The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 8-3 on Friday afternoon to accord DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley authority to change requirements for learning time that would not include remote learning.
In a 6 1/2 hour meeting attended virtually by more than 200 people — teachers who delivered heartfelt testimonies, parents afraid for their students' safety, and some from students in support of the return — the School Committee voted to return all students for in-person hybrid learning after the winter break.
In-person classes resumed for most students in the Mount Greylock Regional School District this week with the blessing of a secret committee created recently under a memorandum of agreement between the district and its union.
The committee voted Monday to ask Superintendent Aaron Dean to open negotiations with the teachers union to propose the creation of a panel that would have the ability to vote to reopen schools for in-person learning.
This plan will be presented to the School Committee on Wednesday and, if approved, it will be provided to all families on Friday along with options for parents/guardians who want their children to continue in remote learning.
The vote by the Hoosac Valley Regional School Committee came after hearing from parents at a special meeting on Thursday about the difficulties their children and families were having because of fully remote learning.
Career and vocational students Grades 10-12 will return to classrooms on Monday; certain special education classes including Stearns first and second grade inclusions begin Monday, Feb. 8, and all other students return no sooner than the week of Feb. 22 "or as soon as realistically possible."
The next regular meeting of the School Committee is Feb. 11, but it was clear from the public comments at the start of last week's meeting that some in the community are unwilling to wait until the middle of next month for a revision to the MOU that allowed classes to begin in September.
Last week, Mount Greylock went to fully remote learning all three of its schools after the county's 14-day COVID-19 test positivity rate reached 3.01 percent, just north of the 3 percent threshold for remote learning in the September MOA.
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.
When the world turned upside down in March, MCLA professor Nicholas Stroud, like educators across the country, had to rethink how he teaches. But as the chair of the school's education department, he also had to think about what he teaches.
Superintendent Jason McCandless told the School Committee on Wednesday that although they have provided 3,000 students with school-owned laptops there are still many families without an internet connection.
Brookner and the district's other two principals participated in a virtual meeting Thursday of the School Committee's Education Subcommittee, which held a joint session along with the school councils from Williamstown Elementary, Lanesborough Elementary and Mount Greylock Regional School.