Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District is going full-remote

Hampden County

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SOUTHWICK, Mass. (WWLP) – The Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District is going remote.

In a letter to parents and caregivers, Superintendent Jennifer Willard said an agreement with the Teachers’ Union states that if Hampden County reached a 3 percent positivity rate, the District would switch to full-remote learning.

Thursday, that rate hit 3.74% which means starting Monday, November 9, students will begin remote learning full time. Some say hearing about students returning to the classroom has been troubling, but they understand the toll remote learning can have on a family.

“I do understand the hard situation that a lot of working parents have,” said Carina Savoie. “I get it’s a hard time, but I do feel as though it should’ve been remote to begin with.”

No word on how long this will last but Willard said a new agreement with the Union could change the timeline for reopening.

November 5, 2020 

Dear parents, caregivers, and guardians, 

I have never been so proud to be part of a school district that prioritizes what is best for students. Our District has the highest percentage of students participating in in-person learning in Western Massachusetts. It was a collaborative effort to open schools in early September and in order to do so, we needed to create a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the District and the Teachers’ Union to ensure that safety measures were put in place as we reopened our doors during a pandemic. As we were ahead of other districts, we crafted our MOA with the best available data at that time, which was on county positivity metrics. As such, we agreed that if Hampden County reached a 3% positivity rate our district would pivot to a remote learning model. Today, the Hampden County Positivity Rate is 3.74%, therefore, starting Monday, November 9, 2020, we will be shifting to a full remote teaching model.   

Since the MOA was executed, additional guidance has been received from DESE and the parties have agreed to resume negotiations. We are optimistic that a new agreement will be reached that will utilize metrics that are more directly reflective of our school community. Execution of a new agreement could alter the timeline for reopening. We strongly believe that there is no replacement for in-person learning and the connections between students, teachers and peers. Please know we are working as fast as we can to once again provide in-person learning. 

We know that for many of you, this will be an additional hardship as you juggle work with supervising your children at home. Many families have expressed challenges around technology– whether that is having the device they need or the ability to connect to the internet. We are here to help. If you have notified the District that your child needs a device, we will be distributing them on Monday, November 9, 2020. Families will receive an email about their device pick up time.  

I just want to assure you, our staff spent the summer and early fall developing plans and receiving training on remote learning, Microsoft Office and Zoom.Teachers will use a combination of best practices, including live, whole class instruction, teacher-led small group work, and independent student work to help keep your children engaged. 

You will receive specific information about schedules, assignments and expectations from your child’s teachers. 

We need your help in making this a smooth transition. There is no doubt that our students will be disappointed. It is important for them to know that we are eager to return to our school buildings as soon as an agreement can be reached and it is safe to do so. We will be updating you regularly on our plans and are asking that you reach out to your teacher or principal with questions and concerns. They will be in touch shortly with information on their specific plans around the transition. 

We appreciate your partnership as we navigate this unprecedented year.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Willard
Superintendent of Schools

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