Frequently Asked Questions - Back to School 2020-2021
The 2020-2021 school year will be full of changes for all of us as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Back-to-School Plan covers a wide range of guidelines, topics, and information. We realize there may be additional questions that families have, and will share those frequently asked questions here. This list will be added to as we receive additional updates.
Teaching and Learning
If we choose one learning model and want to change, can we do that?
Families are guaranteed the opportunity to change the selected learning model for their student at the semester break. If families wish to change the model prior to that, they can contact the school principal to discuss options and availability. Availability will be limited and the ability to make changes will be determined by the dynamic number of students in each model.
How will the cohort schedule/rotation work at MRHS?
MRHS students will be placed in three cohorts, based on last name (to ensure that siblings will be on the same rotation). Each cohort will be in person 2 out of 3 days, and learning remotely on the third day. That means that students will be at school in person 3 or 4 days each week. Click here to see charts showing the rotation of the cohorts.
Will MRHS still offer Honors and AP classes?
Yes, the Honors and AP classes that are traditionally offered at MRHS will continue to be available to students.
Will students earn Pass/Fail or traditional grades?
Students at all grade levels will receive traditional grades beginning in September 2020.
What type of feedback can I expect my child’s teacher to provide on both remote and in-person assignments?
Feedback during Spring 2020 was primarily designed to provide contact and communication with students and to support them from a social-emotional standpoint during a very trying time. Beginning this fall, while supporting students will still be an important part of the process, feedback will also include a focus on academics.
Will my child have homework?
Yes, students learning in person and remotely will be assigned homework in keeping with the MRSD Homework Policy.
Is the curriculum the same in the Distance Learning Plan and the In-Person Learning Plan?
The curriculum will follow the same learning standards in both models, although the application may vary slightly.
What if my child begins the year in the In-Person Learning Model but MRSD needs to close schools and switch to a fully remote setting? How will the transition be made to fully remote learning?
Educators are developing contingency plans for this eventuality. Should the need arise to close schools and have students in the In-Person Learning Model switch to fully remote, a model similar to the Distance Learning Model will be used.
Why can’t students in grades 8-12 be in school every day with no distance learning?
There is always the possibility that we will be back in school full-time at some point, and we are fully prepared to do so. The health metrics could dramatically improve, or Governor Baker could issue an Order for a full return to school. In the interim, under the current guidelines for distancing, the physical and facilities capacity of MRSD is to have all students in grades PK-7 in person each day, and students in grades 8-12 in person on a rotating schedule. Taking into account our building capacity and our commitment to meet the highest distancing standards of 6 feet, we determined that our in-person model would rely on some rotation among our high school students.
What do synchronous and asynchronous mean?
Synchronous means that the lesson or activity is time-dependent ("live") and must be done at a specific time. Asynchronous means it can be done at any time (prerecorded video, etc.)
What are the expectations for learning in an in-person setting?
It is expected that students will complete all in-class and homework assignments, and participate in class as appropriate. All teachers will be assessing student progress and assigning grades, and report cards will be issued for each term. Students engaged in in-person learning will also be expected to adhere to health and safety guidelines, such as wearing a face mask, maintaining 6-foot distance, and frequent hand washing and sanitizing. See page 21 of our Back-to-School Plan for more details.
Who is my child working with in an in-person setting?
Classroom teachers are working with these students in person in the classroom along with other educators as appropriate.
Will masks be required for all students?
Yes, all students and staff will be required to wear a face mask. While the state's requirement is for students Grade 2 and up, our focus is on health and safety for all students and staff, and so our requirement is for all students and staff.
How will masks be enforced?
The wearing of a face mask will be managed just as any other classroom rules and guidelines would be handled. Teachers will manage it whenever possible with reminders, and may also request assistance from administrators. Repeated failure to comply with safety protocols will involve conversations with parents and a potential move to distance learning.
Will there be mask breaks?
Yes, teachers will hold mask breaks at their discrection based on the needs of their students. Mask breaks will be guided by safety protocols such as distance, hand sanitizing, and more.
Whay types of masks are allowed?
Students and staff may wear protective face mask styles that are two-ply, in order to protect themselsves and others. Homemade or store-bought two-ply cotton masks are acceptable. Disposable surgical masks are also permitted. Gaiters, bandanas, and masks with exhalation valves are unacceptable, as they do not effectively contain respiratory droplets. Face shields are acceptable only when worn with a face mask.
Will there be any outdoor learning?
Yes, teachers will utilize outdoor spaces whenever possible to allow for further distancing and access to fresh air, weather permitting.
Will there be orientation and/or tours for students attending school in-person?
Yes, building administrators are working to plan tours and other orientation for students, particularly in Grade 5 and Grade 8, as well as students and families new to the district.
Will my child be sharing materials and instructional resources with other students?
We will limit sharing and assign each student materials that they alone will use. We may need to rely on parents helping to supply some of these materials. Library materials, textbooks and the like and other items must be wiped down or left dormant for about three days before they can be safely handled.
Our educators are working on ways to create ‘kits’ for students where possible for students to use individually. In many cases we utilize e-textbooks, so the need to handle actual textbooks is reduced.
How will lunch be handled?
Students will eat in their classroom. Lunch will be available for purchase (most likely ordered a day ahead), and delivered to the classroom. Students may also bring their lunch.
If schools transition to fully remote, will students automatically join the existing distance learning program?
Students will remain with the teacher and classmates they have developed relationships with, even if they move from in-person to distance learning.
What is the maximum class size for in-person learning?
This depends on the size of the classroom - the guideline is the 6-foot distancing. Most Monomoy classrooms can accommodate a maximum of 18 students at 6-foot distancing.
Is there a limit to the number of students who can engage in the Distance Learning program?
All families who wish to have their student engage in Distance Learning may select that option.
What are the expectations for learning in a remote setting?
It is expected that students will complete all assignments and attend any synchronous lessons, be seated in an appropriate location for learning, have their camera on and mic muted unless called on, and behave just as attentively as they would in school. All teachers will be assessing student progress and assigning grades, and report cards will be issued for each term. See page 22 of our Back-to-School Plan for more details.
Who is my child working with in a remote setting?
Students in Preschool through Grade 7 engaged in the Distance Learning Plan will have a dedicated certified MRSD remote teacher, who will guide their learning through synchronous and asynchronous lessons and activities. Students in Grades 8 through 12 will participate in remote learning via live streaming of MRHS classes, as well as asynchronous lessons and activities. Students may also be supported and taught by a variety of educators (e.g. special educators, ELL educators, etc.) as appropriate. Counseling needs will be determined based on individual and group needs across both remote and in person learning environments.
What learning platforms are used for distance learning?
MRSD uses Google platforms both in-person and for distance learning, including Google Classroom, Meet, Docs, Sheets, and more, as well as more specific sites and apps that vary by grade and subject.
If my student stays home, I am working from home and I can’t help with schoolwork as I will be busy working — what should I do?
It is always best to start with your child’s teacher(s). Reach out to them to problem-solve solutions and know that your student’s school will work with you to support your student’s distance learning.
Will students engaged in distance learning be on the computer all day?
No, the distance learning program will involve a variety of synchronous and asynchronous activities and lessons, some of which do not require a computer.
How does my student access Google Classroom/Meet?
Students can easily access Google Classroom, Google Meet, and other digitial tools like Lexia or iXL by using the Clever portal. Clever allows students a single sign-on portal to accss all digital tools without having to remember various passwords and usernames. It also allows teachers to easily share resources and learning plans. The MRSD Clever portal can be accessed here.
Can the student use headphones while on Google Meet?
Yes, headphones (wired or wireless) can be used with a Chromebook and can be helpful during a Google Meet session to reduce background noise.
How do I mute the microphone during Google Meet?
When you are in a session, look to the bottom of your screen (you may need to pull the cursor down to make the bar appear). In the bottom bar will be three icons, the first is an image of a microphone and clicking that will mute the mic, it turns red when muted. The center icon is a phone and clicking that will leave the conversation, and the third is an image of a camera and that turns the camera function on and off. You can also use quick keys: mute or unmute your microphone: Ctrl + D; turn on or off camera: Ctrl + E.
What if my school-issued Chromebook is not working?
Email the Monomoy Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can click here for detailed Chromebook troubleshooting tips.
What if I don’t have internet access at home?
Comcast offeres service for $9.95 per month if you are eligible for public assistance programs such as National School Lunch Program, Housing Assistance, Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, and others. Please read more at this link: https://www.internetessentials.com. If these options are not sufficient, please contact your building principal.
How do I print from my Chromebook?
MRSD is not supporting printing from Chromebooks at this time. The activities provided by teachers should be able to be completed entirely digitally.
What if I am having trouble signing into a school account?
My student's email inbox is getting filled with updates from Google Classroom, is there a way to limit that?
Health and Safety
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- Fever (100.0°F or higher)
- Chills, or shaking chills
- Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Headache, when in combination with other symptoms
- Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
- Muscle aches or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting or diarrhea
- Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies), when in combination with other symptoms
As we learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19, we continue to update the list.
What steps can I take to prevent my student from getting COVID-19?
- You can talk with your student about taking everyday steps to prevent getting sick:
- Wear a face mask that covers the nose and mouth when they are around others.
- Remind them to wash their hands often.
- Help them avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your own home.
- Remind them to stay 6 feet apart from other people.
- Teach your students to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Help your student monitor their health—look for symptoms and take their temperature daily.
How long does it take for symptoms to start?
It can take up to 14 days for people with COVID-19 to start showing symptoms. Some people have very mild symptoms, some people become really sick, and some people with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms at all.
When does my student need to stay home?
Your student should stay home if they have symptoms of COVID-19, have been tested for COVID-19 (while waiting for results), or have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
By keeping ill students, and students who have been exposed to COVID, away from others, we can stop the spread of the virus. It is possible for people who do not have symptoms to spread the virus to others.
What does isolation and quarantine mean?
These are terms that public health scientists use to describe why someone needs to stay home. They are public safety tools that have been around for centuries to stop the spread of germs.
Isolation means keeping sick people away from healthy ones. This usually means that the sick person rests in their own bedroom or area of your home and keeps away from others as best as possible.
Quarantine means separating people who were exposed to a sick person away from others. Because someone can spread COVID-19 before they have symptoms, quarantine stops them from accidentally spreading the virus to other healthy people. People who are in quarantine should stay at home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow the directions from their state or local health departments.
How long does my student need to stay home if they tested positive OR a doctor said they likely have COVID-19?
If your student has symptoms, they should stay at home and away from others as much as possible until all three of the following have happened:
- At least 10 days have passed since their symptoms started and;
- They haven’t had a fever (100.0°F or greater) in at least 24 hours (3 days) without using any medication to lower fever (e.g. tylenol) and;
- Experienced improvement in other symptoms (for example, their cough has gotten much better).
What if my student tested positive for COVID-19, but doesn’t show symptoms?
They should stay home for a minimum of 10 days after the day they were tested and keep away from other people as much as possible. This is because even if they don’t have symptoms, they can still spread the virus. They should follow the guidance of their physician and local Boards of Health.
What if my student becomes sick but IS NOT tested for COVID-19?
They should stay home, in self-isolation for 14 days from symptom onset.
What if my student becomes sick but tests negative for COVID-19?
If an individual is symptomatic at home, they should stay home and get tested. If the test result is negative, the student can return to school once symptoms have resolved and are fever free without medication for at least 24 hours. If your student has been diagnosed with something other than COVID-19 (e.g., flu or hand, foot, and mouth disease) then you should follow the doctor’s guidelines for exclusion requirements for that disease and communicate with your school nurse.
What is a “Close Contact”?
The CDC defines Close Contact as:
- Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
What if my student came in “close contact” with someone who has COVID-19?
Possible close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case should quarantine for 14 days from the date of last contact and should be tested.
When can a close contact return to school?
All close contacts should be tested but must self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of test result. Even if an individual identified as a close contact
receives a negative test result, they must continue to self-quarantine for the full 14 days as the virus may take up to 14 days to cause illness.
When can a student/staff member return to school after COVID-19 symptoms?
If a student or staff member has COVID-19-like symptoms, they may return to school after they have tested negative for COVID-19, have improvement in symptoms, and have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications. If a provider makes an alternative diagnosis for the COVID-19-like symptoms, the individual may return to school based on the recommendations for that alternative diagnosis (e.g., influenza or strep pharyngitis).
If a student or staff member presents COVID-19-like symptoms and chooses not to be tested, they may return to school 10 days from start of symptoms, as long as their symptoms have improved and they have been without fever for at least 24 hours prior to their return to school without the use of fever reducing medication.
What if I am a health care provider and work with COVID-positive patients — what should my student do?
Your student may continue to attend school unless they develop symptoms. If they develop symptoms, keep them home and call their doctor.
Are the HVAC systems in Monomoy's buildings safe?
Yes. An independent third-party report in August 2020 confirmed that all four of our school bulidings have HVAC systems that are capable of delivering proper ventilation. The full report can be found here.
How will classrooms be set up to maximize safety for students and staff?
Classrooms will be set up according to the guidance established by DESE, CDC, and our local health authority, adhering to a guideline of 6 feet of distance. Using these guidelines, we will establish adequate space for both staff and students to occupy classrooms and other instructional space to maximize safety, which will include, setting desks up in rows, limiting the number of staff and students in each space, maximizing the distances between student desks and between staff members in each classroom, and equipping each space with the proper PPE to safely allow student-teacher engagement.
How often will classrooms, restrooms, common spaces be cleaned? Why is there no day devoted to cleaning?
Our approach to cleaning our facilities is that it needs to be a continuous, constant process. Our facilities team will be continually cleaning bathrooms, door handles, etc., throughout each day to ensure a high level of sanitation. Each night, classrooms will be cleaned with a fogger that safely reaches all surfaces.
Will students be able to take the bus to a friend or relative's home?
No, students will only be able to use the bus transportation to and from their home address.
How will parent dropoff/pickup work?
With many more families providing transportation and the need for physical distancing, each school will need to adjust the procedures for parents dropoff and pickup. The times and the locations for dropoff and pickup will be expanded in order to accommodate higher traffic. Specific details, including times and locations, will be shared by each school once confirmed.
Can students get dropped off at school early?
No, in order to maintain safe distancing, students may not be dropped off early to school.
How do I talk with my student about staying home from school and COVID-19?
Here are some tips for talking with children:
- Remain calm while talking.
- Let them know they are safe and it is okay to feel upset.
- Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
- Avoid language that might blame or stigmatize others.
- Pay attention to what children see or hear in the media or from other adults.
- Provide truthful and developmentally appropriate information.
- Talk about new actions that may be taken at school to help protect your students and staff.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Public Health for even more tips on talking with your children about COVID-19.
What is the plan for fall sports?
The State is currently working on this with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA). We won’t have answers until we hear guidance from them.
If fall sports are allowed, can students in the distance learning program particpate in school sports?
Will there be activities like chorus, band, clubs?
Current guidance from the state does not allow for most band and chorus activities. In-person clubs will likely be very limited, though there is a possibility of numerous virtual clubs.