Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield continues with remote learning

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School science and math teacher Amanda Locke works in her classroom on Friday, teaching her students online. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School science and math teacher Amanda Locke uses a dry erase board while teaching her students online o STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School science and math teacher Amanda Locke works in her classroom on Friday, teaching her students online. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • GARBUS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/16/2020 2:54:52 PM

GREENFIELD — Four Rivers Charter Public School Principal Peter Garbus said he and his staff would love to return to in-person learning, but that doesn’t look like it’s happening in the near future.

“As with all schools in Franklin County, our students, families and staff have continued to manage challenging circumstances with resolve, flexibility and community-mindedness that I find inspiring,” Garbus said.

He said Four Rivers Charter Public School on Colrain Road continues the model it opened with in September: remote learning for academics and grade-by-grade in-person advisory and community-building lessons. The school has 216 students enrolled in grades seven through 12.

“We have also been running intramural sports and after-school club activities in person to provide students with safe outdoor opportunities to stay active and engaged,” he added.

Garbus said the school made the decision in August to prioritize the health and safety of students, families and staff members, which meant doing everything possible to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, even as transmission and positivity rates for the county have been low so far.

“At the same time, we felt that consistency and significant teacher preparation would be the most effective learning environment for our students,” Garbus said. “We recognize and deeply appreciate the efforts our families have made to support their students at home, as well as the hard work of our teachers to provide a strong remote learning program.

“Our teachers, like those across the country, have done an amazing job of adapting their instruction to an online environment,” he continued. “We are an expeditionary learning school, which involves making learning as active as possible, assigning projects that connect to real-world issues and focusing attention on character and community. Teachers learned and taught each other a number of technology tools and platforms that have helped them maintain these same approaches even while remote.”

Garbus said there are competing pressures to increase in-person learning at the same time as there is increased spread of the virus nationally and throughout the state. He said while the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has pushed schools to do more in-person learning, and that is an ongoing consideration for Four Rivers, the school is also keeping an eye on the rising COVID-19 case numbers.

“We are working on detailed plans for possible hybrid learning, upgrading our ventilation systems and weighing the benefits of different models,” he said. “Our modest facilities do not allow us to bring all students back for in-person learning while maintaining social distancing, so the most we could do under current conditions would be some form of hybrid, with reduced numbers of students at school.”

For more information about Four Rivers Charter Public School, visit: www.fourriverscharter.org.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.




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