BRIDGEWATER-ROXBURY-WASHINGTON — Superintendent of Schools Megan Bennett stated this school year’s focus will be on routine, safe habits and slowly ramping up academics during a Region 12 Board of Education meeting on Monday, October 5.

She said school officials need to see where they stand on learning recovery after being out of school for several months. At the beginning of the school year, the region focused on operations and creating a safe and new routine for students and staff. Now with more than a month in school consistently, the district plans to further academics and goals along with curricular changes.

Ms. Bennett called the district’s current academic set a challenge, with creating consistency for both in-school and virtual learning. She stressed virtual learning is not as good as being in-person, but all parties are working on way to make it more accessible, especially when turning in assignments.

“It’s constantly having your foot in both worlds, there physically and virtually,” said Ms. Bennett.

She noted the district’s counseling department is working on advocacy paperwork and on helping distant learners communicate efficiently. In the meantime, Ms. Bennett said, the district’s communications have been very effective with community members and families, alerting her to potential Covid-19 cases or exposures.

She said that communication has allowed school officials to make smart decisions and take quick action. She said there was a potential exposure and school officials were able to get the students out of the building within 15 minutes; the potential exposure turned out to be a false positive.

The district has been able to introduce a few new things into the schools, such as music and outdoor sports, while continuing to enforce six-foot distancing protocols.

Ms. Bennett explained school officials are limiting the number of spectators at sports competitions. She understands it’s a letdown, but reminded the public everyone needs to keep the athletes’ health in mind.

She reported there has been an issue returning the Agriscience animals, due to some needed repairs in the animal facilities. Ms. Bennett said they are working on a solution.

The district sent enrollment numbers of 690 students for Region 12 to the state as of October 1. The numbers may fluctuate since many New York families decided not to go to local schools in the hope city schools would reopen, according to Ms. Bennett. She called the enrollment numbers a moving target.

Board members took no action on updating the use of Region 12 facilities, which include Shepaug’s pool, reiterating their current policy of no outside groups using the buildings. Board member Lisa Roush suggested the board look into the issue on a month-to-month basis, but agreed with sticking to the current policy.

Board members echoed concerns about students bumping into each other in the pool lanes and not enough time to clean the pool area after use. Another board member said students may end up walking around wet since locker rooms aren’t open, noting the seasonal flu season is beginning.

The board approved the 2020-21 teacher evaluation plan, presented by Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Teresa DeBrito. She explained the plan incorporates flexibility for the school year. A majority of the evaluation protocols will be in place and there will be observations that only last 10 to 15 minutes, both formal and informal.

Ms. DeBrito called it a good option for the year, one that allows teachers to focus on the four Student Learning Objectives, which include a broad goal for student learning that addresses a central purpose, a rationale that explains why these are important areas of improvement, at least two indicators of academic growth that provide specific evidence and a quantitative target that will demonstrate whether the goal is met.

Ms. DeBrito said the plan will help teachers not only with social emotional learning, but other learning goals as well. She said the learning this year may be disruptive, but the plan can be a good way to jump back into evaluations.

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