July 11 Return to School Update, Community Timeline & DESE Update

posted Jul 11, 2020, 9:24 AM by Beverly Zagarri   [ updated Aug 6, 2020, 12:05 PM by stasonish@northandoverpublicschools.com ]

The  Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) continues to provide us with return-to-school guidance which we will need to incorporate in our return to school plans. I would like to share some highlights on what school may look like in the fall. Please know that as we receive more information or as conditions change, we will keep you updated. As of now, we are anticipating what is listed below; however, we all must remain flexible as we plan for September.

  • DESE placed a strong emphasis on getting as many students back in school buildings as safely as possible.  We are charged with creating three plans. The first plan is for all students to have the opportunity to return full-time to school with safety measures in place.

  • The second plan we must create is a hybrid model, where students would alternate attending school and learning remotely. 

  • The third plan is a remote learning model. This model will be more robust & structured than the spring remote learning model.  Teachers would help students meet all grade-level content standards and practices, and teachers would assess and grade students on their progress.

  • Families may have the option to have their children attend school remotely and DESE is working with districts to address this category. 

  • Students at the elementary schools will most likely remain in the same classrooms for most of the day. They will have opportunities for mask breaks, recess, and outdoor learning space when weather permits.

  • We will do our best to cluster students and reduce travel between classes at the secondary levels. We will provide opportunities for mask breaks and outdoor learning space when weather permits.

  • All students in grades two through twelve are required to wear masks unless there are extenuating circumstances. Mask wearing is recommended for kindergarten and first graders.

  • There will be training for faculty, staff, students, and families on school safety
    measures, including social distancing, proper mask wearing, and hand washing. The health of our students and staff is the top priority.

  • Students on Individual Educational Programs (IEP) will receive Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) whenever appropriate, safe and possible. Additional safety precautions will need to be taken for some 1:1 in person services.

We have been conducting focus groups and surveys to solicit feedback from parents, guardians, students and staff. You may have already completed a survey or participated in a  focus group. We will be asking for additional information through a survey that will go out early next week. 

Using this feedback, our teams are working to apply DESE guidance to the North Andover Public Schools, developing structures, systems, and practices that will ensure the safety of students/staff and maximize their learning and social-emotional development. 

With all the changes we will need to make for the fall, attending school will feel different for students, staff, and faculty than in the past. We will be making every effort to make the school experience positive, safe, and familiar. 

This is a fluid situation that can change quickly and we must remain as adaptable as possible. Although the information is subject to change, we wanted to provide an update on our plans for our return and have included links below to a timeline along with an update from DESE received last night.  In these extraordinary times, we appreciate your partnership, support and patience. 


Dr. Gregg T Gilligan

Community Timeline:


DESE Update: