MEDFIELD — The Medfield School Committee and Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Marsden wish to provide an update to the Medfield community on the district’s continued work to transition to in-person learning.
First grade students transitioned to full in-person learning on Tuesday, Feb. 23. All Pre-K through first grade students at the Memorial School are now back to learning fully in-person for the entirety of their program.
The district is currently planning for a return to fully in-person learning for students in grades 2-12, and is targeting late March or early April to phase in all students to full in-person learning.
Earlier this month, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) updated its transportation guidance for the school year. DESE’s guidance lifts capacity limitations and physical distancing requirements for buses transporting elementary students as well as for middle and high school buses in districts where there is not a high community prevalence of COVID-19. The recent change to this guidance removed a critical barrier for schools to fully reopen.
Additionally, the pooled testing initiative is beginning in Medfield this week for all staff and for students in grades 6-12. The data resulting from pooled testing will provide the district with important health information regarding the prevalence of COVID-19 within the school community.
DESE continues to recommend a minimum of 3 feet of distance when all other precautionary measures — including masks, hand hygiene, cleaning and contact tracing — are in place and districts should aim for 6 feet when feasible. This guidance is supported by public health experts and organizations. Last week, the district set up several classrooms at various distances to ensure all students would be able to be accommodated in the school buildings at a 3-6 foot physical distance.
In the coming weeks, the district will be focusing on the following:
- Surveying parents to determine if any students will be moved to the all-remote Cohort D or will require transportation changes
- Increasing participation in the pooled testing initiative and determining funding options to expand the initiative beyond the initial weeks covered by DESE
- Reconfiguring and/or adding classroom furniture
- Purchasing additional PPE/safety supplies
- Adjusting staff as needed
- Consulting with the Medfield Board of Health and the district physician
- Reviewing traffic patterns at all schools
- Reworking some bus routes for efficiency
- Meeting with the Medfield Teachers’ Association to discuss potential impacts of full in-person learning
“We recognize the value of in-person learning and remain committed to being able to have all of our students back to school in a fully in-person learning model this spring,” Superintendent Marsden said. “As it has been since the beginning of the pandemic, the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority and we will continue to make the decisions that reflect this priority.”