SUPERINTENDENT’S ANNOUNCEMENT ON PRELIMINARY PLANNING FOR THE OPENING OF SCHOOL ON AUGUST 27

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This is William Cameron, the Lenox Superintendent of Schools. Due to a technical problem I was unable to send you this message on Friday, June 26. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,

I want to ensure that you are able to receive the information that follows even if my speaking time exceeds your voice mail’s capacity. Therefore, what I’ll say in this message will appear in text form on the Lenox Public Schools’ webpage, as well as the webpages of Morris Elementary School and Lenox Memorial Middle-High School.

On June 25 The Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education announced preliminary statewide expectations for re-opening school at the end of August. These expectations for re-opening were developed in close co-operation with highly knowledgeable health professionals. In order for school to re-open safely distancing rules must be observed between staff, students, and visitors; masks should be worn by children from pre-K to grade 1 if possible, and must be worn by students from grade 2 through high school; frequent hand washing or use of sanitizers must be practiced; and – as should always be the case – children who are ill, in particular children who are running a fever, should not be sent to school. We await further guidance from state and medical authorities on matters including student transportation, athletics, and co- and extra-curricular activities.

That said, whether school re-opens in August is dependent ultimately on the public health situation in society at large. There could be a resurgence of the virus. The Commissioner is therefore requiring school districts to develop two additional plans. One is for better and more academically effective remote learning. The other is for a hybrid version of education, a mix of in-class instruction and remote learning. Neither of these alternatives is desirable. But the safety of students, staff, and families is the Commonwealth’s and our paramount concern.

By Monday materials that the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education has shared with school superintendents, and which are available on the DESE website, will be posted on the Lenox Public Schools’ websites.

With the state now expecting, albeit conditionally, that school re-open at the end of the summer, there is a great deal more work for us to do in the coming weeks. As I indicated in an earlier message, over the summer we will be surveying our district’s families about whether they intend to send their children to school when it re-opens, their children’s use of school transportation, and their need for electronic devices and Internet access should remote learning be required. We will keep you informed as our work progresses, and as further mandates are issued by the Commissioner.

Thank you.

Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance from DESE

Initial Fall Reopening Guidance DESE Presentation

Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Letter to DESE

Op-Ed by Joseph G. Allen