August 7, 2020

Minutes of the Monson School Committee Regular Business Meeting August 7, 2020 “Pursuant to Governor Baker’s March 12, 2020 Order Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, §18, and the Governor’s March 15, 2020 Order imposing strict limitation on the number of people that may gather in one place, this meeting of the Town of Monson School Committee will be conducted via remote participation to the greatest extent possible. Specific information and the general guidelines for remote participation by members of the public and/or parties with a right and/or requirement to attend this meeting can be found on the Town of Monson website, at www.monson-ma.gov. For this meeting, members of the public who wish to listen to the meeting may do so in the following manner: https://zoom.us/j/98889130070 Meeting ID: 988 8913 0070, no in-person attendance of members of the public will be permitted, but every effort will be made to ensure that the public can adequately access the proceedings in real time, via technological means. In the event that we are unable to do so, despite best efforts, we will post on the Town of Monson’s website an audio or video recording, transcript, or other comprehensive record of proceedings as soon as possible after the meeting. Present: Chair Jeffrey Lord; Vice Chair Emily-Graves-Harrison; Secretary Andy Dubois-White; Committee Members; Colleen Flynn and Kathryn Peterson Also Present: Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Clarke; Director of Student Services/Early Childhood Center Suzanne Morneau; Granite Valley School Principal Katherine Watts; Granite Valley School Assistant Principal Joe Trivisonno; Monson High School Principal William Metzger; Monson High School Assistant Principal Jill Foulis; Early Childhood Center Dean of Students/Special Education Coordinator Colette Bidus; Monson Teachers’ Association President Leah Zippin and Recording Secretary Karen Methe Note: This meeting was recorded using Zoom technology. Mr. Lord called the meeting to order 7:04 p.m. Dr. Clarke read the Mission & Vision Statements. Agenda item #2 – High School Graduation Update will be moved to a later time in tonight’s meeting. Continuation/Update of Fall Re-entry Plan: Dr. Clarke stated that a detailed re-entry plan, outlining possible options, was sent to all staff and families. Due to widespread loss of power and internet access throughout the town, the August 5, 2020 Regular Business Meeting was rescheduled to this evening. Despite the outage Dr. Clarke had significant Zoom participation from families that had questions about the information they had received. Dr. Clarke noted that a question and answer meeting was held with Monson Teachers’ Association (MTA) representation and this morning there was a Superintendent’s update for all staff. Additional family Zoom sessions will be scheduled. In response to options offered, Dr. Clarke reported that approximately 75% of families indicated that they would like their child in school in some capacity in the fall. Mrs. Zippin, MTA President, thanked the School Committee, Administration Leadership Team (ALT) and the MTA COVID Action Team members for all their hard work and dedication during this ongoing process. She noted that staff is divided down the middle with 59 people in favor of the in-person hybrid option and 59 people for remote learning only, adding that some members feel strongly that students need to be back in the

School Committee Minutes: Page 1 of 4 Regular Business Meeting-August 7, 2020


DRAFT COPY for distribution/approval at the Regular Business Meeting- August 26, 2020

classroom while others felt strongly that full remote is the best option for returning in the fall, adding that the numbers haven’t changed dramatically from the initial survey. Discussion followed on what in-person learning may look like. Town Board of Health agent, Lorri McCool, offered ideas on ways everyone could take personal responsibility being in the classroom. She urged mask-wearing, continuous hand-washing and social distancing. School nurse leader, Mrs. Fedora, spoke about the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) guidelines for returning to school. Her concern is that those guidelines do not mesh with the state guidelines or that of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It is also suggested that the school district work closely with the Town Board of Health Mr. Lord stated that this is the hardest decision the Committee has had to make since he began serving on the Committee and was hopeful that whatever decision is made, the community will support it. Ms. Graves-Harrison asked for specific examples of the differences between DESE and other safety guidelines. Ms. Peterson asked Dr. Clarke to speak to the possibility of teachers teaching outside their licensure and what that would look like. There was a short discussion surrounding the Commissioner of Education’s lack of consistent guidance to districts trying so hard to make the best decision for their families and staff. The deadline for the plan was changed to August 14, 2020. Mr. Lord reviewed the plans being offered which are fully remote, hybrid model, 2 days on, 2 days off, (Friday’s will be ½ day remote for all students), or some variation thereof, with the possibility of some schools being 4 days on. Public session: Mr. Lord opened Public Session at 8:04 p.m. Due to the very large number of participants in tonight’s meeting, Mr. Lord stated that approximately 15 people would be able to address the Committee. He added that Public Session allows members of the community to express their comments and concerns but questions are not necessarily answered in this forum. Dr. Clarke said she would be keeping track of questions and Mr. Lord stated that if possible, she would answer them upon the close of Public Session. Approximately 14 town residents, including parents, staff, community members came forward to address the Committee. Mr. Lord closed Public Session at 8:18 p.m. Dr. Clarke answered the questions that she could and stated that if she did not have an answer she would do her best to research and find one. Mr. Lord asked each Committee member for their view on a fall re-entry plan. Mr. Dubois-White was in favor of the 4/day or 2/day hybrid model with a fully remote option for the first semester. Ms. Peterson would like fully remote option for the first semester. Ms. Flynn endorses 100% hybrid with a fully remote option for the entire year. Ms. Graves- Harrison would like a fully remote return, working toward a Phase 2 hybrid model then a Phase 3 in-person model. Motion by Mr. Lord that first semester, beginning September 9, 2020

School Committee Minutes: Page 2 of 4 Regular Business Meeting-August 7, 2020


DRAFT COPY for distribution/approval at the Regular Business Meeting- August 26, 2020

through January 19, 2021, be implementation of the hybrid model, with a fully remote learning option as defined in Dr. Clarke’s fall re-entry plan. (Second by Ms. Flynn) Discussion followed Roll Call Vote: Ms. Graves-Harrison No Mr. Dubois-White Yes Ms. Flynn Yes Ms. Peterson No Mr. Lord Yes Motion carries 3-2 Dr. Clarke thanked the Committee for their support. Mr. Lord requested a 5-minute break, which began at 9:06 p.m. The meeting was re-convened at 9:11 p.m. Agenda item #2 High School Graduation Update: Mr. Metzger stated that due to the restraints of no graduations being held before July 17, 2020, the high school planned for an outdoor social distance ceremony on August 15, 2020. Governor Baker has since reduced the Phase 3 outside gathering number from 100 to 50, effective immediately due to an uptick in positive Coronavirus cases. With the seniors, families, guests and staff slated to attend the August 15, 2020 outdoor graduation, that number was much higher than the recent decrease. Mr. Lord stated that the Committee cannot overrule Governor Baker’s decision. Mr. Metzger proposed an alternate plan for the graduation ceremony. Students and families (with a limit of 2 cars) will be assigned a time slot to drive-up, in cap and gown, at the high school to receive their diploma from Dr. Clarke and Mr. Metzger. Time will be allotted for pictures. All of the important speeches that would have been delivered at the ceremony will be taped and distributed on social media. Mr. Lord voiced his continued concerns about social distancing though Mr. Metzger assured him the utmost care would be given to ensure each person’s safety. Mr. Dubois-White, though still conflicted on appropriate social distancing, stated that it was a creative alternative. Ms. Flynn added that the district owes it to the students and families to have some sort of graduation celebration. Ms. Peterson agrees with Mr. Metzger’s alternate proposal. Ms. Graves-Harrison acknowledged that it was a good compromise. Ms. McCool also felt this was a good compromise, adding that hand sanitizer should be available for everyone. Mr. Metzger thanked Committee members for their continued support. Review of Action Items: Dr. Clarke will get pertinent information out to families tomorrow followed by a choice commitment letter to parents on Monday. Mrs. Methe will cancel previously scheduled August 12, 2020 Regular Business Meeting. The next meeting will be held on August 19, 2020 as scheduled. Mr. Lord thanked everyone for their presence and input at tonight’s meeting.

School Committee Minutes: Page 3 of 4 Regular Business Meeting-August 7, 2020


DRAFT COPY for distribution/approval at the Regular Business Meeting- August 26, 2020

Motion by Mr. Lord to adjourn Open Session. (Second by Ms. Peterson) No discussion Motion carries 5-0 Open Session closed at 9:36 p.m. Documentation for this meeting: August 5, 2020-Regular Business Meeting Agenda Distributed at meeting: N/A Approved by Committee: ________________________________________ Mr. Dubois-White, Secretary


August 7, 2020
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