Thursday, January 14, 2021

Superintendent's Report to SC 1.13.21

 Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee

January 13, 2021



Facilities Update - Mr. Kasper - Director of Facilities


Pool Testing - Mrs. Mulcahy - Occupational Health Nurse


Winter Athletics Update

  • Athletics began practicing on 1/6.  

  • The first game is scheduled for 1/16 and the season will wrap up on or before 2/20.

  • Home basketball games will be live-streamed by our Media Department and home ice hockey games will be live-streamed on LiveBarn.com.  Links will be posted on the Athletics Website. 

  • A reminder that there will be no spectators allowed at any athletic events this winter. 

  • While things look different right now it is going very well and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.

  • Information from the MIAA about the Fall 2 Season (Indoor Track, Volleyball, Football, Fall Cheer) should be available the first week of February.   


Open Letter from Parents - Presentation


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Superintendent's Report to SC 12.9.20

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee

December 9, 2020


  • Middle School and High School Scheduling Study

    • Kick-off meeting with District Management Group (DMG) - November 20th

    • Project Goals

      • Conduct a detailed review of course offerings and staffing through a thorough analysis of current schedules and interviews with key stakeholders.

      • Guide school and district leaders through a vision setting process to create scheduling priorities.

      • Review and revise the current scheduling process to create a more efficient and effective schedule creation process.

      • Provide training to school-based and central office staff in best practices for scheduling.

    • Target completion with recommendations - March-April 2021

    • Ms. Sybert will lead this work as potential budget implications


  • METCO Leadership Retreat

    • Approximately 85 participants/district leaders (Mrs. Raymond & I attended)

    • Develop shared METCO Program mission, vision, and core values

    • Sharpen understanding of what it means to be a METCO district

    • Equity Audit - METCO has partnered with Beloved Community to offer an Equity Audit, valued between $3,000 and $40,000, FREE to any partner school district interested in assessing and improving their equity practices. This is part of a research project that Beloved is conducting to compile policy recommendations, resources, and best practices from across the country. Participants access an audit process that requires eight hours total to complete (by March 1, 2021), and is followed by a detailed report within one month of completion.

    • Equity Audit Research Project


  • Hybrid Model Update

    • The district is beginning to face challenges of in-person learning even in this model right now with the number of positive cases and close contacts rising tremendously.  Staffing issues are becoming a concern and might see a time when one school or another will call a “remote day” due to absences.

    • Additionally, we are monitoring the classroom temperatures and our Director of Facilities is examining those classroom spaces where the temperature is extremely low even with the heat on and the windows only opened minimally.

    • Extremely cold days - might have to call a “remote” day because of potential classroom temperatures. 

    • Outdoor tents will likely be taken down next week and stored for the winter months.  Please have your students dress appropriately for the weather. 

    • January is when our mid-year assessments are given and if changes are going to be made to our model, it really needs to occur with the data behind it.

    • Will we see growth with the instruction we are delivering currently because 4 hours of in-person learning is intense compared to “normal times.”

    • What can we do until that time?

      • Look at capacity in each classroom (Cohorts A and B) and bring in high needs kids on more days to give more in-person instruction.

      • More in-person time for the students that are really struggling with remote learning and identify students that are not meeting academic progress 

      • Work toward extending the school day for high needs students into the afternoon (K-8) on Cohort A and B days

      • Add interventions/tutoring/guidance check-ins for mental health

      • Look at data in January - are we closing the gaps for most kids?

      1. If yes, continue with the hybrid model

      2. In no, radical reorganization to prioritize in-person learning for highest-needs students, and split staffing to support in-person or remote students.


  • Open Letter From Parents:

    • “Other appropriate available spaces” - Requirements:

      • Teachers, ESPs, tutors, (not a larger pool)

      • Busses, bus monitors, 

      • Nurses, administrators

      • Custodians

      • Cleaning supplies and equipment

      • Crisis Plans including evacuation sites 

      • Ventilation studies for those sites?



  • “Decided not to seek to procure and install portable classrooms”

    • Our senior leadership team has experience with portable classroom projects.  In our experience, procuring and installing portable classrooms with utilities has an estimated timeframe of 1 -1.5 years from start to finish. 

  • Remote Learners

    • There is no doubt we need to find a solution for our youngest remote learners and we are working toward that end. Phase V Committee has already met twice to plan and offer an improvement to our current model. 



 

Superintendent's Report to SC 11.18.20

 Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee

November 18, 2020


  • Parent/Guardian/ Caregiver Technology Training

    • Biweekly technology training will begin for parents, guardians, and caregivers on Wednesday, December 2nd beginning at 6:30 pm via Zoom. 

    • Zoom links will be posted on the District Calendar: https://www.swampscottps.org/calendar/

    • Evenings alternate in order to provide more opportunities for families.

    • Topics to date include:

      • Wednesday, December 2 - Managing Google Calendar

      • Monday, December 14 - Tips & Challenges of Remote Learning

      • Thursday, December 17th -  Google Classroom - The Guardian View



  • Winter Sports

    • Something we will need to consider moving forward.  

    • Ask Ms. Wolff to bring forward to the Committee the modifications for each sport. 

    • Health and facilities considerations 


  • Thanksgiving Travel Plans Form

    • The recommendation is NOT to travel 

    • Must follow the state travel guidance: MA Travel Order

    • Students who are traveling will need to plan to work remotely on Monday, November 30th, because they will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test and be cleared by the school nurse on Monday.  Therefore, their earliest return date would be Tuesday.

    • The form is being emailed to families tomorrow. 

    • We are asking for honesty and transparency to keep everyone safe and our schools open.


  • Fully In-Person Learning Plan

    • MASS Statement (if feasible)

    • This School Committee voted to follow the CDC 

      • Guidance of 6 ft. social distancing

      • Change in guidance of a close contact being 15 minutes CUMULATIVE in a 24-hour period (DESE not acknowledging)

    • Our elementary schools are older, which means the square footage in the classrooms is less than today’s standards, which limits our capacity to be fully in-person all the time.


  • Hybrid Model Update

    • I have mentioned moving to the 3:2 model following Thanksgiving

    • We are staying the course for now

    • Over the next 6 weeks, we only have 23 school days

    • January is when our mid-year assessments are given and if changes are going to be made to our model, it really needs to occur with the data behind it.

    • Will we see growth with the instruction we are delivering currently because 4 hours of in-person learning is intense compared to “normal times.”

    • What can we do until that time?

      • Look at capacity in each classroom (Cohorts A and B) and bring in high needs kids on more days to give more in-person instruction.

      • More in-person time for the students that are really struggling with remote learning and identify students that are not meeting academic progress 

      • Work toward extending the school day for high needs students into the afternoon (K-8) on Cohort A and B days

      • Add interventions/tutoring/guidance check-ins for mental health

      • Look at data in January - are we closing the gaps for most kids?

  1. If yes, continue with the hybrid model

  2. In no, radical reorganization to prioritize in-person learning for highest-needs students, and split staffing to support in-person or remote students.


  • Facilities Update - Director of Facilities, Max Kasper

Superintendent's Report to SC 11.4.20

 Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee

November 4, 2020



  • November 3rd Professional Development

    • Technology offerings included:

      • Google Drawing

      • Goog;e Forms

      • Google Slides

      • Google Arts & Culture

      • Seesaw

      • EdPuzzle

    • ESPs and Tutors

      • Zoom and Google Calendar

      • Google Classroom


  • Commissioner Call - 11/2/20

    • Last week, I reported the Commissioner was concerned about the amount of asynchronous learning across the state for those of us in the 2:1:2 hybrid model.

    • As a result, extensive data collection by this Friday on structured learning time.  

    • Seriously, considering moving ahead of DESE and into the 3:2 model beginning the week after Thanksgiving, Monday the 30th.

    • Critical that families and students continue to adhere to the safety guidance during the long holiday weekend and gatherings.  

    • We have seen how far-reaching one positive case can be.


  • COVID-19 Case and Information

    • We had our first positive case and the impact reached far and wide.

    • All the appropriate legal and medical steps were taken at the appropriate time and in the appropriate order.

    • The district cannot control what information individuals share with the community, only what we share and we have to be very careful.

    • I understand the fear that is out there with “not knowing” all the information and this is a struggle for some people.

    • We are bound by law and state guidance (in collaboration with DPH) with the protocols, quarantining, timeline, and communications.  The school district did not make up these rules.

    • When DPH reaches out to families about being a “close contact” and the quarantine expectations, I would hope families would be kinder than I am hearing some are being when are health professionals are just doing their job

    • Finally, a reminder to EVERYONE, that if EVERYONE; students, teachers, tutors, ESPs, coaches, custodians, administrative assistants, principals, directors, EVERYONE, is following our 6ft. social distancing and mask-wearing protocols, then that REDUCES the likelihood of the number of identifiable “CLOSE CONTACTS.”




Superintendent's Update to SC 10.14.20

 Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee

October 14, 2020


  • Cohort Assignments

    • In order to meet the needs of families with children in grades K-8, we are dividing students into cohorts, alphabetically by last name, so that siblings are on the same hybrid schedule.  Cohort A will include students with last names from the first half of the alphabet and Cohort B will include students with last names from the second half of the alphabet.  Exceptions to placement in cohorts are being made for students on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) so that these students can receive services with peers with similar needs. Siblings of students on plans will be scheduled with one another. 

    • Middle school cohort assignments will be sent Friday, October 16th, while elementary and high school will be sent on Monday, October 19th.  


  • Survey Deadline

    • Unfortunately, the deadline for the survey will not be extended.  Many of you have communicated that you do not have enough information to answer the survey especially without knowing the cohort in which your child(ren) will be scheduled. Similarly, our administrators need information about your decision (whether or not to remain fully remote or participate in the hybrid model) in order to finalize the cohorts to adhere to the occupancy limitations of the learning spaces available in your building during this pandemic.  


  • SPS Hybrid Plan

    • In the Reopening Plan - ReUNITE 2020, which was also linked in yesterday’s letter and published on the website in August, the Hybrid Learning Model was outlined at each level in detail beginning on Page 23. 

    • At that time, the elementary schools proposed two plans either an AM/PM model or the 2:1:2 model.  The AM/PM model can be found on pg. 24 while the 2:1:2 model which can be found on pg. 25. The middle school proposed an AM/PM plan that can be found on pg. 26. The high school hybrid model is the same as was proposed back in August. 

    • As much as we all want our students in school more often and would prefer the AM/PM model we MUST keep the health, safety, and welfare of our students, staff, and faculty at the forefront of our decision making. As a result, in collaboration and many discussions with our Occupational Health Nurse, our School Nursing Department, and our Director of Facilities it was determined that the facilities would be unable to be appropriately cleaned and sanitized during the AM and PM cohorts. Therefore, the 2:1:2 model is the most sound decision for health reasons during this pandemic, which I will note is the only substantive change to the original plan that the middle school created in the original document. 

    • Here is the SPS Hybrid Plan beginning on October 26th.


  • Live Streaming

    • Our district technology department is made up of three full-time employees:

      • Lytania Mackey Knowles - Director of Technology, Digital Learning, and Innovation

      • Vlad Akim - Network Manager 

      • Stephen Silbert - Senior Technology Specialist

    • If you look at the webpage on our website for this department there are other staff listed, however, these are part-time positions with these staff members in other full-time positions in our district.  https://sites.google.com/swampscott.k12.ma.us/digitallearning/home

    • For those who are questioning why we didn’t prepare to live stream immediately when we transition to the hybrid model the answer is we made another difficult choice. 

      • Our first priority was to address the device needs of our students for Remote Learning. This small but mighty Technology Department, along with the help of our high school Tech Ninjas, prepared and deployed approximately 2,200 1:1 devices to students in our district K-12. Our inventory is now over 3,000 devices to be managed and repaired by this department. 

      • In addition, committing to “live streaming” on the same day (10/26) when approximately 1,000 students will be returning to the buildings for the first time in eight months is just unrealistic. Our first job is to assist students with the new safety routines and expectations and teach them how to move around safely in and around the buildings. 

    • We also planned our E-Rate cycle. We could not foresee that COVID would stall the approval of these projects. Our approval just came through last week to upgrade our network cabling so that we can support more bandwidth. The E-Rate window opened again so that we have an opportunity to get more bandwidth at a cost that is not outrageous.

    • Finally, we are working with a consultant to figure out our firewall. Our firewall-which stops ALL traffic into and out of SPS to check it for compliance with CIPA- only handles 1 gigabyte right now. We are trying to find an expansion option so that we can support increased bandwidth. 

    • We have not ruled out remote students viewing live through Zoom, however, as with our entire approach during this pandemic, it will be a phased-in process.