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Every student returns to the classroom full-time after buildings have been appropriately modified to adhere to the health and safety guidelines put forth by the CDC and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Students split their time between in-person and remote learning. Information relevant to daily routines in the Hybrid Learning format are included under both the “In-Person Learning Model” and “Remote Learning Model” sections.
Students participate in a distance learning program full-time from home. A full virtual learning program will be offered for the entire year upon the request of any BPS family. It will also be the district’s chosen model to begin the year and the go-to model for future short-term or long-term school closures.
The district is working with its 75 transportation providers to review their individual cleaning and safety protocols and provide feedback where needed. At the beginning of the school year, we will set up meetings to assess the implementation of our mutually agreed upon safety plans.
In accordance with guidance put forth by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on July 22, 2020, the Brockton Public Schools will reduce capacity on its school buses to allow for three feet of space between students. By reducing capacity on our 71-passenger buses by 68-percent, the school district will be able to accommodate an average of 23 students on each of our school buses. Only one student will be allowed in each seat and students in the same row must space out as demonstrated in Figure 1. However, students living in the same household will be allowed to sit together. The district will assign seating on every bus, placing the students picked up at the first site toward the back of the bus and loading forward. Upon arrival to school, students at the front will exit first. All smaller buses and vans will follow the same protocols.
Weather permitting, all windows will need to remain open for the entirety of the drive. All students regardless of age are required to wear a mask on the bus and they must be put on prior to boarding. Also, in accordance with DESE guidance, all high-touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly in between morning and afternoon runs.
In addition to screening their child each morning for COVID-19 symptoms (see “Screening Daily for Symptoms”), parents/guardians must ensure their child has their mask prior to leaving home. No one will be allowed to board the bus without a mask.
Adults who assist students with disabilities on the bus will be provided with special training and personal protective equipment.
Daily drop off will be done on a rolling basis so that we can control the number of students approaching the school at one time. Every student must have their mask on when they are exiting the vehicle.
Parents/guardians who drive their children to school will be asked to follow staff directions upon arrival. Each parent/guardian will be asked to pull up to a designated location to allow their child out of the vehicle. A staff member will signal for the student to exit the car when it is safe for them to do so. All parents/guardians must remain in the vehicle. The only exception would be parents/guardians who need to assist their child with exiting.
Walkers are asked to put their mask on as soon as they reach school grounds. It is strongly recommended that walkers wear their masks if they are walking to school with other students who do not live in the same household.
Each classroom will be dismissed one by one to limit the number of students outside and in the hallways at one time. Parents/guardians and students must immediately leave school grounds upon dismissal. Parents/guardians who are picking up walkers must wear a mask when on school grounds and remain a minimum of six feet apart from all other parties. All students must wear their mask until they enter their parent/guardian’s vehicle or until they exit school grounds.
Parents/guardians driving to pick up their child should remain in their vehicle and pull up to the designated pickup location. Additional logistical details, including drop-off and pick-up locations, will be communicated directly to parents by their child’s principal.
Every classroom and office space in all our school buildings has been reconfigured to allow for a minimum of six feet between students and teachers. Individual desks will replace tables in every classroom and learning space so that students are properly spaced out. Plexiglass partitions have been installed in each of our main offices and other office areas.
To ensure air is safely and properly circulating, the district has purchased 350 air purifiers to be installed in interior classrooms that do not have windows. Windows should remain open in exterior classrooms.
Custodial staff will consistently clean and disinfect common areas and unoccupied classrooms throughout the day. Continuous deep cleaning will be conducted every weekday and on the weekends when the building is not occupied. Custodial staff will adhere to the most current state guidelines for building sanitization.
Enforcing strong safety measures in common areas is critical to not only ensuring the health and safety of our community, but also to maintaining confidence in our entire system. Common areas include but are not limited to hallways, stairways, restrooms, gymnasiums and cafeterias.
Each of these spaces will be frequently sanitized throughout the school day. We will pay particularly close attention to hard surfaces in the cafeteria and restrooms. We will also frequently clean hand railings, door handles and light switches.
In high-traffic locations like Brockton High School, hallways and stairways will be open to one-way foot traffic. Signage will be clearly marked throughout the school and staff members will work with the students to ensure they know the traffic patterns.
The following personal protective equipment (PPE) and necessary classroom supplies will be available to staff and students:
• Cloth masks (three will be provided to each student and staff member). We ask that parents teach
their child to properly care for their masks by cleaning them and storing them in a safe space when they aren’t being used.
• Disposable paper masks will be available in every building as a backup in the event a student or staff member forgets or misplaces their cloth mask one day.
• Face shields will be available upon request and priority will be given to students who receive Special Education services, their teachers and support staff.
• Disposable gloves.
• Sanitizing wipes.
• Hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed in each of our classrooms and common areas, with additional bottles available as backups.
• Individual student supplies which must remain in school.
In accordance with guidelines from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, students in second grade and above and all staff members are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth at all times except during designated “mask breaks.” Students in PreK, kindergarten and grade 1 are strongly encouraged to wear masks or face shields.
Medical exemptions must be provided for those for whom it is not possible to wear a mask. Parents/guardians seeking exemption must submit a note from their child’s physician to the main office of their child’s school on or before the first day that they are scheduled to return to the classroom. Staff members should submit their physician’s note to the Human Resources Department before they report to work.
Face shields will be offered to those who have medical or behavioral challenges that prohibit them from wearing a mask. Face shields will be required for all nurses and Food Service workers in addition to a mask.
Students in grades PreK through 5 will remain together in their classrooms for most of the day. Specialists, including art and music, will travel to the individual classrooms to limit the amount of hallway traffic.
Students in grades 6 to 8 will be kept in smaller cohorts as much as scheduling allows and students in Brockton High School will remain in their buildings as much as scheduling allows.
Lockers will be unavailable to students until further notice, however the district will revisit this as soon as we are able.
Teachers will assign seats in each of their classes. Seating charts will then be recorded and submitted to the main office. This is to support any necessary contact tracing efforts in the event a member of our school community tests positive for COVID-19.
We currently plan to allow students to eat lunch in the school cafeterias. We will increase the number of daily lunches if necessary to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one time and each cafeteria will be reconfigured to allow for a minimum of six feet of space between students.
We fully understand that wearing a mask for hours each day can be physically and mentally draining, and that can have a negative impact on student engagement. To remedy this issue, each school will prepare locations and routines for frequent mask breaks and scheduled handwashing. Every teacher retains the professional autonomy to schedule their classroom’s mask breaks so that they are not taking place in the middle of a lesson.
In accordance with guidelines from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the school district will ensure students receive the services documented in their IEPs regardless of learning model while still abiding by the current health and safety requirements.
We have been asked by DESE to prioritize in-person instruction for two groups of students: preschool-aged students and students with significant and complex needs. The Brockton Public Schools is making all students with disabilities a priority. It is therefore our goal to make every effort to maintain in-person instruction for all special education students. If other students are participating in a hybrid or full remote model and if the current state of public health allows, we would seek to keep these students in school for up to four days per week with one remote day (please see “Hybrid Learning Model” for more information).
Students with disabilities may be provided services as outlined in their IEPs in a different manner. Small group instruction, related services and 1:1 instruction may look different depending on class size, related service office space and social distancing. IEPs will not be modified to reflect the service delivery changes according to DESE guidelines. Parents/guardians will receive a summary of IEP service delivery if the model of instruction changes for their child.
We understand that parents/guardians of medically fragile students may not feel comfortable sending their children to school at this time. Please contact the Special Education Department to discuss your options for participating in a virtual learning academy and continuing requisite services outside of our school buildings.
As our schools sought out alternative or external facilities for classroom learning, they were reminded to keep in mind the needs of students with severe disabilities. The district’s goal is to provide these students with safe learning spaces in the least restrictive environment.
Per DESE guidance, the district will provide additional training time for educators who will provide direct physical support to students with disabilities on the use of the additional protective supplies they will need, including disposable gowns and face shields.
Lastly, we understand that the transition back to the classroom can be overwhelming for children who have trouble with changes in routine. Our staff is committed to working with parents/guardians to ensure a smooth transition that allows each student to familiarize themselves with their new learning spaces, teachers and support staff. Please review the Social Emotional Supports section for additional information.
DESE’s guidance on reopening schools requires focused attention on equitable services for high-needs populations including English Language Learners. Brockton is proudly home to among the most culturally diverse student populations in the state, with students representing 47 different countries of origin. During the 2019-2020 school year, 26.2 percent of BPS students were English learners.
As described by DESE, the goal of English as a second language (ESL) programming is to advance the both the social and academic language development of English Language Learners and to promote their academic achievement. The Brockton Public Schools takes a tiered approach to programming for our English Language Learners which factors in a student’s level of proficiency and their native language needs. This approach is specifically designed to ensure both equitable access to content and the compliance driven hours of ESL. It is our intention to continue this tiered approach in the school year ahead regardless of chosen learning model.
All English learners will be assigned to content teachers who are endorsed in Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) by DESE. These teachers will use sheltered instruction strategies during both face-to-face and remote learning activities. In addition, there will be continued learning provided by the students’ ESL teachers.
In the self-contained SEI and dual language classrooms at the elementary school level, and in all secondary level programs, ESL and content that is appropriate for the students’ proficiency level can be delivered by the classroom teacher. Paraprofessionals and MTAs who speak the languages of the students will provide additional support in accessing content and acquiring the English language.
For students at the higher proficiency in Integrated Sheltered English Immersion (ISEI) classrooms, the district will need to put the students in cohorts with selected teachers to maintain health and safety protocols, minimize student movement and maximize existing available resources to implement ESL instruction. The preliminary plan is for ESL teachers to go into the ISEI classes with the cohorts to provide ESL instruction, and to provide continued ESL activities if the district is in a hybrid format.
The district will also prioritize multilingual support for families to ensure each of our students and parents/guardians are prepared for a successful school year. This includes continued translation of all family engagement and health and safety protocols and the use of the Community Facilitators and ELL Parent Advocates to assist parents. Additionally, any parent/guardian training sessions on the district’s remote learning platforms will be provided in multiple languages.
The Brockton Public Schools strive to make our learning spaces safe and welcoming for everyone who enters our doors. When we return to school, the district will be focused on providing social emotional support to the entire school community. That means providing everyone with an appropriate amount of time to get comfortable in their new classroom settings and with their new safety measures. Most importantly, we must allow students and staff to build meaningful interpersonal relationships before they delve back into learning. Regardless of learning model, this will be the focus of our first few weeks of school and will remain an ongoing focus during the school year.
The district will provide training to teachers on the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Competencies and also share strategies for identifying the social emotional needs of students. Each school will seek out in-school and outside spaces that allow for proper social distancing where school adjustment counselors and teachers can lead small-group social emotional learning activities.
The district will provide consistent instruction, modeling, discussion and positive approaches to navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, including getting accustomed to personal protective equipment, social distancing and proper hand washing and sanitation. Multiple visual reminders of appropriate physical distancing, mask safety and personal hygiene will be displayed throughout our buildings.
As one of the most diverse school districts in the Commonwealth, Brockton must also address its students’ social emotional needs in a culturally responsive manner. The Office of Student Support Services will provide developmental opportunities to staff on the district’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Checklist and provide strategies and materials for incorporating culturally responsive approaches in curricula. Further, the district intends to provide trainings and support for engaging students in conversations about race, racism and social justice issues both during in-school and remote instruction. Lastly, the district will provide students with opportunities to share their personal experiences with COVID-19 and social justice issues during the shutdown this past spring.
Just as they did throughout the spring, our school adjustment counselors will provide additional support to any student who suffered a traumatic loss during the pandemic or who might be having a hard time getting into their new routine. With that goal in mind, we will ask teachers and faculty members to keep the lines of communication open and to encourage parents/guardians to notify their child’s school if they had any personal experiences that might make it difficult for their child to focus on learning. We welcome and encourage any information that families can share about their students’ experiences since March 2020 as it will help us to better support their needs.
This spring, Brockton had among the highest rates of COVID-19 infections in Massachusetts. Every member of our community needs to remember that students and staff members lost loved ones to this devastating illness. For others, the sudden change in routine resulted in new feelings of anxiety and fear. Each of our staff members will consistently strive to approach the return to school with empathy and understanding, recognizing that the pandemic has affected everyone in vastly different ways.
To support the health and safety of all our staff and students, no outside guests will be allowed into our school buildings until further notice. On occasion, the district may allow outside workers into the building if emergency maintenance or repairs that are essential to the safety and security of our buildings need to be made. If that happens, the outside workers will be required to follow the same safety protocols that are expected of
BPS staff and students and the area will be sanitized immediately upon their exit.
Parents who need to dismiss their child will be allowed to do so at the security window at each of our schools. Open Houses will be held virtually and decisions around parent-teacher conferences will be made at a later date.
All staff and department meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams or Zoom until further notice. The Special Education Department will continue to offer TEAM Meetings in a virtual or remote format.
The district’s athletics programs will follow the guidelines put forth by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which are currently under development. We expect guidelines for resuming athletics from the MIAA on or before September 14 at which time we will share that information with our families.
The Brockton Public Schools are currently awaiting state guidance on all other extracurricular and after school activities, including but not limited to music programs, enrichment and Smart Start Extended Day. As soon as new information becomes available, we will notify families.
While we cannot emphasize enough the importance of remaining home from school if you are sick, we understand that illness can at times appear unexpectedly in the middle of the day. For this reason, the district’s staff and all district transportation providers will be trained to identify the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
If a staff member or bus driver notices that a student is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, he or she will discretely notify the school nurse and instruct the student to visit the nurse’s office. Each school will have a designated medical waiting room that is separate from the nurse’s office for any student exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The affected student’s parents will be promptly notified and he or she will need to be picked up from school. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to take the bus home from school. The student must test negative for COVID-19 prior to returning to school.
Staff members exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 must receive coverage for their class if needed and visit the nurse to be evaluated for symptoms. If the staff member leaves school because they believe they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, he or she must test negative for COVID-19 prior to returning to school.
Under a hybrid learning plan, students would split their learning time between classroom instruction and a remote learning program administered at home. The goal of this model would be to reduce the daily classroom size by half to support added physical distancing measures.
In a hybrid learning model, our students would be split into two Cohorts: Green Group and Orange Group. We’ve chosen to split the groups by last name, so that students with last names beginning A-L will be in Green Group and students M-Z will be in Orange Group. Household members who do not have the same last name will be placed in the same group.
The Special Education Department will make decisions about additional cohorts based upon individual student need which will be informed by parent/guardian preference and health guidelines.
It is important to note that the district is evaluating the demographic makeup of each of the groups to ensure that they equitably represent our students’ backgrounds. The district may opt to revise this breakdown if a demographic is underrepresented in one of the groups.
After careful consideration and input from staff and families, the district has opted to utilize a schedule in which students would be in school for the same two days every other day. For example, the Green Group will be in school on Tuesday and Thursday each week and the Orange Group will be in school on Wednesday and Friday each week. Both groups will participate in remote learning on Mondays. Additional cohorts as determined by the Special Education Department could be in school for up to four days per week.
This is the schedule as chosen on Tuesday, August 11, however the district reserves the right to reconsider this schedule if/when we transition to a hybrid learning model after reviewing and learning from the experiences of other districts that have chosen to begin the year in a hybrid model.
In early August, the Brockton Public Schools signed an agreement with Schoology, a virtual learning environment for K-12 school and higher education institutions that allows users to create, manage, and share academic content. Schoology will be the district’s learning management system (LMS) for all remote learning, both in the hybrid model and the full remote model. A learning management system is an Internet-based platform in which students will receive all necessary communications and assignments from their teachers. Staff, students and families will receive extensive training on Schoology at the start of the school year.
On days that students are learning at home, they will log onto Schoology at their regular start time. Students will be required to participate in morning attendance. Their daily work will be clearly detailed in the learning management system.
Since their teacher(s) will be providing classroom instruction to another group of students during the school day, students completing work at home will be supported by another BPS staff member who is prepared to provide academic assistance. That staff member’s contact information will be readily available on Schoology as will the contact information for the student’s classroom teacher(s).
Work completed at home via Schoology will be graded in accordance with the district’s existing grading policies.
While in school, students will follow all the requisite health and safety guidelines outlined in the “In-Person Learning Model” section. Please refer to this section to gain a better understanding of the daily routine while in school.
In-person learning will include flexible solutions for reducing the mixing of student groups to ensure students are receiving services in the least restrictive environment. This may include when feasible providing related and/or pull-out services within the student’s classroom to the greatest extent possible.
The district will maximize in-person learning for students with disabilities. Instruction and services will be provided in a hybrid learning model with a combination of in-person and remote learning. We will be mindful when planning for the physical distancing requirements of the additional special educators and related service providers who will need to enter the classrooms throughout the day to provide services to students with disabilities.
The Special Education Department will work with schools to develop classroom assignments and service delivery schedules for students so that they receive services consistent with student IEPs in the least restrictive environment. Special educators and related services providers will schedule services in a manner that maintains physical distancing requirements and avoids overlapping with other staff in the classroom or physical setting. Please see the “In-Person Learning Model” for additional information.
In addition to beginning the year with a remote learning model, once we return to the classroom there may be times when individual students, classrooms or schools will need to temporarily shift to a remote learning model due to a student or staff member testing positive for COVID-19. Under a short-term transition, students and staff should expect to remain home for a period of 14 days.
Alternately, if cases of COVID-19 spike in our community or across Massachusetts, the district will transition to a long-term remote learning period. Under a long-term transition, students should expect to remain home for a period longer than 14 days. The district will begin the school year in a long-term remote learning period.
During a remote learning period, students will be expected to log on to their remote learning platforms at their regular start time. As previously mentioned under the Hybrid Learning Model plans, the Brockton Public Schools will utilize Schoology as the district’s learning management system for all remote learning. Teachers will send daily instructions via Schoology, which students will receive training on at the beginning of the school year. If a teacher is unable to support their classroom due to illness, another BPS staff member will be assigned to support his/her classroom.
During a long-term transition to remote learning, teachers may provide both live instruction (synchronous) via a video conferencing platform and pre-recorded instruction (asynchronous). The number of sessions will be guided by grade level and student needs. Remote work will be aligned with existing state and district standards.
During a short- or long-term closure, students will be required to participate in attendance each day and they are expected to consistently participate in their work. Grading during any remote learning period will be consistent with the district’s existing grading policies.
Please see the “In-Person Learning Model” for information relative to Special Education Services and Bilingual Education.
The following sample schedules will guide our academic programming to begin the 2020-2021 school year. This is subject to collective bargaining, which is still ongoing. Additionally, scheduling might look different for students in certain programs, including but not limited to career and technical education students, English language learners and students who receive Special Education Services.
The sample schedules are designed to show the full day of instruction our students will receive. Attendance will be taken each class period. These sample schedules will likely change as we work to carefully balance state-mandated time on learning with necessary screen time breaks.
In a full remote learning format, each student will be provided an individual remote learning plan outlining the services in their IEP as well as a schedule of services. Special Education staff will determine how services will be provided. Each student will be reviewed on an individual basis to determine individualized services. Services will be provided in large group, small group or 1:1.
• IEPs will not be modified or changed to reflect remote learning. Each student’s IEP services may not
look the same.
• Students will be provided a device and the district will work with families to address their WIFI needs.
• Educational services will be implemented as outlined on their signed and accepted IEP.
• Related services will be provided as a consult or direct via Zoom or Teams in large group, small group
or individualized format as outlined on the IEP.
• Academic instruction will be provided in a large group or small group via Zoom or Teams.
• Online programs (individualized scripted programs) will be utilized to enhance instruction.
• Teachers will provide office hours for parents and students.
The district will provide a full remote learning option to families who would prefer to keep their children home. Families who would like to participate in the district’s virtual learning program will have the opportunity to participate in a high-quality online program that will begin on the first day of school. Parents and guardians will be asked to register by Wednesday, August 26, and they will need to sign a form acknowledging that they commit to participating for at least one semester. Once enrolled, the district will host a virtual Open House during which students and parents will receive training on the learning platforms.
The district’s virtual learning program has the added benefit of keeping students tied to the district for a smooth transition back to the classroom. Brockton Public Schools employees will be assigned to providing support to our virtual learning program students and our Office of Student Support Services will continue provide social emotional support to those who choose to remain at home full-time. Technology staff will be available to help families with technology needs, including providing the requisite devices and helping families become familiar with the learning platforms.
Students will receive grades in each subject on Infinite Campus, the district’s electronic report card system, based on the completion of assignments. Coordinators from the Brockton Public Schools will set parameters of success within the program and those will be clearly articulated to virtual program students and parents. Parents and students will regularly receive progress notices.
As with any software we deploy districtwide, the virtual learning program will be aligned to existing state and district standards.
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