FRAMINGHAM – Yesterday, March 5, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) authorized Education Commissioner Jeff Riley to require all elementary students to return to school on April with limited exceptions.
“While the District fully supports the Board’s vote to return all elementary students to in-person learning as soon as possible, the logistical impact of this decision is far-reaching,” said the Framingham Public Schools on Saturday afternoon.
“The Framingham Public Schools has taken a thoughtful and gradual approach to returning staff and students to school, in-person, this year. Though for many it has been a slow and frustrating process, the joy we have seen in recent weeks has shown that better days are ahead. The downward trend in COVID positivity in our community and the intentionally measured return to school has proven effective. We all know that COVID cases will continue to emerge, but our current understanding of the virus, our risk-mitigation strategies, and the well-established protocols in our schools have established confidence in our return to in-person instruction,” said the District in an email to staff.
Immediately following the Board vote, The Framingham Public Schools and Department of Public Health (DPH) leaders met with the 9 elected School Committee members, said the District today, March 6.
“As a next step, we will continue to move forward with the launch of our Phase IV reopening while also planning for the return of additional students in light of this new information,” said the District to staff.
“In the days and weeks ahead we expect to have conversations with the Framingham Teachers Association (FTA) as well as to consult further with the Framingham Department of Public Health to create an implementation plan for our students, staff, and community,” said the District in communication to staff on Saturday.
The Framingham School District’s leadership, the Framingham Teachers Association, and the School Committee hammered out a MOU (memorandum) last summer for the return of staff and students during the pandemic.
An email on this matter will be going out to families today, March 6, as well, in English, Spanish, & Portuguese.
“We also understand that families will continue to retain their right to continue with remote learning through the end of this school year. We will continue to provide updates to the FPS community in the days and weeks ahead,” said the District.
“In the meantime, we urge all members of the Framingham community to continue engaging in efforts meant to reduce the spread of COVID. Please continue to wear face coverings, physically distance from others, monitor symptoms, and wash your hands. If you feel sick, stay home. And as soon as you are eligible and able, we encourage you to get a vaccine,” said the District.
Teachers and staff are eligible for the vaccine now, at CVS, and on Thursday, March 11 at mass vaccine center around the state, including the natick Mall, Fenway Park, and Gillette Stadium.
“We appreciate your patience, continued support, and commitment to COVID-reducing measures as we work to bring back more students to our schools as quickly and safely as possible,” said the District.
The Framingham Public School district reported a half dozen positive COVID cases on Friday, March 5. The six cases come from five schools in the district.
The six new cases make 57 total cases in the public school district this 20-21 school year.
The district does not state when it reports positive cases if they are a teacher, staff, or a student. The cases “reflect number of COVID positive cases for staff and students physically present in Framingham Public School buildings,” according to the district. Some staff “may visit multiple buildings as part of their employment, so multiple locations” could be impacted.
Since January 1, there have been 21 cases in the district. There have been nine cases in the district in March.
Phase I & 2 students returned to their classrooms in February.
Phase III students returned to their physical classrooms on February 24. It was the first time in a physical classroom for these students in the 2020-21 school year. They are attending school all five days.
Phase IV students, many who have not physically been in a classroom since March 2020, began on March 3 for cohort B and will begin Monday, March 8. for cohort A,.