Otis Rogers: Urges Northampton Public Schools to revise plans

  • Bridge Street School parents wait outside the Northampton elementary for the dismissal of students shortly after noon on Friday, March 13, 2020, at the end of a previously scheduled half day.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 10/26/2020 2:02:20 PM

I am writing to express dismay and disappointment regarding the Northampton Public Schools’ phased transition to hybrid plan. This plan provides a shift to a hybrid learning model for all who want it, while leaving children who need to stay remote with almost no resources at all. I request that the district consider its obligation to serve all children and revise this plan.

Returning to in-person schooling is not an option for our family. My child’s mother is at high risk for complications from COVID and has been advised by her doctor (per CDC guidelines) that all members of the household should behave as if they, too, are at high risk. Our child’s need for his mother is primary. For children in situations like ours, this pandemic has been particularly isolating. The proposal appears designed to force all families into the hybrid model by providing no other option.

According to the plan, remote learners will receive a morning check-in followed by asynchronous assignments for the rest of the day. There will be minimal to no teacher contact after the morning meeting. There will be no classroom community, no discussions, no interactions with peers. This is not only unrealistic, it is cruel.

For six weeks, teachers at Leeds Elementary School have done an incredible job providing a rigorous education and a strong classroom community — remotely. When we ask our son about school, he smiles and says it’s great. He’s doing his work, raising his hand to contribute to discussions and collaborating with peers. He plays music, does physical education and makes art with instruction from specialized teachers. For the first time since this pandemic began, our son is settling into a happy routine.

The current hybrid proposal will end all of that. The district-wide survey showed 40.2 % of respondents voted against transitioning to a hybrid model, 21.6 % were unsure and 38.3 % wanted a hybrid model. I’m happy the district is offering a hybrid model for those who want it, but I urge them to develop a plan that serves all students, including those who must continue remotely.

Otis Rogers


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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