At their regular June meeting, Milford School District Board of Education discussed the return to school plans for the FY2021-22 school year. Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent, stated that the goal is to prioritize in-person learning opportunities, offering virtual opportunities only for those students with medical requirements that make it unsafe for them to attend school in person.
“To give you an idea, we are looking at returning to a full return of a five-day a week schedule,” Dr. Bridget Amory, Director of Student Learning, said. “All of our planning has been inclusive with our building leadership team as well as data we have been able to track and observe over this past school year. Remote learning will be available, but there will be a process and there will need to be medical documentation to support that.”
Dr. Amory explained that the district would continue to follow all recommendation from the Department of Health and the Delaware Department of Education. The district will build in flexibility should students need a break from instruction or even set instruction aside to discuss traumas they may have experienced or even discuss the COVID-19 pandemic itself. According to Dr. Amory, the goal is to make school a safe place to be and to talk about anything that may be concerning to a student.
“We will continue to provide social and emotional support through dedicated curriculum, time and support staff,” Dr. Amory said. “We want to pair students in smaller groups, and we are excited that we are now able to do that, so that we can better target instruction time. Technology has been important this year and we expect that to continue. What we have heard from staff is that they want clear and consistent communication. There are concerns that they may not be able to meet the needs of students in the time we have available. We also want to be sure we have the resources necessary for our own staff who may be struggling.”
Milford has been named one of the top users of Talking Points, an app that allows the district to text information to parents which can then be translated into a native language. The phone call system, conferences and meetings will also continue into the next school year.
“We have been running Building Bridges each month and it has been very successful,” Dr. Amory said. “We are looking forward to returning to in person meetings for that. We are also looking forward to bringing back Open Houses, Curriculum Nights, Tech Tutorials, Transition Events and more that will allow people to return to our buildings.”
The plan presented to the board had already been updated that day, Dr. Amory explained. She stated that the district would update the plan regularly on the website so that parents could remain informed about protocol changes as the district received them.
Board Member David Vezmar pointed out that there may be some students, especially at the secondary level, who may have thrived with virtual learning and asked if there was any data that would support keeping virtual learning for those students.
“We do have some students who have done better in the remote learning environment,” Dr. Amory said. “We are still working toward a full, in-person learning environment. Remote does require another level of staffing but we will try to work with individual families on this.”
Board Member Jean Wylie asked if there would still be transportation limits and Dr. Dickerson explained that more children were permitted on summer school buses. This indicates that by the time school starts, the protocols may be even more relaxed.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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