By Carol Meyer
During these challenging times, at least one thing is certain -- the new school year will look and feel far different from the past, with social distancing, face mask, and other requirements in place.
Regardless of differing opinions among parents as to what's the safest and best way for their children to learn when they return to school Sept. 16, the 100-member Recovery Response Advisory Committee deserves a show of appreciation.
After working tirelessly to determine -- amidst state guidance that changes daily -- whether to recommend an in-school, remote, or hybrid model of learning, the advisory committee felt that a phased-in remote/hybrid option was the safest way to start off the school year due to COVID-19 safety and health concerns, and the School Committee unanimously agreed. The ultimate goal is to return to full in-person learning when it's deemed safe to do so.
Supt. of Schools Paul Austin submitted the Hingham Public Schools "final" 60-plus-page reopening plan to the state recently, subject to change as more state guidance, COVID-19 metrics, and other information is released.
Under the phased-in remote/hybrid plan, student instruction alternates between in-person and remote learning by half weeks (attending school -- with social distancing and other protocols in place -- on either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday), with remote instruction on Wednesdays and any other days that students are not participating in in-person learning.
In the meantime, the School Committee and administration continue to receive a good amount of communication from the community, expressing support and providing feedback, along with offers of volunteer help. "We are working to coordinate all of the offers to donate time, resources, and dollars so the administration can make the best use of community resources," School Committee Chair Kerry Ni said recently.