Swift River School teachers’ union pleased with return to hybrid learning model

  • Swift River School in New Salem, which also educates children from Wendell, reportedly has 66 students. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/8/2021 2:35:28 PM

NEW SALEM — President of the Swift River School teachers’ union read a letter last week commending the New Salem/Wendell School Committee for allowing students to enter a hybrid learning model this month.

Swift River Educators Association (SREA) President Jennylou Powers said during the March 4 meeting that children in preschool through second grade were finishing their first week in the building at 201 Wendell Road and “we would like to express our appreciation for your consistent, thoughtful consideration, which has supported this next step.” Students in grades three through six started Monday.

Based on classroom population, classes are being divided into groups of 10 or fewer to allow for social distancing. Swift River School, which serves children of Wendell and New Salem, reportedly has 66 students.

Powers said everyone in the school community “kept science in the forefront of all stages of decision-making” and “focused on children’s need for consistent and predictable education.” She also said “community” was defined broadly, not simply as the adults and children in the building, and people supported one another with patience.

“The members of the SREA are confident that as we move through this plan and into the next phase, we will continue to meet the challenges and welcome the delights and accomplishments of our learners,” Powers said to end the letter.

New Salem’s Carla Halpern, who in February had voted against the decision to return to a hybrid model but said she would have voted in the affirmative had re-entry been phased in over three weeks instead of two, said she was “really happy to hear” the teachers’ union’s letter.

The New Salem/Wendell School Committee’s agenda was slated to move on to a discussion, nomination and vote on the 2021 Swift River Community Action Award recipient, but Halpern requested to table the item until next month “for reasons that will become clear next month.” There was no objection.

It was also noted during the virtual meeting that June 16 is Swift River School’s final day of class this academic year.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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