As Andover children continue with hybrid learning due to the pandemic, parents are pressuring town education officials to get students back into classrooms full time.
As parents bring up the issue repeatedly to officials, often at School Committee meetings, some moms and dads say they are glad to hear plans for a an eventual full-time return to schools are in the works — but they want more detailed information.
"It was really helpful to know new ideas were looked at," said Beth Humburd, who has two children in the district. "It would be even more helpful to know what those ideas were, what progress was made, what barriers remain with respect to that new exploration."
Humburd is not alone in asking school officials how they are progressing with the plan. Some parents have praised interim Superintendent Claudia Bach for listing the full-time return to schools and discussions with families as goals in a letter she sent to parents recently.
"In the letter I sent, I was very, very serious about increasing the communication," Bach said. "I actually see more than just the communication — it's not so much us saying to the parents here's our situation. It's more an engagement."
Humburd said better communication between school leaders and parents would go a long way toward "rebuilding fractured relationships."
Bach has been reaching out to parent organizations to set up meetings so she can hear parents' concerns. She said teachers also need to be part of the conversation.
"I see it as more than just me spouting thoughts (on how to get students back to school), but us really engaging," she said.
Bach said she wants to give all parents the opportunity to be part of the conversation. She said she has also considered sending out surveys to collect information about what parents can do to help make full-time school a possibility.
Bach said she is working with school administrators to find new ways to improve hybrid learning — a mix of learning in classrooms and remotely online from home — and to return students to school, Bach said.
In the meantime, she said, schools will continue working to keep students and staff healthy.
"The reason schools are safe places is because we've had very very good mitigation strategies for COVID, so the students do wear their face masks and know how to keep distance," Bach said. "You go through the schools and the hallways are filled with one-ways. Schools are doing an incredibly good job in maintaining that, so they are the safe place to be.''