After careful evaluation, and agreement with the Hanover Teachers’ Association (HTA), the School Committee is pleased to release our plans to return all students in grades three through twelve to four-days of in-person instruction following February vacation. The return will occur in three phases. This message contains a great deal of important information, but it is broken up into bite-size pieces for clarity.
Anticipated Start Dates: Three Phases
- Center School - All cohorts grades 3-4, return Thursday*, February 25th
- Middle School - All cohorts grades 5-8, return on Monday, March 1st
- High School - All cohorts grades 9-12, return on Monday, March 8th
The Thursday* (February 25th) start at Center School allows our health services staff time to evaluate any COVID-related concerns and complete any testing required following February vacation. Cohorts A and C in grades three and four will attend Center School on Monday and Tuesday (February 22nd and 23rd) on the regular schedule.
End of the Hybrid Model
The current three-cohort Hybrid model will end upon the return dates listed for the three phases. Please understand that this shift to in-person learning requires teachers to focus their attention on the full classroom of students in front of them for both instruction and student safety. With few exceptions as determined by the classroom teacher, live “Zoom into the classroom” will not be an option for students at home. If a student is required to be out of school for quarantine, or other health or personal reasons, all assignments and materials will be accessed asynchronously through the platforms currently in use: Google Classroom, SeeSaw, email, etc. Teachers and students will be able to connect daily using these platforms and/or arrange a time to connect with the teacher via Zoom before or after school.
Special education services will continue to be provided for students via Zoom if a student is out of school for an extended period of time.
For now, the schedule for Wednesday remote learning remains the same. As we bring more students back into school, we need this time for our nurses and public health partners to contact-trace cases, respond to our “pooled testing” program, and to allow time for a thorough cleaning during the week. Wednesday attendance will be revisited as a possible option in the months ahead.
The current Virtual Academy will continue to operate as usual. Students in grades three through twelve will be afforded the opportunity to pivot between in-person learning and the Virtual Academy before the start of the new schedule using the election form link that can be found at the bottom of this message.
School bus ridership limitations have not changed. Until the state modifies the guidelines around school bus capacity, student cohorts for bus transportation will remain the same. Pick up and drop off will be the responsibility of parents and guardians on the two days that are presently the remote learning days for your child’s cohort. In the event a family has extenuating circumstances regarding the ability to obtain a ride to school, please contact your child’s principal. There are very few available seats on our busses, but each principal will have the most up-to-date information on options.
Traffic during pick up and drop off will be a challenge for everyone. Each school is reviewing its procedures in consultation with the Hanover Police Department to determine what steps will be necessary to ensure safety on the campus itself and to manage traffic around the school. These plans will be communicated by each principal before the new schedule takes effect.
Health and Safety
The approval to move forward with each of these phases will be made with health and safety as the priority in consultation with our Director of Health Services, Hanover Board of Health, MA DPH, and DESE. As we have done each step of the way so far, these decisions will be based on local and school-based COVID-19 cases at the time these plans are scheduled to be implemented.
We need to ensure that we are able to maintain at least three feet of physical distance in classrooms and six feet of distance at lunch. Most classrooms will have student desks arranged between three and four feet of physical distance. Passing time, restrooms, and other logistics are being worked out at each school. Mask wearing and hand-washing will continue to be enforced.
The pending implementation of our “pooled testing” program requires scheduling and logistics at each school to ensure safety and efficiency with the process. Parents will be asked to provide consent for each student to participate. That consent process will be announced as soon as we have the necessary information from our testing vendor. We anticipate testing to begin prior to February vacation.
Very Important Next Step: Official Election Process
Families must submit this election form for each child to indicate their intention to participate in the return to school plans -or- to pivot into (or out of) the Virtual Academy. This election form must be submitted by Friday, February 5th at 5:00 PM.
We are optimistic that this plan will allow our students to resume as much academic normalcy as possible in a safe environment. Hanover will be one of the first districts to return to this level of in-person learning in our region. Our ability to implement these plans is because of the collaborative support of our teachers and families along with our school health, public health, and public safety departments. Hanover has an incredible team. We will continue to collaborate to address challenges going forward, and every next step is a work in progress. We believe that our staff, families, and community members will respond to these plans with optimism, support, and grace as we all work together through these challenging times for the benefit of our students.
The School Committee is meeting this Wednesday evening. The public meeting will begin at 7:00 PM. These plans are on the agenda to be discussed and formally voted on. Thank you for your kind attention to this important information.
Leah Miller, Chairperson, Hanover School Committee
Matt Ferron, Superintendent of Schools