ANDOVER — Superintendent John Lavoie reports the Greater Lawrence Tech School Committee has approved plans for a phased return to facilitate more in-person learning for career and technical education classes.
The transition falls in line with guidance from the Department and Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) that a return to fully in-person learning, with the proper COVID-19 prevention protocols in place, is not only safe but needed and beneficial for the academic and social emotional wellbeing of students. While the state is requiring this return for elementary students starting April 5, districts statewide are already making this transition at all grade levels.
However, it is noteworthy GLTS serves students from some of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic in the Commonwealth and only recently began bringing students in for any in-person learning due to the significant rates of community spread.
“Hands-on instruction, projects and group work are core parts of career and technical education, and we’re very thankful to be in a place where we can begin making the shift to bring in more students for in-person learning,” Superintendent Lavoie said. “However, our communities have been among the hardest it, if not the hardest hit, by this pandemic in the Commonwealth. As we take this next step, we affirm to our students, staff and families that we’re committed to both the education of our Reggies, and to the health and wellbeing of the entire GLTS community.”
The plan rolls out a phased return to in-person career and technical education (CTE) learning as follows:
Juniors and seniors who choose to opt into in-person learning will return every other week for their CTE classes beginning on Monday, March 29. Juniors and seniors will continue to attend class remotely during their academic weeks.
Sophomores who opt into in-person CTE learning will return on Monday, April 12. Sophomores do not rotate weeks between academic and CTE classes like juniors and seniors. Half of their week will be in-person learning for their vocational classes and half will be remote for their academic classes.
Freshmen students returned to in-person learning for their CTE classes specifically on Feb. 22. At that time, 63% of the class of 2024 began in-person learning and the district has since offered families and students another chance to opt into in-person learning, and an additional 24 freshmen have opted in for in-person learning this month. Freshmen, like sophomores, are taking their CTE courses in-person for half of the school week and their academic classes are held remotely for the remainder of the week.
Students at any grade level also have the opportunity to continue taking part in fully remote learning.
While in the building, all students and staff will continue to be required to follow the district’s COVID-19 prevention protocols, including mask wearing, maintaining a physical distance of six feet from others, regular hand washing and sanitizing, and staying home when ill. Shops have also tailored specific protocols to protect the health and wellbeing of students and staff while in the building.
Further, parents and guardians will be asked to sign a form for students to receive a PCR test before they return to in-person learning and once they are attending, should they fall ill during the school day.
School nursing staff have been thoroughly trained on how to administer the test using a nasal swab. The decision to administer the test will be made by the school nurse, and parents and guardians will be contacted by phone call for consent before their child is tested. All students who are tested, regardless of their result, will be sent home.
GLTS will also be revising its bus schedules in accordance with the above phased transitions, and bus protocols will be shared with students and families before students return for in-person learning.
GLTS will be providing additional updates to all students, families and staff as more information is available about the return to partial, in-person learning.