August, 6 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
Members of Hingham Parents for Full-Time School are holding a Rally for Education today, Aug. 6, at 5 p.m. at the front of Town Hall.
According to the event post, those hosting the rally believe that the most-recently shared school reopening plan "fails our children on many levels."
That said, the School Committee is planning to meet remotely at 6 p.m. tonight to listen to a comprehensive update on the 2020-2021 school reopening plan. School districts are required to submit their school committee-approved final plans to the state by Aug. 10.
Call-in information for public participation in this evening's School Committee meeting is available in the town website here.
Suzanne Garland, one of the founders of the Hingham Parents for Full-Time School, told the Hingham Anchor that she's not sure what to expect for a turnout at the rally since so many families are on vacation. "But those of us who can participate will be there," she said.
The main impetus behind the event is "to urge the school system to return as many students safely to the classroom as possible, [in accordance with the] Department of Elementary & Secondary Education's prescription for the school districts," Garland said. "We want total transparency from the administration in their planning and development of all three models (full in-person, hybrid, and remote)."
HPFTS is also requesting information about which health metrics "would allow us to get our children back to school," she said. "Finally, we need funding. We would like to see money from the town's 'Rainy Day Fund' be used to fund the return to school. There have been countless hours spent on this [plan] by the administration, teachers, staff, and parents. It is fully an uphill battle. But it is one that Hingham can win."
In an Aug. 3 letter to the HPS community, Supt. Paul Austin acknowledged that preliminary reopening plan information shared with parents July 31 "to keep the community abreast of the work being done on behalf of our students" generated many questions and concerns. "Please know that I have listened and have given your feedback great consideration," the letter states.
He shared the preliminary information, Austin said, knowing that the draft plan was subject to change based on a variety of conditions and updated information from DESE, local and state public health agencies, and others.
Austin referred to his convocation speech to Hingham faculty in August 2019, in which he shared his vision of leadership -- founded on service to others, collaboration, and unity in times of adversity.
"The past few months have provided more than a fair share of adversity, and we are all under enormous strain—we miss connecting with our students, with our families and our community—but we must unite around the shared mission of ensuring that every HPS student safely achieves a full year of academic and personal growth in the year 2020-2021, while protecting the health and safety of students and educators," he further stated in the Aug. 3 letter. "This is the mission that has led the work of the Recovery Response Advisory Committee since June and will be the guiding principle that I follow as I lead this district through the upcoming school year."
The RRAC-recommended, detailed reopening plan will be reviewed with the School Committee tonight. Austin shared "The plan includes details such as suggested schedules for K-5, 6-8, and 9-12, recommended tools and best practices for live/synchronous remote learning, draft professional development plans, and information on how we arrived at decisions with regard to school reopening. We will also provide more clarity around the health and safety protocols we are implementing to protect both staff and students."