School Committee Reviews Athletics and Other Back to School Issues

The School Committee met Thursday evening in both an Executive Session (7:00 PM) for the purpose of Impact Bargaining Strategy with the Holliston Federation of Teachers and an Open Session (begun at 7:40PM) to review the School Reopening Plan and an Athletics Update. Chair Stacey Raffi welcomed Matthew Baker, Athletic Director, and Nicole Bottomley, HHS Principal, for the Athletic Update to begin the Open Meeting.

Baker had prepared a presentation, “Tri-Valley League: Return Plan for Athletics.”  Following guidance from the MA Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education, MA Interscholastic Athletic Assoc. (MIAA), Holliston Public Schools, and the Tri-Valley League, Baker said, “We feel we have a solid plan in place for the fall.”

Four MIAA athletic seasons are designated for 2020-21:

  • Fall I (9/18-11/20/2020**)–coed Golf, Boys and Girls Cross-Country, Field Hockey, and Boys and Girls Soccer
  • Winter (11/30/2020-2/21/2021**)
  • Fall II or “Floating Season” (2/22/2021-4/25/2021**)–Volleyball, Cheer, Football, and Unified Basketball will be held during the Fall II season,
  • Spring (4/26/2021 – 7/3/2021**) 

** Each sports season must end by the end date

No Tri-Valley League (TVL) schools will offer Middle School Athletics during Fall 1 Season. 

The Tri-Valley League divided its schools into two pods: 

  • Pod 1 – Ashland, Bellingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway, and Norton;
  • Pod 2 – Dedham, Dover-Sherborn, Medfield, Millis, Norwood and Westwood.

Pods were designed to limit travel and interactions among schools.  Each pod has 3 large and 3 small teams. Teams will only play within their pods.  A “No Spectator Policy” is in effect for all contests during Fall Season I.  HCAT has agreed to live stream as many contests as is possible.

Golf matches will be played on weekdays with possible weekend matches.  Other Fall I sports’ contests will occur with one school playing another on Saturdays and Sundays (home and away). TVL has created limitations for practices, and the MIAA has adopted various rule changes and modifications for each sport.  Transportation will be available to contests and will follow all recent guidelines for health and safety.  User fees and the need for physicals will remain as for the 2019-20 season. 

Interim Superintendent Dr. Kustka

Dr. Susan Kustka welcomed staff back on August 31 for the first of 10 days of professional development.  Schools continue to work toward a September 16 opening.  She reported that the former Extended Day program is now “My Learning Space,” operating the hours 7 AM-3 PM for remote learners from other districts.  The HPS have experienced some late year resignations and have had some leaves of absence.  Monitors for health and safety are being added to the staff, but Kustka reminded the SC, “We are competing with other districts.”

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Peter Botelho (above) described a few of the 44 professional development sessions available to teachers.  Varying topics include a focus on hybrid teaching models, effective teaching and learning practices, technology integration, health and safety measures, and equity and bias.  All sessions are being recorded. 

A discussion began among SC members concerned with “Introduction to Physical Science,”  (IPS) an 8th grade “Honors” science offering not available in the fall for which 43 students had shown interest as of May 1, 2020.  Members were concerned that academics not be seen as secondary to COVID classroom logistics.  Dawn Naborsky read several emails from former female students who had benefited greatly in the years following IPS—both academically and emotionally due to its strenuous and cross-curricula content.  Dr. Kustka noted “Although it is unfortunate to get late notice [about the class]…I will love to have conversations with the team to problem solve a little more.”

With interest from the School Committee, Naborsky volunteered to draft a resolution similar to that posted by the Lincoln-Sudbury public school district concerning COVID testing to review during next week’s SC meeting.  In essence, the Lincoln Sudbury resolution requests the MA Governor, Board of Elementary and Secondary Chair and DESE Commissioner allocate funding for COVID testing for teachers, staff, and students; support districts to identify obtain appropriate testing strategies and supplies; and mandate real time data for decision-making.

The next meeting of the School Committee will be Thursday, September 10, at 7 PM.

Yvette Cain

1 Comment

  1. Mark Halstead on September 7, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    As the father of one of the 43 students who were interested in IPS, I would love to see some form of it for 2020/21 even if it cannot be exactly the same as in past years. My daughter loves science but it becomes less interesting when those she’s working with do not have the same level of enthusiasm. It would be great positive reinforcement for her to experience advanced 8th grade science with a group of like minded students. Thank you for re-considering, even at this late date.

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