What do you think of Plymouth’s school reopening plan?

Jam session is an opinion forum offering comments on issues from a group of Plymouth residents. It appears on the Forum pages in the Weekend edition of the OCM.

The newspaper poses a question to the group each week, and participants choose whether to comment. This column is designed to bring the voices of well-informed residents into the Forum page to address issues, one at a time.

Participants cross the local political spectrum and live throughout the town. Some are current or past Town Meeting representatives, and all are active in the community. We hope their diverse points of view will encourage discussion of the issues Plymouth faces.

 

This week’s question

Local schools will reopen in September under a hybrid plan that will see students going to class on alternating days. What do you think of the plan?

 

Pat Adelmann

I had full confidence that the superintendent and School Committee would do what they could to make the opening of school the best possible experience for our students while keeping everyone safe. I applaud all involved and especially the teachers who will be the key players in making this challenging plan work and the parents who have to change their lives around to accommodate for the new schedule. The hybrid plan allows for the presence of teachers and peers, which is an ever so important aspect of the social and emotional development in educating our students.

No matter what the plan is, these COVID times are just plain difficult.

Pat Adelmann has been a Plymouth resident since 1977 and is a mother of five Plymouth Public School graduates, a proud grandmother of 12, a former School Committee member and a former Town Meeting representative.

 

Jay Beauregard

No. I don’t like it. Open up fully.

“Dr. Roshann Hooshmand, the district’s new physician, said she has been caring for children throughout the pandemic and sees no reason to fear students getting Covid-19 or giving it to their teachers. ‘We have to be not fear driven, but data driven,’ she said.”

The kids go to school for a few days and go home for a few days. Plus, the teachers’ union had the school year cut by 10 days. The kids aren’t getting a proper education like this.

If the district only opened virtually, employees not involved in direct instruction of students would have to be furloughed. So, did the School Committee vote to do a partial because they just wanted to save government jobs? It looks that way. Exactly who is the School Committee looking out for?

Jay Beauregard, born and raised in Plymouth, served four years in the Marine Corps and has worked for 39 years at a local company. He is a Libertarian who served three terms as a Town Meeting rep from Precinct 6.

 

Jeff Berger

If I had school-age kids, they would not be going back to school unless every student and faculty member were tested daily and had results within a half hour of being tested. Sending kids / teachers / staff into schools during a pandemic without any vaccine endangers everyone. The notion that having kids in a classroom, even with distancing, when there is no daily testing, is idiocy. It endangers everyone, including their families and friends. I know kids need to be in school. The smart solution, however, for now, and the only solution, is remote.

A Plymouth resident for more than 40 years, Jeff Berger is founder and owner of JMB Communications / websitesthatworkusa.com and everythingsxm.com as well as Northeast Ambassador for SkyMed International, www.skymed.com/jmb, He is a former chairman of Plymouth’s Nuclear Matters Committee and its Cable Advisory Committee.

 

Karen Buechs

I believe the School Committee and school administration is doing a phenomenal job. I can only imagine what they’ve gone through to get to this point. We are in unprecedented times.

Job one for each is to maintain a high level of education for all students and to keep everyone safe as best they can. Teachers and administrators are also part of the equation. I am sure there have been many sleepless nights for all. Good luck and God speed.

Karen Buechs was a Town Meeting representative and served as chair of Precinct 7. She sat on the Manomet Steering Committee, Manomet Village Common Inc., Capital Outlay Committee and the Revenue Idea Task Force. She also served as Charter Commission member and on three Charter Review Committees. Karen has been a resident of Plymouth for 46 years.

 

Rick Caproni

I believe the hybrid plan chosen by the school board and administration is a poor choice. I totally agree with the school physician who sees no reason to fear students getting Covid-19 or giving it to their teachers. She is quoted that “we have to be not fear driven but data driven.” Leadership is depriving our children of important life lessons to be learned from returning to school during the pandemic. Also the state approved three feet of distancing so maybe six is too much. Do four or five feet help as much?

The town of Plymouth has been safe for the entire time of the pandemic with a modest number of cases and small death rate, mainly from residents of long-term care facilities.

As important as it is to get the kids back to school, it’s equally important to get the teachers back and safely. There should be mitigations for high-risk teachers. I can think of many but a few would be confining them to the small population classes. Additionally, a six month or one year sabbatical could be provided as we should all be safe by next summer. The rest of the teachers are smart professionals that should be able to come up with viable solutions

The MAP Academy is opening with 190 students on a normal schedule. If these high risk students can come back so should the other 7000.

Our Pilgrim fathers fearlessly crossed the Atlantic Ocean in not more than a large rowboat.

I shudder to think about how they would feel about the atmosphere of fear that permeates our 2020 society.

Rick Caproni is a Town Meeting representative from Precinct 15, a retired equipment leasing executive and a self described political activist.

 

Birgitta Kuehn

A hybrid schooling plan, less than 50 percent onsite attendance for children and 100 percent attendance for educators and staff. What a series of difficult decisions and tradeoffs. This virus ebbs and flares depending on human behavior, not fully understood. The virus’s only plan is to settle in a human and multiply. So today’s Return to School Plan needs a Plan B, a Plan C and most likely another backup plan. The past three weeks’ small increase in new cases in Plymouth is just that – only an unstable data point. The best that can be said about the current plan is that it checks off all the boxes from the only precedent in history – the 1918 flu pandemic that killed millions. And that history is important. Here’s what worked to save children’s and educators’ lives back then: 1) Invest in school nurses! (check). A study showed that school nurses cut student absences in half. 2) Partner with other authorities (check). Planning that brings public health, education officials, and political leaders together is key to successful responses. 3) Tie education to other priorities (check). In 1916 the U.S. Bureau of Education proclaimed that the “education of the schools is important, but life and health are more important.” Let that sink in a moment – “life…more important.” All the boxes are checked.

Birgitta Kuehn is a recently retired clinician and healthcare executive. She serves as chairwoman of the Board of Health and alternate to the Planning Board, and Town Meeting Rep for Precinct 15. Her commitment to volunteering spans local conservation and environmental groups, PACTV “The Plymouth Show” and the League of Women Voters.

 

Mike Landers

Honestly I’m in the camp that school should be virtual until the vaccine is in wide use and we are all deemed safe.

That being said, I know that school and health officials have worked very hard to accommodate all students and families in the safest way that they believe will work. I hope they are right. I know some families are opting to home school rather than subject their kids to any possible infection and that some teachers have retired so as not be in harm’s way.

These are trying times, and until the White House orders all states to close down, we are continually at risk from anyne coming into the state. I’ll be watching the schools closely. I hope they have a Plan B.

Mike Landers is a Town Meeting representative and is the founder and producer of Project Arts of Plymouth. He is also the owner of Nightlife Music Company and is a performing musician.

 

Ed Russell

There is no “right” plan for opening schools. Hybrid is the best of the bad alternatives and it’s the one I would have chosen. It is perhaps the most important and difficult decision Plymouth’s school board has ever faced. So many factors to balance: children’s health, teacher’s health, loss of state funding, lack of caregivers for working families and on and on – all important, all difficult. Without schools being open parents with means will have an advantage (don’t they always). Parents struggling to get by haven’t the time to properly administer virtual schooling. Without schools open children with special learning needs fall further behind and children in bad family situations don’t fare well. I hope that we learn from this experience and will be better prepared for the next pandemic – as there is always is another coming. In 2020 we didn’t have the preparation, the stockpiles or the leadership needed. I can see how agonizing it is for parents as I watch our daughters struggle mightily with these very school decisions. I am sure that Plymouth’s schools will do their very best and we just have to march forward.

Ed Russell is an attorney and a Precinct 12 Town Meeting representative, and he serves on a number of town committees.

 

Roger Silva

Have to do what is best for students and teachers. As long as it is flexible to adjust to what happens. No one has a magic wand, and the so-called experts are hoping they are right. It’s a crap shoot with a little science!

Roger Silva is a former five-term Plymouth selectman who began public service as an elected Town Meeting member. He has served on the Advisory and Finance Committee and two charter commissions.

(Excerpt) Read more Here | 2020-08-08 10:21:03
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