Our round-up of the latest Wellesley, Mass. school news:
Public schools updates reopening plan
Wellesley Public Schools Supt. Dr. David Lussier issued an update on Friday about the latest school reopening plans in light of the state’s increasingly strong push to get kids back in classrooms near the start of April and new efforts to get teachers and staff immunized against COVID-19. Lussier and other school leaders have been frustrated with the state’s inconsistent messaging around school plans throughout the pandemic.
K-2 students are already back in classrooms four days a week. To smooth the expansion of in-class school for grades 3-5, students in those grades will be rolled into the district’s weekly viral testing program. All district staff are already part of this testing program.
WPS will aim to maintain six feet of social distancing where possible, but that could scale down to three feet in certain situations.
WPS is working with the Wellesley Teachers Association to get students in grades K-5 all back to in-classroom learning five days a week (half days on Wednesdays) by the week of April 5.
Remote Learning School students will be allowed to stay in that program throughout the rest of the school year.
WPS will be hosting a webinar on Thursday, March 11 from 7-8:30PM to share more details, and Board of Health and medical experts will be on hand to answer questions. Wellesley’s Board of Health plans to meet with school leadership on Monday, March 8, to discuss its position on safe in-class learning.
As for grades 6-12, questions remain, Lussier says.
“[We] know that our community is equally interested in next steps for Grades 6-12. The state has provided fewer details at this point on the timing of expanded, in-person learning expectations at the secondary level. Recognizing the challenge of significantly larger student populations at WMS and WHS, along with more restrictive spaces, our team is continuing to work through the many logistical issues that must be solved before phasing in a full return, which we hope to accomplish later this spring.”
Black Lives Matter flag comes to WHS cafe
Wellesley High School Principal Dr. Jamie Chisum has informed the high school community that has raised a Black Lives Matter flag in the cafeteria, following a decision by Wellesley Middle School to add such a flag. The WHS flag comes courtesy of Tinea Rochelle and family, who contacted Chisum to let him know they wanted to donate one.
Tinea is the proud mother of two graduates of Wellesley High School who continues to support us in our diversity work. As one of my faculty members eloquently stated, “Black people are asking us to care.” So, this week we put up the donated flag in our cafeteria. We believe in black lives matter and that is what this flag represents. Our flag does not advocate for any political position or agenda. It does not mean only black lives matter, but that black lives matter as well. The raising of this flag breathes life into all four of our Core Values: Respect for Human Differences, Cooperative and Caring Relationships, Commitment to Community, and Academic Excellence. We clearly must do more than simply hang a flag to truly honor all of these values for our black students, staff, and visitors, but we believe this is a lasting symbol to remind us of the need to continue our work towards equity.
I’ll leave you with a short story one of our black students told me in the past few weeks. She said that she remembers a day when she was walking by a store that had a Black Lives Matter flag in the window. She said she couldn’t quite explain it, but when she saw that flag she felt safe to go into that store. She felt comfortable because someone deliberately raised that symbol. We would love it if raising this flag could have that effect for our black students, staff, and any other visitors to our building.
In a few weeks we will have an advisory lesson for our students so we can talk through the reasons we decided to hang the Black Lives Matter flag. At that time I will also send home some information about ways you might choose to have conversations about the flag and its inclusion at Wellesley High School.
School Committee, Permanent Building Committee to discuss Hardy and Hunnewell
The Wellesley School Committee reconvenes on Tuesday, March 9 at 6:30pm.
The agenda includes updates on the Hardy and Hunnewell elementary schools, approval for an art trip to Spain and France, plus updates on COVID-19, wellness, and climate change.
Separately, the Permanent Building Committee at its March 11 meeting at 7:30m will also be discussing Hardy and Hunnewell building plans, as well as have Middle School updates.
Wellesley PTSO seeks more contributions
The Wellesley PTSO says 13% of families have contributed to its annual appeal but that donations are well below the usual levels. “We fully appreciate that this is an unusual year, but your financial support is more critical now than ever to support students and teachers in their work both this spring through their return to school in the fall.”
MassBay invites high school students to take summer courses
Registration is now open for seven online and remote summer courses exclusively for high school students at MassBay Community College. The six-week courses start on July 6, and include Entrepreneurship, Principles of Management, General Biology I with a Lab, Creative Writing, Drugs and Society, Medical Terminology, and Security Awareness. High school students can also enroll in other MassBay courses this summer and study alongside college-aged students.
For more information, contact MassBay’s Admissions office at 781-239-2500 or [email protected].