Peabody School Town Hall Questions & Answers: March 18, 2021

Peabody School Town Hall Questions & Answers: March 18, 2021
Posted on 03/19/2021
Watch the Recorded Town Hall Meeting:

Caregivers were sent the prompt below in anticipation of the town hall Names have been removed due to privacy:

Dear Peabody Community:

We are looking forward to our next Virtual Town Hall meeting. We will gather from 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm, on Wednesday, March 17th.

We want to be able to answer any questions you may have in a clear and concise way. Therefore, we have created this “living” document as a space for you to send us your questions before we meet. We will also be answering questions at the Town Hall as they arise.

Kindly insert your questions below.

Thank you! See you tomorrow evening.


4th grade: For 4th grade, What does it mean that "The remote students will continue to receive instruction from both teachers"? I am most concerned about avoiding a scenario in which a masked in-person teacher is teaching remote students as the teacher will be distracted by in-person students, lose non-verbal cues, and be difficult to hear. If enough choose in-person to have two in-person classes, could there be 2 in-person teachers and 1 teacher dedicated to remote students?

Thank you for the compiled FAQ. For 4th grade, What does it mean that "The remote students will continue to receive instruction from both teachers"?
We do not anticipate any major changes with the fourth grade. The two teachers of record are Mr D and Ms A. If at all possible we will keep the students who remain remote and our in-person students with their current teachers. We will also keep our ETS and 2 para professionals in place.

If enough choose in-person to have two in-person classes could there be 2 in-person teachers and 1 dedicated to remote students? (Personally, re-rostering is less important to me than avoiding a masked teacher teaching remote students.) This I do not have an answer for at this time. We will do all we can to give our students the best possible learning environment given the circumstances.

Also the deadline for choices is 7PM which is when the town hall tomorrow ends. Is the 7PM deadline not hard and fast? While meeting with district leadership yesterday we were able to extend the deadline by a few more hours.

Thank you, I'm sure this situation is as difficult for school staff as parents, or even more so. We're in this together. : )

5th grade. I am basically echoing question above, but for 5th grade- I have no clear idea of how this new change will alter how remote teaching and learning is being done. For the Fifth grade we are not looking to make a major change from what we just entered into. The team is departmentalized and they work seamlessly together. I’d love also to know where kids are eating. Students have been able to be split into two groups and two rooms for eating. Is there a plan to move any classes outside as the weather improves? As the weather pattern improves we will be encouraging teachers to use outdoor spaces more frequently

3rd grade. You specify in the FAQ that in-person learners cannot be guaranteed a specific teacher, but you didn’t mention remote. Will remote teachers for third grade remain the same? Is it possible that they would be combined to an unmanageable size of 25? It is true that we cannot guarantee that if families choose to return to in-person instruction they may not be able to remain with their current teacher. That is true district wide. We are anticipating the results from the family survey to help determine this outcome. We must adhere to the teachers contract and will keep the class sizes to a manageable level.

I understand from fourth grade students that students are eating lunch in the cafeteria. The reports last fall said that it was not a safe place due to lack of proper ventilation.
The restrictions were placed on all cafeteria’s throughout the district based on scientific recommendations. We have tested our air quality and the results have shown that our cafeteria meets the required 4 air exchanges per hour. Has something changed? Are or will other in-person learners also be eating in the cafeteria? We will need to begin examining the spaces we share with the Rindge Avenue Upper Campus to best answer this specifically.

What is happening with the tent in front of the school? The tent has been erected for teachers and students to use as a space to take mask breaks and hold classes. The tent will be shared between the two schools and teachers will be able to sign -up to use the tent on a daily basis.
Why is this town hall happening so late? According to the emails from Peabody, the decisions are due at 7pm. My colleagues and I were able to arrange with district leaders a few extra hours to hold our family meetings and provided time for families to make their decision tonight. Will this be recorded for parents who already have something else scheduled at 6. Yes we will record the meeting. I am not sure when the recording will be available.

Are all specialists going to be teaching in person now? Not at this time. We are utilizing most of the specialist’s classrooms as teaching and swing spaces. It seems like the state is saying that students who are in person must be taught by someone in person too. The specialists will be delivering live streamed instruction with the assistance of a live in-person Paraprofessional.
Same question as above about the cafeteria.Over summer the document from the school said it didn’t have the air circulation required for use. Answered above.

How does the school do contact tracing? Can you give actual examples of who does what, are all kids required to be tested before coming to school when there is a case in a classroom? Who calls to see that this is done? The school does not perform the contract tracing. The school nurse conducts all onsite testing. Staff are tested every Tuesday and Friday using the PCR test.

Students, whose family have signed the consent form, are pool tested every Monday throughout the day. If a case is discovered during pool testing, the families of students from that specific pod are contacted and asked to bring their child to the school on the following day for a rapid antigen test. The process takes between 15-20 minutes. The classroom where the case originated from is then shut down and placed on quarantine for ten days from the original test. Families are encouraged to seek community testing approximately five days after the discovery of a positive case in that classroom five days quarantine. The local board of health does the contact tracing.
Will any currently remote teachers be moved to in person? Can you talk about which grades this is likely to happen in? Of course, this depends on how many families opt for in person. We won’t know final numbers until all have been counted.

Is the school moving to an Assistant Principal position now that the SOM has retired? When will that job be posted and how will parents be able to participate in the process? Yes, as far as we are aware, the District is moving back to APs. Of course, when posted we will be looking for parents to participate in the process.

Is the new Paw Print the place where parents should go to get all school information? It is not clear since it is sent on different days, sometimes late, and i just don’t know if its the only way to hear about the There are multiple ways to learn school information - The Paw Print is meant to be a weekly newsletter and it is also intended for all members of the Peabody school community of all ages. It is generally posted on Sunday night or Monday mornings.

Thank you for the compiled FAQ. For 4th grade, What does it mean that "The remote students will continue to receive instruction from both teachers"? I am most concerned there is a scenario in which a masked in-person teacher is teaching remote students as the teacher will be distracted by in-person students and difficult to hear. If enough choose in-person to have two in-person classes could there be 2 in-person teachers and 1 dedicated to remote students? (Personally, re-rostering is less important to me than avoiding a masked teacher teaching remote students. Also the deadline for choices is 7pm which is when the town hall tomorrow ends. Is the 7pm deadline not hard and fast Thank you, I'm sure this situation is as difficult for school staff as parents, or even more so. Thank you for the acknowledgement because this is a challenging situation. Also, we understand that re-rostering is less important to you however, some families do want their students to remain with their respective teachers especially during this last semester of the year. We will do our best to look at all options to see what is the best case scenario. It won’t be the perfect situation but what we hope will be the best option.

Thanks for this! I plan to attend the town hall, but can you clarify a couple things in the FAQ? The JK/K classrooms have the most current in-person students, but there is no information about how many more students they could fit. Do you know how close to full they are? We are bound to the CEA teacher’s contract. Depending on space and Covid safety protocols, we try to keep our class sizes at or below 20 students. The last point says that we can switch from in-person back to remote, but also says that "opting out of in-person" will require a hardship appeal. What is the difference between switching from in-person to remote and opting out of in-person? This is referring to a family that may opt for in-person now and then may decide to return to remote after the April 5th expansion.

I realize that DESE's mandate has not left the district with much time to collect our preferences and make decisions, but will Peabody have any more information to share before we have to make this decision this week? As with the last time we went through this decision process, the decision for many of us may depend on whether our child has to switch teachers or not. I know that you may not be able to completely answer that until all families' preferences are known, but it would be helpful to have some information from the school about what this could look like. Specifically, for Clare in 4th grade, it would be helpful to know if there's any chance that at least one of the two 4th grade teachers may now be in person in the school, rather than both being remote. I see that the email here says that nothing will be set until after we make decisions, but the school must have some idea of how this might look and of course the parents will be grateful for any information that can be shared that may make our decision easier. Also, will the district's previous policy of being able to make a decision to go back to remote schooling at any time still be in place? Noted and will be answered this evening with more clarity.

I am reaching out with a few questions. I'm wondering specifically how many available spaces there are for in-person learning in the first and fifth grades? That is, with the 3ft and 6ft social distancing rules in place, how many more students *can* go back & fit into those classrooms/lunch/swing spaces for each grade?
Ultimately our goal is for all students to return to in-person learning. We will do our very best to accommodate all families that decide to choose in-person learning at this time. Unfortunately, we do still need to wait to see the numbers. I'm also wondering if there will be a change to our current remote teacher for first grade, Ms. Nerich. I've heard from another parent that Ms. Nerich will stay remote, but wanted to confirm. We don’t have that information available at this time. I'm also wondering what will happen to 5th grade learning on Wednesdays now that one teacher will be in person for the full day (assuming this is what the DESE new regulations will require)? What will that learning look like (remote learners learn from a teacher in school, from a teacher remote, etc.)? Finally, under the new DESE rules, can a student be in person and taught by a remote teacher, specialist, etc? Yes. All students are and will continue to receive instruction from a certified licensed teacher. Specialists will remain remote until further notice.

Can you provide specifics about who makes Covid-related decisions within the Peabody School? For example, when a positive case is reported in class, whose responsibility is it to begin the quarantine countdown? Answered in #9

RE: Covid-classroom closures -- I notice that the timing has been different at different schools. For example, a Peabody class closed at the same time as at G&P (1/28) and Peabody returned on Feb 5, but G&P on 2/8. Why the discrepancy? How is the math done, specifically? And who is responsible? We can not speak to the specifics of any particular school and why the dates are different. We only follow the protocols given by the district for closure of ten days.

How does Peabody handle contact tracing? Please give specific examples. Who is responsible, and what the procedure is. Answered in #9

Who is the current Peabody nurse? While our permanent nurse is out on leave, our school nurse is Nurse Bell R.N. You can reach her at: 617.349.4049

I have asked for published answers to the questions asked at EVERY town hall
conducted at the Peabody with both Ms. Beggy as interim principal and now with Mr. Tynes as interim principal and I have yet to see anything published. There haven’t
been that many town halls! Why is information so difficult to get from the Peabody
school? The lack of transparency is breathtaking!
I can only respond to this statement on my own behalf. These questions and answers will be published by the end of this week if not sooner. Friday 03-19-21

With regards to the question above, (Not clear which question is being referred to) my feeling of trust is so eroded. I don’t feel like the school is sharing information with families appropriate or in a timely manner. And the communication has never been good but it is imperative it improve if we are to start to rebuild community. Agreed, communication can always be improved upon. We encourage families to contact us during regular school hours of operation. Please continue to reach out via email, telephone, in-person, outdoors during the day or by arranging a virtual meeting.

What are the “space restraints” that allow to have a class with only 10 students? Please help parents understand the equity here. If a classroom is that small, why not use another and keep the class sizes fair? We are only able to use classrooms that meet the Covid Safety protocols and guidelines. Because of these guidelines, ie. the desks must be 3 feet apart and in rows facing forward. There must be operating windows able to open at least 4 inches in each classroom. Student desks need to be 7 feet from the teacher’s desk etc, we simply do not have another room. We reconfigured our rooms a few times already this year and are now preparing to do so once again if and when the need is presented.

If personal preference is the only reason for a teacher to teach remotely, will that still
be honored?
Asking this specifically because my decision to support my child’s the 4th grade teacher to be remote has changed. Originally I supported it with the understanding his preference was to be Covid cautious. But I have since learned that he has vacationed by getting on an airplane and leaving the country and I no longer respect him or his decision and no longer think his personal preference should interfere with the DESE guidance, his professional obligations or my child’s right to a quality education. This question was deemed inappropriate.

The FAQ sent out in advance of this meeting contained fewer specific details for Grade 4 than for other grades. Is that because the details for Grade 4 are less known, or was information just missing from the FAQ? What does it mean that “in-person” and remote will be taught by both teachers? There are also several paras and an extended-term-sub who is a licensed teacher - were those teachers not named because there is a chance they will not stay with the cohort?

The FAQ sent out in advance of this meeting did contain fewer details due to the lack of more specific information available at that time. The information has changed to a degree since. We will continue to maintain two paraprofessionals and a licensed teacher as an Extended Term Substitute.

It seems unlikely that you will be able to address all of these questions in a 60-minute session and not all families and caregivers will be able to attend the session. To ensure inclusion and transparency, please send this FAQ, plus detailed follow-up that answers every question with specifics, to each Peabody family within 2 calendar days of the meeting. Noted

The fact that families and caregivers have so many questions about basic details (For
example: There are tents going up on campus? Who is the school nurse? Wait, the
SOM retired?) points to a serious and harmful communication gap. What information
is shared is largely a reiteration of District-level information and there is shockingly little
Peabody-specific information being sent to parents and caregivers. What is Peabody’s
action plan to improve communication? Please provide specific details. Is District
intervention required, here?
The administration and staff welcome feedback and questions from all families and caregivers. There are long standing lines of communication and newer vehicles for sharing information out to the community. There has been a great deal of communication regarding many items of note especially related to the on-going expansion of in-person and remote learning. Our staff and our administrative offices have been meeting with and communicating with families regularly. Nonetheless, as stated earlier, it is noted that we can always improve our communication.

It seems unlikely there will be information available as of the town hall, but as a parent,I
am already looking ahead to the summer and wondering what the district is planning, and what that would look like for implementation at Peabody of any kind of remediation strategy. It seems like a pipedream that any planning is being done “that far out” but thought I’d ask.
The district has begun meeting with all building leaders to begin the planning process of summer learning options. More will be made available as we move towards the summer.

I’d like to echo the request for Peabody to share detailed responses to these questions, along with a recording, to parents that cannot attend tonight’s town hall. I understand that you likely do not have answers to most of them at this point, and like everyone else, are scrambling to figure it out since the District made this decision last week. That said, other schools in the district did call parents alerting them to the change and immediately set up town halls, not for the purpose of disseminating information, but for the purpose of giving parents (and students) a place to vent, share frustrations, ask their questions, etc. It went a long way to making us feel listened to, even if we didn’t get any more information than we went into the meeting with. The fact that it took Peabody this long to set up anything (and only after a lot of parental pressure) speaks to the longstanding communication issues that this community has. That’s a larger problem to be addressed, but for the purposes of the March 17 meeting, please make the recording and FAQ available to the school community. Other CPS schools do this as well. The questions, responses and a recording will be available.

Jenn McManus-Goode, 4th grade parent: At the end of the day, Peabody is still
going to end up with some remote students and some in-person students. What is your
plan for ensuring that remote students still feel connected to school and the Peabody
community? I ask this as a parent that is on record as saying that I go back and forth on our decision to continue to keep our 4th grader at home. I know it’s the right decision for our family based on the available info, but is there a way to help the kids who are staying at home feel less like they are missing out? The last two weeks have been tough, and I only expect this to be amplified after April 5. We can’t make tonight’s meeting so are also requesting the recording and FAQ.
The Peabody school staff and administration truly miss having all of the students in-person. We are looking for ways to stay connected to all of our students and families on a daily basis and welcome suggestions and strategies to help improve and help all of our students and families feel more connected to the school as a whole.

Allison Gill, 4th grade parent: Please help us understand what a typical day will look like for in person students as well as for remote students, if you anticipate major changes to the schedule there. How much movement v. how much sitting on screens at desks? How much outside time? Will some instruction be directed only at remote learners while in-person learners do something else and vice versa? Our priority is to keep our child with his current teacher and in the same mode (remote or in-person) the teacher is in. I’d love for him to return to school but not at the expense of even more screen time. It is encouraged to reach out to our wonderful teachers to learn more about their classroom experiences and practices.

Please clarify the language on the last point of the FAQ--this has sort of been asked, but there is some confusion about whether or not a student is able to switch in either direction at some point this spring (without having to file a hardship waiver). I’ve copied in from the DESE guidance (detailed explanation), where it appears that all families have the right to request a shift to in-person...but it does not appear to specifically address if a family decides to move to remote.

This is referring to a family that may opt for in-person now and then may decide to return to remote after the April 5th expansion.
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