New Burlington Superintendent Tom Flanagan outlined his 100-day plan for the upcoming school year on Tuesday, saying the district is planning for students to return to the classroom August 26.
“Public education is incredibly important and it’s not easy for everyone to do virtually,” Flanagan said. “We really need to get them back as soon as we can and as safely as we can.”
Flanagan comes to the Queen City with experience leading schools in Providence, Rhode Island and Washington D.C. Since arriving in Burlington, he says he’s heard from over 1200 families and 500 educators in a recent survey, which finds that 15% of those families aren’t comfortable returning to school.
“The feedback from the survey was most people would prefer to see an A day/B day schedule,” Flanagan said. “Where a student would go to school on a Monday and Wednesday and another student would go to school on Tuesday and Thursday, so we’re gonna test that.”
Flanagan says the district has a reopening task force and outlined some other changes, to include health screenings, mandatory masks, and frequent sanitation. He also says students won’t eat lunch in the cafeteria, but rather, in their classroom.
“School becomes in some way much more like a one-room school house where you’re in your classroom much more,” he said.
President Donald Trump has announced plans to get kids back into class, even as the pandemic continues to rage. As coronavirus cases surge in more than 30 states, Trump wants the country’s classrooms full again.
“We want to get them open quickly, beautifully in the fall,” Trump said.
Flanagan also acknowledges that he’s becoming superintendent during a racially sensitive time which is why the schools have created an office of equity and plan to hold race and leadership workshops with principals and teachers.
“That will really help us lead from a place where race, equity, power, and privilege are a part of something we are able to speak to and a place where we can lead from,” he said.
Flanagan says the community can expect a town hall meeting next week with more information on reopening.