Friday, March 5, 2021

March meeting of the Board of Ed

 ...which they moved to this week so that the Commissioner could ask that they pass authority for him to push districts back into buildings full time. 

The agenda is here. The livestream is here

a much neater version of the below is the MASC report here

updating as we go

joining midstream from here; what seems like a pediatrician rehearsing gaps, disparities, remote and in person teaching "Amazing to us in the field" that schools are closed
hospitals empty
Tufts successful surveillance
quotes Kennedy on going to the moon
"even waiting one more day is one day too long"

doctor of breast imagining 
"when will it be safe to return to school"
mask, ventilation, and hand hygiene
vaccines have been prove to reduce 
"gravity of loss of in-person learning"
commends screening testing : "relatively cheap at $5 a test and so can be easily repeated"
"should not be another hurdle to overcome to return to school"
"Massachusetts can lead the way for a safe return to school"

Andre Green, Somerville School Committee chair, with the Somerville teachers' union chair
Somerville union president: "urge to reject" proposal
"broad powers to override any district's learning model"
"you must not allow his single" perspective to override "thousands" who have been working tirelessly
each districts have been facing its own challenges
"I'd strongly urge to reject" regardless but he has already given his intention; only one county should be in hybrid learning
CDC urging not to ease our strictions
Green: "literally issues of life and death for Somerville" families
disagreements "based on the facts on the grounds in Somerville" best made decisions
year of edicts
"federal and state level have dropped in our laps"

pediatric infectious disease: 
whose citing a particular study in Brookline? I think?
"significant public health crisis in children" due to school closure (post hoc...)
"increasing rates myopia and obesity"
goal of having students physically present in schools 

Teresa English, teacher at Lawrence High school
"during the last year, the superintendents" have taken different approaches
tailored to their communities
each school differently and each building differently
meeting the needs of every single student and staff member
Progress and collaboration through so much trial and error
"insulting and flat out wrong" to push forward
so many working to ensure needs of students are being met
requiring urban districts to go through more hoops is not useful
more state control is not helpful, but would cause more problems
"as a parent, teacher, and a taxpayer, I am asking you to vote no"

imperative to bring all K-12 students back full time 
not only "recommended by most experts"
as kinesiologist argues students need "daily opportunity for physical movement"
"need to develop their fundamental movement skills"
criticizes efforts as "anemic"

Everett parent: mother of two children K and 6
"our schools in Everett have been closed in Everett for almost a year"
"it has to stop and it has to stop now"
5 year old nephew cries in frustration daily
friend who moved to New Hampshire to put kids in schools
school committees, teachers, admin must come together
these two and half months are crucial for our students

Boston parent: "for public school families"
"science based reopening for learning"
cites Catholic and private schools
support any option that will give him authority
concerned about waiver option and that it will be used by Boston
"please don't listen excuses from the district"
"instead of making up what parents want, BPS should follow the science"
Can use three feet of distance (willing to bet that BPS can't bring everyone back at 3)
"if BPS can't figure out how to bring 30,000 back in April, how will they bring back 50,000 in the fall"
"if it's time for baseball and basketball, it's time to bring our kids back to school"

Beth Israel disease fellow
that schools can reopen safely with infection controls
"although the minimum distancing is limited"
suggest no major difference between six and three
cites summer term in England, Thailand, and the Netherlands
student interaction on off days
Wisconsin school 
mitigation and masking
"can and should return to in person learning safely"

Moriarty asks about Lawrence about PPE and air purifiers
Riley: "large purchase of air purifiers"

Riley: 225 pages of "detailed health, safety" guidance
"10 full days" for districts to train before schools
"no other state in the country" has given their teachers that kind of time
districts required to submit three plans
and there's a lot here on money...
and then I had to answer a call
"a new study is coming out that is going to study schools in Massachusetts that is going to study three feet versus six feet"
studying schools across the state looking from Sept. to Jan
"not a higher rate of cases in either students or staff" that had students spaced more closely
number of cases in community at that time; case rate per 100,000
reminder that we haven't had universal screening, which I am sure is noted in the notes in the research

asking that elementary goes back five days a week by April
phasing high and middle schools
parents choose to stay remote may do so
districts can apply for waivers 
if they've been remote for much of the year
schools that offer with different configurations
"best possible outcome for our family, staff and students"
new guidance document will be released early next week

"technical support teams" as they begin to "think through" return to buildings
emergency licensure extended

mental health supports, FAFSA, summer school, academic interventions
focus on "gateway grades in key areas"
"next fall, we're planning for a full return for all grade levels"
"we want to focus on the whole child needs"

and I just missed the doctors' names; two are infectious disease specialist and I don't know what the third one is
shortage of mental health providers
one is telling the story of a single patient "now something I see almost daily" 
increase in mental health visits at ER
Wait of a week or more for psychiatric beds
parents asking if their children have ADHD; parents asking for higher amounts of dosages
and we have another patient story
students reporting learning difficulties with ADHD
doctors compare "who has the most heartbreaking story to share"
"it is at school where the first signs of their struggle would have been noticed and the school would have contacted us"

another doctor speaking of nieces and nephews
"I hope and want for them to thrive and I believe in person learning is critical to that"
importance of masking by all, that fits, wearing it consistently
same Wisconsin study
human experience: for our students to thrive "and our educators thrive" we should to return to schools with the urgency our families deserve

"have really come to understand fear"
"we have control over our safety"
"I understand that many in the schools are fearful, too"
making binary what exists along a continuum
CDC makes it six feet and fifteen minutes
"things are not so black and white" in reality
"more likely with increased time and increased proximity"
"it's complex; there are shades of grey"
one meter is a little over three feet standard in other countries
"harm reduction approach" 
"we can't claim ignorance anymore"
"We can keep our educators safe and also our children"

Lombos: we didn't put those things in place from the get go
suffering from a year of national leadership not putting those mitigation
shutdowns were happening sooner
Important not to compare apples to oranges
totally ducks national leadership question
doctor: throughout the world "schools tend to be in older buildings"
mitigations differ

Fernandez: how you're looking at the variant?
"less forgiving of transgressions"
Mitigation measures are the "same and they work"

Moriarty: mental health experience stays with me
"schools aren't going to solve those problems" he has been told
"schools are part of a young person's routine and relationships" to provide stability
"we're not asking schools to substitute" for mental health supports"
Doctor: school "is a lifetime for these children"
"without schools their lives have been disrupted"
Moriarty: should take mental health measures at schools
but also advocate for a most stronger health system; was inadequate, still is
"we can't look to schools" to provide that

Morton: reliability of pooled testing as a strategy
Doctor: serves a purpose of 'reassurance'
rates in those screened overall have been low
"source of comfort for staff and families"
don't do it in the health care field
another doctor: finding few cases in the district he advises
Morton: that's very reassuring

Coughlin: how much longer is DESE funding the pool testing 
Riley: through April 18
Coughlin: would you fund it if you go to high school and middle
Riley: avoids saying 'no' but that is the answer
Coughlin: did you ask teachers, superintendents, school committee members
Riley: superintendent and school committee associations both "have some concerns"
Coughlin: was going to vote 'yes' but have received hundreds of emails and have some concerns

Stewart: what do you make of mitigation strategies with classrooms doubling in size?
unmasking at lunch?
Doctor: "concern is with the densification" of classrooms
all sorts of classrooms: low transmission
doctor: spaces are different, no question about that
"in combination, we know that masking...is probably the most robust mitigation measure"
most vulnerable time is during maskless periods
Stewart: didn't have enough mental health supports before
to compare US response to European response "isn't a fair thing to do" as we had "an appalling lack of response for the better part of the year"
"we haven't been doing any kind of universal screening"
still a lot that we need to learn about with this disease

panel exits

I don't know who this is but it's someone from DESE reviewing the already extent changes to the regulation
Commissioner already has authority to ask for plans; now asking for authority to decide which plans count as structured learning time
includes phase in if he chooses, includes waiver provision
Lombos: why did we...froze...wondering about process
A: coming as an emergency regulation; Board votes, good for three months, then public comment, then Board votes permanently
"urgency" of getting students back to school and "gives some planning time and some certainty"
Hills: "I'm very enthusiastically a 'yes'"
"we're going to have all these issues whenever we decide on this"
"we need to get that done"
"the way to get through these problems is to force the tradeoffs"
"we need to be focused on limiting as narrowing as possible" not opening schools
if a parent wants their children in person, "will that parent have that choice"
A: that is the goal
Rouhanifard: middle and high school "move forward with urgency"
Riley: focus on elementary, recognize urgency, will have more
West: heard about waiver from public comment
"have heard this as characterized as empowering you as the unilateral czar"
what process will you use?
Riley: districts had two weeks to plan for what in person would look like 
(no, plans were due in mid-August)
know that some are moving elementary back full time
"some of this work is happening organically"
"get back to a post-pandemic" reality
"heard public comment both for and against"
Fern√°ndez: a thousand plus emails
"in reading all of those it was impactful and something that I want to acknowledge the pain being felt across the board by citizens of the Commonwealth due to COVID"
questions around how and kind of guidance around social emotional learning
surveys
Riley: will send guidance out early next week about what this can look like on everything
"as we've done in the past, we're sending out comprehensive guidance"
Stewart: what is the plan to vaccinate educators?
What is the actual plan?
Riley: Biden administration has said teachers don't have to be vaccinated
Governor announced that next week, educators can be vaccinated
"have heard" that CVS has already opened he doesn't know?
Stewart: across the board, that's what people are asking for
"I personally don't think the emergency is in returning to in-person learning, I think the emergency is with the disease"
testing "small cost" of $5 and SHE DOES WORCESTER'S math
dealing with the pandemic "that's the emergency"
students aren't on the list for vaccinations until next year
Riley: students with medical issues will go through regular process
"districts like Worcester are getting millions and millions of dollars"
Stewart: " and they have many issues, and the state has millions of unspent dollars as well"
"we're not out of the woods, I'm not at all comfortable mandating schools go back in person"
"you and the Department need to work with districts"
"let's give them the support and resources they need, but let them make the decision"

Morton: self-quarantining due to a funeral
question on waiver option: opportunity for school districts and committees "to have some measure of local control"
thought about mental health issues; any thought to giving additional supports to children as we think about reopening schools
Riley: have discussed over year
additional guidance to assess students 
waiver: recognize that superintendents would put in a request sooner rather than later 
recommending school committee vote on that waiver process
"think they have and continue to have a role to play in what's best for their communities"
Lombos: pain 
but also really like the engagement 
need to continue talking to one another
"I sit in the labor seat, which is also seen as the teacher seat"
represents custodians, bus drivers, administrative staff, and also represents the grocery store workers; "That's this seat, too"
"we all want to get our kids back to school"
"but I'm also hearing, 'as safely as possible'"
"this labor seat has fought for worker safety for a century now"
"schools are a workplace, too"
"unfortunately, it's a no vote, because I haven't been able to talk to all the people I want to"
"ultimately, this is about trust"
"we have a long way to go, y'all"

Rouhanifard: "as a country, we really stink at finding a third way reality to complex social problems"
that's how I see this
says "roughly 45% of districts have been safely open five days a week"
"have failed a generation of children"

Peyser: "for many of us, we would have liked this to happen sooner"
"verifies and validates" safety of mitigation without screening
know more about remote learning we have no research on this
and you're going to hear about the money again
"it makes sense to take up this measure"
"entering a new phase of the pandemic as well"
caseload, hospitalizations and deaths are down
"the urgency that we need to feel" for the time lost
"to make sure that the loss and the damage that has been done is not allowed to continue any further"

Lombos, Stewart, Coughlin vote no
Item passes

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