Dracut superintendent optimistic about hybrid reopening

DRACUT – Although schools are opening this week for remote learning only, School Supt. Stephen Stone gave an upbeat report to the School Committee this week for the Oct. 5 reopening of the school buildings on a hybrid basis.

Stone highlighted two areas in particular. All-day care will be available for families and teachers who would otherwise struggle to go to work while their children are learning remotely.

In addition, school ventilation systems, including air handling and HVAC systems, got good marks from TRC, an engineering consulting company which assessed air quality in the buildings.

Dracut has a contract with the Greater Lowell YMCA for before and after school care.

Stone said he approached YMCA Director Kevin Morrissey several weeks ago to see if the program could be extended to all day for parents who need that coverage to get back to work.

Morrissey contacted several organizations, and Lenzi’s Catering stepped forward and entered a contract with the YMCA.

Stone said that the building has enough wireless access to handle demand. So students in the Remote Learning Academy and those students in their remote week on the hybrid will have care available.

The program will be open to students ages 5-13.

“I’m thrilled about the YMCA,” Stone told the School Committee.

The ventilation report from TRC noted how well maintained all the systems are. The report was based on the assumption that each school would be at maximum capacity with minimum airflow.

Stone noted that using the hybrid model, the schools will be at 50% capacity, as some students will be doing all remote learning while others will be alternating in-person and remote learning weeks.

The only school of concern was the Greenmont Avenue School, which is the oldest in the district.

But in the Greenmont case, the school department had already purchased air purifying systems for each classroom. Each system can purify 1,850 square feet and the classrooms are just 850 square feet.

These purifying systems have also been ordered for the School Office s building at Lakeview Avenue and Mammoth Road.



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