PEABODY — Superintendent Josh Vadala wishes to provide an update to Peabody Public Schools students, families and staff on the district’s plans to transition to in-person learning.
“Yesterday evening, the School Committee voted to begin work to return our elementary school students, and later our middle and high school students, to daily in-person learning through a phased approach.
“That effort could result in the return of all students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade to in-person learning five days a week beginning on March 15. Students in grades 6-12 would then return to in-person learning five days a week beginning on March 29.
“Peabody’s teachers have done an amazing job supporting their students within our hybrid model, and our goal has consistently been the safe return of as many students as possible to in-person school settings, so we can maximize learning and address our students’ holistic needs. There’s no way to fully quantify the immense positive impact being in school has on students’ mental health and learning ability. Additionally, in-person learning will more fully enable the district to deliver critical wraparound services that benefit students in need.
“Public health experts, including the Peabody Public Health Department, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the state Department of Public Health, have all been clear that returning to in-person learning is safe when we combine a minimum social distancing standard of at least three feet among students and six feet between students and staff, along with masks and enhanced cleaning measures. We will work with our teachers to ensure those standards are met and that we are doing everything we can as a district to keep students and staff safe and healthy.
“Our next step is to survey parents and staff to better understand their preferences moving forward with respect to in-person or remote learning models, and pair that with our existing understanding that parents have been clear about how they value in-person learning. We are also cognizant of the importance of protecting the health of our staff and students, which has been our paramount concern over the last year and will remain so going forward.
“Yesterday’s announcement by the state’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jeffrey Riley, served as an affirmation of our goal to restore in-person learning. Peabody has been a leader since the start of this school year in finding innovative ways to keep students engaged in their learning, and progressing to full-time in-person learning is the natural next phase of that effort.
“We are eager to work collaboratively with all of our stakeholders — teachers, students, staff, families, healthcare providers and public health experts — to safely resume in-person learning, and we will make every effort to keep them all engaged and informed throughout this process.”