Dear Families,

I am pleased to announce that the reopening of the school year in the Hudson Public Schools is set for Wednesday, September 16, 2020. All District staff will return to work on August 31st for a 10-day professional development training. 

Our preparation efforts for the reopening of schools continue to be guided by a vigilant monitoring of the local and state public health data, and we are encouraged that indicators about the virus continue to move in the right direction in Massachusetts.  Governor Baker’s careful and disciplined approach for reopening the state has been successful in part because of the strong compliance with health and safety precautions. We now apply those lessons learned and create additional health and safety protocols to begin safely reopening our public schools.

As you have heard, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has directed districts to submit a plan that addresses the reopening of schools in three separate learning models: Model 1: the return to daily, in-person attendance; Model 2: a hybrid plan combining in-school learning with some remote learning and; Model 3. a 100% remote learning program. Each district’s final plan, after approval by the School Committee, must be submitted to DESE during the week of August 10th. Given the significant changes these plans will require in the way schools operate, the District also must negotiate our proposal with all employee unions impacted.

Of course, we know that under normal circumstances, students would be best served in schools every day, interacting with their peers and engaged in live classroom learning. While our educators and families worked incredibly hard last spring to implement remote learning, we know that approach presented enormous challenges, did not reach all students (particularly those with the greatest needs), and it was not an adequate substitute for the in-person interaction with teachers. When out of school, our students also lack access to all of the academic, mental, and physical supports that help ensure their social-emotional well-being, particularly in navigating the effects of trauma during these tremendously challenging times. Therefore, we believe our families and students deserve more than a fully remote learning plan.

By adhering to the school re-opening guidance provided by DESE, which is consistent with the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, we believe that we can safely meet all the health and safety requirements by making significant changes to our facilities, school schedules and operating procedures to make a partial student return to in-person learning. This approach will require strategies to ensure physical distancing, as well as a series of other critical health and safety measures, including wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, cleaning and sanitizing facilities, screening regularly for symptoms of illness, and staying home from school when sick, among others.  Our planning process includes a comprehensive set of strategies and investments to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus. More importantly, we believe that all these measures will ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. 

After significant deliberation, the School Committee voted on August 6, 2020 to accept the recommendation to reopen the Hudson Public Schools using the Hybrid Learning Model, which will bring the students back into school buildings for in-person instruction in smaller, socially distanced groups on a rotating basis, combined with a robust remote learning program on the days students are not scheduled to be physically in school. This plan also enables us to bring a subset of students in greatest need of in-person instruction and support, particularly students with disabilities and our foundational English Learners, back to school four days per week. 

We recognize that the circumstances of every family and staff member are different, and that no plan ultimately will satisfy everyone in our community. But rest assured that we are working diligently to explore every option available to us, that we remain guided by the science to keep our students and staff safe and healthy, and that we will be prepared to make adjustments along the way if the public health conditions or other variables change over time.

We will continue to update our Frequently Asked Question document posted on our website and to keep you informed about our process to reopen our schools.  I am confident that we can prioritize both safety and learning as we prepare for the start of a successful school year.  Thank you for your patience and cooperation in these difficult times. 

Sincerely,

Marco C. Rodrigues, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools