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DESE Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance

School Opening Fall 2020 Superintendent's Bulletin #1 - DESE Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance

Dear Belmont School Community:

I write to you today with an update on the School Opening for fall 2020.

As you may be aware, for the past several months the School Department has been working on options for opening school in September given the evolving  challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This work has included meetings with our educators, Leadership Council, PTO Presidents, Belmont Health Department and other Town Leaders. In addition we have held two School Committee meetings dedicated to this subject. Please see the Planning for 2020-2021 from the May 26 meeting, and Draft Plans for 2020-2021 from the June 9 meeting. The June 9 meeting was a “Community Forum” where we addressed questions from more than 200 people who participated.  In addition, we also sent a follow up survey to the community the very next day in an effort to be inclusive and thorough in our attempt to solicit feedback. The results of that survey will be provided to the School Committee on June 29, 2020 and will be on our School Committee page on the BPS website on June 30. 

After several meetings with the Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) we were informed today via press release of the DESE “Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance” which outlines their plans and expectations for all schools across Massachusetts. That document and more information is also on the DESE website. Given our first view of this document today we feel our initial planning in Belmont parallels much of what the state has provided as guidance. We will use the DESE information, combined with the work we have done with our school community and the survey results from our community to continue the process of creating our local plan in Belmont.  From our preliminary read of the state expectations our plan will need to address and be in harmony with the DESE.

Given the complexities of opening schools in Belmont and across the state we will be providing a series of “Opening School September 2020 Bulletins” via email to your inboxes and on the front page of the website to keep you informed. We will provide updates on how our planning progresses, updates of state guidelines, and will provide timelines on this important work as we approach September.  These decisions not only impact the alternative teaching and learning models we will create for September; they may also have a direct impact on each of our home and work situations if in fact school cannot open fully in the fall.

We appreciate the feedback and efforts of our educators and community thus far and we plan to keep you updated throughout the summer months.


John P. Phelan
Superintendent of Schools
Belmont, Massachusetts