School Committee Meeting Agenda: November 17, 2020

From the Office of the Executive Secretary to the School Committee

School Committee - Regular Meeting November 17, 2020

***S U P P L E M E N T A L***

1. Public Comment (3 Minutes):

2. Student School Committee Report:

3. Presentation of the Records for Approval:

  • September 8, 2020 Roundtable Meeting
  • October 20, 2020 Regular Meeting

4. Reconsiderations: None

5. Unfinished Business/Calendar:

Late Order C20-308 Curriculum & Achievement Sub-Committee Motion with respect to outdoor dining for in-person learners
Whereas CPSD has begun in-person learning for some scholars and
Whereas the CPSD Safety and Facilities manual states in section C14 that “Students will eat outdoors or inside their classroom with at least 6 feet of social distancing maintained,” and
Whereas eating lunch requires mask removal, and the science indicates that gathering outdoors is safer than gathering indoors with regard to risk of COVID-19 transmission and
Whereas bringing a classroom of children safely outside to eat lunch involves many logistical hurdles including maintaining distance from other classes, having a location to go with appropriate seating, ensuring children have clothing appropriate for the weather, and other factors, therefore
Be it resolved that the Superintendent will assess how many times each in-person classroom has eaten lunch outside over the 7 in-person days from October 13th through Friday October 23rd and ask the teachers and principals what if any obstacles they face to eating outside and
Be it resolved that the Superintendent will report back to the School Committee and/or the Curriculum and Instruction Subcommittee by Friday October 30th with that information and
Be it resolved that the Health and Safety Working Group and the Building and Grounds Subcommittee will review the recommendation that section C14 of the Safety and Facilities manual be revised to recommend or require eating outside whenever possible. (FF 10-20-2020)

#20-270 Motion by the Buildings and Grounds Sub-Committee
Metric 1: Daily reported incidence. Fewer than 25 new cases per day per 100,000 people in Cambridge (7-day average)

Metric 2: Test positivity. Less than 5% of COVID-19 tests are positive in Cambridge (7-day average)

Metric 3: Wastewater Monitoring. COVID-19 detected at <100 copies of viral genomes/ML from Deer Island/MWRA (discuss switch after 7-day averages of Cambridge data are available) If two metrics exceed the threshold, CPSD switches to full remote learning (same as with prior metrics).

Rationale: The shift from wider geographic area to Cambridge-specific metric is justified by the availability of surveillance testing for teachers and staff. (AW 11-5-2020)

#20-271 Joint Motion by Member Rachel and Member Rojas
Whereas the Cambridge Public Schools have implemented layers of protective measures to prevent transmission of Covid-19 within schools, and;
Whereas the school district cannot control community spread of the virus outside of school buildings, and;
Whereas epidemiologists have consistently recommended closing bars, casinos and gyms in order to keep schools open, and;
Governor Baker has the authority to restrict non-essential business and social gatherings, therefore be it;
Resolved that the School Committee will send the Governor (and copy the state legislative delegation) a letter urging that he execute restrictions on and/or closures of non-school venues where the virus spreads before the transmission levels suggest the need to close schools, and be it further;
Resolved that Member Rachel and Member Rojas will draft the letter and circulate to colleagues for approval before sending to the Governor. (FF 11-5-2020)

6. Awaiting Reports: None

7. Superintendent’s Agenda:

7a. Presentations: COVID-19 Response Update: Dr. Kenneth Salim, Superintendent of Schools

7b. CPS District Plan: None

7c. Consent Agenda:

#20-272 Recommendation: Day & Residential Program Services not Available From the Cambridge School Department

#20-273 Recommendation: Contract Award: Pitney Bowes: Supplies & Leases Of Postage Machines

#20-274 Recommendation: Contract Award: Glass & Mirror: Window Repair & Installation

#20-275 Recommendation: Contract Award: The Prophet Corp.: Physical Education Supplies

#20-276 Recommendation: Contract Award: Hand 2 Mind: Instructional Materials

#20-277 Recommendation: Gifts/Miscellaneous Receipts

*#20-287 Recommendation: Approval of Fiscal Year 2021 General Fund budget Supplemental Appropriation

*#20-288 Recommendation: Approval of Agreement between the Cambridge School Committee & the Cambridge education Association Units A, B, C, D & E Regarding Reopening of Schools for the 2020-2021 School Year

*#20-289 Recommendation: Contract Award: NCS Pearson, Inc.: Assessment Materials & Software

8. Non-Consent Agenda:

9. School Committee Agenda (Policy Matters/Notifications/Requests for Information):

#20-278 Motion by the Governance Sub-Committee
Whereas several of the new School Committee members expressed their interest in incorporating restorative practices into how this body handles conflicts involving its members in the future; and
Whereas the School Committee’s current Code of Ethics focuses only on what is expected from committee members, but not on how the School Committee should respond when a school committee member’s actions fall short of those expectations; and
Whereas Vice-Chair Manikka Bowman, suggested at a retreat in February that the School Committee via its Governance Subcommittee take a look at the code of ethics of Cape Cod Technical High School as a possible starting point of how the Code of Ethics could frame how the School Committee should respond when it receives a complaint against one of its members; and
Whereas the proposed revisions to the Code of Ethics uses language that more clearly defines expected behavior, it is important to acknowledge that the language in the rest of the document should be further reviewed at a later date to better describe the expectations of school committee members to the community, the administration and to each other; therefore
Be it resolved, the School Committee adopts these initial modifications to incorporate Restorative Justice into its Code of Ethics.

Cambridge School Committee – Code of Ethics – PROPOSED CHANGES HIGHLIGHTED IN YELLOW

View Current >> 
(Massachusetts Association of School Committees Code of Ethics)
The acceptance of a code of ethics implies the understanding of the basic organization of School Committees under the Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The oath of office of a School Committee member binds the individual member to adherence to those state laws which apply to school committees, since school committees are agencies of the state.
This code of ethics delineates three areas of responsibility of School Committee members in addition to that implied above: (1) community responsibility; (2) responsibility to school administration; and (3) relationships to fellow School Committee members. Should the actions of a school committee member come into question, as being out of alignment with the requirements and expectations of their role, a Restorative Process will be offered to support the members in defining next steps.

A School Committee member in their relations with their community should: 

  1. Realize that their primary responsibility is to the children
  2. Recognize that their basic function is to be policy making and not administrative
  3. Remember that they are one of a team and must abide by, and carry out, all School Committee decisions once they are made
  4. Be well informed concerning the duties of a School Committee member on both a local and state level
  5. Remember that they represent the entire community at all times
  6. Accept the office as a School Committee member as means of unselfish service with no intent to "play politics," in any sense of the word, or to benefit personally from their School Committee activities
  7. Recognize and respect the confidentiality of parent/guardian/caregiver, student, and personnel records.

A School Committee member in their relations with their school administration should:

  1. Endeavor to establish sound, clearly-defined policies which will direct and support the administration
  2. Recognize and support the administrative chain of command and refuse to act on complaints as an individual outside the administration
  3. Give the chief administrator full responsibility for discharging their professional duties and hold them responsible for acceptable results
  4. Refer all complaints to the administrative staff for solution and only discuss them at School Committee meetings if such solutions fail.

A School Committee member in their relations with their fellow School Committee members should:

  1. Recognize that action at official meetings is binding and that they alone cannot bind the School Committee outside of such meetings
  2. Realize that they should not make statements or promises of how they will vote on matters that will come before the School Committee
  3. Uphold the intent of executive sessions and respect the privileged communications that exists in executive sessions.
  4. Not withhold pertinent information on school matters or personnel problems, either from members of their own School Committee or from members of other School Committees who may be seeking help or information on school problems
  5. Make decisions only after all facts on a question have been presented and discussed.
  6. It is the responsibility for all School Committee members to both follow and enforce the letter and spirit of the Member Code of Ethics, Member Authority policies, Non Discrimination Policy and Prohibition Against Sexual Harassment, and Equal Employment Opportunity policy. In order to confirm our acceptance of this point, each member shall sign a copy of each document after its reading and acceptance at the annual organizational meeting.
  7. In the event that a School Committee member observes another member or is made aware by an identified or anonymous individual of another member behaving in a way that might fall short of the expectations set by any of these documents, they will report the behavior to the Chair, the Vice-Chair or a member of the Governance Subcommittee, as appropriate.

    The Chair, the Vice-Chair, member of the Governance Subcommittee or their designate will speak to the member in question to share the concern and will call for an executive session of the School Committee to discuss the report. The School Committee will then re-convene in open session. If the majority of the School Committee then votes in favor that the report is indeed an issue, support will be provided to address the behavior: 
  • Initially, the member in question will be offered the use of Restorative Justice to solve the problem.
  • If the member in question does not claim some responsibility for the complaint against them or if Restorative Justice is not implemented, the School Committee could consider the following in open session:
    • Vote for an external in-depth examination of the complaint, with the cost, selection process and scope of the examination discussed in public.
    • Vote to censure the member in question
    • Vote to consider other actions as appropriate
  • The School Committee shall keep a record of all Executive Sessions where reports of instances of a member falling short of expectations were discussed and how the complaints were addressed.

Adopted: TBD

#20-279 Motion by Member Fantini

That the School Committee provide relief requested by School Principals at a special meeting held on Tuesday, October 27th -called by the School Committee, relative to our system of Weekly Check-In’s. Further, until such time the School Climate Subcommittee returns to the entire school committee a revised recommendation to ensure that student check-ins are providing meaningful support to our students with the appropriate systems, procedures, rationale and reporting to support said goal.
All principals have critiqued the current procedures in place and have pointed out several key observations as follows:

  • Not every student may need or benefit from this type of outreach, especially given current degree of student/staff engagement in every student’s daily schedule. 
  • Family preference
  • Demands on all staff members’ time
  • Data entry

#20-280 Motion by Vice Chair Bowman
Whereas the goal of having metrics for school opening/closing are to minimize the risk of a person infected by COVID-19 with an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic case bringing it into CPSD and spreading it to others; and
Whereas these metrics should reflect the risk across the entire school population, which includes a diversity of people; and
Whereas identifying school opening/closing metrics based on race/ethnicity could create a high risk of discrimination to racial and ethnic children and families disproportionally impacted by COVID-19 that are a part of the CPSD community; and
Whereas people of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and Black Latinx, and Indigenous (LBI) communities have been hit particularly hard as a result of being more likely to have jobs that cannot be done from home and have higher rates of underlying health conditions that increase the risk of severe illness; and
Whereas BLI communities are more likely to live in multi-generational households, and due to systemic racism, BLI communities are less likely to get state of the art care when they encounter the healthcare system; and
Whereas these are critical issues to address and are best managed by a partnership between DPH and the Mayor's office within Cambridge as well as at the state and national levels;
Therefore be it resolved that the Mayor initiates discussion through DPH with communities of color to review the City of Cambridge COVID dashboard to ensure data being reported and collected can best support communities of color with outreach, increased access to testing, and support when infected; and
Be it further resolved that DPH will continue to provide updates and guidance to CPSD on the most effective ways to support CPSD students and families disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

#20-281 Motion by Mayor Siddiqui
Whereas CPS strives to engage parents, students, educators, staff, and the community in CPS decision-making, the School Committee will televise the scheduled Roundtable discussion regarding ways that the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color may be factored more explicitly into the CPS Re-opening Plan’s metrics. (Nov. 18, 2020).

#20-282 Joint Motion by Member Rachel, Member Wilson and Mayor Siddiqui
Whereas the Cambridge Public Schools strive to engage families, students, educators, staff, and the community in decision-making, and;
Whereas CPS policy (section KDD) states, “Every effort will be made to assist the press and other communications media to obtain complete and adequate coverage of the programs, problems, planning, and activities of the school district,” and;
Whereas the number of people participating in School Committee meetings has grown significantly since the Committee expanded access through online and television outlets, now therefore be it;
Resolved that the School Committee will amend the rules to televise all future Roundtable discussions.

#20-283 Joint Motion by Member Rachel and Member Rojas
Whereas the Cambridge Public School Committee appreciates the Governor’s ongoing efforts to keep Massachusetts residents safe and healthy during this global pandemic, and;
Whereas Committee Members are concerned about the rising numbers of Covid cases in the Commonwealth, and:
Whereas we are concerned about the academic growth and mental health of our young people, and;
Whereas the School Committee believes that many of our students learn better in-person, and the vast majority need more social interaction with their peers than we are currently able to provide, and;
Whereas the Committee and Superintendent have engaged public health leaders as well as multiple renowned epidemiologists and scientists within our school community to design and implement multiple layers of protection in our school buildings, and;
Whereas to date the Covid cases seen in Cambridge Public Schools have been contracted outside of schools, and;
Whereas we have no control over community spread and emerging science suggests that cumulative exposure leads to contracting the virus, and;
Whereas the limiting of community transmission should translate to fewer cases in schools, now therefore be it;
Resolved that the Committee will send this motion to Governor Baker and the state delegation urging them to implement tighter restrictions, including possible closures, on social gatherings and non-essential businesses before closing schools.

November 17, 2020

Governor Charles Baker
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon Street, Room 280
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Governor Baker,

We hope this letter finds you well. Thank you for your ongoing efforts to keep Massachusetts residents safe and healthy during this global pandemic.

We write to you today because we are concerned about the rising numbers of Covid cases in the Commonwealth and request your help managing the virus so that our children can learn in school buildings. Many of our students learn better in-person, and the vast majority need more social interaction with their peers than we are able to provide. We are concerned about the mental health and the academic growth of our young people.

Of course, our first priority is to ensure the physical safety of students and staff. As the body responsible for public education in Cambridge, we have taken a crash course on pandemic-safe schooling over the last eight months. We are fortunate to have multiple world-renowned epidemiologists and scientists in our school community. A number of parents have become advisors to the district. We have turned to these experts, as well as our public health leaders, on topics ranging from air ventilation and PPE to the appropriate mix of metrics for opening and closing school buildings. We believe that the plan we crafted with these advisors - and many more community members - is thorough. We were sufficiently confident in the layers of protection we put in place (e.g. at least four air exchanges per hour in all classrooms being used, masks, physical distancing of six feet, and optional surveillance testing of staff twice per week) to send our youngest learners, learners in substantially separate classrooms, students in sheltered English immersion classrooms, and many staff back into school buildings October 13th. To date, the Covid cases we have seen at school have been contracted outside of our schools.

Our scientific advisors would be the first to tell you that we have done our part to minimize the spread of the virus in the Cambridge Public Schools. However, we have no control over community spread. You are on record sharing our belief that children returning to school is top priority (for the children’s sake, for their caregivers who need to return to work, and for the economy which relies on the workers). We appreciate the new executive orders you announced to slow the spread, and we implore you to implement tighter restrictions on social gatherings and non-essential businesses. As we watch the long-predicted fall surge begin, please close casinos, gyms and indoor dining before schools. Please remind the public that we all need to wear masks even at small gatherings. Emerging science suggests that cumulative exposure leads to contracting the virus, so limiting community transmission should translate to fewer cases in schools. In other words, our children’s health and wellbeing depends upon the community spread slowing, and you have the power to manage this.

We thank you for your consideration and welcome any conversation you may wish to have with us.


The Cambridge School Committee (and Superintendent?)

10. Resolutions (letters of congratulations, letters of condolence):
#20-284 Joint Resolution by Member Wilson and Mayor Siddiqui
Whereas Alfred (Fred) B. Fantini is the longest serving elected school committee member serving his 19th term of the Cambridge School Committee; and
Whereas his colleagues would credit his longevity to his hard work and leadership on multiple fronts; and
Whereas Fred has been an active participant in many MASC programs and events as a conference speaker, session organizer and facilitator on a range of topics; and
Whereas Fred has served as chair on nearly every subcommittee and has often been elected to serve as the Committee’s Vice-Chair; and
Whereas in 2016 when the National School Boards Association (NSBA) conference was held in Boston, Fred coordinated student-hosted field trips allowing attendees to tour Cambridge schools, visit the technology program, and community laboratory; and
Whereas Fred was instrumental in Cambridge Public Schools receiving the Magna Award from the NSBA in 2019; therefore be it
Resolved that the Cambridge School Committee and Superintendent go on record recognizing the wonderful work that Fred Fantini continues to devote to the community of Cambridge; and be it further
Resolved that a formal copy of this Resolution be prepared by the Executive Secretary to the School Committee and forwarded directly to Fred Fantini.

#20-285 Joint Resolution by Member Wilson and Mayor Siddiqui
Whereas Richard “Rick” C. Jarvis, Jr., 57, of Cambridge MA, passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack on Tuesday, October 27, 2020; and
Whereas He was born in Cambridge to Mary Ann Jarvis and the late Richard C. Jarvis Sr., survived by his wife, Karla, and their three children, Richard “Dewey” C. Jarvis III, Charlie Ann Jarvis and Marc Tyler Jarvis, his sister Lisa, brother Russell, and a host of relatives and friends; and
Whereas He attended Shady Hill School, Cambridge Public School, and Fisk University, became a proud member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and later received a Master’s in Education from Harvard University; and
Whereas Rick had a talent for friendships and enjoyed life to its fullest: an avid fisherman, jazz music lover, bicyclist and woodworker; and
Whereas His many mentees would say “he was the blueprint,” for the example he set in serving his community; and
Whereas He touched the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds with his work in Positive Edge, the Dubois Academy, and the Saturday Program at Moses Youth Center with Commissioner Barb; now therefore be it
Resolved that the Cambridge School Committee go on record recognizing the wonderful work that the Rick Jarvis devoted to the youth of Cambridge; and be it further
Resolved that a formal copy of this Resolution be prepared by the Executive Secretary to the School Committee and forwarded to his family.

#20-286 Joint Resolution by Member Wilson and Mayor Siddiqui
Whereas Na Jae Josephs of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin Learning Community R Class of 2018 passed away over the weekend of November 7, 2020; and
Whereas Na Jae was a creative and intelligent student that was very involved in co-curricular activities during his time at CRLS; and
Whereas Na Jae was particularly active in VPA department opportunities, the Modern Dance Company, and the CRLS String Orchestra; and
Whereas Na Jae was an avid photographer, actor in Fall Musicals, member of the BSU, athlete on the track team, and a Kimbrough Scholar; and
Whereas Na Jae was a kind and caring student who was a friend and confidant to many in our community. Many teachers reflected on his talent and his warm smile. He is loved and will be missed dearly by our community, now therefore be it
Resolved that the Cambridge School Committee and Superintendent go on record recognizing the sad loss of Na Jae Josephs; and be it further
Resolved that a formal copy of this Resolution be prepared by the Executive Secretary to the School Committee and forwarded to his family.

11. Announcements:

12. Late Orders:

13. Communications and Reports from City Officers:

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