“This is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my career. And quite frankly, my life.”
That’s how Patrick Tutwiler, superintendent of schools in Lynn, Massachusetts, describes the ongoing and evolving response to the pandemic. And it’s complicated in the City of Lynn, which has one of the highest COVID rates in the state. That means they will be all remote for the start of the year.
“The decision to go full remote was purely based on what we believed was the safest way to proceed with providing instruction for students," Tutwiler told NBC10 Boston's Brian Shactman during Tuesday's "Class During COVID" webinar. "People are fearful, and I think those fears are well placed and understandable."
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While it seems obvious to go full remote in these circumstances, Tutwiler said he knows the decision will impact some students more than others.
But he added that “we say frequently safety is our foremost priority. And that’s not a belief we will depart from.”
According to Tutwiler, Lynn has 25 schools spread out over 26 buildings. Ten of them are over 100 years old. Eighteen have HVAC systems.
Because of the density of the schools, he said one of the first things they ruled out was all 16,000-plus students attending school at the same time.
“It’s just impossible," Tutwiler said. "So we immediately moved to developing plans around a hybrid schedule.”
On Nov 20, Tutwiler will reconsider whether to pivot to that hybrid model. The decision will be based on the COVID rates in Lynn. Meanwhile, school starts Sept. 16 in Lynn.
"We’ve been hyper-focused on getting ready," he said. "We’re trying to get ready to support kids.”
“Things will never be the same," Tutwiler added. "And in some ways, I”m eager to be part of the shifts and new shape of the way education will look in this city.”