The following are FAQ compiled from Family Forums held on 8.17 & 8.18
During hybrid learning, will students stay with the same group throughout the day? Will they be changing rooms?
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has issued guidelines which advise schools to limit the intermingling of student groups. While a traditional schedule would see some students participate in the same core group of classes and some have different peers for each subject, Sizer wants to limit that interaction as much as possible. As we build the schedule for remote and eventual hybrid classes, it is Sizer’s intent to keep students in the same cohort as much as possible.
This will be somewhat easier to do at the middle school level where students generally follow the same core schedule. It may prove harder to do at higher grades as student needs around graduation and specialized learning become more specific - but we will do our best.
When will families know about cohort groupings?
It is Sizer’s hope that these groups are finalized by the end of August. Sizer has a collaborative relationship with the bus companies and Fitchburg Public Schools and is actively consulting with both groups on how best to organize cohorts. Factors like geographic clusters of students, family groups, and individual student needs are being considered.
Will families with multiple Sizer students receive preferential cohort grouping?
When instruction shifts to a hybrid model, what will the max capacity of the building be? How about an average classroom?
Using six-foot social distancing guidelines, the smallest of Sizer classrooms could accommodate four students, with eight to twelve students in a larger classroom. This includes a six-foot travel buffer and teacher spaces. School-wide, that breaks down to about half capacity.
Why is hybrid learning starting with seventh grade? As a group brand new to Sizer, how are those students expected to build relationships and acclimate to the school?
Sizer’s thinking behind starting seventh grade hybrid learning first is that this group is at once the youngest and newest group to the school. They will need more time to learn and adopt all the COVID-related practices and procedures, in addition to learning a new school, new teachers, and new peers.
Regarding relationship building among this group, a significant portion of Sizer’s ten extra professional development days prior to the start of the school year will be devoted to real-time training on virtual relationship building. More details will be shared in the coming weeks.
Masks and PPE
Will Sizer provide students with PPE? Are face shields an acceptable substitute for masks?
Families are expected to provide face masks for their students. An acceptable face mask is anything that is multi-layered and fully covers the mouth and nose. Face shields are only acceptable when there is a mask underneath them. Families who need help sourcing masks should contact Nurse Dugas (firstname.lastname@example.org). Sizer will have a supply of backup masks should something happen to a student’s mask during the school day.
When will mask breaks occur?
This is something Sizer is very much still working out. Ideally, mask breaks will occur outside, as weather permits and to enable social distancing. When that is not possible, Sizer is looking at designating indoor spaces as mask break spaces. Sizer has designated outside zones to serve as these spaces and created travel systems that will allow classes to regularly access these spaces. There will also be internal guidelines developed regarding other times that classes may need to take a mask break, such as eating.
How will Sizer instruct students who have a diagnosis that prevents them from wearing a mask?
This will be a case-by-case collaboration with the student, family, and Sizer administration. This must begin with a doctor’s note with suggested alternatives from the student’s Primary Care Doctor. If this applies to your student, please contact Nurse Dugas (email@example.com) for further information.
Student Needs and Support
What will happen for students who are on IEPs?
IEP meetings will take place remotely. Like other schools, Sizer is working through a backlog of IEP meetings from the spring. If your child is on an IEP and is due for a meeting, Specialized Education will be in touch within a few weeks.
There are three main strategies being employed to ensure students who are on IEPs continue to receive required services.
● First is the utilization of extra professional development time at the beginning of the school year to review all modifications and accommodations required for Sizer students on IEPs, and discussing strategies for all staff to ensure those services are received when using an online instruction model.
● Next, for students in inclusion classes, the learning specialist or paraprofessional will join that class, working with the general education teacher to provide modifications. Classes will be designed with breaks to allow the learning specialist or paraprofessional to go into a breakout room with the student and provide one on one or small group support.
● Lastly, Sizer knows that many IEP students currently access academic support classes. We are looking at the current structure of at these classes and exploring the possibility of adding extra paraprofessionals to provide more individualized support.
For students with related services, such as speech and language, Sizer is working with our provider to provide more hours of instruction when in-person instruction resumes. We are also expanding the breadth of services to allow for remote speech and language support when remote instruction begins on September 14th.
How will 504 supports be implemented during remote and hybrid learning?
Sizer knows that communication is key for this - we can imagine what 504 accommodations will look like remotely, but family feedback will be critical. Please communicate regularly with your child’s advisor about how remote implementation of 504 supports look on your end. We expect this to be a process of trial and revision. Teams and subject area groups will utilize Wednesdays to discuss students who may need additional support and conduct individual check-ins.
How will Sizer determine which students need in-person learning during the seven-week remote period?
This determination will be made by looking at students with IEPs that mandate extra services. Additional students for this small cohort will be identified through selected teacher feedback.
Will ACT and Bridges remain available during remote and hybrid learning?
ACT (Academic Coaching and Tutoring) will remain as a class in which eligible students will be registered. ACT focuses on, among other things, help with organizing assignments and assignment completion.
Bridges is a program for students who might benefit from a separate classroom space to complete assignments or work on skills in a quiet, unobstructed environment. Sizer is planning to establish a virtual Bridges classroom which would function to provide the same kind of intensive support during remote and hybrid learning. Please contact Sarah Sams (firstname.lastname@example.org) should you need detailed information about Bridges.
Is there an entirely remote learning option? Will families be able to switch from remote to hybrid, or vice versa, if conditions or comfort levels change?
Yes, there is an entirely remote learning option that will continue throughout the school year. Families always have the option to switch from entirely remote to hybrid or vice versa. Families should contact Mr. Randall (email@example.com) to discuss.
Will specials, such as art and music, continue?
Yes, these classes will continue during remote and hybrid learning. Sizer will utilize extra professional development days at the beginning of the school year to create a structure for students that will more closely mirror the regular schedule of a traditional school day. That schedule will include specials.
When will student schedules be ready and when will advisors be assigned?
Scheduling is still very much in process and will occur after cohorts are determined. If students have immediate concerns, they can email Mrs. Currallo (firstname.lastname@example.org) for grades ten, eleven, twelve and new ninth grade students. Please contact Ms. May (email@example.com) for grades seven through eight, as well as returning ninth graders.
When will the school day begin?
How will remote learning look and will it be different from last spring?
Remote learning will look and feel very different from what occurred during the emergency building closure last spring. Primarily, there will be more rigor and structure to all classes, with all assignments and participation being graded
It is not Sizer’s intention for students to be staring at a screen for each 45-minute class - we know that would not be a set up for success. An example of how remote learning will work is this:
● Math class starts at a regularly scheduled time, students are expected to join the class via Google Meets.
● The teacher would take attendance and give a “do now” - just like the traditional school year.
● The first third of the class would be devoted to reviewing homework and discussing the day’s assignment.
● Students would then have the option of logging off to complete work independently or going to a breakout room to get individual support from their teacher.
● At the end of the class, students would log back on to turn in work.
What about students who struggle with Google Classroom? Will there be analog alternatives during remote learning?
Paper copies of assignments are always available. Contact your student’s teacher with requests like this and Sizer will make it happen. All teachers will have office hours posted in Google Classroom with information on how they can be contacted for extra support.
Will hybrid learning be synchronous, asynchronous or a blend?
Hybrid learning will be a blend of both types of remote instruction. There will be times when in-building cohorts will be learning at the same time as their classmates at home (synchronously), and there will be times when students working remotely will be accessing a video and working asynchronously (on their own time) during the hybrid model. Sizer will structure learning around following a schedule to maintain routine for all students.
If a student is learning 100% remote, will they receive the same instruction as those learning via the hybrid model?
Yes. At times, this will occur synchronously, meaning they will be learning at the same time as their peers receiving instruction under the hybrid model. At other times, students may be completing assignments using videos and independent assignments. Lessons will be the same for all.
How will students be held accountable? What is Sizer’s plan to ensure that students are participating in remote learning versus simply watching YouTube in another tab?
As has been stated above, requirements during both remote and hybrid learning will be stricter than the spring emergency closure period. Attendance will be taken at the start of every class and, much like any other video chat platform, teachers will be able to do a visual check to ensure students are engaged with their peers. Assignments will be due daily, which will increase student accountability.
In addition, work will be graded in traditional Sizer fashion, along with participation grades. As was the case previously, families will have access to PowerSchool and are encouraged to reach out to teachers with questions about their student’s progress.
What about after-school clubs or sports?
Currently, Sizer’s only plan for structured out-of-school activities will revolve around additional academic support. Although clubs are certainly a possibility, planning for that has been delayed until a solid plan for academics is in place. Regarding athletics, Sizer is evaluating the just-released DESE guidelines around sports and carefully considering options, all with an eye for safety.
How will Sizer support families who may have concerns about remote learning?
We are all in this together. Please reach out to your student’s teacher, Mr. Randall (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mrs. Tarantino (email@example.com) if you need support navigating remote learning.
What about students who need to take medication during the school day?
Student schedules will be built with extended time to accommodate medication administration. Nurse Dugas will work with individual students and families to build a plan, which could be as simple as stepping out into the hallway to receive medication, or could look more like utilizing an empty classroom to do a socially distanced but supervised, contactless medication distribution. Like so many things at Sizer, this process will be individualized to the student’s needs.
What will happen if a student or family member tests positive?
Should a student test positive, Sizer will be conducting contract tracing. Here’s an example:
● A Sizer student tests positive. They stay home and the family informs Nurse Dugas.
● Students who have been in close contact with the infected student will be asked to leave school and get tested in four to five days to ensure maximum test accuracy. Close contact is defined as being within six feet of a person for more than fifteen minutes who is infected with COVID-19.
● The Department of Public Health will be notified, and Sizer will work collaboratively with them on contact tracing and determining a return-to-building date for the student in question.
● A return date is determined by either the passage of ten days without symptoms or a noted decrease in symptoms. If a student is in close contact, regardless of test results, he/she must quarantine for 14 days.
More information will be coming on this topic as Sizer approaches the start of hybrid learning.
Will lockers be available?
At this time, lockers will not be utilized during hybrid learning.
Will Sizer Chromebooks need updates for the fall?
Sizer Chromebooks are configured to update weekly. As long as Chromebooks are updated once per week, they will be fine. Mr. McDonagh is reachable for support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if my question was not answered here or I need extra help?
Please email email@example.com.