Update- September 12, 2020
Dear MURSD Families-
I am writing to share information regarding the district’s Stand Alone Remote Program, i.e., the program of study that we will be offering to students whose families do not wish to return them for in-person instruction at this point in time. Based upon the surveying that was done last month, we currently have approximately 240 students across grades K-12 in this program.
We ideally would like to have MURSD teachers instructing these students, and our aim has been to “match” MURSD students with MURSD teachers that will be instructing remotely due to medical accommodations. However, there is not a perfect coordination of students with an appropriate number of staff (and also by grade level by content area). Therefore, our Stand Alone Remote Program will look slightly different at the three levels, elementary, middle, and high school.
First, all K-8 students in the Stand Alone Remote Program will start the school year in the full remote model, i.e., from September 16 to at least October 12, and they will have their regularly scheduled teachers. When the district transitions to the Hybrid Model (hopefully on October 13), our Stand Alone Remote Program students will transition to the following models at that time:
- Elementary Grades:
Students will be matched with either a MURSD elementary teacher or a long-term district substitute teacher for remote instruction. They will follow the regular district curriculum, using the same curriculum materials such as Reading Wonders, GoMath and Mystery Science. All special subjects (music, art, PE, and technology) will be taught remotely by the students’ regular teacher.
- Middle School Grades:
Students will be matched with a long-term district substitute teacher for remote instruction. Students in grade 5 will follow the district’s curriculum and will use district curricular materials (i.e. Go Math). Students in grade 6-8 will use the online learning platform Edgenuity for online content in the core academic areas (ELA, math, science, and social studies). Elective area subjects will be taught remotely by Miscoe teachers.
- High School
Nipmuc students in the Stand Alone Remote Program will begin the year on September 16 with their remote schedule. Most classes will be taught remotely by Nipmuc teachers and some will be provided through an individual enrollment in Virtual High School, a high-quality, online provider that Nipmuc has been using for several years.
During the week of September 28, the district will conduct a final survey asking families to definitively commit to the Stand Alone Remote Model or not. Should you choose the Stand Alone Remote Model, we have the expectation that that model will be locked in place for your child until the end of the first trimester (December 3) for elementary students, and the end of the first semester (January 26) for middle and high school students. We must do this as we must keep the balance and sizes of cohort sizes for in-person instruction reasonable.
As has been a consistent theme in this very difficult reentry planning, there are no solutions that are ideal. However, given the set of circumstances, we believe that these models will maintain the continuity of instruction. As always, thank you for your patience and understanding.
Dr. Joseph Maruszczak
Superintendent of Schools
Update- August 2, 2020
Dear MURSD Families-
I would like to update you on a few issues relevant to our programming in the MURSD for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
First, the good news. On Thursday evening we received word that the State Legislature and the Department of Revenue have agreed to, at a minimum, level fund Chapter 70 Aid (K-12 education funding) for FY2021. The MURSD FY2021 Operational Budget that was recertified by the Regional School Committee in early May was predicated on the assumption of level state funding. Therefore, on Friday morning I recalled all educators and staff that were still out on layoff. Thus, I am happy and relieved to report that our level of staffing will be at least comparable to what is was last.school year.
Second, I would like to share the results of the District Reentry Survey that was administered to parents and MURSD staff last month. As you would imagine, there is a wide diversity of opinion on reopening, and there are no good nor easy solutions. Our District Reentry Advisory Committee of approximately 70 staff, parents, students, administrators, and representatives of our towns' Boards of Health have been working diligently to craft plans for reentry, as the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) is requiring plans for three scenarios: 1) the full return of students; 2) full remote learning; and, 3) a hybrid system- where students have both in-person and remote instruction. At this time, a full return is not being considered, as DESE has placed restrictions on bus capacities (about 23 students per full-sized bus) and the simple fact that the district will be maintaining the CDC standard of 6 feet of social distancing in classrooms. With those restrictions, a full student enrollment in any of our four schools is not tenable.
Thus, the district is moving forward with plans for both a full remote option for families who do not wish to send their children as well as a hybrid model that would mix both in-person and remote learning. As the Committee will be finalizing the district plan later this week, we would like your opinion by taking a quick survey on two very similar models for a hybrid schedule. These models are being implemented in several local districts and many across the state.
I am certain that you have a great deal of questions! Thus, I will be holding another MURSD Town Hall for Families this Wednesday, August 5 at 7:00 pm. During the Town Hall, I will be sharing some initial information regarding reentry and I will be happy to answer your questions to the best of my ability. The Town Hall will be live-streamed on our District YouTube page Wednesday night at 7:00 pm.
As a final note, I would like to note that this is a remarkably complex process, and there is a tremendous amount of micro-planning that needs to be done to best accommodate student, family, and staff needs. I know that there will be some that will be unhappy. However, during this difficult time the district must be flexible and change its plans based upon the ever-changing situation and progression of the virus. Like you, I wish to get back to our "normal" as soon as possible.
Thank you in advance for your patience.
Dr. Joseph Maruszczak
Superintendent of Schools