MARBLEHEAD, MA —Marblehead Public Schools are looking to bring back all students currently in the hybrid system to full-day, in-classroom learning at least two days a week within the month.
Marblehead Superintendent of Schools John Buckey announced that "should (coronavirus) conditions remain the same as they are" kindergarten and first grade students will transition to full-day learning on Nov. 2, second grade will transition on Nov. 9 and third grade through high school students will transition on Nov. 16.
Under the new schedule, Cohort A students will be in school for a full day on Mondays and Thursdays, while Cohort B will be in school for a full day on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesday will be a rotating day between the cohorts.
(Editor's Note: This is a clarification from an earlier version of this story.)
"We know that families need time to plan for this kind of change, and we want to give as much notice as we can," Buckey said in a letter to the school community. "At the same time, working with too much lead time opens us up to the potential mercies of the public health metrics — the world could look very different a month from now, subverting our planning efforts.
"So, we remain as flexible as we can be, working with cautious optimism and keeping families' needs in mind as we go. Thank you for your patience."
While Marblehead has had very little coronavirus transmission for the past two months, the town did show a significant bump in the most recent state data released on Wednesday.
The town's cases per 100,000 residents — the metric the state uses to determine virus spread in a community and its ability to ease business restrictions — rose to 4.1 in the state's latest weekly report. Last week, Marblehead reported just 1.9 cases per 100,000 residents.
"I am assembling a Superintendent's Advisory Committee and a health metrics dashboard, both of which will help my team make decisions about how shifting metrics affect learning models," Buckey said. "In the coming weeks I plan to walk everyone through how this functions. Please be patient. We're building this from the ground up as responsibly as possible, in partnership with the Board of Health, and learning from what's been successful in other communities."
Buckey asked that students and families do whatever they can to adhere to coronavirus-related protocols —especially when it comes to Halloween — as not to put the return to full-time, in-classroom learning in jeopardy.
"It has come to our attention that some in our community are planning Halloween parties," Buckey said. "The potential impact of these choices to our learning models and potential expansion to full days cannot be understated."
Here are the Marblehead Board of Health's Halloween guidelines and recommendations.
Related Patch Coverage: Marblehead Sees Spike In Coronavirus Numbers