JULY 6, 2020
PRESENT: Jenny Emery, Mark Fiorentino, Melissa Migliaccio, David Peling, Sarah Thrall, Rosemarie Weber, and Brandon Webster; and Superintendent Jordan Grossman and Jennifer Parsons, Assistant Superintendent.
A motion was made by Melissa Migliaccio and seconded by Brandon Webster that the board approve the minutes from the June 17 meeting. This motion passed unanimously.
Migliaccio stated the sole purpose of this meeting is to receive an update from the Reopening Task Force on the Governor’s plans. The board will meet again July 13 on the same topic.
Jordan Grossman welcomed everyone and welcomed new Assistant Superintendent, Jennifer Parsons, who started on July 1.
Middle School Principal Taylor Wrye also started on July 1 and has made a great transition.
First round interviews will be held this week for the Kelly Lane Primary School Principal. The committee consists of 19 members. Thank you to Webster for serving on the committee. Grossman requested the board meet the candidate later in July.
The Reopening Task Force will meet again July 7 and has had several meetings thus far. Thank you, Mike Dunn, Rosemarie Weber and Jennifer Parsons, Co-Chairs of the Task Force.
Parsons is continuing work on the Cultural Proficiency and Equity Action Plan. Grossman is excited about the work to be done with the Granby Equity Team.
All principals will meet with Shannon Sullivan, director of facilities, to tour the buildings and access each school’s needs.
Town Manager John Ward gave permission to use Kearns School for any large items or materials. This will save the district storage fees.
Working with Brian Liss, executive director of the YMCA, on daycare needs for staff. He is developing a plan in partnership with us should we have any needs.
A survey will be sent to families this week with information you will hear about this evening. We will also share our initial plans with the opening of schools. Grossman is excited to welcome back students.
The Hartford Area Superintendents’ Association is meeting weekly to discuss and align what all Hartford area schools are doing about reopening.
Building projects are continuing and on track.
Working with high school administration, the Athletic Department will send out information this week following CIAC guidelines for athletes to begin summer training.
Planning has begun to focus on the social/emotional well-being for staff and students.
The Board Retreat on Aug. 19 will also include a tour of the facilities.
Grossman would like the board to think about the school calendar for next year to provide leeway for when school starts. Teachers and administrators have a lot to do prior to Aug. 27 and he wants them prepared. Teachers are scheduled to come back on Monday for three professional days. He will bring a recommendation to the board that school start on Friday, Aug. 28 making Thursday a PD day and change Friday to a half day and make Monday a half day for students as well. He would like the board to vote on this next week so that he can communicate to families as soon as possible.
Granby Public Schools needs to submit a plan to the State of Connecticut by July 24 that includes a full reopening, students that opt out, and a hybrid approach if the Governor allows 50 percent attendance and a remote environment. Parsons will provide a high-level view of the plan this evening. Administrators are doing an outstanding job and the Task Force is providing a tremendous amount of information.
Reopening Task Force Update
Parsons provided an update on the Reopening Task Force Committee saying that the plan is due to the state prior to July 24. She informed the board the Task Force will review the full reopening model, and during the day tomorrow, the administrative team will gather all of its thoughts, which will also be shared with the Task Force.
On July 14, it is hoped the Task Force can review a draft plan and be able to modify it for the July 21 meeting. Work groups will meet to compile sections of the plan under advisement of the reopening Task Force. Parsons reviewed the six guiding principles from the Connecticut State Department of Education: health and safety of students and staff; return to the classroom full time; monitor school populations and potentially cancel classes in the future if necessary to contain the spread; emphasize equity, access and support to students; fostering strong two-way communication with families, educators and staff; and factoring challenges to the physical safety and social/emotional well-being of our students when they are not in school.
She then reviewed the four main operational considerations: Cohorting (encouraged to place students in cohorts for grades K–8 and where feasible for grades 9–12); Social distancing and facilities (building space/ reconfiguring classroom space and cleaning of high-touch surfaces); Transportation (buses will run at full capacity and load from back to front); and face coverings (require that all staff and students wear face coverings—will provide mask breaks throughout the day). Dave Peling inquired if the district ordered personal protective equipment. Grossman stated that masks, gloves, face shields and partitions have been ordered and that there may be more items to be purchased from a consortium as well.
Fiorentino inquired if students will be required to bring their own masks. Grossman said every student will be given two masks up front and disposable masks will be on-site if students forget them. Webster inquired if there will be a policy for face masks and Grossman stated, yes. CABE is currently working on a policy for facial masks and this is a requirement by the state. He informed the board that Granby is putting together district and school plans as each school’s face mask policy may be a little different. Emery commented about requirements vs. guidelines and the underlying assumption is that Granby’s intent is to take advantage of the guidelines as well as research and only if Granby has well researched reasons not to follow the guidelines would we want to do an alternative. She stated she feels this will be a helpful message to the community.
Regarding what needs to be included in the plan for a full return, Parsons said there may be students and staff who will opt to not return. There will be a better gauge of this after the questionnaire is completed. Parsons explained there also needs to be a hybrid model that can be implemented on short notice to move to remote learning and be a fluid motion based on tiered hot points as follows: A low tier is 100 percent capacity; buses at full capacity; face coverings required; and, isolation areas for sick students.
A moderate tier level would need the hybrid model implemented with schools at reduced capacity; buses at reduced capacity; and maximize spacing of seating up to six feet.
A high tier level would be 100 percent remote learning with the suspension of extracurricular and athletic activities. In addition to full-time instruction plans as indicated above, districts must be prepared to modify their plans for a partial reopening or to allow for scaling back at a future date if the public health data changes. Thrall inquired if the level determination would be state-wide or local level. Parsons said this can be determined at the local level working with the local Department of Public Health for criteria to help determine the levels, but we are waiting on additional guidance. She then reviewed the notice of the full return plan stating the Superintendent of Schools will share the detailed plan with families that will be submitted to the state after July 24.
Parsons stated the district will ask for preliminary planning in the questionnaire with regard to opting out and transportation. The district is awaiting guidance for families opting out and what the length of time will be to plan for the students who opt out. At the high school, it would be a virtual high school or another platform to ensure a breadth of course offerings. At the K–8 level, Granby staff will provide asynchronous remote learning using published programs and platforms as well as sharing staff across other school districts. Emery inquired if a picture of what the voluntary opt-out option looks like right now. Parsons stated, yes, there will be a question if you plan to send your student back and, if you choose not to, the model will be asynchronous learning. Grossman stated the other part to be added in is if any child who has an IEP, 504 or medical plan, those parents will be instructed to contact their principal. If someone opts out, it will be asynchronous learning with posted assignments and check-ins with teachers.
Parsons stated if the model is 100 percent remote learning, Granby will strive for the highest quality possible remote learning, such as, established schedules, calendars of assignments, weekly planners, tier 1 social emotional lessons, accountability check-ins, G-suite with more opportunities, etc.
The Hybrid Model on a short notice would be an A/B rotating model of students in the physical school building and on their off days working on what they need to do to reinforce that physical school building learning. Fiorentino inquired if there are guidelines or criteria for opting out. Grossman said, no, you can opt out just because you want to. Fiorentino said he hopes Granby stays on top of this and continues to explore a period of time that parents can opt out. Webster inquired if the district is asking teachers if any are opting out. Grossman stated he is speaking to attorneys and, right now, this is something the district is looking at. In some states this has been controversial.
We are going to try to present as much information as we can but it will be an ADA-type survey. Parsons commented what has been done to frame the work for tomorrow’s Task Force Meeting is to pull out the guidance and the requirements and what the expectations are for each school. As we respond to the requirements, we will be looking at the best practices around these requirements. This will all be discussed at the Task Force meeting tomorrow. Thrall inquired if any monetary impact is being attached to the requirements. Parsons stated, yes, and potentially there may also be hidden savings along the way as well.
Grossman said that this is exciting and challenging work but we are excited to welcome students and staff back. Staff and students are going to have to reacquaint with one another. The safety and health of all individuals within the Granby Public Schools is our main priority—to provide an environment that is safe for staff and students to come back. The Task Force has been very open and transparent. Granby Public Schools will put together a plan that will work and be strong. The social/emotional development of our staff and students has to remain at the core with anything we do. We want to do it right and thoughtfully and that is why the board has been requested to look at the calendar to have school start one day later so teachers can have the time to plan.
Migliaccio said it is the goal of the board is to get as many students back as close to a normal learning environment as possible. She thanked Grossman, Parsons and the Task Force for their work.
Migliaccio inquired about Virtual High School (VHS) vs. Edgenuity. Parsons stated VHS is taught by an actual teacher with synchronous and asynchronous learning and Edgenuity is solely asynchronous coursework with no point-person teacher to demand work so a staff person would need to monitor this. Emery commented on the calendar, stating the suggestion seems reasonable but inquired if it will really make a difference. Grossman stated it is within the teachers’ contract and we would give the teachers an extra day up front instead of a professional development day in May. He feels what he presented is good at the moment.
Thrall stated her concerns of reopening, such as, the orientation programs prior to the opening of school; keeping A/B days all A’s or all B’s for families who have more than one child; and, check-ins for students who are struggling.
Webster inquired about Choice students being on the bus for a long time. Grossman stated Parsons has a meeting with the Open Choice Director in the coming weeks to discuss this. Webster also inquired about freshman orientation and transitions from school to school and how parents will want to see the plan of what school buildings look like. Grossman stated, yes, he agrees but this may have to be done virtually.
A motion was made by Migliaccio and seconded by Webster to enter into an Executive Session to discuss a collective bargaining and a contractual issue. This motion passed unanimously.
Rosemarie Weber, Board Secretary
Editor’s Note: The Minutes of the June 17 BOE Meeting are available on the Town of Granby website.