District delays hybrid transition until Oct. 26

The+Brookline+School+Committee+%28BSC%29+met+October+15+to+reevaluate+plans+for+reopening+schools+for+the+hybrid+model.

ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ/SAGAMORE STAFF

The Brookline School Committee (BSC) met October 15 to reevaluate plans for reopening schools for the hybrid model.

Head of School Anthony Meyer was granted a one week delay to open Old Lincoln School (OLS) at the virtual Brookline School Committee (BSC) meeting at 6 p.m. on Oct. 15.

The meeting opened with public comments, and the BSC faced criticism from community members and teachers, about reopening schools without adequate planning, plans for First to Return Students (FTR) and Covid cases in the state on the rise. At the end of the meeting, responding to Head of School Anthony Meyer’s request, Superintendent James Marini made the call to delay the freshmen reopening plan by one week with no objection from the BSC.

“All of our students need and deserve a BHS quality education. Delaying our start date protects the integrity of our academic and student support program,” Meyer said.

Meyer said that while OLS could open on Tuesday, Oct. 20, he did not believe it was the right thing to do.

“I believe that we can make the Oct. 26 and Nov. 9 target dates work,” Meyer said.

Many teachers spoke during public comment about issues of understaffing, cuts to specific in-school programs and the disruption of another transition. Physics teacher Julia Mangan, reading a letter signed by almost all OLS teachers, said the school would not be physically prepared for the hybrid model.

“There are holes in our team that will not be fixed by Tuesday,” Mangan said.

Interim Superintendent James Marini made it clear that the reason for the delay was the staffing issues that could not be resolved by next week.

Senior Joshua Rabinovitz expressed concern regarding the hybrid return.

“It’s not really safe to be sending all of these students back into school,” Rabinovitz said.

Performing Arts Curriculum Coordinator Kenny Kozal criticized the new hybrid schedule.

“Brookline’s decision to keep a full school day and a half-day on Wednesday simply does not allow for anything better than schedules that drastically cut the amount of learning our students will have this year,” Kozol said.

Teachers also expressed concern about the personal health risks of returning.

“I’ll have to decide to choose between an unpaid leave or seriously compromising my health just to work in person,” said social studies teacher Roger Grande said.

Social worker Paul Epstein said the hybrid model could potentially help students but could also come with risks.

“Transitioning to the hybrid model in November would require all of us to take a risk. How big of a risk is up for debate,” Epstein said.

Marini said the hybrid model was the original plan following an extended period of remote learning. He said that ventilation issues were the main reason for a remote start rather than a hybrid model.

During the meeting, BSC voted on and passed an article requiring budget education for elected officials who have financial responsibilities. They also passed two articles mentioning the high school expansion project, with one about an increase in funding and the other about acquiring the former Newbury College west campus.

This is a developing story. Check back for regular updates.