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McCann to Hold Virtual Open House for Prospective Students

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School's eighth-grade Showcase for Success will be held virtually this year and potential students will be invited to the "premiere."
 
Principal Justin Kratz told the School Committee last Thursday that instead of inviting area eighth-graders to the school for the annual showcase and look at after-school programming, the school's recruitment efforts will be virtual.
 
"It is not our ideal situation. We would like to have students here," Kratz said. "But I think this will be a good night and a good event."
 
This decision to go virtual was made because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, eighth-graders are invited to the annual open house to tour the building, see demonstrations in the various shops and labs, and speak with the high school's students and teachers about the programs in the regional vocational school district.
 
Instead, Kratz said students will be shown short clips from each shop and different classrooms.
 
"We will send invitations that look like movie tickets saying come check out the premiere of our movie featuring all of our shop programs to give the kids an overview," he said.
 
Kratz said there will be a question-and-answer period after the showing scheduled for Feb. 24.
 
Before Kratz gave his report, the School Committee accepted a Student Opportunity Act Plan that outlined what the school planned to do with increased state Chapter 70 education funding.
 
"We kind of ran into a bit of a mix here," Superintendent James Brosnan said.
 
The state's Student Opportunity Act (SOA) was put forth to restructure education funding. Brosnan said the due date for school plans on the use of this funding has changed throughout the pandemic but is now due. McCann's plan will focus funds toward high-needs students and reducing class sizes. 
 
"I am sure we will get another chance when the numbers kind of roll out in fiscal year '22 to all go back to the drawing board," he said.
 
The current plan is a two-year plan. 
 
The School Committee also approved a memorandum of agreement with the teachers union. 
 
"Obviously we are in January and obviously our teachers started working under the guidelines that are here before you tonight," Kratz said. "They have not missed a beat since September, and this is the final agreement."
 
The School Committee voted to reject school choice, as it does every year. 

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State Education Board Approves Push for In-School Learning

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley explains the reasoning for getting students back in classrooms and off remote learning. 
BOSTON — Schools across the state are being ordered to resume in-classroom instruction as soon as possible, beginning with elementary grades on April 5. 
 
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.
 
Families would still have the ability to remain remote for the rest of this school year and some schools may be able to get waivers, but the state would have the ability to hold back Chapter 70 education funds for schools out of compliance. 
 
The vote followed hours of testimony from medical professionals, educators and parents that veered from strongly encouraging the return to school as an important to students' health, well-being and educational needs to cautions that many schools did not have the ability to provide adequate spacing or COVID-19 precautions and calls for school employees to be vaccinated prior to any return. 
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