Superintendent: COVID cases were contracted outside schools

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Six people in the Hopkinton school community tested positive for COVID-19 through the middle of October, but none of them contracted the virus within the schools, superintendent Carol Cavanaugh told Hopkinton School Committee members at Thursday’s meeting.

“To date we have had no cases of in-school transmission of the virus,” she said.

That statistic shows that “we are doing the right things in school,” she said. Protocols such as frequent hand washing and sanitizing, wear masks and maintaining 6 feet of distance are working, she added.

Cavanaugh urged families to follow those same protocols at home.

Hopkinton had 153 positive COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 14. Hopkinton was categorized as a green community, although the town is “dancing on that line between green and yellow,” the next level.

Green level communities are those considered “lower risk.” Yellow is the next category, followed by orange and then red. Communities with fewer than five cases are not given a designation.

“We have to be very cautious,” she said, particularly as more communities fall into the red category.

FY22 overview introduced

Finance director Susan Rothermich presented an overview of the capital plan for Fiscal Year 2022.

Projects in the plan include: HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning) district-wide, $350,000; boiler replacement, $201,000; roof replacements, partial work at Hopkins Elementary School and Hopkins Middle School, $3 million; a maintenance vehicle, $59,500; systemwide security upgrades, $200,000; systemwide technology upgrades, $100,000; district planning study, $80,000; work on the exterior of the White House, $206,000; wetlands order of conditions from where the original high school fields were built, $60,000.

The town might be taking on some of the technology cost as part of a town-wide phone system upgrade, so the overall school capital plan cost will be lower, Rothermich said.

Superintendent’s goals approved

Committee members approved the performance evaluation goals for the superintendent. Goals include:

— Empower administrators to ensure all instructional staff collaboratively plan, adapt as needed and implement standards-based units comprised of well-structured lessons aligned to state standards and local curricula. Continually monitor and assess progress and provide additional support as needed.

— Set high expectations for the content and quality of instruction and empower all administrators to do the same, ensuring that instructional practices throughout the district are engaging and inclusive and personalized to accommodate diverse learning needs of all students. Stay informed of new evidence-based instructional practices and provide resources and support to implement them as needed.

— Empower all administrators to develop and execute reflective plans, procedures, routines and operational systems to address a full range of safety, health, and emotional and social needs of all students throughout the district.

— Provide the resources and support for all school personnel to understand and comply with state and federal laws and mandates, school committee policies, collective bargaining agreements and ethical guidelines.

— Lead the administrator team to develop a district budget aligned with the district’s vision, mission and goals that addresses the needs of all students.

— Support and empower all administrators to engage in regular, two-way culturally responsive communications with families about student learning and performance.

— Utilize and model strong context- and audience-specific interpersonal, written and verbal communications skills. Actively seek and incorporate feedback into decision-making and in communication rationale for the decisions to staff, family, community members and school committee.

— Lead stakeholders to develop and implement culturally responsive policies and practices that acknowledge the diverse backgrounds, identities, strengths and challenges of administration, students and staff.

— Model a variety of strategies for responding respectively and effectively to disagreement and dissent and resolve conflict in a constructive manner such that all parties are able to move forward productively.

This goal, Cavanaugh said, reflects in part the inability to reach a memorandum of agreement with the Hopkinton Teachers Association. “I would like to work on that, to restore the relationship with the teaching force in Hopkinton,” she said. Teachers, she added, are “critical” and are on the “front lines” of education.

Committee member Joe Markey said the issue is “tricky.”

“The teachers are great, but there’s a whole entity called the union,” he said. At times, “it’s in their interest to create” conflict, he said.

Committee member Nancy Cavanaugh praised the superintendent for taking on this goal. “I’m hoping we can move forward with some rebuilding and some restoring,” she said.

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