High School Working Group Update

Dear Newton North and South Parents/Guardians,

Thank you for responding to the High School Working Group survey. The response rate was very good across students, staff and parents.  The working group will further review and synthesize responses including student responses by grade. As communicated in the email from the NPS High School Working Group on Friday, you may view the preliminary survey report on the working group website.  The complete report will be added early this week.

The working group spent the bulk of the past week interviewing high school students, parents, teachers, and administrators in several districts to better understand their experiences with the hybrid/hyflex learning models. Comprehensive interviews were conducted with Staples High School CT, Port Washington NY, Concord-Carlisle High School and Lexington High School. With the help of parents in our community, working group members had the opportunity to speak with numerous families from additional districts to get their perspectives on their hybrid/hyflex experiences including Needham, Natick, Brookline, Westford Academy and Braintree. More outreach will occur this week to teachers and students with general and special education experience and feedback. 

For each district there are pros and cons of their hybrid/hyFlex learning model. These interviews have helped us to assess how different models, experiences and learnings may apply to Newton high schools for our recommendation.  

In this coming week, the working group will continue our outreach to teachers in our schools, further analyze student survey responses by grade, and parents.  Early findings from districts about their hybrid model implementations reaffirm that there is no perfect learning model in a pandemic.  

  • Social distancing is necessary and will impact schedules, curriculum, teaching and learning.  
  • In-person offers pros and cons for students, teachers, parents and administrators. 
  • While many districts committed to the Spring course schedule, the full curriculum is impacted.  
  • Remote learning, even if 100% synchronous is challenging – students can easily disengage and turn their camera off.  
  • Teachers are continuing to adapt their lessons to find the best ways to engage both in-person and remote learners at the same time.  
  • Masks and health and safety protocols bring additional challenges for in-person support services for students with special needs and learning plans, and even more challenging when providing them remotely. 
  • In-person schedules provide support for extracurricular only remotely (except those doing Fall sports)

As mentioned in the HSWG email update on Friday, the next step is for the administration team members to develop options to review with the group at our meeting next week. The recommendations will prioritize student’s needs and concerns. The working group is focused on developing recommendations to expand in-person learning that will best support our 4000+ high school student population. We recognize the sense of urgency for expanding in-person opportunities.  And we look forward to sharing our initial recommendation on November 16th with our community and the School Committee.  

We encourage feedback on our work and continued discussion with our community.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us at npshighschoolplan@newton.k12.ma.us and visit our webpage for updates on all of our work.

The High School Working Group
~ May Chiu, Newton South Parent Representative (NSHS PTSO co-President)
~ Janna Lacatell, Newton North Parent Representative (NNHS PTSO co-Secretary, NNHS PTSO Representative – Academic Standards Committee)