Published in the August 21, 2020 edition.


WAKEFIELD – At Tuesday’s School Committee meeting, three policies will be laid on the table that need to be revised for the return to school. The policies include one on face coverings, one related to staff out-of-state travel and another related to privacy in the era of Zoom.

The School Committee’s Policy and Communications Subcommittee met last night to discuss the policies. It has been the practice at School Committee’s meetings to lay new or revised policies on the table for two weeks to allow for public input. They plan to discuss and vote on the policies at their Sept. 8 meeting.

In response to a question regarding the mask policy, Superintendent Doug Lyons observed that students attending summer sessions were very good about wearing masks in school.

It was noted that in addition to classroom settings, the privacy policy now needs to address the privacy of home, with students and teachers using Zoom for remote learning as the schools open in a hybrid model next month. There was some discussion of whether it was best to create an entirely new policy or to amend a current policy.

Lyons noted that a lot of the policy matters under discussion may be addressed in the memorandum of understanding with the teachers’ union that is currently being negotiated as well as in the Student Handbook.

The subcommittee also discussed how snow days will work under the new hybrid model and whether snow days would have to be made up if remote learning can happen on such days.

It was noted that while a tremendous amount of reopening information has been publicly released, the reason questions remain in some areas is that negotiations have not been complete with the teachers’ union and guidance continues to come in from the state.

To enhance and improve communications with parents, Lyons announced the creation of a web page devoted entirely to the reopening of school. Lyons said that Woodville School Library Media Specialist Julia Sparano will apply her social media and print skills to create a reopening web page with links to pertinent information from the state and other sources to help parents and the public access information quickly and easily.

The subcommittee discussed the new guidance on fall sports. Lyons said that there are still questions that need to be answered and a conference call is scheduled with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association on Monday.

Lyons also reported that an update will be sent to all school staff today regarding safety and the HVAC systems. He noted that a lot of work is being done in that area and an independent firm has been brought in to do an audit of the schools’ HVAC systems. He noted that unlike most towns, Wakefield has the advantage of having an HVAC technician on staff. He said that more information would be sent out to the community next week.

Lyons said that he did a walk-through of the Galvin Middle School and the Greenwood School yesterday. He said that the Galvin is ready to reopen after work this summer to complete the second and final phase of work to fix a settling issue with the slab underneath the school.

Lyons said that faculty and staff will be invited into the school buildings next week to help determine what may need to be moved out of classrooms due to fewer students in school at any one time and the need to social distance.

It was noted that some parents are still on the fence deciding between the hybrid model and the all-remote learning for their children. Lyons stressed that there is no wrong choice and changes can be made at any time.

A survey was sent to parents yesterday asking them to select which instructional model they will choose for their student if public health data allows the district to move into a hybrid schedule on September 29. A hybrid schedule calls for some learning to take place in person in the school buildings and some learning to take place remotely. Families continue to have the choice to choose full remote learning for their student, even if the district moves into a hybrid model.