School committee members across the state making decisions for students as they return to school

School committee members across the state making decisions for students as they return to school

BROCKTON, Mass. — Returning to school in September is going to be a stressful time for school committee members across the Commonwealth.

In Brockton, seven school committee members will be making decisions for at least 16,500 students and their parents. That will require a lot of social distancing and the biggest question is if there is even enough room for that.

Boston 25 News spoke to 9-year-old Avery Gormley’s family. She will be in 5th grade this fall at a Brockton school and is excited to get back and see her friends. The Gormley’s think the new state guidelines are realistic.

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“The social distancing cut down to 3 feet is manageable,” said Brett Gormley. “A lot of our grandparents live with our kids.”

Brockton was one of the hardest hit communities during the spike in coronavirus cases.

For Brockton school committee vice chair Mark D’Agostino and his committee members, there’s a lot on their plate.

“At every possible space we have, and in individual classrooms are there things in there that don’t have to be there that we can get out of the rooms, and put in storage,” said D’Agostino.

The City of Brockton has 23 school buildings and close to 20,000 students and staff members. Every town and city’s numbers are different.           

But every school committee in the commonwealth must come up with a plan to figure out how to get as many students as possible to return to physical classrooms. They must also come up with a model to incorporate hybrid learning – a mix of time spent in the classroom and learning remotely.

There must also be a plan in place to operate a fully-remote learning program.

School committee members play a key role in those plans. Accodring to D’Agostino, funding is an issue.

“We had to let go of some teachers at the moment, but we are going to have less kids in classrooms,” said D’Agostino.

The committee also has to work out how the thousands of kids will be bussed to school.

For Avery, who her sister says has asthma, social distancing on a school bus may be difficult, but she continues to educate her sister.

“If you have a mask on, it brings the percentage of transmission down,” said Gormley.

D’Agostino says they are not leaving any stone unturned and will be looking at everything. Once school committee members have a plan in place, they will share it with parents, and will ask for feedback from the community.

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