NO MORE PART TIME SCHOOL: GET ACTON-BOXBOROUGH STUDENTS BACK TO SCHOOL FULL TIME

NO MORE PART TIME SCHOOL: GET ACTON-BOXBOROUGH STUDENTS BACK TO SCHOOL FULL TIME

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Concerned AB Hybrid Parents started this petition to Acton Boxborough Regional School Committee

PETITION:

We the undersigned petitioners respectfully request that the Acton Boxborough Regional School Committee and Administration prepare the schools to be reopened to all students currently enrolled in the hybrid program to in-person learning FIVE days per week for the remainder of the academic year, commencing on February 22, which coincides with the return from February break.

RATIONALE:

Acton Boxborough schools have been in session since September 14 – seventeen weeks – with most students getting only two days of instruction per week. Prior to that, our students had not seen the inside of a classroom since March 12. It has been nearly ten months since our kids’ lives were completely upended. They have suffered not only irrecoverable learning loss, but also the isolation that comes with the cancellation of sports, clubs, church and activities of all sorts. In all this time, there has not been one single known transmission of SARS-CoV-2 involving a student in any of our schools.

The Acton Boxborough Regional School Committee issued final reopening guidance on August 5, 2020. In the nearly five months since, schools around the world, the country, and even parochial schools here in Massachusetts have fully reopened without causing any major harm to their student bodies or surrounding communities. We are surrounded by proof positive that schools can be fully reopened to in-person learning. Every day we delay this inevitability is a loss that will be felt by our children, likely beyond the end of this pandemic.

This petition is limited only to the impact on our kids and their need for normalcy in their lives. However, there are now reams of data and empirical evidence regarding the ripple effects of school closures and remote education on working families, as well. These impacts are most keenly felt by working mothers, many of whom have had to stop working to manage their children’s Zoom-based education. And the poorer one is, the more likely to be harmed by school closures and other lockdown-related actions. Given that the Acton Boxborough Regional School District has recently recommitted itself to ensuring equity for our diverse community, policies leave behind those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder musts be addressed post haste.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

The Acton Boxborough Regional School Committee has not updated its criteria for a full return to school to reflect new scientific evidence and data from around the state, country, or world as it becomes available. To that end, please consider the following:

  • The international consensus among medical professionals is that students continue to suffer more harm from lost education and social isolation due to reduced in-person instructional time than they do due to the actual SARS-CoV-2 virus itself.

https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse/consequences

  • Data shows that more students are suffering the mental health consequences of missing in-person schooling, sports, clubs and other activities that provide the necessary social-emotional support required at this stage in their development.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/impacts-lockdown-mental-health-children-and-young-people

  • Schools are known to have very low rates of transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/22/health/coronavirus-schools-children.html

  • There is very little evidence of asymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2, while there is evidence that this transmission rate is very low – 0.7% in households.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2774102

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/9/20-1848_article

  • Students requiring special educational services continue to fall behind. Numerous articles can be found online sharing the struggles of students with special needs as they cope with remote and hybrid learning. Locally, we hear asynchronous days require executive functioning skills many do not yet have. The inconsistency of the hybrid schedule wreaks havoc with many of these students.
  • Guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recommends three feet of social distancing versus six feet as used by the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District (page 9).

https://www.mass.gov/doc/dese-fall-reopening-guidance/download#:~:text=Distancing%20requirements%3A%20As%20reviewed%20and,is%20the%20minimum%20distance%20allowed.

  • Guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts states “Districts are expected to prioritize in-person learning across all color-coded categories, unless there is suspected in-school transmission”, which is not the case on Acton-Boxborough.

https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop/interpreting-dph-metrics.html

  • Local private schools have clearly demonstrated that students can safely return to school in-person, five days per week.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-and-the-catholic-schools-11603927142

  • Pediatricians have reported a surge in mental health issues across the state, to which ABRSD is not immune (starting ~2:26).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_glzpCCFKA

  • Between the beginning of the year and Thanksgiving, 248 ABRSD students were forced to quarantine due to suspected close-contacts with others who tested positive via PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2, each missing on average four days of school. Not one student subsequently developed symptoms or tested positive themselves. Therefore, the quarantines resulted in precisely zero benefit while causing students to fall behind in their studies.
  • There is simply no rational justification to continue inflicting known harms on our children. Doing so does not protect the vulnerable, yet it burdens the younger generation in the short-term in ways already evident, as well as in the long-term in ways which will likely be revealed over the course of years, or even decades. The younger the children and the lower the educational attainment of their parents, the more severe the impact of school closures.

https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w27773/w27773.pdf

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