WEST NEWBURY — Superintendent Justin Bartholomew is pleased to announce that the 100% Pentucket Working Group held a productive first meeting today as the Pentucket Regional School District aims for a return to fully in-person learning this spring.
The District is also announcing the finalized roster of professionals lending their time and expertise to the 100% Pentucket initiative:
- Team Leader: West Newbury Fire Chief and PRHS School Resource Officer Michael Dwyer
- Groveland Health Agent Rose Decie
- West Newbury Health Agent Paul Sevigny
- West Newbury Public Health Nurse Diane Dardeno
- Merrimac Health Agent Deb Ketchen
- PRSD District Physician Dr. Stephen Beaudoin
- Pentucket Association of Teachers Representative Elizabeth Wisniewski
- Groveland PRSD School Committee Member Dick Hodges
- West Newbury PRSD School Committee Member Dena Trotta
- Merrimac PRSD School Committee Member Chris Markuns
- PRSD Lead Nurse Ann Brady-Lozier
- PRSD Business Manager Greg Labreqcue
- PRSD Superintendent Justin Bartholomew
- Communications Specialist John Guilfoil (Groveland resident)
In the Zoom session on Monday morning, the district discussed its existing Return to School Plan, created in August. The group is eagerly anticipating more specific guidance from Governor Charlie Baker’s office and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, expected as soon as Monday evening.
When students return to fully in-person learning, a strong emphasis will be maintained with regards to handwashing, appropriate social distancing and the importance of staying home if a person exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. Mask wearing is also expected to continue indefinitely, as per guidance from DESE. BinaxNOW COVID testing and contact tracing programs will also continue.
During the meeting, it was determined that the three town health agents will work with Dr. Beaudoin and Nurse Brady-Lozier to review all existing and upcoming state and federal public health guidelines. This review will inform the working group’s efforts to determine appropriate social distancing guidelines for a return to full in-person learning.
Social distancing is the single greatest barrier that must be addressed in order for Pentucket schools to return to fully in-person learning, as the physical buildings simply cannot accommodate all students at 6-foot increments. The working group will review all options and guidelines, including the possibility of 3-foot social distancing.
Chief Dwyer has agreed to serve as the lead organizer of the working group due to his experience in organizational leadership and managing operations. This organizational structure has recently been on display during the well-organized Lower Merrimack Valley Vaccine Clinic sessions, which Chief Dwyer and West Newbury Health Agent Paul Sevigny have played key roles in organizing and executing.
“This is a working group, tasked with facilitating our return to in-person learning and which has drawn some of the most experienced and well-trained professionals at our district’s disposal,” Superintendent Bartholomew said.
Since learning models changed amidst a statewide school building shutdown on March 13, 2020, Pentucket Regional School District leaders have been building plans and procedures for a return to in-person learning. This has been done concurrent with the creation of hybrid and remote-only learning models that were essential in finishing the last school year and running the majority of the 2020-2021 year.
The 100% Pentucket Working Group will be meet again on Thursday and further updates will be released as soon as they are available. The 100% Pentucket Working Group will also be discussed at Tuesday’s school committee meeting.
ABOUT 100% PENTUCKET:
In February, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced his intent to pursue a plan to bring students in kindergarten through grade five back to school in April. For the Pentucket Regional School District, this immediately would impact grades K-6, because district elementary schools serve K-6.
The District is waiting for DESE to officially approve Commissioner Riley’s plan this week, and is also waiting to hear the formal opinion of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The District has additionally created the 100% Pentucket Working Group to update its existing return to school documentation and review current and upcoming guidelines on school safety procedures, including social distancing and sanitation. Once this is determined, the district will be ready to move forward with plans to return to fully in-person learning. The Working Group also seeks to ensure the district and its three member communities are communicating with the public in a consistent manner.