Dedham Schools Will Have ‘Phased Reopening’ Starting Remote

DEDHAM, MA — Dedham Public Schools have decided on the back-to-school plan for the fall and it’s a phased version of the hybrid model that districts were instructed to come up with. Students will start the year completely remote and slowly come back to the classroom as the year progresses, moving to the hybrid model that combines remote and in-class instruction.

The Dedham School Committee unanimously approved the Dedham Public School’s plan after two meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. The plan, which is due to be submitted to the MA Department of Education and Secondary Education (DESE) on Aug. 10th, provides initial details on school safety and operations, as well as outlines teaching and learning approaches. Additional changes to the plan are expected as Dedham Schools negotiate with the relevant employee unions and each school building adapts this plan in more detail to best accommodate their specific needs.

As part of the plan, faculty and staff would return to school buildings without students on Aug. 31 for protocol training, professional development, and classroom remote learning support. On Sept. 16, student learning would start online, beginning a phased transition to a hybrid learning model.

In the earliest phases high needs students, including those with learning needs, economic disadvantages and English learners, will begin returning to the school four days a week. Additional groups of students will begin returning in designated groups for some days of in-person school, as soon as routines become familiar and circumstances regarding the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus permit, the district said. This will allow those students most critically in need of direct in-person instruction to receive these services as soon as possible.

The district is holding off on offering exact transition dates as they will be made according to state guidance and virus transmission data.

Families will have the option to choose to keep their students home for remote learning full time, and surveys are being issued by the school next week asking families to state their preferences for this phase hybrid approach or full remote, as well as transportation needs.

“It is abundantly clear that students need to be in front of teachers in person and form close relationships for effective learning to occur. However, it is critical that we make a safe return to our schools the number one priority as we plan to serve our students this fall,” stated Mike Welch, Dedham Superintendent of Schools. “I believe a gradual, phased reopening of our schools is the safest path forward and provides much needed time for educators to plan and prepare for the many changes this new year will bring.”

This article originally appeared on the Dedham Patch

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