JACKSON – Superintendent Nicole Pormilli provided an update to the community on the status of which students were currently attending school.
During a recent Board of Education meeting she reported “overall, I’m pleased with starting the way we started. We knew we would have some bumps along the way and we did with schedules and transportation.”
The school district, like many across the state, has a schedule involving in person learning and remote learning during the week.
Pormilli said, “it was great to see our campuses come back to life. It has been six months since we’ve seen that. We have teachers who are happy to see our students back and our administrators were glad to see the buildings reopened.”
Screener forms verifying students are not sick or showing any symptoms of the coronavirus need to be filled out before class each day as part of the requirements. She urged parents to make sure those forms were filled out before each day of school.
“We all have to do that as well, so I put a reminder in my phone and it reminds me every day at 5:30 in the morning to complete my screener. We really do appreciate you making sure those screeners are completed every day when your student is in person,” Pormilli added.
She noted that there were some full remote students among the hybrid learners “and I know there have been some requests from families in regards of switching whatever one was selected and as we said from the very beginning we needed everyone for at least the first four weeks to live the selection they had made knowing that we would understand better how things were working before we could make any changes.
“The simple reason for that is that the Health Department guidelines is six feet social distancing and by splitting our in person groups into two groups we have – to the best of our abilities – socially distanced students in the classroom, so when we do have a positive COVID case there are less students that are having to quarantine and have to go to remote learning,” she said.
“That smaller class size and social distancing prevents us from having to shut down classrooms and sending many students and teachers on quarantine,” Pormilli said.
The superintendent said things could change as the health crisis moves forward.
“I know that is difficult. I respect and understand that but I am just calling for patience in understanding why. It is because one of our main goals is for health and safety and we really want to ensure that we don’t have to go back to full remote across the district,” the superintendent said.
Pormilli added, “we will look after the four weeks if there is a possibility to make changes and we will see where we can go from there but please understand it may take extra time even after that.”
Athletics did start at the high school and middle school based on regulations and protocols pertaining to practices, Pormilli reported.
“We will also be watching that carefully. We are looking at things carefully in regards to how we bring things back to avoid any kind of large quarantine or having to move to full remote,” she said.
Pormilli responded to a question posed by a parent about student bussing for athletics saying “we have a shortage of (bus) drivers so we found we could not be consistent at the moment. We will evaluate this as things change but unfortunately for now, we feel we cannot do that.”
“We are looking forward to a time when we can bring students back more,” Pormilli added referencing more full-time instruction.
In other news, she added later in the meeting that “one of our goals this year is to audit our curriculum and we have started on that. We are looking at areas of diversity.”
“We have arranged for a meeting with the Rays of Hope organization and some other folks to discuss things we can do in collaboration together in regards to racial justice and bias incidents that may be occurring. I am looking forward to having that conversation,” Pormilli said.
Board member Gus Acevedo made a suggestion in regards to diversity education. He recommended that concerning the pledge of allegiance that some instruction be made to explain to English as second language students what the meaning is behind why the pledge of allegiance is said each morning in school.
Board President Michael Walsh reported that litigation against the state regarding loss of school aid is continuing. The state aid formula, S-2, removed a lot of state aid from Jackson and other districts. He said some testimony was expected to be made regarding that in the near future.
“Our guardrail has been installed at the Liberty High School solar fields which is a long time going and we are very happy as it is very important to safety there. Hopefully we won’t have any other accidents over there,” the superintendent added.