Final District Reopening Plan

  • Greater Fall River Vocational School District
    Final District Reopening Plan
    August 2020

    Table of Contents:

    Download the PDF of this document here.

    Executive Summary

    Since March 17, 2020, the Greater Fall River Vocational School District/Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School have been working with students, parents, staff, and community stakeholders to identify, prepare, and deliver effective instructional methods. As members of the Greater Fall River Vocational School District (Diman Regional High School and Diman Practical Nursing Program), we have spent the last five months planning and developing appropriate action steps to ensure engaged learning come September 2020.

    Committees, made up of parents, faculty, staff, and administrators, have met numerous times to discuss and create three plans as prescribed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). These plans include in-person, hybrid, and remote options for the reopening of schools in the fall of 2020. These plans were developed using the guidance established by DESE on June 25, 2020.

    Understanding the importance of safety for all, the District and school administration, as well as the school committee, have prepared steps to appropriately, and adequately, deliver instruction, while maintaining necessary precautions regarding social distancing and sanitation. The information provided in this document will describe the thoughts, ideals, and concerns connected with each of the three plans requested by DESE. The plans revolve around guiding principles connected to safety, wellness, and appropriateness. Taking all points of data and information into consideration, the Greater Fall River Vocational School Committee supports a Phased Hybrid Model as the most appropriate re-opening option. 

     

    Letter from the Superintendent

    Greetings to the students and parents of Diman Regional and the Greater Fall River Vocational School District. The last several months have been unimaginable. Since March 17, 2020, students have not been allowed to enter our schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us change so many practices in our daily lives. Unfortunately, we will need to continue these changes in an effort to keep ourselves and our community safe.

    To that end, the staff, faculty, and administrators of Greater Fall River Vocational School District have spent countless hours developing effective and safe scenarios which bring students closer to a normal experience when it comes to education and school. We have developed committees and communicated with parents to ensure all voices are heard as we prepare to enter a new phase of life in these difficult times.

    The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has asked every school District in Massachusetts to develop three plans for reopening schools. The first option is called the in-person model and it expects as close to 100% face to face instruction in schools. The second option is a hybrid model where students are in school some days and at home others. The third option is a remote option where students will stay home at all times and receive instruction virtually.

    Each of these options brings with it specific concerns and issues. The District has spent time and resources identifying each of these concerns and attempting to develop acceptable alternatives for each. That being said, the Greater Fall River Vocational School District understands its people are its greatest asset. Our students, staff, and faculty make us who we are. Our ultimate goal is to keep our stakeholders safe and we take this very seriously. We will continue to work with DESE and our local officials to provide the most appropriate educational scenarios for our students, parents, and staff. We thank you for all you have done in support of our school and District over the last several months and we look forward to communicating and working with you throughout the year to make this the best and safest option for all.

    Every detail associated with our plans is available on our website. If you should have any questions regarding our plans and reopening strategies, feel free to contact me via email at eferreira@dimanregional.org.

    Thank you for your continued understanding,
    Dr. Elvio Ferreira
    Superintendent/Director 

     

    Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School In-Person Model

    For this model, students will receive in-person instruction full-time. The school environment will be appropriately modified to ensure safety for all and proper social distancing at all times. While 100% full in-person instruction is the ideal in this model, the District is aware and prepared to deal with subsets where face-to-face instruction is not a viable option.

    For this model, students will be in cohorts, but in academics and technical settings. This is a recommended safety practice to minimize person-to-person contact and to facilitate contact tracing if need be. Learning will be geared to the District’s curricula and to the state’s education frameworks. Students will follow a traditional schedule as it related to courses; however, while in academics, students will not move between classes. Rather, students will remain in the same academic classroom for the entire day, including breakfast and lunch. Instructors will move between classrooms and cohorts to deliver the most appropriate lessons. This model could limit course offerings such as Advanced Placement and Honors due to restrictive movement by students and teachers.

    Strict safety protocols will be in place regarding student movement in the hallways and throughout the campus in general. Students will be confined to specific parts of the building to minimize potential exposure or contamination. Sanitizing and hygiene standards proposed by DESE will be enforced and carefully monitored. Masks will be required by all, with periodic breaks during the day. Transportation on buses will be closely monitored and social distancing, including masks, will be strictly enforced.

     

    Attendance will be taken in traditional methods. Instructors will grade using the approved District policies. Lunches will take place in academic and technical areas, as the student cafeteria does not allow for appropriate distancing unless severe changes are made to the master schedule. These changes would have lunches starting at approximately 9:30 a.m. Using the state and federal guidelines, specifically those developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students will be six feet apart at all times in this model. Diman’s School of Practical Nursing and the Diman Division of Continuing Education will both follow similar models for the in-person option. 

     

    Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School Hybrid Model

    For this model, students will alternate in-person learning with remote learning. The face-to-face learning will follow guidelines established for the in-person model. For Diman Regional, in-person instruction for technical programs is deemed crucial. To that end, the Greater Fall River Vocational School District’s model will have students in-person for technical education and remote for academic education. This will be our initial plan, with an understanding to move towards full in-person instruction as public health agencies and officials permit.

    In-person students will follow a traditional technical schedule. Attendance will be taken and strict safety protocols established for the in-person model will be enforced. Remote students will utilize the Google platform traditionally used by academic teachers in the District. A traditional schedule will be followed by both teachers and students while in academics. Additionally, synchronous teaching (live) will be expected and attendance will be taken every period by academic staff. Students will be expected to log into Google Classrooms on their traditional schedule. Failure to report to regularly scheduled classes through the Google Platform will be reported to administrators.

    In this model, students in academics will not be placed in cohorts as in the face-to-face model mentioned above. In the hybrid model, students will be allowed to select tiered academic classes such as Honors and Advanced Placement. Grading will follow the District’s accepted policies. High Needs students will be allowed access to in-person protocols depending on accommodations and appropriateness. 

     

    Understanding all criteria and safety protocols associated with the current pandemic, as well as data connected to the virus’s spread and transmission, the Greater Fall River Vocational School District is committing to this Hybrid Plan for all students at Dima Regional Vocational Technical High School. Diman’s School of Practical Nursing and the Diman Division of Continuing Education will both follow similar models for the in-person option. 

     

    Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School Remote Model

    For this model, all students will remain home and learn through synchronous instruction-academic and technical. The District is working to acquire electronic devices to ensure a one to one model where every student has a school issued Chromebook to complete assignments and engage in instruction through the District’s Google Platform.

    Students will be expected to follow a traditional schedule and attendance will be taken and monitored by staff. The synchronous instruction for this model will follow District curricula and state frameworks. Grading requirements will be communicated by each instructor through course syllabi and expectation packets. Teachers and staff will be expected to actively engage and communicate with students and parents in this model. The District will provide communication in native languages for parents and students who may need these services.

    All instruction will go through Google Meet. All student work will be turned in through Google Classroom and Google’s Suite. Assessments and testing will be developed by instructors and students will be held to the District’s honor policy established and available in the student handbook. Guidance Counselors will be available during regular school hours to assist students and parents with concerns and issues. Any student who need in-person accommodations will be contacted by school administrators and an appropriate plan will be developed. Diman’s School of Practical Nursing and the Diman Division of Continuing Education will both follow similar models for the in-person option. 

     

    Out-of-school Time Plan

    Using its federal Title I status as a School Wide Program, Diman Regional will have the RISE (before school) and EXTENDS (after school) programs available for students who need assistance with instruction and education. Both programs will be monitored by licensed instructors who will be able to assist students with questions or concerns.

    Student Support and Professional Learning

    The Greater Fall River Vocational School District will utilize state grant funds to make counselors available to students after school hours through the ASPIRE program. This program will allow students to virtually communicate with counselors if they need social or emotional support. Additionally, the District’s professional development plan focuses on topics which include: student and staff wellness, as well as instruction in a virtual environment. 

     

    Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School 2021 Calendar

    The high school calendar can be found on our website, www.dimanregional.org.

    On July 27, 2020, the Commissioner of Education relaxed the number of school days required for students from 180 to 170 for Districts interested in creating preparatory opportunities for staff and faculty. As a result, September 1 through September 15 will be used by faculty and staff to prepare education-learning spaces and participate in professional development connected to hybrid and remote learning. 

     

    Additional Resources and Planning

    HEALTH AND SAFETY

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Preparedness

    On March 13, 2020, all schools in the Commonwealth closed for a two-week period, which was extended twice by Governor Baker and eventually through the end of the 2019 - 2020 school year. Since the closure in March of 2020, the Greater Fall River Vocational School District has secured electrostatic sprayers (and a significant stock of PPE and sanitizer) to address needs heading into the 2020-2021 school year. Supplies purchased to date include the following:

    ❑ Gloves

    Electrostatic Sprayers

    ❑ Masks

    Face Shields

    Containers for disposal

    Scrub tops for designated personnel

    ❑ Hand Sanitizer & Dispensers

    Sanitizer Wipes

    Eye Goggles

     

    School Safety Protocols

    The Administrative Team has established protocols to keep our students and staff safe. Walkthroughs of the facilities are being conducted in collaboration with the Fall River Board of Health. The Greater Fall River Vocational School District staff members will meet for professional development prior to the start of school to learn and review safety protocols, ensuring that we create the safest return to school possible. As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), safety protocols are being developed to address the following:

    • Protocols for responding to Covid-19;
    • Handwashing and proper respiratory hygiene;
    • Instruction on masks/face coverings (how to do, wear, remove, and store);
    • Student transportation options and capacities;
    • Safe ways for students to enter and exit the school building and classrooms;
    • Safe ways for students to eat lunch (most likely in distanced areas outside, gymnasium, or cafeteria);
    • Plans to monitor bathrooms, disable air dryers, water fountains, provide paper towels;
    • Administrator safety protocols and/or procedures - what to do if they are not followed;
    • Frequent risk assessment checks by Administrators to ensure that all safety measures are being followed and supplies are in stock.

     

    School Attendance Guidelines

    • Face masks will be required at all times (including on buses and in school). “Mask breaks” will be provided for students and staff in accordance with guidelines.
    • Students and staff must stay home if they do not feel well. This is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Attendance policies will be review to avoid placing an undue burden on families to have their children report to school when sick. The State of Massachusetts may release guidance on attendance requirements in the future.
    • A checklist will be provided to staff and parents, which can be used to self-monitor possible symptoms.
    • Students and staff with a temperature above 100 degrees should not attend school until they have been fever-free (under 100 degrees) for three (3) days and without the use of antipyretic medication, such as Tylenol, Motrin, Advil, or Ibuprofen.
    • Students and sick staff members should not return to school until they have met the criteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to Discontinue Home.
    • Isolation and Quarantine. Students and staff will check with the school nurse prior to returning as well. A safe return to school is based on symptoms, duration of symptoms, test results from your health provider, and clearance by the Districts nursing staff. Please see the full guidance document from DESE on Protocols for Responding to Covid-19 Scenarios.
    • The Greater Fall River Vocational School District will have a designated “sick area” located in the nursing suite where staff and/or students will be triaged and assessed for an appropriate disposition. Sick students and staff will be separated immediately to avoid cross contamination. Students will remain in this unit until a guardian dismisses them.
    • School nurses will use Standard and Transmission- Based Precautions when caring for sick people.
    • If the nurse/school personnel are calling an ambulance to bring someone to the hospital in the event of an emergency, they will alert the dispatcher that the person may have COVID-19.
    • Families need to provide the school nurse with at various emergency contacts, indicating individuals who will be able to come to the school and pick up their child if they become sick during the school day. Dismissing sick children (and staff) in a timely manner is imperative for the safety of all.
    • To reduce the spread of the virus, students with accommodations who are not wearing a mask and are showing signs of illness will be asked to wear a mask until they leave the school premises.

     

    Extenuating Circumstances Impacting Students and Staff

    • Staff members with concerns relative to the preceding issues should contact administration within each program (high school, Practical Nursing Program, and Continuing Education). Additional information is provided in our COVID 19 Support Section of our website.

     

    Clean and Disinfect

    • Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting.
    • Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing products securely away from children.

     

    Clean and Sanitized Restrooms

    We continue to follow the guidance below from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which includes the ongoing maintenance of restrooms, ensuring they have functional toilets, clean and disinfected surfaces, and handwashing supplies. We will continue to take the following precautions:

    • Ensure we operate with functional toilets.
    • Clean and disinfect regularly using EPA-registered disinfectants that are effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, particularly high-touch surfaces such as faucets, toilets, doorknobs, and light switches.
    • Clean, and disinfect restrooms daily or more often if possible.
    • Instructions for proper hand washing will be posted in restrooms.
    • Follow the Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting to develop, implement, and maintain a plan to perform regular cleanings to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
    • Regularly stock with supplies for handwashing, including soap and paper towels for drying hands or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and no touch trash cans.

    Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts

    • In accordance with state and local laws and regulations, the school nurse/administrators should notify the Fall River Office of Public Health, staff, and families immediately of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
    • The school nurse will work collaboratively with the Fall River Office of Public Health to identify individuals who have tested positive and/or who had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. individuals and families will be instructed to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, following CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
    • The school nurses will work closely with the Administrative Team to identify any COVID-19 cases and any necessary actions.

     

    Transportation

    The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has shared extensive guidance regarding transportation. The following section is an overview of the most pertinent components of that guidance shared by the DESE.

    The safe transportation of students to and from school is a critical part of achieving our return. In developing this supplemental transportation guidance, the health and safety of students and transportation staff remain our top priorities.

    This guidance focuses on supporting Districts to develop a transportation strategy that provides safe conditions for all students and staff traveling by bus, while also maximizing in-person learning:

    Core Health and Safety Practices

    Several core practices will support safe school bus operations this fall:

    • Masks
      All staff and students on the bus, regardless of age, are required to wear masks at all times. Exemptions for students due to medical and/or behavioral reasons – and associated protocols – are further described later in this guidance.
    • Distance
      Students should be seated no more than one student per bench, alternating sides for each row, which allows students to maintain approximately three (3) feet of physical distance. Students from the same household may sit together and in closer proximity (e.g., two students per bench). Diagrams are provided later in this guidance.
    • Ventilation
      Keep windows open at all times during operation, unless not possible due to extreme weather conditions.
    • Seat assignments
      Students will be assigned to a single bus and a particular seat.
    • If a student does not adhere to transportation expectations, that student will not be permitted to ride the bus. .

     

    Bus Seating Configuration

    In alignment with the Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance, the following bus configuration (i.e., one student per bench, alternating sides for each row) represents the maximum* school bus occupancy achievable while maintaining approximately three (3) feet of physical distance.

    *Note: students from the same household may sit together and are excluded from the one student per bench requirement.

    The diagram below represents a 77-passenger bus. Districts should leave the bench immediately behind the driver’s seat vacant to maintain physical distance for the driver. Districts may consider repurposing this bench for a bus monitor, health and safety supplies, or other needs.

    Bus plan

    We will need to establish capacity, routes, and determine ridership before identifying what adjustments are needed.

    Seat Assignments and Boarding

    Assigning specific buses, routes, and seats to students and staff in advance will limit potential exposure and make contact tracing easier to conduct. In addition, to prevent crowding and minimize interaction, students and transportation staff should follow the protocols outlined below when entering or exiting the vehicle. 

    • Keep bus staffing assignments as static as possible by assigning drivers and other transportation staff to a single bus and a specific route.
    • Assign students to a single bus and to an assigned seat. Students from the same household should be assigned seats together. Seating arrangements should also account for students with disabilities who require close contact from adults.
    • As students board the bus, occupy seats starting from the rear of the bus and fill sequentially to the front. Upon arrival at school, the bus should be unloaded in a controlled manner, starting from the front of the bus and emptying sequentially to the back.
    • Assign seats with the above boarding order and process in mind (i.e. based on when students will board during the route). For example, students boarding the bus at the beginning of the route should be assigned seats at the rear of the of the bus, and students boarding the bus at the end of the route should be assigned seats at the front.

    Pick-up and drop-off protocols are being developed for appropriate and safe measures. High school administration will contact students and guardians to communicate proper practices and protocols for drop-off and pick-up.

    Students will be dismissed at the end of the day in a staggered manner.

    • Student Drivers: Students drivers will be dismissed in a specific order; announcements will be made
    • Bussed Students: Students taking the bus will be dismissed by bus number.
    • Students being picked up will be dismissed after those driving and those taking the bus have been dismissed, and will walk to the front rotary where they will remain socially distanced during the pickup period.

    The following protocols are also in place:

    • During pick-up/drop-off parents/caregivers should remain in their vehicle while waiting for their child.
    • Parents/caregivers must maintain physical distancing standards and wear masks if they exit their vehicle.

    Symptom Screening

    • Checking for symptoms each morning by families and caregivers, before students arrive at the bus stop, is critical and will serve as the primary screening mechanism for COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Bus drivers or bus monitors (if applicable) will be appropriately trained to observe students upon entry. If students appear symptomatic, and a parent/caregiver is present to take them home, they will not be permitted to enter the school bus. If a parent/caregiver is not present to take them home, bus monitors will refer students who may be symptomatic to the school healthcare point of contact immediately upon arrival.
    • If a student who may be symptomatic must board the vehicle, they should be spaced at least six (6) feet from other students as feasible. Close off areas used by the student, and do not use those areas again until after cleaning and disinfecting
    •  
    • Signs will be posted at entrances clearly indicating that no one may enter if they have symptoms of respiratory illness or fever.
    • If students become sick during the day, they will not be permitted to travel home via school bus.

     

    Masks

    Everyone on the bus and waiting at bus stops must wear masks that cover the nose and mouth at all times.

    • Adults, including drivers and other transportation staff (e.g., bus monitors), are required to wear masks.
    • Students are required to wear masks when on the bus.
    • Exceptions to masks for students: Face shields may be an option for students with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear masks. Please see the “physical distancing” section for protocols for families of students who cannot wear masks due to medical, behavioral, or other challenges.
    • Masks should be provided by the student/family, but Districts must ensure that sufficient extra disposable masks are made available on all buses for any student who needs them.

     

    Physical Distancing

    As reviewed and advised by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center Medical Advisory Group, students must maintain a minimum distance of three feet from others, unless they are members of the same household. For transportation, this means one student per bench, alternating sides for each row.  

    The following distancing standards must be implemented in conjunction with strict adherence to health and safety requirements:

    • Distancing requirements apply both while waiting at bus stops and while in transit.
    • Students from the same household should be seated together and may be seated two or more students per bench (closer than three (3) feet).
    • Students must face forward at all times and refrain from eating, shouting, singing, or sharing items while in transit.
    • Determine and post maximum occupancy for each bus while following these distancing guidelines.
    • Students who are not able to wear a mask while riding the bus should maintain six (6) feet of distance between themselves and other students. If possible, the student should wear a face shield while on the bus. Districts should work with the families of students who are regularly unable to wear a mask regarding possible alternative transportation arrangements (i.e. walking to school or the family transporting the student).

     

    Hand Sanitizing

    Hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed on buses for students and drivers to clean hands as they board and exit. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent ethanol or at least 70 percent isopropanol content can be used.

    Hand sanitizer should be applied to all surfaces of the hands in sufficient quantity that it takes 20 seconds of rubbing hands together for the sanitizer to dry.

    • Hand sanitizer dispensers should be placed only at the entrance of school buses within view of the bus driver or monitor to ensure appropriate use. Students and staff are required to exercise hand hygiene (handwashing or sanitizing) upon arrival to school.
    • During winter months, students wearing gloves upon entry should be encouraged to keep gloves on at all times during transit to the extent possible. If the student wishes to remove the gloves, they should follow the hand sanitizing protocols outlined above upon entry and exit.

     

    Ventilation

    Buses will mitigate airborne transmission by increasing outdoor air ventilation. Doing so helps dilute the concentration or displace the presence of an airborne virus. Opening windows can greatly increase the level of ventilation within a school bus and therefore reduce COVID-19 transmission risk. 

    • Keep windows open at all times during operation, unless not possible due to extreme weather conditions. Even in cold or rainy weather, bus windows should be kept open at least partially (a couple of inches), if possible.
    • Consider keeping roof hatches open on buses during operation for further ventilation.

     

    Cleaning and Disinfecting

    The Greater Fall River Vocational School District has coordinated with the contracted transportation provider to ensure vehicles are properly cleaned and disinfected. At a minimum, high-touch surfaces (see examples below) must be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly after each morning route and after each afternoon route using EPA-approved disinfectants. The interior of each vehicle must be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly at least once each day.

    • Clean high-touch surfaces first and most frequently, including buttons, handholds, pull cords, window latches, rails, steering wheels, door handles, shift knobs, dashboard controls, and stanchions.
    • Conduct thorough routine cleaning of vehicles, including dusting and wet-mopping vehicle floors, removing trash, wiping heat and air conditioner vents, spot cleaning walls and seats, dusting horizontal surfaces, cleaning spills, etc.
    • Routine cleaning outlined above should be completed prior to disinfection to remove all surface matter.
    •  Doors and windows should remain open when cleaning the vehicle.
    • Staff should be trained to use disinfectants in a safe and effective manner and to clean up potentially infectious materials and body fluid spills. All sanitizing and disinfecting solutions must be labeled properly to identify the contents and kept out of the reach of students.
    • Drivers and monitors should have adequate supplies of soap, paper towels, tissues, hand sanitizer, garbage bags, and other critical cleaning supplies.

     

     

    Precautions for Transportation Staff

    Bus drivers and monitors face potential exposure through close contact with passengers, contact with high-touch surfaces, or by touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. Older individuals and those with serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19. To mitigate these risks, all bus drivers and monitors should take the following precautions when transporting students:

    • Avoid touching surfaces often touched by passengers.
    • Wear masks covering the nose and mouth at all times.
    • Use gloves if required to touch surfaces contaminated by bodily fluids.
    • Maintain proper hand hygiene. Wash hands regularly with soap and water when available for at least 20 seconds and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Do not report for duty if sick.

     

    Food Service

    Upon the opening of school, our nutrition team will be able to adapt to any scenario for reopening. We are prepared to serve breakfast and lunch five days a week regardless of whether we are remote or in person. The food service team is ready to provide a combination of grab and go and on-site food delivery, dependent upon the needs of our families. Modifications will be required from an operational standpoint to ensure safety.

    In-Person Meal Service

    We are prepared to provide breakfast for students upon arrival to school. Meals will be individually packaged and students will have a specific amount of time in the cafeteria to avoid congregating and potential spreading of illness.

    Lunches will be ordered first thing in the morning in shops and classrooms. Payments will also be taken first thing in the morning. Meals will be served in shops and classrooms due to spacing concerns in the cafeteria.

    Remote/Hybrid Meal Service

    The Greater Fall River Vocational School District will provide grab and go meals for students if these model are utilized. Meals will be available at Door 3 (Room 251 Restaurant). Cafeteria staff will have checkpoints where students can pick up meals (breakfast and lunch). .

     

    FACILITIES

    Overcrowding

    In recent years, the demand for vocational education, has grown considerably. Applications for the fall of 2020 exceeded 600 for 375 slots in our incoming freshmen class. The current classroom size has resulted in our inability to accommodate in person academic classes given the current 3 and 6 foot guidance issued by the state. Cafeteria space, and other common areas, are a challenge under the physical distancing regulations provided by state and federal agencies.

    Variations in size and shape of classrooms have been considered in our planning. We are fortunate to in the middle of a new building project with the Massachusetts School Building Authority. This effort does not alleviate the current needs associated with space constraints resulting from the pandemic.

    Assessing Air Quality

    Respiratory droplets and aerosols carried through the air are what spread the COVID-19 disease. The rooftop controls of the HVAC systems are continuously updated and prepared. The system is in good working order and is maintained routinely. The systems are designed to circulate fresh air into the buildings. The Diman Regional HVAC system is typically operated with dampers open. This practice will remain in place upon school’s re-opening. Plans for winter will be developed, as open dampers will impact our ability to heat the building.

    Facilities Use, Visitors, and Production Shops

    Visitor access to the building will be limited to essential interactions as determined by the administrative team. Masks must be worn upon entry to the building. Additional security doors are expected to be in place by early August. These doors will require all traffic to check in at the Administration Office where protective measures will be put in place to maximize the safety of office staff during interactions.

    Meetings will be conducted virtually whenever possible. Opportunities for virtual tours, innovative alternatives to production shop access, and admissions efforts will be discussed as part of the planning process. Guidance relative to a gradual reopening of the building will be determined in correlation with the fluidity of the pandemic and associated trends. No immediate or definitive long-term decisions relative to facilities use, adult education, or public access are being made at the current time. .

     

    Hot, Humid Days, Windows, and Fan Use

    There are concerns about being able to teach and learn effectively in school buildings when temperatures are extreme. The concern is greater now than in the past in light of the face-mask requirement. We will implement the following practices in the upcoming school year:

    • Fans may be placed in strategic locations to maximize air flow and minimize potential for virus circulation.
    • Dampers will be opened to 100%
    • We will use the heat index, which takes into consideration both the temperature and relative humidity, as a metric to determine where and how we will teach and learn.
    • If the heat index is in the “Caution” zone, educators will be encouraged to teach in a shaded outdoor environment as space allows.
    • If the heat index is expected to be in the “Extreme Caution” zone or higher, the Superintendent will call a “Heat Day” and notify the school community that teaching and learning will happen remotely on that day.

     

    SPECIAL EDUCATION AND HIGH NEEDS

    Overview of Special Education Supports

    Special Education instructors often have particularly close connections with their students; therefore, ongoing communication and meaningful partnerships with families continue to be of paramount importance to us. As we move into the start of the new school year, special educators will be collaborating with related service providers, instructional assistants, general educators, and others who support students in Special Education, ensuring that recommendations for activities are appropriate and accessible whether they occur in-person or remotely. The collaboration which took place during the spring closures will continue into the new school year to provide students with their IEP services.

    The District is dedicated to providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to our students, consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those individuals providing education, specialized instruction, and related services. Students will receive their IEP services in the fall, with some in-person and some remote opportunities. To optimally support these students, they may be asked to attend in-person full time. Transition planning and services will continue. Specialized PPE will be provided when the instructional needs require closer proximity. As we consider social distancing requirements, the District will factor in the additional special education personnel who enter classrooms to provide accommodations and modifications. IEP meetings will be primarily held remotely to limit the risk of exposure. The District will continue to work with families to meet timelines or agree to extensions for Initial Evaluations, Reevaluations, and IEP Team Meetings. The District will make every effort to maintain as much in-person instruction as is safely possible should a full closure once again be necessary.

    Students with disabilities, along with their peers in general education, will be assessed to evaluate skill gaps. In addition, special education progress reports and data on levels of performance towards goals prior to closure will be reviewed for progress and regression post-closure.

    Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact Mrs. Debbie Pacheco, Director of Special Education, at dspacheco@dimanregional.org with any questions or concerns.

     

    More In-Person Opportunities for At-Risk Youth

    Throughout the period of closure, feedback from parents, students, and staff has consistently conveyed the school community’s challenges with the inability to deliver in-person instruction and maintain close connections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Optimizing the amount of in-person opportunities with in-person instruction is a priority, as we further develop the special education component of the back-to-school plan. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has focused on making at- risk youth or students with disabilities a high priority for in-person instruction when developing plans for re-opening in the fall. MA DESE recommends considering the following when prioritizing students for in-person instruction:

    • Students with multiple disabilities;
    • Students who will need time to learn new procedures and protocols to increase their successful reentry to school in the fall;
    • Students whose level of engagement with remote learning during the recent spring closure was low.

    The new “Hybrid Model of Learning” will include both in-person instructional opportunities, as well as synchronous instruction and asynchronous offerings. As always, flexibility will be key to ensuring that a model of service fits the individual needs of students and families, especially within the remote environment.

    A focus on in-person instruction will be the delivery of related services, such as speech and language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and reading. Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) and training for staff will be required prior to beginning any in-person instruction.

    In a learning environment that rotates between in-school and remote learning, some services and instruction will be delivered synchronously through online platforms that allow for optimal instruction, communication, and observation between therapist and student.

    Should full closure occur after the start of the school year, the District will explore continuing in- person services on a one-to-one basis. Such a decision will be in agreement with parents, staff, and the Board of Health guidelines.

     

    FEEDBACK, GRADING, AND ASSESSMENTS

    Educator feedback is critical to learning. In order for an educator to provide feedback to a student, that student must be an active participant in the learning process. Feedback to students comes in a variety of forms (both formal and informal) and has a variety of purposes. The most useful for teachers and students is feedback that informs instruction and meets learners where they are. This information also provides needed feedback for students and families so they may also reflect on how they are progressing and make adjustments.

    As curriculum and instruction is modified for the upcoming school year, the Greater Fall River Vocational School District is considering the skills and content to be assessed. At this point, we plan to resume use of our grading system using letter grades associated with numeric values as outlined in the Diman Regional Student Handbook. Consistency and continuity across courses and grade level are key elements of assessment. Families can expect to see common expectations and structures in terms of nature of assignments, length of assignments, feedback tools and executive functioning support for all students.

    We anticipate loss of learning resulting from the extended closure from March through June of 2020. We will be working collaboratively to identify benchmarks where students currently stand. We will also look at adjustments to curricula and remediation moving forward.  

     

    PERSONNEL & STAFF SUPPORT

    While ensuring safe conditions for students upon our return to school in the fall, we must remember our buildings are full of adults as well. Our focus must be on keeping staff equally safe and well. The collaboration and flexibility exhibited by our entire community during the closure from March through June of 2020, was a model for others to follow. Continued flexibility and collaboration will be necessary given the nature of the many variables that are influencing this fluid situation.

    The teaching and learning models require flexibility. We will work collaboratively with staff to continuously improve each iteration of our blended teaching and learning models. Our expectation is to maintain dialogue through meetings to ensure necessary adjustments are made in an effort to maximize service delivery for our students and proper facilitation of this delivery by our staff members.

    Staff should contact the Human Resources before August 15, 2020 for confidential support with any concerns and/or questions related to a return to school. In addition, members of a union may also reach out to their respective union stewards for confidential support about your rights and the law. We will work with you to review your options in accordance with your rights under contracts as well as state and federal law.

    PROFESSIONAL LEARNING

    The District is committed to continuous improvements aligned with the 2021-2023 District Improvement Plan. All professional development will serve as a complement and in alignment to the pre-established action items identified within the plan. There will be a specific focus on enhanced remote learning, curriculum development, and social emotional well-being of our entire school community. .  

    COMMUNITY RESOURCES

    The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital offers free accessible, online educational information on a myriad of mental health topics so that parents and schools can better support their students. A list of resources from MGH are below.

    ANXIETY:

    STRESS:

    DEPRESSION:

    SUICIDE:

    CULTURE + SOCIETY:

    HEALTHY LIVING for INCREASING RESILIENCE:

    • The Importance of Sleep for Kids’ Emotional Well-being – https://bitly.com/SleepforKids
    • Building Mental Wellness in Children: What Parents Can Do – https://bitly.com/ClayWellness
    • 11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults – https://bitly.com/Teens_SelfCare

    LEARNING + ATTENTION ISSUES:

    The following resources have been assembled from sources other than MGH and are offered in addition to the items listed above. 

    Accessing Nutrition and Food:

    Technology Access:

    Mental/Emotional Health:

    Student CoVID Knowledge and Daily Awareness:

    Housing and Utilities Assistance:

    Emergency Health or Financial Relief:

    If you are a community group offering support not already listed in these resources, or you are a Greater Fall River community member who is in need of support, please contact Andrew Rebello at arebello@dimanregional.org.

    Questions and Answers:

    If you are a parent or caregiver with questions regarding your child’s education or remote learning, our best advice is to first talk with your child’s teacher or special education liaison. If you have additional inquiries that do not fall under the category of education or instruction, or require additional assistance, please consider the following contacts: