After a special School Committee meeting yesterday, members agreed to eliminate a full in-school education model and asked the administration to continue developing a hybrid and remote model.

The vote took the full in-person education model off the table and opted to continue working on hybrid and remote options while continuing negotiations with bargaining units. The committee's series of votes directed the administration to submit to the state a preliminary plan that would include a hybrid learning plan as well as a remote learning plan. The district will report that the state's preferred full in-person learning is not a possibility.

Superintendent Jake McCandless said Pittsfield Public Schools administrators and School Committee members will continue to meet with the United Educators of Pittsfield and survey all of its staff this week to work out the details of a hybrid and fully remote learning models. As previously noted, the district must submit its draft plan for reopening to the state Education Department on Friday, July 31.

Last week administrators sent out forms to parents and guardians of all PPS students to gauge where families were with their willingness to send children back to school, what modified schedules would work best for them, and questions on busing as well.

According to The Berkshire Eagle, McCandless read through the survey data and 58.4 percent of those who responded no said they would be willing to send their kids to school if a hybrid model is used that would reduce student capacity.
McCandless also said there is a sense that some students just benefit from in-person interaction with teachers even if it is minimal and they would like to preserve this in some way.
We do know that it is going to be much better for the educational health and social-emotional health of some of our students to have some version of in-person as soon as possible
Dr. Jake McCandless, PPS Superintendent
The district is also developing two separate hybrid systems that would accommodate social distancing by shrinking the student body in the schools at one time.
An morning/afternoon model would split the student body in half for 2 1/2-hour shifts  At each school, a morning cohort would go in leaving sometime in the late morning. The second group would then go to school and leave around 3 p.m. Students would be provided core instruction in the building and participate in remote experiences for the rest of the day.
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McCandless did note that this model provides less consistency and lunch would have to be scheduled as well as frequent mask breaks and lunch is a concern as well.  With the half-day model, students would be provided lunch but would eat at home.

We are not going to come up with a system that is going to thrill everybody so we all have to do our best. We have to do our homework and we have to do what the data tells us.
Dr. Jake McCandless, PPS Superintendent



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