Superintendent: District has tentative agreement with teachers union

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A tentative memorandum of agreement has been reached between the Hopkinton Teachers Association and the Hopkinton school district, superintendent Carol Cavanaugh announced Tuesday on HCAM’s Hopkinton Hangout Hour program.

A newly scheduled meeting of the School Committee has been set for Thursday for committee members to vote on the deal.

“The school district and the teachers association have arrived at a tentative agreement,” Cavanaugh announced. “I believe the teachers are voting tomorrow to ratify that tentative agreement, and then it will fall to the School Committee on Thursday evening to also vote for that tentative agreement. If we have a memorandum of agreement [MOA] in place, all should be right with the world, and we will be beginning school with agreements with the nurses association, the paraprofessionals association and the teachers association. So we’re feeling great.”

Cavanaugh’s comments came on the same afternoon that students in Grades 6-12 received their schedules via email. Students in Grades 1-5 were sent letters from their teachers. Kindergarten information will be sent through the mail.

Parents have been asked not to request changes in the schedules because of the effort required to set them in a short time period.

Parents had until Aug. 3, just over a month ago, to decide whether their children will attend school using the hybrid model, which combines remote learning with in-person class attendance, or opt for fully remote learning.

Normally administrators have months to set up schedules. This year, the pandemic and subsequent policy changes have “blown out” the usual system, Cavanaugh said.

As result, administrators are “working nonstop, around the clock” to develop the best possible schedules, she said.

Thursday’s meeting also will feature information from the school department and town health director Shaun McAuliffe on how the schools will handle specific COVID-related situations, such as what the protocols will be when a teacher tests positive.

Cavanaugh said she is optimistic about the start of school on Sept. 16. “I think we’re ready,” she stated.

The beginning of the year likely will revolve around mechanical issues, such as traffic patterns, technology needs and ensuring social distancing, she said, adding that in all situations, cooperation from students and families will help ensure success.

Student drop-offs, for example, should be done in the correct grade order to avoid backups. Children will be directed to find seating on the bus from the back forward to minimize contact.

These are just two of countless examples that make this school year different.

Students will “have to relearn schooling,” which for secondary level could provide especially challenging because their education experience for as many as 12 years has been different.

“That’s very challenging,” Cavanaugh said.

But the schools have done all they can to keep everyone safe and move smoothly into a new year, she added. “Will we ever be risk-free? No,” she said. “But we’ve worked very hard to eliminate the risk.”

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