Masks Still Up for Debate in 2021-22

            The Rochester Memorial School Committee was the last of the Tri-Towns’ individual school committees to meet, holding its final gathering of the academic year on Monday, June 14.

            While Superintendent of Schools Mike Nelson told the RMS Committee members, “We’re excited to get back to a new normal” and thanked the committee for its support, he forecasted one aspect of uncertainty for the 2021-22 academic year across the state. “The big question will be masks for 2021-22, specifically for students under age 12.”

            All three towns’ school committees discussed the 2021-22 academic calendar and their plans for regularly scheduled meetings with the caveat that meetings can be called based on need.

            In his report to the RMS Committee, Principal Derek Medeiros said, “The remote platform really stretched our teachers to think outside the box.” Medeiros discussed project-based learning with 21st century skills, responsive classroom practices, and a panorama survey.

            While the end of the school year was a platform to celebrate the accomplishment of successfully bringing students back into the school buildings on a full-time basis, committee members also said goodbye to cherished members of the teams that fought that battle.

            In Rochester, Chair Sharon Hartley recognized RMS retirees Donna Abaray and Karen Della Cioppa.

            In Marion, Sippican School Principal Marla Sirois, through the dedication of various book titles, and the School Committee both took time during their June 9 meeting to honor retirees Susan White, who came out of retirement to buttress the staff, Janet Reynolds, who ran Sippican’s cafeteria, and teachers Barbara Bandarra, Ann Louise Vital, Michelle Wicker, and Cathleen Sinnott.

            During the June 7 meeting, Mattapoisett School Committee Chair James Muse updated the Mattapoisett School Committee on the racist remarks and inappropriate words on the wall of a bathroom at the ORR Junior High School. “After extensive review, there has been no ability to identify the perpetrators of this ignorant act,” reported Muse, who added that further efforts have been made for professional development in how to deal with such acts. “It was a student who brought this information to the principal,” he noted, citing reason for optimism in students speaking up.

            Mattapoisett School Committee member Shannon Finning noted that the student also reported the incident to Tri-Town Against Racism, calling the ties to the community organization “critically important.”

            RMS will hold its sixth graders’ promotion ceremony on Friday, June 18, at 1:00 pm, followed by a parade around town. The rain date will be Monday, June 21.

            Also in Rochester, committee member Kate Duggan reported that the ORR Anti-Racism Subcommittee met on June 1, reviewed the accomplishments of the past year, and discussed future progress. The committee approved the Massachusetts Department of Health-authorized delegation of personnel to administer medication to students as outlined in prior committee meetings.

            Nelson reported a donation to Rochester Memorial’s music department from the McGee family. The RMS Committee voted to accept.

            Central Office reported to the local school committees. Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Howie Barber reported that $48,000 remains of the $6,600,000 FY21 RMS operating budget. Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dr. Janell Pearson-Campbell made her final report on professional development. Student Services Director Craig Davidson reported on $47,589 awarded to the ORR District via the Coordinated Family Community Grant. A Kindergarten screening event reached close to 50 families.

            At the nomination of Muse, the Mattapoisett School Committee voted that Carly Lavin remain vice-chairperson. Muse called Lavin a “great asset to the committee all year.”

            Citing the failure to elect to fill both vacancies on the RMS Committee, Hartley instructed the members on the process involving the Board of Selectmen and encouraged them to make recommendations of any potential members.

            Duggan will serve as Rochester delegate to the ORR School Committee, which was scheduled to meet on Wednesday, June 16. The other four members of the RMS Committee – Hartley, Tina Rood, Robin Rounseville, and Anne Fernandes – all serve on the Joint School Committee/Superintendency Union #55, which was scheduled to meet on Thursday, June 17, at 6:30 pm.

School Committees

By Mick Colageo

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