Good Afternoon Caregivers and Students!
As we head into the weekend, we wanted you to have additional information for our school reopening. While this is an extensive email, we hope you will take the time to read and absorb the information.
Reopening our schools:
- The full reopening plan, as required by MA DESE, includes Full In-Person, Hybrid, and Remote. We were asked to submit this full plan to MA DESE by August 14th (they extended the deadline from August 10th).
- The plan that was approved by our School Committee on August 6, 2020, was Hybrid 2. We continue to work on this plan. This plan will be fully developed (scheduling, safety protocols, transportation, support services, etc.) as new information becomes available from the state and CDC. We purposely left some information out of the plan so that we can “adjust our sails” as the state and CDC provide further guidance. We chose this model because we understand students lost learning last school year when we shut down and vocational and agricultural school is deeply focused on applied learning methodologies. Having 50% of our student population in our buildings (we have one million square feet of space, students are in cohorts during their CTE time, and there are multiple buildings that house our students) is feasible, if planned properly. We have received many emails since March from students and staff related to the need for live instruction. We will not compromise the health of our staff or students if new information becomes available that leans toward a different model.
Some precautions we have been working on:
- We opted to use the 6-foot model for classroom instruction as opposed to the 3-foot model that MA DESE used for minimum spacing. Our staff have been working around the clock maximizing space, measuring rooms, moving furniture in and out, printing signage, etc.
- We have purchased 16 commercial grade portable handwashing stations that will be placed in locations throughout the building. Aside from hand sanitizer, good handwashing practice and technique is critical for all health considerations.
- We have purchased a 40-foot x 100-foot tent that can be heated and fully enclosed and used for multiple purposes.
- We have been purchasing PPE since March in bulk. This includes masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, paper towels, gloves wipes approved by CDC.
- We have acrylic barriers for offices so students can meet with their counselors.
- We have written and continue to write competitive and entitlement grants to prepare for a safe return to our school.
- Our school, being built in 2014, follows 2009 HVAC standards. Our 2014 has been maintained meticulously since then by highly trained professionals and contractors. We have one full-time HVAC licensed contractor that worked previously in hospitals across the North Shore. In addition, all the system fans will run all day and night resulting in at least 15 air changes per space per day.
- We have changed our custodial shift hours to create a larger staff during the hours of 12-3 pm where we can continuously clean public areas. We will be hiring additional contracted services related to custodial and deep cleaning. A staff member will be dedicated to disinfect door handles and other frequently public contact surfaces.
- We purchased over 25 electrostatic machines to sanitize contact surfaces. Each CTE program will be given one and our custodial crew will have multiple on hand for each building area.
- We have printed over 500 signs (more to come) for passage routes, sanitation stations, 6-foot distancing, and maximum capacities.
- Each classroom and shop area will have a dedicated “sanitation station” that includes single-serve paper towels, disinfectant spray touch-free sanitizer, gloves, disposable masks.
- We will be offering pre-order lunches via an app to be ready for pick up at their lunchtime. This will alleviate lines and social distancing concerns in eating areas and cafeterias.
- All students and staff will be required to wear face coverings throughout the day. There will be breaks throughout the day.
- While we completed a master schedule for the full learning plan and course selections, we need to shift to a different model.
- Having the number of classrooms and maximum capacity of those classrooms was essential for us to move forward with the Hybrid 2 schedule.
- Our scheduling action team has been working on this and will continue in the next two weeks to get the most out of a hybrid model.
- Please keep in mind, electives will look different in this model. Typically, the electives are our largest enrolled classes and we cannot safely accommodate a full class with the CDC recommended social distancing.
- We are working on a plan for the parking fees. Thank you for your patience. We recognize that seniors have a credit for that parking fee. Stay tuned.
Remote Learning Option during Hybrid 2
- We recognize that there may be some caretakers that make the decision to not bring their child back to school at this time due to illness or other matters. They should reach out to our Director of School Counseling, Sandy Goldstein ([email protected]) for discussion.
- This remote learning may look different than the hybrid model on the “live days.” We continue to work with our state association for a vocational remote model that is engaging.
- We hope you enjoyed the previous Zoom calls with our Essex Tech teams! We had a lot of fun.
- The look of orientation may change based on our social distancing guidance. We will send out detailed information related to orientation next week.
- Parent Orientation is August 25, 2020
- Student Orientation is August 27, 2020
- We continue to hire additional staff, as needed and in preparation for Hybrid 2. This will include a nurse, hall monitors, and cafeteria workers.
- We are hiring an Equity Coach to work with our students and staff on curriculum and employability skills for working in a diverse workforce.
- We will be providing more information related to bus routes in the near future. Our plan will follow the MA DESE recommended maximum capacity of every other seat and alternating sides.
- Students will not be allowed to ride a different bus than they are assigned at this time.
- The state guidance can be found here.
We will have additional opportunities via Zoom Webinar to create an open line of communication. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the NEW REOPENING HOTLINE phone number 978-304-4649 or email [email protected]. The appropriate person will return your message. As always, we appreciate your support.
Heidi T. Riccio, Ed.D., Superintendent-Director
Shannon Donnelly, M.A.T., Principal
Thomas O’Toole, Ed.D., Asst. Superintendent