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North Middlesex students going hybrid this fall

District's reopening plan will have students do in-person and remote learning different days

Brad Morgan.
Brad Morgan.

TOWNSEND – Students of the North Middlesex Regional School District will go back to school starting Sept. 14, though only certain students will be in school on certain days.

Superintendent Brad Morgan announced on Tuesday that the district will reopen this fall following a hybrid learning model.

This new method is meant to have children return to schools in the district in smaller numbers so they can social distance and prevent an outbreak of coronavirus.

North Middlesex would be the second Nashoba Valley school district to follow a hybrid method of reopening schools, after the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District School Committee voted 4-1 in favor of a hybrid method earlier this month.

According to Morgan, students in the district will be sorted into three groups: Blue, Red and White. Students in the Blue group will go to school in-person on Monday and Tuesday mornings, then will learn remotely Wednesday through Friday.

Students in the Red group will learn remotely Monday through Wednesday and then go to school for in-person lessons on Thursday and Friday mornings. Students who choose to learn remotely for the entire week will be put in the White group.

Students doing in-person learning will only be in the buildings for a half-day, going home for lunch and remote learning from there for the rest of the day. The district will have remote-only learning on Wednesdays.

Attendance will be taken for both in-person and remote learning, with assignments for both lessons being graded during the year.

As for safety guidelines, students in grades K-12 are required to wear masks on the school bus and inside school buildings during in-person sessions. Students and staff will have to maintain a distance of three to six feet between each other. Students in the district’s preschool program are “encouraged, but not required” to wear masks during in-person learning, with one “socially distanced mask break” held during each half-day of in-person learning.

“This school year will be new territory for each and every one of us, and from the start, I want to thank the entire North Middlesex Regional School District for your cooperation and patience during this constantly evolving, challenging time,” Morgan said in a press release. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to return to school this fall, and at all times we will continue to make decisions regarding our learning plan that reflect our commitment to the health and well-being of all of our students, faculty and staff.”

The district has been spending the summer season chipping away at a new school plan for the coming year. District staffers have taken multiple steps to ensure the public had a say in this process, including remote community forums, surveys and focus groups. The district also formed a “Steering Committee” that monitored potential factors that could arise in the year, including potential new COVID-19 cases, public health practices, budgetary limits, state and federal guidelines.

Students and staff are encouraged by the district to stay home if they feel sick. If students and staff develop COVID symptoms while in school, the district will separate them from others in a designated “isolation area” and be assessed by the school nurse before being sent home or to medical facility if need be. The areas in schools where students or staff develop COVID symptoms will be closed off until the location is disinfected and cleaned. In the event of a positive case of COVID-19, the district will follow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s regulations regarding contact tracing.