NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The New Bedford School District is currently in phase one of reopening, a time for teachers and staff to complete training and professional development. Phase two begins on the start of school on Sept. 16.
The school district is taking a three-phase, hybrid approach, combining distance and in-person learning. Students will be divided into groups, or cohorts.
“One cohort will come in on a Monday and Tuesday and participate with distance learning for the rest of the week,” New Bedford Superintendent Thomas Anderson explained. “Another cohort will have distance learning for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and they will come in in person for Thursday and Friday.”
Anderson said schools are prepared for the return of students. Class sizes have been cut in half, plexiglass dividers have been installed and they have plenty of sanitizer on hand.
But a coalition made up of teachers, school nurses, parents an other school employees are raising red flags. The group released a list of issues that they believe need to be addressed before Massachusetts schools can safely reopen.
“In light of all the issues we have presented, the current lack of funding appropriated to address these issues, and the increased need for staff, PPE, testing and other resources to implement a safe reopening, at this time; we don’t believe our State is ready to pursue in-person learning safely,” the coalition wrote in a statement.
Anderson said they hired an outside vendor to inspect all of the school buildings.
“Any of the recommendations that they have, we will implement,” Anderson said. “Anything we cannot do in a timely manner in terms of being able to use those spaces, we will not use them.”
Once school begins, each school building will be disinfected each night. As for personal protective equipment, Anderson said there is a monitoring system in place to make sure every school has enough for its staff and students.
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