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SC Meeting: April 28, 2020

The April 28 School Committee focused on Remote Learning, including presentation of data from comparable communities and feedback from parents, students and staff from recent surveys.

Election of Officers

Andrea Longo Carter was nominated and approved as chair of the school committee, with Connie Barr as the vice chair for the 2021 school year. Executive secretary will continue to be Dan Gutekanst. Outgoing Chair Michael Greis was thanked by fellow SC members for his service during a challenging year.

Update on Remote Learning

The Superintendent provided an update on the remote learning plan firstly with an overview highlighting that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable students in terms of physical and mental health as well as academically. Equitable access to resources, nutrition services and learning opportunities are top priorities as we plan for an extended school closure. Since nutrition services have begun distributing meals the district has seen a rise from 199 students to 323 students picking up six meals at a time.

In order the strengthen the plan the District has been focusing on getting feedback from teachers, students and families.  Since March 13 there have been 15 parent meetings; written feedback solicited at most elementary schools, Pollard and the High School; two all-staff forums; one School Committee open house and four School Committee meetings.

Data was collected from various surrounding communities to compare the maximum number of hours per day the students are engaged in learning:

  • Needham elementary schools are engaged 2-3 hours per day compared to 1.5-3.5 hours in neighboring communities

  • Needham middle schools are engaged 3 hours per day compared to 3-4 hours in neighboring communities.

  • Needham High School is is engaged for 3.5 hours per day compared to 3-4.5 hours in neighboring communities.

Data collected from the High School survey indicates the following:

  • 70.2% of staff, 68.5% of students and 62.2% of families agree that office hours are working and would like them to remain the same.

  • 59.6% of staff, 56.9% of students and 69.9% of families agree that Monday is the best day to hand out work.

  • 76% of staff, 66% of students and 76.8% of families agree the best day to collect assignments is Friday

  • 85.6% of staff felt that collaboration time with their colleagues should be kept at the same level. 54.3% of students felt that collaboration with their classmates be kept at the same level. Families were not asked.

  • 75% of staff and 66.45% of students felt that contact time between staff and students were sufficient, whereas 64.3% of families would prefer more.

  • 73.1% of staff and 56.7% of students feel the ability to manage & continue the invest the same moving forward, whereas  55.7% of families before more can be invested.

The plan is also being strengthened with additional structure being provided and live (expected) classes at the middle school level, and scheduled high school support block for high school students (by appointment). The School Committee will continue to track student & family needs, pilot potential supports, assess the impact of intervention, and will also be monitoring attendance and engagement.

The School Committee’s plan for communication during the COVID-19 pandemic includes providing an internal district intranet for staff information & resources; “pushing out” weekly schedules by Sunday to all families & students;  provide additional opportunities for SC to engage families; and distribute & analyze district wide student, parent & staff survey within the next few weeks.

The School Committee’s plan for reopening school includes convening a broad based and inclusive COVID-19 Planning & Steering Committee co-chaired by the School Committee Chair and the Superintendent and consisting of 20-25 staff, parent, public health, community & town officials. Their primary task is to support and advise district leaders who are responsible for managing a safe and healthy learning environment for all students. The Steering Committee will initially meet through the Zoom platform once or twice a month, and will continue to meet, as needed, through December 2020. The meetings will be public but will be considered working meetings.


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