ORR Superintendent provides online learning updates

Mar 23, 2020

On March 23, Old Rochester Regional School District Superintendent Doug White provided updates on the state’s progress of developing an online curriculum and discussed future resources for students at a joint school committee district meeting via video conference.

White said superintendents from around the state have had weekly conference calls with Massachusetts Department of Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley since schools closed to figure out what to do for the rest of the school year.

At this time, White said that students are not required to complete graded assignments, but teachers can give out optional review material based on past work so they can stay sharp for when they eventually return to school.

ORR School Committee Vice Chair Heather Burke expressed her frustration with the lack of requirements.

“If this is the message that goes forward for our students, then this is a complete failure,” she said.

White said the state will require teachers, psychologists and social workers to check their emails at least three times a day and reach out to every student 2 to 3 times a week.

Schools plan to reopen on April 6, but before that White said the district will give teachers a survey to figure out what training they need and develop training and tutorials to equip them for online learning, in case the closure goes longer.  

He also said that the coming weeks are a time for teachers to write online curricula for students.

White said the state is leaning towards a pass/fail system for MCAS. Though the requirements for state testing are being relaxed on the federal level, state legislation is needed to waive the testing entirely. 

Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning and Student Services, Michael Nelson, said the school will set up a hotline for parents to use to request services for their children. Nelson said that the district would then direct the appropriate staff, such as a social worker or psychologist, to reach out to the family. 

White also thanked cafeteria workers for their dedication to making meals for the breakfast and lunch program, custodians for working everyday to clean the school and the IT team for helping the district work through tech issues. 

Union Chairperson Shannon Finning said that she is “heartened by the response” of the community to the closure.