School board approves superintendent’s decision to go remote during the holiday season

Londonderry+School+Board+holds+a+meeting+in+the+high+school+cafeteria+on+Tuesday%2C+November+10+to+discuss+all+schools+moving+to+remote+learning.

Photo by Courtney Clark

Londonderry School Board holds a meeting in the high school cafeteria on Tuesday, November 10 to discuss all schools moving to remote learning.

As the holiday season approaches, the school board needed to make a decision on whether it would be best to have the Londonderry School District go back to remote learning for a short period of time.

On Tuesday, November 10, the Londonderry School Board had a public meeting where they voted on the possibility of moving to full online school from November 30 to January 19.

After the chair opened the meeting at 7:00 pm, they soon moved onto their first item on the agenda, the decision for remote learning.

Before opening discussion to the public over the issue, Superintendent Scott LaLiberte presented a brief overview of his plan and reasoning for remote learning during the holiday season.

LaLiberte started by confirming that the school does communicate with the Department of Public Health daily and addressed that the plan the schools are using now were made in response to COVID-19 cases in August. As it is now November, the town has seen a large increase in cases since then and that is the reason they decided to reevaluate their plan.

With the upcoming holiday season approaching, the school wanted to make it clear that  Londonderry residents traveling and visitors coming from other states was a factor for their decision, but isn’t the only reason for them to go remote.

The Superintendent wanted this plan to be put into action since with a high travel season around the holidays, a higher risk for COVID-19 spread will also occur. LaLiberte wants to place a planned, temporary remote period during this high risk time instead of having students and staff return to hybrid and risk having clusters of COVID-19 break out, which would only cause the schools to be shut down for a longer period of time.

By the school being proactive rather than reactive, the Superintendent feels more comfortable having a structured plan rather than having to react in the moment where they can “plan to do it, plan to come out of it.”

Starting the remote learning after the Thanksgiving break and ending on January 19 will allow enough time for any student or staff that traveled to have a full quarantine period without missing school.

And though the school wishes to remain hybrid when returning to school in January, they are prepared to adjust the plan if conditions change in the next 2 months.

After the school board took all of LaLiberte’s plans into consideration, they decided to vote. The chair stated that after talking to the school’s attorney, the authority of the decision is with the Superintendent. But, the board can overrule his decision if voted on.

Once the board motioned for a vote on the Superintendent’s plan, the board sided with LaLiberte with a ruling of 4-1 in favor. This means remote learning will commence on November 30.

While last year in the spring, remote learning was rushed and not planned due to a government shutdown, this year the decision to go remote is voluntary. And because of this, remote learning can be handled differently.

For example, all school buildings will remain open since there isn’t a mandated state lockdown. This allows teachers to be able to visit their classrooms, and for special education to allow students to keep a regular school schedule with transportation to the school.

The Superintendent wishes for all students to keep a regular schedule for remote learning as well. In order to maintain structure, this year the board wants all teachers to use sources like Google Meet to keep in touch with their students.

When at home, all students will follow the same times as regular school, no matter if they are a Red Day or a Blue Day. All students at the highschool will follow a block schedule only having four periods a day, 90 minutes each.

The days will alternate from having A, C, E, G one day and  B, D, F, H the next.

Every high school student will log onto their first class at 7:30 am as usual and will end their day at 2:24 pm. It will be up to the teacher if they will want to use Google Meet, have office hours, or do independent work for their 90 minute periods.

And the Superintendent does understand that with classes that have a lot of labs and in person work, remote learning is difficult. Though nothing has been confirmed yet, talks of allowing some classes to be in person based on their activities are being worked on right now.

Along with this idea, the school board is awaiting guidance for safety regulations for winter sports. If sports are to continue in the winter, they will not continue until after the remote learning is lifted, which is planned for January 19.

So during the next remote learning period during the holiday season, remember to continue taking all recommended safety precautions and remain safe in hopes of returning to school on January 19.

 

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