ORLEANS – As Nauset Regional High School makes plans for graduation ceremonies in July (see related story), planning is under way for the fall semester.
“We’ve already started conversations about next year,” Principal Chris Ellsasser told the regional school committee May 14. “My feeling is we will need a remote version (of instruction), a blended version, face-to-face, and one that does all three. We’re establishing a committee of families representing each grade level to talk about school-family communication and what things families need.”
Concurrent with planning for the fall term are efforts to educate and look out for 950 students now. “Our major challenge is the balance of continuing to challenge students while also caring for them,” Ellsasser said. “Each one needs something different at this time.”
When a staff member “gets knowledge a student is struggling,” he said, “they reach out to the adjustment counselor. We organize a circle of support around that kid and family… Counseling is a very important part of what we’re doing. More kids need it than not.”
During the last week of school, students will be asked their views on how remote learning worked this semester. Department chairs will talk about best practices and identify staff members who can provide support to colleagues.
“What we don’t want to do is leave the building in June hoping it will all take care of itself when we come back,” Ellsasser said. “We’d like people to go away feeling confident that we’re ready no matter what the fall looks like.”
Also last week, the committee heard from Greg Levasseur, who chairs the Nauset Regional High School Building Committee. He said the four member towns are looking to deal with the proposed renovation and construction project at fall town meetings and place debt exclusion questions for bonding on the Nov. 3 presidential ballot. That would require the building committee going back to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which has extended its deadline for a final vote to Nov. 1, to try to stretch the time out to around Nov. 22.
Levasseur plans to sit down with Eastham Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe and the project manager “to put down a bunch of scenarios and possible dates” and bring that information to the regional committee in June. “Things get very complicated very quickly, when town meetings will vote, when the elections (will be held), when the school committee has to vote to start the clock on the 60-day bonding period…,” he said. “The whole thrust is to make sure there are no targets missed so that we don’t inadvertently lose the $36 million grant from the MSBA.” (The system’s four towns would contribute $95 million more based on enrollment.)
“A Nov. 3 vote is possible if by Aug. 1, the four towns request from the Commonwealth the permission to add a ballot question on the presidential ballot,” Levasseur said. “That’s why we have to have a discussion of the possibilities.”
The regional committee’s meeting included a virtual round of applause for Susan Murray, the system’s director of food and nutrition services, after Superintendent Tom Conrad announced that she had been named New England Regional Director of the Year by the national School Nutrition Association. During the pandemic, Murray has overseen “grab and go” free breakfasts and lunches for anyone 18 and younger at four of the system’s elementary schools as well as a feeding program that prepares meals delivered by council on aging volunteers to “shut-in” adults.
The effort will continue until the end of June, when Nauset will team up once again with the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans, which runs the summer food program.