January 13, 2021WOLFEBORO — Schools throughout the Governor Wentworth Regional School District will return to the hybrid model on Jan. 19, the day after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Instruction has been remote only for approximately two weeks following the break.
While some parents have pressed to reopen to full in person instruction, the anticipated spike in Covid-19 infections, if the Thanksgiving break is a guide, has not yet hit, commented Chairman Jack Widmer. Superintendent Kathy Cuddy-Egbert reported 48 known active cases in district communities at present. Widmer also noted that the CDC's recently reaffirmed six foot distancing guidelines could not be maintained if the entire student body was in school.
Cuddy-Egbert reported that there is no longer a mention of three-foot distancing being acceptable in the latest CDC guidelines. Another change is the quarantine period has been reduced to 10 days instead of 14, a factor that will assist with staffing.
"I'm very, very pleased that we have been able to keep schools open," she said, while reporting on a variable student absenteeism rate due to the virus.
Overall, "the rate may look low across the district, but a pocket in a school impacts the school" she added, pointing out that when staff are absent a number of adaptations come into play. In some cases, a principal will take on the responsibility for a class, or the class will have to go to remote instruction temporarily. The hybrid model allows some flexibility in keeping operations going.
Staff members affected by the virus have experienced different levels of severity of symptoms, said Cuddy-Egbert. Some seem relatively unaffected while others have been quite sick and needed hospital attention.
Unfortunately, there are positions left unfilled and substitute teachers are hard to come by; the pay, $75 a day, has been unchanged for a number of years. The district faces a connudrum in that a raise in the pay for substitutes would result in substitutes making a better rate than entry level paraeducators. She stated that she would like the Finance Committee to study the issue in detail and bring a recommendation back to the board.
As an addendum, the district's broadly publicized Virtual Job Fair drew no interest.