Fall school reopening plan in the works

April 27, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer

A Hingham Public Schools Reopening Committee was recently created to review and plan for fall 2021.

The first meeting will be held in May, and monthly updates will be provided to the School Committee during its scheduled meetings, Supt. Paul Austin said last night.

He also requested that Chair Kerry Ni appoint a representative of the School Committee to serve on the new committee. "It is our plan for students to be in school full-time on a regular schedule in the fall," Austin said.

Now that a reopening committee has been formed, parent Susan O'Horo asked what the plan will be "to communicate to the rest of us" throughout the process. "I was disappointed in the communications [concerning 2020-2021 school reopening plans]," she said.

In addition to regular updates at School Committee meetings, according to Austin, related documents will be posted on the HPS website. "We'll have a reopening plan for the committee before the summer," he said.

Prior to Austin's announcement about the reopening committee, parents Matt Cosman and Susan O'Horo urged school officials to come up with, and to also share with the public, a full reopening plan for the fall, sooner rather than later.

"COVID-19 is likely to be here [for some time], and we need to spend more time on a full return to school," especially in light of data that shows low COVID-19 transmission rates in the schools and now that many teachers are fully vaccinated, Cosman noted.

O'Horo echoed some of Cosman's comments. "I think parents across the HPS district want to know the specifics of the plan for the fall," she said. "At this point, the only recourse is our vote on the [proposed] school budget [at the May 8 Town Meeting]," she said. "I have supported this budget proposal 1,000 percent, but why should parents vote [in favor of] that budget when we have a zero guarantee that we will have a full return to school in the fall?"

O'Horo requested specific school reopening information prior to Town Meeting "because at this point [this issue] will impact my vote," she said.

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