MANCHESTER, NH – With the sudden announcement that Manchester public school staff will receive COVID-19 vaccinations starting this Friday, a special meeting of the Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) will take place to act upon a potential accelerated return of more in-person instruction.
Upon learning the news, Manchester School District (MSD) Superintendent Dr. John Goldhardt requested that the BOSC amend the district’s current re-entry plan. Currently, half of the students learn in-person on Monday and Tuesday and learn remotely on Thursday and Friday with the other half utilizing a mirrored school week. Wednesday is used to deep clean schools and providing a chance for teachers to provide one-on-ones and plan lessons.
Under Goldhardt’s proposal, Wednesdays would now be used for in-person instruction with a school day ending 90 minutes earlier than normal, with professional learning collaboration and lesson planning occurring during that 90 minutes. The two halves of the student population would alternate each Wednesday, with the plan beginning on March 31.
Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig asked why this plan could not occur immediately, with Goldhardt saying that SAT exams will occur a week before March 31 and adjusting the schedule could disrupt that process. Craig asked if the city’s middle schools and elementary schools could implement the plan immediately and Goldhardt said that could be a possibility.
Goldhardt also initially said he was going to set a goal of a full return to in-person learning by September, with the BOSC indicating that a full return could come as soon as May depending on whether school staff and students can obtain herd immunity to COVID-19 by that point.
Goldhardt said he would work with Manchester Health Department Director Anna Thomas on any other changes, but indicated that long-term remote learning is an unacceptable option and that students will return to full in-person learning as soon as it can be done safely.
Some schools may also obtain a return to full in-person learning even earlier in situations where school principals can provide plans where they can provide at least six feet of social distance to all students and verify those plans with district administration.
Jim O’Connell (At-Large) moved to provide Goldhardt the authority to amend the re-entry plan as needed, but MSD Attorney Kathryn Cox-Pelletier advised the BOSC to put amendments to the re-entry plan in writing.
The BOSC agreed to hold a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss re-entry planning following the conclusion of the BOSC Finance and Facilities Committee meeting.