Family Meeting: Hybrid - Middle School (Blue & Gold Cohorts)


On Tuesday, August 25, Dr Gutekanst hosted a meeting to discuss the hybrid model, along with middle school principals Jessica Downey (High Rock) and Tamatha Bibbo (Pollard). The meeting was recorded for those who were unable to attend live.


Download presentation >

Watch meeting >

Needham Public Schools website >





The meeting began with a presentation highlighting the following areas:


High Rock — In School

  • Students will travel through school within their cluster for core subjects.

  • Enrichment will mostly be within 6th grade clusters, but they may interact with another cluster.

  • FLEX time will focus on reading and math spiral review. Home base students will have time to connect with their cluster teacher and review work.

  • There will be five different lunch times for each cluster. Students will be seated at tables facing the same direction, all six feet apart.

  • Each block on the schedule is 47 minutes long but this incorporates time for students to move to their next class. Teachers are planning for 35 minutes of teaching.

High Rock — at Home

  • In school students will be split into three groups attending three core subjects, which will allow the fourth core teacher to connect online with the remote kids.

  • There will be learning for enrichment, but students will not see a teacher. The work will be connected to but not the same as what is being taught in person. Students will then dig deeper when in school the following week.

High Rock — Wednesday

  • The focus will be on helping kids transition from elementary to middle school model of learning. No new core content will be provided.

  • Students will be required to log onto a 30 min advisory each morning.

  • There will also be 30 minutes required of an all school program to include learning in mindfulness, SEL, book discussions, literacy lessons etc. Skills to develop community and self awareness.

  • After school extra help will be available.

Pollard — In School

  • Advisory on Wednesdays are longer to focus on social emotional wellness, discussion about world news and to build executive functioning skills.

  • 7th grade electives will be in the morning with two elective blocks.

  • 8th grade electives will be in the afternoon with three elective blocks rotating in a waterfall fashion to help students prepare for a high school schedule.

Pollard — At Home

  • Extra help every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday in the afternoon (2:20-2:50pm) when in person students are heading home. This may turn into a signup if a lot of students are logging on. There is also a possibility of teachers checking in between 8-10am with remote kids during their independent learning time.

Pollard — Wednesday

  • All students will attend core classes remotely in the morning

  • Independent learning will happen in the afternoon.

  • 8th grade will also have an elective in the afternoon.

Classroom Setup, Hallways & Bathrooms

  • Grade 6-12 students will be expected to participate in cleaning desks. The type of disinfectant to be used will be shared on the district website soon.

  • Teachers will be back in school on August 31 and will be making videos to share with students to help them navigate hallways, bathroom breaks etc.

Q&A

  • Parents expressed concern about the HVAC system at Pollard. Dr Gutekanst advised that the best way of increasing air flow is to turn unit ventilators on as high as possible to process more outside air, and to keep windows and doors open as much as possible which may be challenging during winter months. It was also stated that any school deemed to have insufficient air quality & flow would close and go remote until air flow can be improved.

  • Jessica Downey advised that iPads will be distributed with a case and a keyboard. iPad software lends itself better to 6th grade curriculum. Signups will be emailed out for students to pick up between August 31 - September 14.

  • Tamatha Bibbo confirmed that all mask breaks are outside at Pollard. Each teacher will have a specific location for their mask breaks. Gyms and cafeteria will be available to use in inclement weather. They are hoping to have lunch outdoors for most students. Students may bring a towel or yoga mat to sit on while they are outside.

  • Parents were interested in hearing about music and chorus. Tamatha Bibbo confirmed that music and chorus teaching would happen outside, with students 10 feet apart, using tents or the tennis court as much as possible. When unable to go outside, students will practice at home and learn music theory.

  • Concern was expressed about 6th graders executive functioning skills. Jessica Downey advised that MyHomework will be utilized to help support kids and that 6h grade is important in setting the stage to help students manage their schedules more independently.


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