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WMRSD holds listening session on reopening plan

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
August 06, 2020
WHITEFIELD — Last week, the WMRSD held a remote listening session for local parents, staff and district residents, in regards to re-opening plans this fall. Superintendent Marion Anastasia relayed a few survey results to kick things off.

According to the survey, 55 percent of parents said they were 'somewhat comfortable' sending their children back to school, contingent on seeing the plan before they decide. Sixteen percent said they were not comfortable. There were 856 responses to the survey. As of now, the start to school is slated to begin on Sept. 11, unless the staff needs added says for preparation reasons.

As far as re-opening, the plan is still in the works, however School Board Chair, Jessica Loiacono said that at the July 27, Board meeting, it was voted, that effective immediately, any person entering district school buildings shall wear a mask or other suitable face covering. This includes, staff, students, contractors or any member of the public.

The Board heard from the District Leadership Team and members of the WMRSD Reopening Task Force on COVID-Related issues that the 70 plus committee members have been working on for months.

"We have an incredible team of WMRSD Staff, Local Officials, parents, and community members who are working tirelessly with the unbelievably difficult task of making recommendations to the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Marion Anastasia, who in-turn will be making a recommendation for the reopening plan," said Loiacono.

The re-opening recommendation will be made to the school board for approval at the upcoming Board meeting on Aug. 10. The Board also unanimously voted that they will be returning to remote Board meetings until further notice.

Loiacono said, "It is the Board's desire to do better with being able to allow for public comment and to live stream the remote meetings again as they have prior to COVID."

She added, "Overall, there are still many unanswered questions. The district and School Board is relying heavily on guidance from local and state health officials, DHHS, CDC, and The New Hampshire Department of Education."

The reopening task force will make specific recommendations in their plan regarding protocols if, when and how students return to in-person instruction in the classrooms. The plan will include informed recommendations from all the Domain teams: Communication, Instruction/Sports, Health, Transportation/Operations, Technology, Facilities, and Wellness/SEL/Foodservice. Examples include protocols about masks, social distancing, health screening, transportation, communications, food service and technology related issues.

"The WMRSD School Board is in agreement, fundamentally, with the District's Administration, Reopening Task Force, White Mountains Educational Association, and Community in all areas when looking at reopening schools during such an unprecedented and unpredictable time. Ultimately, it will be a very personal decision for everyone; staff and families included, on whether they are comfortable and confident enough, when the time comes, to return to in-person student instruction during a worsening global pandemic," said Loiacono.

The July 27 School Board Meeting and the presentations heard by the leadership team, relative to school reopening and the task force domains can be watched in three parts on YouTube by searching "WMRSD School Board Meeting."

Varney Smith
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