Let’s cut straight to the chase. Here is where everyone stands at this point in time.
- Harrisville: Adopted the blended hybrid plan as presented and authorized a change to the school calendar to align with the majority of other districts. “Letters of Intent” sent to families on Friday 8/7. No additional meeting scheduled at this time.
- Keene: Adopted the blended hybrid plan and modified the school calendar in that staff now begin on August 31st, students begin on September 10 and the last day of school for students is shifted to June 23rd. “Letters of Intent” going out to families today and tomorrow. Meeting Tuesday evening 8/11 at 6pm.
- Marlow: Adopted a plan to open the school year fully remote. No change or authorization to change the calendar at this time. Meeting Wednesday afternoon 8/12 at 3:30pm.
- Westmoreland: Adopted a motion to open the school year fully remote, with the ability to shift to a hybrid model if ready for implementation by August 31st. No change or authorization to change the calendar at this time. Meeting Wednesday evening 8/12 at 6pm.
- Chesterfield: No plan adopted at this time. No change or authorization to change the calendar at this time. Meeting Wednesday evening 8/12 at 6pm.
- Marlborough: No plan adopted at this time. No change or authorization to change the calendar at this time. Meeting Monday evening 8/10 at 5pm.
- Nelson: No plan adopted at this time. No change or authorization to change the calendar at this time. Meeting Tuesday afternoon 8/11 at 3:30pm
Please note that our staff and school boards throughout the SAU are working very hard to prepare for the opening of the school year. They have been receiving input from people that want to be fully onsite 5 days a week, AND from people that only want to be in a remote learning environment. There are a number of safety precautions that we have put forth in order to bring a portion of students onsite to begin the school year. There exists an infinite number of “what if…” scenarios that can be created that when one is answered, the next one is brought forward. I get it. People are concerned and honestly, we all should be.
Our plan, without getting overly detailed, focuses on key concepts to keeping everyone safe. They are largely dependent on minimizing exposure to include:
- Screening and Reporting for all students and staff
- Face Coverings for everyone
We will also be monitoring the actual data in our communities on a daily basis. You’ll see that included in the weekly update as it has been for the last 2 weeks and further detailed today. There was a great deal of conversation around the “tipping points” for our schools to move from one model to another. I believe most people were satisfied with moving from a hybrid to fully onsite as will occur over a longer period of time. I also believe that many people were concerned that the tipping point to go fully remote was too late in the game. In response to that concern, we have realigned the tipping point to move to fully remote to a much more precautionary number as you’ll see below.
The contracted vendor for our building ventilation systems continues to work school by school. We need their findings as they are the experts in the field, (despite what I may have read). As stated many times, we will not be using spaces and/or buildings that are unable to supply adequate fresh air.
There has been some concern with the concept of live streaming a classroom to those students that want to remain remote and stay connected. I have to take a step backwards as the technical advisory that was sent in 2015 was not updated to reflect a slight change in law. In 2015 the advisory that was issued stated very clearly that “No school shall record in any way a school classroom for any purpose without school board approval after a public hearing, and without consent of the teacher and the parent or legal guardian of each affected student.” The “for any purpose” part of the law was changed and now reads “for the purpose of teacher evaluation” which now leaves open the possibility of recording and/or live streaming a class for instructional purposes. However, I must still caution that it doesn’t mean we can just tell teachers that they have to start doing this. There are still many obstacles that will need to be overcome to make that a reality, the largest of which I referenced in the Thursday evening meeting, student privacy rights. Additionally, the logistics involved for a teacher to be able to teach in person AND livestream that lesson at the same time is a very tall order. We will continue to explore this possibility and keep people updated as things progress.
Finally, the most significant update for many people contemplating a fully remote learning option is the development of an in-district option staffed by our personnel. We are committed to finding that solution for our students that prefer to be remote as the school year opens in districts that will be offering onsite teaching and learning. A great deal of that solution is knowing what we are looking at in terms of total numbers so that the overall need can be clearly identified as we work to structure that solution. Once we have that data, we will be able to identify the staffing needs and what steps need to be taken to get that up and running.
Everyone is working around the clock to be ready for the opening of the school year. It is really a positive sign of the involvement of our communities to know that we are all anxiously anticipating what that will look like in each individual school. Our staff, our school boards, our families and our students all want the best that can be delivered. There is absolutely no “one-size-fits-all” model that will satisfy everyone, we all know that and it’s okay. We have been transparent about our core beliefs and working to find a median that will meet the needs of our communities. Our staff have been challenged with difficult model designs, our Boards have been challenged with approving an opening plan to balance the wide ranging needs of their communities, and ultimately, our families will be challenged with making difficult decisions on what they are going to do when the school year begins. No one person’s decision is easier than the others, but each person should be allowed to feel good about their decision, as everyone is unquestionably doing their best. I am so thankful that we have the wonderful people that we work, live and play with in our communities and despite any brief sidestep, ultimately, I truly believe and know that...
WE GOT THIS!
Active Brain Ideas: If you have other thoughts or ideas on how to keep the brain active in the summer, please post them on this linked Padlet I created so that we can all share and learn from one another. All you need to do is double click on the wallpaper and a sticky note will pop up. Then you can jot down your idea, click on the wallpaper again to post it and those that visit can learn from your wisdom. You can also add comments to posts and like ones that interest you most.
COVID-19 Data: Here is a 7 day look at the data related to COVID-19 that we’ve been tracking since March. Source: NHDHHS COVID-19 Page
For ease of understanding, I’m adding in the charts from the Comprehensive Opening Plan so that it is easier to understand how the numbers above may impact our schools.
Decision Making Model
The following describes how we will make determinations on what model we will be using at any point in time. The first chart demonstrates the risk levels based on positive cases per 100,000 people. The second chart is the tipping points that we will use to move from one model to another. The third chart is the real data for both Cheshire County and the State of New Hampshire.
- The Harvard Global Health Institute key metrics for COVID Suppression issued on July 1, 2020. The rate is calculated using a 7 day rolling average of new cases per 100,000.
- The following chart illustrates the decision tipping metrics that will be used:
**In our original plan, the tipping point for going from the blended hybrid to fully remote was a seven day rolling average of 25 new cases per 100,000. In response to concerns voiced during the SAU-wide Board meetings, we lowered that number to a seven day rolling average of 10 new cases per 100,000. This aligns with the previous risk level chart in that both the orange and red risk levels are combined to go fully remote.**
- The data reported by the NHDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard for our county and our state:
(as of August 10, 2020)
The data will be monitored on a daily basis and determinations will be made and communicated no later than the last Friday of every month (September 26, October 30, November 27, and so forth).
We will use the Rate per 100,000 data across Cheshire County as opposed to using the statewide or town specific data for decision points on any model that we are implementing. The rationale for using the county data is because it will give us enough time to shift prior to a local outbreak in any one of our communities. Unless there is an urgent need to immediately shift to a fully remote model, a period of two weeks will be used to give families and staff enough lead time to transition to any change in model.
Meals: Southwestern Community Services, Inc. began offering the Summer Food Service Program to our community’s youth June 29. All area students, including those from SAU 29 districts, are welcome to utilize the lunch program free of charge.
SCS is encouraging folks to take advantage of the curb-side pick-up at Keene Middle School. The program is available Monday through Friday from June 29 through August 21. The meals will be available from 11:30 AM until 12:30 PM.
For more information please contact Rhonda Hull, SCS Community Food Coordinator at 603.719.4240 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental Health & Cultural Awareness: Below are some resources that may be helpful as we begin our summer vacation.
- https://www.unicef.org/parenting/talking-to-your-kids-about-racism to help talk with your children, our students about racism. This article covers ages ranging under 5 years old, between 6-11years old, and 12+.
- https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/5-ways-stand-against-racism-and-injustice/37355 This article addresses acceptable ways to condemn racism. This seems especially timely as peaceful protesters pop up all over the country, even here in Keene.
- https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/how-white-people-can-talk-their-kids-about-racism/37361 This is a great way to start a conversation about racial issues with your kids. Racism thrives in silence.
- The 5 Signs to help you identify and support others who may be struggling more than usual at this challenging time, or at any time.
100 Different Ways to spend time in the summer with your kids, and most are free of charge!
Power School update:
We have upgraded Power School and in doing so we need to make sure we have all the latest data for your contacts and emergency contacts. We will be sending out a link to a video that will show you how to update your emergency contacts. As we get closer to the opening of school we will ask that you make sure all your information is correct for you and your students. We are putting in place an online registration to keep your important information up to date. Once we have it up and running we will send out a notice to all important links.
Reporting Abuse: If you see something, please say something. You can find guidance on the NH Department of Health and Human Services website.
- Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention - We’re here for you 24/7. You don’t have to be in crisis to call. Call our hotline at: 603-352-3782 or 1-888-511-MCVP
- National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
School Boards: Please use the links below to access the most recent school board meetings for your respective school district.
Chesterfield - CSB Meeting Video
Harrisville - HSB Meeting Video
Keene - KBE Meeting Video
Marlborough - MbSB Meeting Video
Marlow - MwSB Meeting Video
Nelson - NSB Meeting Video
Westmoreland - WSB Meeting Video
School Buildings: Building hours are 7:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for staff only. Visitors are advised to call the school office in advance of showing up to ensure that your needs are able to be met.
Central Office hours are 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
All buildings are closed on the weekend.
School Calendars: The 2020-2021 school year calendars can be found using this link: SAU 29 School District Calendars.
School Grounds: Outdoor facilities were opened on Monday, June 22nd. Playgrounds will remain closed as proper sanitization can not meet recommended guidelines. Organizations and teams wishing to use the facilities must arrange to do so through the facility use process. Contact your respective school district for further information. Users of the facilities shall continue to practice social distancing while on school grounds.
School Year 2020-2021 Opening: In order to best prepare for the return to schools we need to consider all possibilities to most effectively provide for our students, staff and families. More specifically, we need to be prepared for models that could look like the following:
- Being fully onsite as we were prior to the pandemic.
- Some form of being onsite and being remote.
- Being fully remote as we have been since the start of the pandemic.
The primary objective is to have a flexible plan in place for the three models of returning to school for the 2020 – 2021 school year.
Our timeline to help us fulfill that objective looks like this:
Special Education: Happy Summer!!! We are moving forward with the daily business of Special Education. This includes referral meetings, individualized education plan meetings (IEP meetings) and extended school year programming for those students that have qualified. As always, please reach out to the Student Services Offices at 357-9001 extension 230 or email email@example.com if you have any questions. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 3:30. Thank you!
Please contact your school for more information on times and where you should drop off the devices. Make sure you have the power cord with the device.
Help desk number, (603)352-0640 ext 3871. For help with the Home user and remote learning click here.
Contact Information: Dr. Rick Matte is the lead contact person for all COVID-19 inquiries and concerns at all SAU 29 schools and districts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Sununu has also activated a 24-hour COVID-19 hotline for all related needs and supports. The hotline can be reached by dialing 211.