WILMINGTON — Before Wilmington’s students and staff transition into a hybrid learning model this week, Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand prepared several updates for the community at the School Committee meeting last Wednesday night.
The first was the Superintendent’s Report. Brand gave a staffing update that progress is being made filling remaining vacancies for this year’s needs.
“It’s difficult to find people during the year, as most are already locked into positions in other districts,” he explained.
Despite the limited candidate pool, when asked later, he said that staffing is no longer an issue preventing reopening.
School Committee member David Ragsdale asked whether the district is taking steps to offer candidates competitive salaries compared to what other districts may offer. Brand answered that they’d give a candidate a fair offer considering their experience and education.
Jenn Bryson then asked about the status of Wilmington substitute teachers, which would be expanded upon in the reopening update.
The superintendent moved onto the food services update, where he said the free lunch will be available for hybrid students, whether they’re in person or remote, as of this week.
His final item in his report was the announcement of a COVID-19 district wide planning team, which includes one staff member from each school building. The team will brainstorm and plan about logistics things like protocols and guide the building-based committees for the same purpose.
“This will ensure continuity across all buildings and the district as a whole,” he said.
From there, he discussed the school reopening update. Months of negotiating with the Wilmington Teachers’ Association had finally concluded as of earlier that week. Brand said they’re working on ratifying the Memorandum of Agreement this week before they can put it online.
The result of the second air quality and airflow test, Brand continued, said that each school is functioning optimally. There were no identified environmental issues to be dealt with. He also reiterated the timeline for the 400 portable air purifiers to arrive by the end of this week. He said that these will be running 24 hours a day even when windows are open.
After emphasizing COVID-19 self-monitoring, he declared that all students aged six months or older will be required to take the flu vaccine by Dec. 31, except those with a medical or religious exemption. Other updates included that anyone traveling to a high-risk state must quarantine for 14 days or test negative before returning to school and that the new bus routes have been posted online.
In terms of substitutes, Brand said that Wilmington has made efforts to attract more including adjusting pay. He shared that the 100 substitutes on their list aren’t full-time substitutes in Wilmington and that the district doesn’t know their preferred working conditions (whether remote or in-person).
For the second time, he listed the schedule for the transition to hybrid week. Monday and Tuesday were days off for
all Wilmington students. Wednesday would be the first day in-person for the a.m. kindergarten class but remote for everyone else. Thursday would be the first day in-person for p.m. kindergarten and cohort A grades 1, 4, 6, and 9-12. Friday is the first day in-person for all kindergarten classes and cohort B grades 1, 4, 6, and 9-12.
Brand reminded parents and guardians of the revised school year calendar and the upcoming virtual open house and parent/teacher conference dates. He also said that schools will resume their normal start times once they’re open for hybrid learning.
The committee members asked questions about students quarantining in terms of attendance and instruction on their cohort’s in-person days. Brand said that he’d like to see them participate and to stay with the same teacher instead of switching into cohort C for the two weeks.
After the reopening update, Brand presented the enrollment report, wherein he said that about 350 students (10 percent of the district) have left Wilmington public schools since July. Some of the other options he listed that parents have chosen instead are homeschooling, private schools, or Shawsheen Tech.
The committee received the FY20 final revolving account report before they voted in M. J. Byrnes as the delegate to the MASC’s annual convention.
Bryson wished health and safety to everyone moving to hybrid or the full remote learning model to end the meeting that night.
Their next meeting will be on Wednesday, Oct. 28 starting at 7 p.m.