WILMINGTON — Wednesday night’s School Committee meeting opened with comments related to this spring’s remote learning feedback due to the releasing of the survey sent out by Dr. Glenn Brand to all Wilmington parents.
Jennifer Fidler, president of the Wilmington Teacher’s Association, gave a statement on behalf of the WTA in the first public comment. It explained that classroom teachers were rated harshly in the feedback — and they were the only people for whom the survey invited feedback.
“While many Wilmington teachers wanted to move forward with new learning, we kept up with the guidelines. We were all learning to teach remotely on the fly,” the statement read.
Going forward, Wilmington’s teachers hope that communication with the superintendent and parents will help create the best and safest learning environments for WPS students.
After that, several parents commented on the lack of new learning via remote learning. One resident noted that his son had only one meeting with his teacher for 30 minutes once a week.
Another resident said, “If you are serious about keeping kids safe, you need to abide by their rights to receive a proper education.”
The commenters seemed to favor in-person learning in the fall with increased recess and socialization time.
A parent and resident who shared at the previous meeting, Ursula Tasto, challenged the WPS to be continuously learning and changing. Whatever plan there is for the fall, she recommended that it should include being able to reevaluate, readapt, and involve the community.
She also applauded Brand for being willing to share the results of the parent-guardian reopening survey, which were then detailed.
Brand started by establishing that the survey focused on feedback for remote learning and thoughts about returning to school in the fall. It yielded 538 responses. Some of the survey results included that 87 percent of parents are likely to send their children to school in person; 82 percent are worried about their students’ academic preparedness; and 67 percent felt that their children were disconnected from their classmates and their teachers.
What parents suggested for WPS to provide in support included clarification on learning units, academic feedback, information on how to support their students’ learning patterns, and extra devices. Brand assured the committee that the survey would be used for educational planning by the reopening advisory group.
He personally added this spring was a challenge for both educators and districts, many of whom were unprepared for the change to remote learning. A few committee members mentioned that the guidance for teachers and parents was constantly shifting and expressed a desire to be proactive moving forward.
The next part of the meeting featured the results of the Walker Report survey. This survey focused on programs and services for students with disabilities. Brand mentioned that the survey’s results were supposed to be shared in the March School Committee meeting that got cancelled when schools closed.
The results of the survey emphasized increasing administrative oversight in special education with things like professional development and support for staff, and building student skills so as to maximize their independence and decrease reliance on paraprofessional support.
Things like alignment of district programs, communication between families and staff, academic services, and social/emotional/behavioral health support were mostly marked “needs improvement” and “very poor” related to students with disabilities.
Increasing communication, team organization, consistency in curriculum, and more social and emotional support for students were identified as ways to improve. Some changes have already been made based on these results, including the addition of a special education teacher at the middle school and PBIL groups at every school.
The conversation then dissolved into a discussion on how to support students with disabilities and IEPs with remote learning and how these students will be considered in the reopening plan.