Friday, January 29, 2021

School Committee Meeting Recap - Jan 26, 2021 = HMMS, FHS, homework, and reopening status updates

Quick Recap:
  • Update from Horace Mann Middle School on what they are doing and how they are doing in these pandemic days. Exciting to see.
  • Update from Franklin High School on program of studies, some changes to class offerings to better follow "Portrait of a Graduate" and meet needs of students.
  • Reopening status update, challenges remain with staffing and keeping schools hybrid. Case counts rising, still working on K-1 improvements but less likely to get them in school with current situation (case counts) and previously expressed concerns.
  • Pool testing reviewed, formal application has not yet been made
  • School calendar approved for first look at 2021-2022 school year. Additional info and dates (half days/professional development) to be updated in second pass TBD.
Photos captured during the meeting can be found in one folder
The audio recording of this meeting will be available soon


As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting in real-time via the virtual session.
The Twitter hashtag can be found online  #schcom0126

  • Getting ready for the School Committee meeting at 7. Agenda doc and connection info available #schcom0126
  • Updates from Horace Mann Middle school, on the FHS program of studies, and the homework policy are scheduled. Oh, and then a reopening update on the agenda. Multiple ways to watch and/or listen #schcom0126
  • Meeting opens, Chair Dr. Bergen reads standard announcement #schcom0126 all 7 members present
  • Approx 58 participating via Zoom at the open, another 7 via live stream, and unknown #s via Comcast/Verizon. #schcom0126
  • A new feature is that each meeting after the student led pledge to open the meeting, they add a statement on their individual school experience. Such hope for our future in these students! #schcom0126 "never stop learning because life never stops teaching"
FHS representatives
  • Next up FHS representatives; NHS tutoring now available for students 1:1, Franklin Arts Academy applications now open; #schcom0126 virtual music concert coming; prep underway for graduation exploring options, 26 students admitted to Central Districts for music
  • New project for theater for seniors to direct, music and podcast club started at FHS "to be honest"; sports underway, basketball hockey swimming gymnastics. MA DECA on Weds evening, over 100 projects submitted; Mock trial season underway #schcom0126
Superintendent's report
  • Next: Superintendent report, new secretary to be reporting on meeting notes; pool testing webinars underway, info gathering, more details forthcoming after another session this Friday. 1100 families responded, 50% yes, additional amount expressed interest #schcom0126
  • Over 600 faculty and staff responded, 73% yes. More info coming. Letter on Senator Rausch earmark to Sec Ed, amount to be released. Approach to civics education, 2018 curriculum revised actually runs K-12 not just 8th grade, nonpartisan approach #schcom0126
  • Habits of engagement in preparation for additional study in high school. 8th just happens to be the first grade getting it this year. #schcom0126 more on this coming later this spring. PD day, Jan 19, a review of what was done around district, elementary, middle and by subject
  • Via tele-health support available from You Inc. Talk to building administrator for access #schcom0126
Horace Mann update
  • Horace Mann update - looked to control the things they could control #schcom0126
  • link provides copy of the presentation doc talked to for this update #schcom0126 photos from pre-COVID times
  • #schcom0126 more slides of presentation
  • #schcom0126 used landing pages to gather the students at the beginning of the day as well share info
  • Starting to live stream the morning announcement #schcom0126
  • #schcom0126 sample learning stations
  • #schcom0126 thanks to SchComm and to Community for supporting them in this time and environment
  • #schcom0126 digital learning does allow for almost immediate feedback for teachers to see questions well answered or those not, and adjust accordingly. Teaching has changed forever
  • #schcom0126 more slides from presentation deck
  • #schcom0126 all kinds of opportunity to check in on students and determine SEL status. Year book club last year and this, students are finding ways to capture input for the product. Clubs are virtual with one coordinator and students in club from all 3 middle schools
  • #schcom0126 important info as well as honest feedback via survey
  • #schcom0126
  • #schcom0126 last slides
  • #schcom0126 issue with the perpetual unknown, used to have a bag of tricks to pull from, hard to do so now; collaboration high and needed more so now than ever before. BTW participation up to 87 via zoom, SchComm all remote and no 1 seems to be in Chambers tonight
Reopening status
  • #schcom0126 next up reopening update coverage remains an issue with teacher exposure or quarantine via family or school situation, do we have enough to safely open a school. Decide case by case, by school
  • #schcom0126 clarification on tech support, who to seek for what support? Digital learning integration or others. Phase 2 of vaccination and development of teachers moved down in the priority level, stay tuned for updates; more info on pool testing coming, likely post Feb break
  • FPS hasn't formally applied at this time. #schcom0126 DPH is confident with test and results from it, reiterate out of state travel requirements, testing required. Internet problems today was a Verizon issue, separately line upgrade to 10GB is complete
  • Still working on K-1 area, focusing on supporting families. Did identify some high needs students for 4 days, case counts increasing, not seeming 2 be likely a practical thing 2 do, lots of concerns about staffing the building, would likely be more unstable with more in building
  • SchComm member comment on educators bumped down while push continues to get students in school with numbers rising. Is there something we can do as a district? #schcom0126 what is the extent that teachers are feeling unsafe, what, where, is there something #s
  • Can the district do something to help the teachers with the stress if scheduling for the vaccines. #schcom0126 it is shared across the Commonwealth, could do a letter, urging a prioritization, happy to draft on behalf of FPS and SchComm
  • #schcom0126 consideration for virtual learning academy in the fall for immuno compromised or for other medical reasons; with uncertainty of vaccine for youth still open, yes, part of thought process. Suggestion for SchComm to do separate letter
Information matters
  • Moving along to information matters; subcommittee meetings scheduled, DTFA now meeting weekly, Stokes reads prepared summary of status. Working on recommendation or multiple, two meetings before next update, may have recommendations #schcom0126
  • FEF fund raising date May 4, Project Envoy starts Feb 1 to help restaurants and to help food challenged neighbors. Flyer out today on free classes from Y #schcom0126 New business, pool testing update next time
  • Consent agenda, motion for items as proposed, second, passes 7-0 via roll call #schcom0126 Motion to enter executive session not to return to the open meeting, second, passes via roll call 7-0 That's all for tonight, catch you all next time!


Key items on the School Committee agenda 

II. Guests/Presentations
A.    HMMS School Highlight -- Ms. Rebecca Motte and Mr. Craig Williams
B.    FHS Program of Study Update – Josh Hanna, Principal FHS
C.    Homework & Homework Policy – Dr. Joyce Edwards
III.    Discussion/Action Items
A.    2021-2022 School Calendar
I recommend approval of the 2021-2022 School Calendar as discussed.
IV.    Discussion Only Items
A.    Reopening Status Update (January 22, 2021)

Meeting packet folder containing the doc released for this agenda
School Committee Meeting Recap - Jan 26, 2021 = HMMS, FHS, homework, and reopening status updates
School Committee Meeting Recap - Jan 26, 2021 = HMMS, FHS, homework, and reopening status updates

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