Waltham To Start School Mostly Online

WALTHAM, MA — The district is planning to have most students begin the school year

WALTHAM, MA — The district is planning to have most students begin the school year remotely.

At a meeting on July 29 the school committee voted to go with a remote/hybrid return to school. The committee discussed the options again on August 5, but chose not to re-vote, so the July 29 decision stands, according to Superintendent Brian Reagan.

“The issue is it’s a very emotional conversation for folks,” Reagan told the School Committee at the time. “We’re addressing all concerns. We certainly don’t take them lightly at all. That’s all we think about.”

The district will publish its final plan next week, he said.

In Waltham’s reopening model nearly all students will begin the year online. In accordance with state guidance, they will prioritize certain populations for in-person learning.

Students on Individualized Educational Plans who spend at least 75 percent of their day in a special setting as well as its level 1 and level 2 English Language Learning students will be offered in-person learning, according to the plan. The district will also offer in-person learning in a hybrid model (broken up by week cohorts) to the district’s youngest students, those in preschool, kindergarten, and grade 1.

In this model, staff will report to their schools (provided they are safely able to do so) and teach remotely.

Staff members who are at an increased risk of illness from the coronavirus because of underlying health conditions will be allowed to work from home, according to the plan.

It’s likely school will begin for everyone on Sept. 16, but by Oct. 16, the district will reassess and make a decision whether invite additional grades back to school for in-person hybrid learning, move to full hybrid, return to full in-person learning or keep with the opening model.

According to the plan, families will also have the option to have their children learn fully remote through Waltham Schools Online, which will be a separate online school.

In a district survey, 258 staff answered they would like to work remotely from their homes. Some said they had a health concern and others said they didn’t feel comfortable coming back yet.

The district plan comes as school districts across the state are scrambling to enforce state and science-backed guidelines, while addressing the concerns of families and teachers amid pandemic.

As of Aug. 13, in Waltham some 1,272 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus. Of those, 79 have died.

What other school districts are doing:

Brookline Votes On Phased In-Person School Reopening Plan

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This article originally appeared on the Waltham Patch

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