Town Crier

TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury School Com­mittee met on Wednes­day, Sept. 16, 2020 for a virtual meeting via teleconference.

The committee obser­ved a moment of silence for Elaine Fiske, a 35-year veteran of the Heath Brook School.

The committee first ad­dressed the Wynn Middle School Washing­ton, D.C. field trip for spring 2021. Principal John Weir thanked and acknowledged teacher Michael Gillespie for his hard work in planning the trip, but due to current public health re­strictions from the state, the committee voted to postpone the trip.

The committee also discussed participation in athletics and co-curricular activities for students in the district’s remote learning academy. Malone said that the district usually takes attendance into account for participation in ac­tivities, but the pandemic presented an unusual situation.

“It would be my recommendation that the committee consider allowing students who are in the Remote Learning Acade­my to participate in athletics and activities... to promote interaction and social emotional learning of the students in the school system,” said Ma­lone.

Athletic director Ron Drouin gave some in­sight into the fall sports season, explaining that the season will be seven weeks long, and teams will play the same opponent twice in one week. Indoor events will not permit spectators, but games will be aired on local cable access by Tewks­bury Tele­media.

The board voted to allow RLA students to participate in activities through the school year as long as the hybrid model is in place.

Malone gave his superintendent update, thanking administrators and staff for their hard work to make the opening possible. He said that AlphaBest will be providing childcare and extended day on a limited basis, utilizing some school space and some offsite space.

Students enrolled in the Remote Learning Acade­my (17 percent of the district) will be taught by Tewks­bury teachers, aligned with Tewksbury curriculum.

Malone asked families to be careful when traveling out of state and urged them to adhere to state quarantine guidelines. The district will also be enforcing the state’s mandatory flu shot requirement.

Malone is working with town officials to plan so­cially distanced ALICE ac­tive shooter and fire drills.

Assistant superintendent Brenda Theriault-Regan reviewed the COVID-19 screening expectations for parents and guardians, asking for wellness checks to be done with their students before sending them to school. The screening document lists COVID-19 symptoms, as well as procedures for safe drop-off and pick-up (the document may be found on the district website).

She noted that students who stay home due to potential infection may still access their classes from home. Theriault-Re­gan also reviewed the district’s mask protocol, re­quiring students and staff to wear disposable or frequently-cleaned reusable masks on all school grounds and at all school events (including sporting events, buses, and bus stops).

Theriault-Regan asked all families to follow the “birthday candle test... if a student or an adult can blow out the flame through the mask, the mask is not appropriate for school.”

As an alternative for young children, she said that if a student can blow a piece of paper off a table through their mask, it is not suitable. If a student’s mask breaks during the day, they will be provided with a new mask.

Young students will be given lanyards to hold their masks during breaks. If students have difficulty wearing a mask, the district will take a therapeutic approach.

Theriault-Regan also poin­ted out digital re­sources and supports available to families on the district website; parents can find guidance on how to use Chromebooks, Google Classroom, Zoom, and more. IT services will also be providing technical support, though The­riault-Regan requested pa­tience from families.

Theriault-Regan briefly overviewed FAQs for grab-and-go lunches, ad­ding that breakfast and lunch will be provided free to students to take home. On remote learning days, families may pick up lun­ches at a designated time.

Theriault-Regan also re­minded students to complete their summer reading.

The next School Commit­tee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Residents wishing to comment may find the call-in number on their screen and on the meeting agenda as posted on the town website. The meeting may be view­ed on Com­cast channel 27 and Verizon channel 34.

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