The Christmas vacation will start on Thursday, Dec. 23, and end on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. This is the same schedule used this school year, which saw the December date switched for the traditional Good Friday holiday in April.
The addendum to the memorandum of understanding was approved 6-1 by the School Committee, with member Tara Jacobs voting against, at a special meeting on Thursday. The North Adams Teachers Association had approved the amendment by a two-thirds vote of attending members prior to the meeting. The agreement is in effect as of Thursday.
The School Committee voted to anticipate a potential rise in COVID-19 cases because of holiday gatherings and close the school buildings from Jan. 4 to Jan. 18 next year. The district will return to hybrid learning on Tuesday, Jan. 19, the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The arrival of snow over the Berkshires last weekend had the School Committee questioning how the school system would handle the coming winter. Assistant Superintendent Kimberly Roberts-Morandi said the schools would switch to remote learning.
Superintendent Barbara Malkas last week said the single positive case was limited to a classroom and adjacent bathrooms, all of which were sanitized, and that everyone in contact with the individual was informed.
The committee OK'd a level-funded budget of $17,769,075 on a vote of 5-2 with members Tara Jacobs and Ian Bergeron voting against because of concerns that the budget did not address what they felt were deficiencies in the arts and special education.
This week, the news isn't quite so awful with the state committed to level-funding aid through at least the first two months of fiscal 2021. But the district isn't out of the woods yet, Superintendent Barbara Malkas told the committee on Tuesday.
School officials are bracing for a worst-case budget scenario that could mean the closure of one of the three elementary schools. At minimum, the district is anticipating reductions in positions. There's also the possibility of the reconfiguration of Brayton and Greylock schools.
The district has already been connecting with students from the early days of the closure through online platforms reading stories, providing resources and materials for Advanced Placement, calling students and offering music lessons through Google hangouts.
A preliminary budget with a 1.5 percent increase to maintain level services had already been presented. That's now off the table as schools are shuttered until at least May 4 — if not longer — and Beacon Hill had barely made headway with the fiscal 2021 spending plan before the spreading novel coronavirus put everyone on an emergency footing.