Students set to head back to class

Oct 16, 2020 by

Published October 16, 2020

MELROSE — Kids are going back to their school buildings beginning Monday after the COVID-19 virus caused a month’s delay in the city’s hybrid learning plan.

Cohort 1 students report to class for the first time in 2020-21 after having been taught by their teachers remotely at home since the academic year began on September 16.

A month into this very unique return to instruction — students had been out of the classroom since the middle of March thanks to the pandemic — it has become clear to educators that more planning and preparation are needed.

In an October 9 memo, Supt. of Schools Dr. Julie R. Kukenberger reminded the School Committee that according to its contract with the Melrose Education Association, educators are afforded early release days on the first Wednesday of each month (eight at the secondary level and ten at the elementary level).

“Given our ongoing negotiations with the MEA,” Kukenberger wrote, “these dates had yet to be scheduled.

“Through the implementation of our MPS Return to Instruction Plan, we have learned that the execution of the hybrid learning model and the all-in-person model poses increased planning and preparation demands on educators. Additionally, given our focus on risk mitigation, elementary and middle school students have minimal transitions throughout the school day. Therefore, classroom teachers at these grade levels (PreK-8), and these learning models cannot access adequate preparation and planning time during the instructional day. Consequently, we have reached a tentative agreement with the MEA that includes adding additional early release days to provide ample time for prepping and planning time for in-person and asynchronous lessons designed for students learning from home.

“Adding additional preparation and planning time results in eight other early release days for elementary students combined with the 10 contractually afforded days for a total of 18 early release days. At the middle school level, educators will have 10 additional early release days combined with the eight contractually afforded days for a total of 18 early release days. Extra time is not requested at the high school level. High school teachers have regularly scheduled preparation periods and common planning time in all three learning models; however, there are eight contractually afforded early release days at the high school level.

“On each early release, students will be dismissed one hour early. Each early release will provide educators with two hours of preparation and planning time and will enable our elementary and middle school educators to work collaboratively with their content teams and grade level teams across the city. This additional preparation and planning time is essential to ensuring equity through a guaranteed and viable curriculum across all three learning models (in-person, hybrid, and Melrose Distance Learning Academy).

“Understanding that this may feel burdensome to our families, we have also moved the early release days from Wednesday to Friday for consistency heading into the weekend,” Kukenberger continued.

The proposed early release schedule is:

Grades PreK-8

• October 23

• December 4 & December 11

• January 29

• February 5

• March 5 & March 26

• April 30

• May 21

• June 11

Grades PreK-12 

• October 30

• November 20

• December 18

• January 8

• February 26

• March 19

• April 16

• May 14

 The School Committee at its meeting this week tabled action on this early release plan.

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