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Vote on Return to Learning Plan

School Opening Fall 2020 Superintendent's Bulletin #7

Vote on Return to Learning Plan

Dear Belmont Community,

Last night, August 12, the School Committee voted for a phased approach toward reopening our schools with full remote learning beginning Phase 1 when we return to learning in September.

We have had tremendous feedback from the community through the survey submitted, numerous emails, and questions presented to the School Administration and the School Committee. The information from the survey is valuable to inform a hybrid model that incorporates families’ schedules of what works best (day/week/split day). Please see the Return to Learning presentation given to the School Committee on August 12.

The order of priorities through this decision process have been health and safety, social emotional well-being, and academic engagement for return to learning. Determining the district’s readiness for moving from phase to phase will be based on the general recommendation of the newly created School Committee Metrics Task Force.

We are receiving new information every week/day from the state and DESE which will help inform our movement to the next phase. However, we are also obligated to the state to provide our plan this week. Deciding to open our schools in a remote phase now gives our educators the chance to concentrate on a robust model for September.

Below are DESE metric guidelines released today, August 12, 2020, as well as the updated FAQ for School Reopening:

Our phased approach as presented to the School Committee at the August 6, 2020 meeting is listed below:

  1. Phase One - K-12 Remote Learning:  In-person for our “high needs and complex profile” students, per DESE guidelines
  2. Phase Two - Continued Remote Learning (for the majority of students): In-person learning for next level of vulnerable students, such as Grade K and/or Grade 1 and economically disadvantaged/SEL/academic students in need
  3. Phase 3 - Full Hybrid Learning (for all students): In-person and remote learning via hybrid schedule. This option would include full remote learning for those students who are unable to attend in person
  4. Phase 4 - Full In-Person Learning: Full student return with some restrictions within DESE guidelines

The next steps for the district is to provide detailed remote and hybrid schedules to the community for the School Committee to vote on, which will be presented to the Committee in the next few weeks. We know our families want more detail on these models, and we have been planning our models with our educators. We value our collaborative partnerships with our teachers and school administrators, and appreciate the time taken over this summer to meet and properly plan these models.

For our schools to open safely, we are currently conducting an air flow audit in buildings with a contractor and our Town facilities department to ensure building health for our school population and to see what rooms need after the assessment is completed. The results of the audit will be shared with the School Committee and community when they are completed. In addition, we are planning outdoor small group gatherings for classmates to meet their teachers and each other knowing that a connection to each other is so important.

These decisions are not made lightly, we know any decision impacts families on some level, and we appreciate the patience and support of the Belmont community as we navigate this pandemic.


John P. Phelan
Superintendent of Schools
Belmont, Massachusetts