A group of parents of Belmont High School students is trying to slam the brakes on the transition from remote to hybrid learning just two days before it is to occur.
The hastedly assembled group will present the results of a survey they created to the Belmont School Committee at its Tuesday, Oct. 20 meeting showing overwhelming opposition to the committee’s vote last week to move high school students into a hybrid instructional model.
In a statement that is accompanying the survey, the group – self described as “Concerned Parents” – says the upshot of the results is ‘[t]he community, that elected you to represent their interests, has spoken loud and clear – stop the move to this model of hybrid for our High School students.”
“We are providing you with the voice of the community who wants to work together to help pave a path forward. We are asking the school administration to take this feedback into serious consideration and reshape their approach,” the parents group stated.
The group’s objective is for the school committee to nullify its earlier vote and return students to the current remote model while creating an ad hoc partnership of parents and the district administration to return back to square one and reconstruct the hybrid model from scratch in the matter of weeks.
“Our goal is to provide insights and ideas to work with the school committee and the administration on paving a path forward, together with the community. We want to make this work and support our students, teachers and school administrators in this unprecedented time,” says the parent’s statement.
The statement’s signatories include Charlie Conroy, Wendy Conroy, Heather Barr, Christa Bauge, Rachel Bruno, David Palmer, Heather Rubeski and Clare Crawford.
The numbers from polls speak volumes, according to the parents: 88 percent of more than 600 respondants do not support the proposed hybrid model for the High School, and a near equal 87 percent are asking the School Committee to nullify their earlier vote and return to a remote model.
Part of the survey has also been dedicated to the views of students which the group contends is a “critical component that has been missing from this discussion so far.” More than 35 percent of survey respondents “overwhelmingly reject this model of [h]ybrid also,” reads the statement.
The parents group is laying forth two “requests” before the six member School Committee and the district administration:
- Present the survey results to the School Committee on Tuesday [Oct. 20], “so the voice of the community, including the students at BHS, can be heard and be part of the public record.”
- The School Committee will acknowledge the results at its Oct. 20 meeting and in a formal vote succeed to the group’s belief that “at this time, it is necessary to pause the transition to Hybrid until a better plan can be determined.”
The School Committee voted 5-1, to begin the hybrid instruction model on Thursday, Oct. 22. During the discussion before the vote, nearly all the members agreed that the approved hybrid plan was lacking in student instructional time.
Yet the committee members acknowledged at the Oct. 13 meeting there is an insufficiant number of personnel and staff needed to revamp or rebuild a new hybrid plan in the next few weeks. In addition, the district faces pressure from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to begin in-school learning.
Rather than start over, Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan suggested the high school continues into the hybrid while collecting feedback and suggestions from educators, students and parents. That information would then be the foundation for alterations to the plan after the completion of the first two terms of the school year early in the new year.
The parents group also started its own communications with DESE officials to reaffirm long-standing department policy that while the state can “strongly recommends the implementation of an in-person model of instruction” a move from remote to hybrid models “is ultimately a local decision.”
“Given there is no mandate to move to a hybrid model, the fact that DESE has highlighted that our local school committee has the authority to make this choice, and the fact that our survey shows there is not community support for a transition to the proposed Belmont High School hybrid model, we are highlighting that the school committee has the authority, responsibility and community support to stop this move now,” said the group.
The school committee should act quickly and decisively in this regard and stop the transition to Hybrid for the High school that is scheduled for October 22nd. We have collected valuable community comments about what is expected in a Hybrid mode for the High School.