening in a fully remote way, we will be able to spend the next several weeks building a strong virtual learning environment with an overall goal to have as many students and staff return safely to school. We will build towards a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction in a phased way. We will monitor the efficacy of remote learning, and we will examine readiness for students to be present in-person at benchmark dates. 

Please note that the start date of the school year will be delayed. The Commissioner of Education has reduced the required number of school days from 180 to 170 in order to allow districts to use the first ten days in preparation with our faculty and staff. Staff will be preparing for remote instruction and receiving training on health and safety practices. The school year will begin on September 16, 2020. 

We appreciate the difficulty of the situation we are all in. No one learning model is going to meet the needs of all Franklin families; each comes with its own challenges and concerns. Health and safety is our first priority and we are also viewing this approach as the most educationally sound way to attend to the health and safety requirements while prioritizing the quality of instruction and SEL connections we know our educators will be able to build remotely, at first, and then in-person later in the fall as we transition into a hybrid model. 


Sara E Ahern

Superintendent of Schools 

Franklin Public Schools: Superintendent's message on Re-opening Plan
Franklin Public Schools: Superintendent's message on Re-opening Plan

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