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On Medfield Schools reopening

To the Medfield Community, 

One of the threads that weaves itself through all parts of American life, and most profoundly in Medfield, is public education. Over the last six months COVID -19 has touched every part of our lives that we took as given- the places where we find meaning, fun, stability, comfort and learning. For many of us who have been lucky, the overnight loss of in-person learning in the spring was as shocking and traumatic as any event that followed. It is with all of this in mind that we reach out to you today as we approach the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

In early August, Dr. Marsden and the School Committee jointly submitted an 82 page school reentry plan to the state, the product of a working committee of over 80 stakeholders convened over 8 weeks. Whether carried out in a fully remote, in-person or hybrid learning model, the plan’s intent is to balance the need for robust educational content with the changing physical safety and emotional needs of all of our children, staff and community. Flexibility has become a key word of most discussions we have these days, and in that spirit we offer the following touchpoints as we approach this new year:

The first day of the 2020-21 school year will be Wednesday September 16th with a Hybrid Learning Model in place. 

• Sept. 16th will be a remote ½ day for the entire district, and instructions will soon be sent to each family to facilitate this first day.

• Medfield, along with other local districts, is developing a decision matrix for return to full in person OR to full remote learning, based not only on our community’s infection rate over time, but also upon the communities where our staff live and the economic centers where many of our community members work. 

• It is possible that all three scenarios could happen this year. The goal is to deliver quality, high level, equitable learning throughout.

Student, staff and community safety must be the first priority. 

• Beginning the school year with a hybrid learning model reduces the density of the population in our buildings, while using all operational, mechanical and sanitation methods at our disposal to mitigate risk of contagion. 

• Mask use is mandatory for all. Masks, in combination with a 6 foot distance between teachers, staff and students, have been identified as the most effective prevention against COVID-19 transmission. These two measures allow the best chance for students to consistently attend school in person while mitigating the risk of infection or potentially frequent quarantine absences.

Meaningful learning, personal connection, continuity and equity must guide all interventions. 

• In person and remote learning lessons will be connected, supported, explicit and developmentally appropriate to the grade level, including children with learning, emotional or physical challenges, and other factors that might impact their ability to access an appropriate education. Students will neither be glued to screens or left completely on their own without access to resources or without specific outreach, at any grade level, whether in person or remote.

• Remote day schedules, even when not specifically connected to a “live” staff member, will follow a similar time frame to the in-person school day.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge that, along with hope and relief, there may be grief, disorientation and real hardship as we reenter school. Remote learning is disruptive for families. In school, desks are 6 feet apart and face in one direction, there are plexiglass partitions in each school’s office, lunch will be eaten in classrooms or outside, some of our youngest students may not remember much about school at all, while many older students are missing the traditions that have been a part of Medfield student life for decades. However, along with the unfamiliar, there are still friendly faces, smiling eyes above masks, enthusiasm and wonder, connections, structure, and friends. Fall 2020 will not be the same experience as Spring 2021. Respect the sadness, find and embrace the positive, and we will succeed in this new phase as we always have: Together.

With sincerity and gratitude,

The Medfield School Committee
Anna Mae O’Shea Brooke, Chair
Jessica Reilly, Vice Chair
Timothy Knight, Recording Secretary
Meghan Glenn, Treasurer
Leo Brehm, Member at Large
(scchair@email.medfield.net)

Jeffrey Marsden, 
Superintendent
Medfield Public Schools
(jmarsden@email.medfield.net)

For information and questions about the school year, please email reentry2020@email.medfield.net

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