Sept. 2, 2020 Special Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Special Meeting

via Zoom Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 6:05 p.m.

Per Governor Baker’s order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A sec. 20, the public will not be allowed to physically access this School Committee meeting. Members of the Public can access the meeting audio live on QATV Channel 22 or at The meeting will also be recorded for rebroadcast and posted on the QPS website on Friday, September 4, 2020.

I. Chairman’s Update - Mayor Thomas Koch

II. Open Forum - Vice Chair Andronico
Open Forum items may be submitted to School Committee via email to: [email protected]. Please include your full name and mailing address as part of the email.

III. QPS High School Athletics - Superintendent Mulvey, Mr. Mahoney, Mr. Niamkey Eligible for Vote

IV. QPS Re-Opening Metrics and Timeline - Superintendent Mulvey
Eligible for Vote

V. School Committee Policy Revisions - Mr. Bregoli

A. Sections 1.3 Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Nondiscrimination; 1.3.1 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex; 1.3.2 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability (for discussion)

B. Sections 5.5.1 through 5.5.6 Transportation Services Management (Eligible for Vote)

C. Section 9.11.1 Homework (Eligible for Vote)

D. Section 10.2 Equal Educational Opportunities (for referral to Policy Subcommittee)

E. Section 10.11.3 Communicable Diseases (Eligible for Vote)

VI. Executive Session: Contract Negotiations

VII. Adjournment


Quincy, MASSACHUSETTS – September 2, 2020

Special Meeting of the Quincy School Committee

Special Meeting

Vice-Chair Presiding

A special meeting of the Quincy School Committee was held on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 6:05 p.m via Zoom. Superintendent Kevin Mulvey called the roll and present were Mayor Thomas Koch, Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Mr. Frank Santoro, and Mr. Anthony Andronico, Vice Chair.

Also present were: Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Acting Assistant Superintendent Erin Perkins, Mr. Michael Draicchio, Mr. Kevin Mahoney, Mr. Jean-Jacques (J.J.) Niamkey, Mr. Robert Shaw; Health Department Commissioner Ruth Jones; Mechanical Engineer David Scott; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

School Committee Member Mrs. Emily Lebo was absent.


Chairman’s Report

Mayor Koch reviewed that the City of Quincy has committed CARES Act funding totaling close to $6 million to date: $3.1 million for Chromebooks and educator laptops plus $1 million of infrastructure enhancements, over $400,000 for PPE, and $25,000 funding for the QPS Summer program staffing.

City of Quincy Health Commissioner Ruth Jones reviewed that Quincy has had 1549 confirmed cases total, 1340 recoveries, no recent deaths, active cases (probable and confirmed) total 20. Numbers have been solidly in the green for the last 2+ weeks.

Mr. Santoro asked Commissioner Jones to review the theory behind the phased-in approach to opening the Quincy Public Schools. Commissioner Jones said that the three weeks between groups allows for monitoring the cohorts and analyzing the data and safely progressing.

Mr. Bregoli said that the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education guidelines allow for Quincy Public Schools to have hybrid learning for all grades. Commissioner Jones said that when the plan was approved, Quincy was yellow, and moved to green the next week. Commissioner Jones supports the phased-in approach, cautiously increasing the number of students and staff and optimistic that the tentative plan can be rolled out, depending on the data and trends.

Mr. Bregoli said that the Centers for Disease Control released information that 94% of COVID deaths also had underlying health conditions. Commissioner Jones said there is a lot of controversy about those numbers, a person might have diabetes, but they died of COVID-19.

Mr. Bregoli asked about recent cases for school-age children; Commissioner Jones said that in the last few months, there have been no more than three cases at a given time. Mr. Bregoli noted that the Quincy Recreation Department is concluding their summer programming this week, successfully managed so that there were no cases among children or staff.

Mr. Bregoli asked for prediction on when the 6-foot distancing might be reduced. Commissioner Jones said that while 3 feet is acceptable, 6 feet is better; she cannot make a prediction for when this might happen. Commissioner Jones said the metrics are important, these will be an ongoing discussion with School Committee and the data will dictate any changes in the plan.

Mr. Gutro asked about the upcoming Labor Day weekend and advice for families and staff. Commissioner Jones noted that there was an uptick in Quincy following the July 4 holiday, which also coincided with the beginning of Phase 3 statewide. The state Department of Public Health is advising against large events, encouraging keeping safe distancing and mask wearing when with members outside the household.

Mr. Gutro asked if a child or adult tests positive after Labor Day, what is the reporting process. Commissioner Jones reviewed the process for contact tracing and notification. If a student or staff member living in Quincy tests positive, the Health Department will notify the school. The Health Department clears cases and contacts from quarantine and isolation. Staff members who live in other towns will be tracked by the city/town they live in. Household contacts of positive cases are quarantined for 14 days following the 10-day isolation of the positive case.

Mr. Bregoli asked for clarification on COVID-19, it is a droplet infection, where particles travel a distance and fall to the ground. This is different than an airborne infection such as measles. Commissioner Jones said that if COVID-19 was airborne, there would be many more cases.

Mayor Koch asked Public Buildings Department Mechanical Engineer David Scott to give an overview of his work on analyzing school building ventilation. Teams of technicians including outside electrical contractors and engineers have performed surveys in each building, eighteen have been completed in terms of surveying and repairs/replacements and the last two will be completed before September 16. The work includes assessment of air flow and exchange and efficiency settings are adjusted for occupancy and pre-purge and post-purge ventilation scheduled. Mr. Scott said that there has been inquiry around air exchange rates, these are calculated for full occupancy, recent samples are between 2.3 and 3.3 air exchanges per hour. In some buildings, inoperable windows are being replaced to increase ventilation, particularly in basement spaces.

Mayor Koch reiterated that while we strive for energy efficiency, that is secondary to the air exchange at this point.

Mr. Bregoli asked about COVID-19 droplets in air exchange systems. Mr. Scott said the building occupants wearing masks limits the droplets in the air and the air filters in the systems have been upgraded to higher MERV-rated filters as a barrier to COVID-19 droplets moving through the HVAC systems.

Mr. Bregoli said a recent Boston Globe article cited opening windows and doors to increase air circulation. Mr. Bregoli asked about C02, Mr. Scott said this is how indoor air quality is measured. The C02-sensor ventilation units are set for a C02 level of 400 PPM to ensure that outdoor air is brought in at a higher rate.

Mr. Bregoli asked about retrofitting existing units to MERV-13 filters. Mr. Scott said QPS uses MERV-8 filters and is upgrading to higher MERV filters as soon as testing bears out the efficacy. It appears that MERV-11 is the highest rated filter that will work in the systems we have, the MERV-13 will interfere with the performance of the unit.

Mr. Andronico asked Mr. Scott to prepare a document about all of the work completed that can be shared that can be shared with the public. Mr. Scott said all of the information, including measurements and repairs has been captured in a Google document and can be shared.

Mayor Koch said that many buildings will be well under capacity under the hybrid learning plan, will that make the ventilation more efficient. Mr. Scott said the calculation is based on building capacity and occupation, reducing occupation will require adjustment.

Mrs. Hubley asked for clarification that all of the work will be completed by September 16. Mr. Scott concurred that the mechanical work will be completed for exhaust and ventilation will be completed; window replacement will be ongoing as manufacturing is underway.

Mrs. Hubley asked about filter availability; Mr. Scott said there is a national shortage due to manufacturing backlog/demand and there is an eight-week wait time.

Mayor Koch and Superintendent Mulvey thanked Mr. Scott for his hard work.

Mayor Koch left the meeting.


Open Forum

Mr. Andronico read two letters submitted for Open Forum:

Mr. Dan Witsil requested detailed updates on data and repairs to HVAC systems including filters. Mr. Witsil also requested demographic data of hybrid versus remote learning and an equity analysis and urged that educators be allowed to have the same choice about remote or in-person teaching.

Mr. Scott and Ms. Sarah Alessandro urged that efforts be extended to diversify the teaching and administrative staff in the Quincy Public Schools.


QPS High School Athletics

Superintendent Mulvey reviewed that since the Quincy Public Schools high schools will re-open under remote learning, DESE requires a vote by School Committee to allow the Fall Athletics season.

North Quincy High School Athletics Director JJ Niamkey and Quincy High School Athletics Director Kevin Mahoney presented an overview of the current guidelines. DESE, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association (MIAA) Task Force have planned for a modified athletics schedule and modifications for how sports can be played for the fall season; subsequent seasons will be evaluated based on DPH metrics. Sports are categorized as “lower”, “moderate”, and “higher” risk based on the potential for contact. Lower risk sports can be done with social distancing or no physical contact, such as tennis, swimming, golf, and cross-country. Moderate risk sports involve intermittent close proximity or limited incidental physical contact between participants, such as baseball, softball, track & field, volleyball, girls lacrosse, and soccer. Higher risk sports have a requirement or a substantial likelihood of routine close or sustained proximity or deliberate physical contact between participants, such as football, wrestling, basketball, boys lacrosse, ice hockey, and competitive cheer.

Facial coverings must be worn during activities and contests, including participants, coaches, staff, referees, umpires, and spectators. To enforce social distancing, no more than 25 players/participants on a single playing surface at one time; locker rooms limited to 50% capacity; no handshakes, fist bumps, high-fives or congregating in common areas and parking lots. Spectators should be limited to 50 outdoors and one spectator per player is allowed indoors if the participants, coaches, and officials do not exceed 40% of the building capacity. Records of all individuals present must be maintained. Hygiene guidelines include hand hygiene before and after each activity (hand-washing or hand sanitizer); shared equipment will be cleaned and disinfected.

The modified calendar created by the MIAA has Fall Sports from September 18 to November 20 for soccer (freshman, JV, Varsity), cross-country (combined Q/NQ Varsity), boys golf (Varsity), and girls volleyball (freshman, JV, Varsity). The MIAA has created a Fall II Season for football and competitive cheer. The winter and spring seasons will also be adjusted to allow for this extra season. The MIAA has also released sports-specific adjustments and safety protocols to limit intermittent contact. In addition, there will not be any post-season state tournaments and travel will be limited, so schedules will need to be league-based. Students may compete in all four seasons and out-of-season coach contact is allowed with principal permission.

Mr. Niamkey reviewed that summer workouts were successfully planned and executed with the assistance of Health Commissioner Ruth Jones. No incidences of COVID-19 among students or coaches. A parent survey released this week showed high level of confidence in students being able to safely participate in practices in athletics.

Mr. Gutro asked whether the Athletics Directors are anticipating a drop in participation. Mr. Niamkey said there are positive signs, boys soccer at NQHS has increased level of interest, but not having football and cheerleading in the fall will affect the participating numbers. Mr. Mahoney said those sports aside, there is a lower level of interest for Grade 9 students and he is encouraging them to get involved as a way to meet students at their new schools.

Mr. Gutro suggested that parent information meetings be held for each sport to update parents on the changes.

Mr. Gutro made a motion to approve the establishment of QPS High School Fall Athletics season.

On the motion, Mr. Santoro said there a great number of new rules and expectations and he has confidence of the QPS Athletic Directors in implementing them. Mr. Santoro said that game supervisors are going to need the power to exclude particpants, coaches, or spectators who don’t comply with rules. Mr. Niamkey said that the Patriot League scheduling with cooperative member schools gives some security.

Mr. Bregoli said that he wouldn’t want to see athletes penalized for the behavior of spectators, suggested exclusion rather than forfeiture. Mr. Bregoli asked about the metrics that the EEA, MIAA, and DESE used to make the decisions about modification, concerned about winter sports. Mr. Bregoli asked about mask wearing in soccer, Commissioner Jones said she thinks the players will adjust.

Mrs. Hubley asked if masks will be worn under helmets; Mr. Niamkey said that fall sports do not have helmets. Modifications for sports in later seasons are still to come.

Mrs. Hubley asked if students have religious or medical exemptions, Mr. Mahoney said the documentation must be provided and the coach would have a copy to notify the opposition school staff.

Mrs. Hubley asked about the metrics for data in other towns and safety of holding a contest. Mr. Niamkey said there will not be a penalty for cancelling or rescheduling a contest and constant communication is the key.

Mr. Bregoli asked if mouth guards are still required in soccer; it would be difficult to have a mouth guard and a mask on. Mr. Mahoney said they are not required.

Mr. Bregoli seconded the motion and on a roll call vote, the ayes have it 5-0. Mrs. Lebo and Mayor Koch were absent.


QPS Re-Entry Metrics and Timeline

Superintendent Kevin Mulvey reviewed that the Quincy Public Schools Fall 2020 Re-Entry Task Force has been reviewing the QPS Re-Opening Metrics and Timeline. The current timeline has Grades 1 through Grade 3 beginning school under the hybrid or remote learning plan (parent choice) on September 16; Grades 4-12 beginning school under the remote learning plan on September 16; and Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten beginning school under the hybrid or remote learning plan (parent choice) on September 21. Should the metrics and data allow, Phase 2 for offering hybrid learning to Grades 4-8 could begin on October 13; and Phase 3 for offering hybrid learning to Grades 9-12 could begin on November 9.

Commissioner Ruth Jones said the Massachusetts Department of Public Health tracks confirmed cases, while the city also tracks presumed positive cases. On the color-coded DPH/DESE chart, Quincy is currently green and will hopefully remain there. (The white category is for towns with fewer than 50,000 residents.) Local city data that will be analyzed includes the number of active cases in Quincy (confirmed and presumed positive), the average of confirmed cases in Quincy per day over a two-week period, the age of persons with confirmed cases in Quincy, the number of confirmed cases in the school system, the number of confirmed adult cases who have children in QPS, the number of confirmed cases within QPS staff, and data from cities and towns where QPS staff reside.

Commissioner Jones said that there is an MDPH Rapid Response Team who will assist with testing of asymptomatic students or staff who are known to be in close contact of someone who tested positive or where there is evidence of in-school transmission.

Mr. Gutro supports the phased-in approach and the timeline presented. Mr. Mulvey said that Commissioner Jones is constantly evaluating the data and any changes would be communicated to School Committee immediately, rather than waiting for the next School Committee meeting.

Mr. Gutro made a motion for this COVID-19 Metrics update to be a regular meeting item.

Mrs. Hubley suggested that Phase 2 be Grades 6-7, 9-10 and Phase 3 to be Grades 4-5, 8, 11-12 so that schools would not have full populations entering at once.

Commissioner Jones deferred to Superintendent Mulvey.

Mr. Mulvey said that many families are electing to remain remote so there will not be a large number of students entering in the later phases, all buildings will have students as of September 16.

Mr. Santoro said high school teachers teach across grade levels, so this would be difficult to coordinate.

Mr. Bregoli asked about high school Career Vocational Technical Education programs starting in-person hybrid in Phase 2.

Mr. Santoro said that Mr. Keith Segalla has explained that the written classwork will be front-loaded into the first term.

Mr. Gutro said that all the points raised are all worth further discussion, would not like to make any adjustments without input from the high school principals.

Mr. Andronico clarified that this item is eligible for vote, but does not have to be voted on, Mayor Koch and Mrs. Lebo are not present. Mr. Andronico said that input from parents indicates that they are looking for a pathway to return to in-person learning.

Mr. Bregoli asked Mr. Scott if any students or staff will be in a school that is not properly ventilated. Mr. Scott said that is not the case.

Mr. Gutro made a motion to accept the QPS Proposed COVID-19 Metrics, seconded by Mrs. Hubley.

On the motion, Mrs. Hubley asked which schools were having basement windows replaced. Mr. Scott said Atherton Hough and Montclair.

Mr. Santoro doesn’t want to stop the discussion, but would like to table the motion.

Mr. Gutro said he will withdraw the motion and asks for more information.

Mr. Andronico said that since Mayor Koch and Mrs. Lebo are not present, the vote could wait until next week’s meeting.

Mr. Santoro agreed with the reasoning and also the fact that negotiations are still in process with the Quincy Education Association.


Update of School Committee Policies

Mr. Bregoli said that Sections 1.3, 1.3.1, and 1.3.2 were moved out of Policy Subcommittee for discussion of the substitution of the word “handicap” with “disability”.

Mr. Bregoli introduced Sections 5.5.1 to 5.5.6 Transportation Services Management, the revisions are eligible for vote. Mr. Gutro asked to revisit the change in mileage eligibility as it affects so many families, this could affect 500 students. Mr. Gutro suggested staggered trips, but the bus drivers are already doing multiple routes in the mornings and afternoons. Mr. Draicchio said that additional bus drivers have resigned/retired since the last meeting.

Mr. Gutro said this is another large issue, should the vote wait until Mayor Koch and Mrs. Lebo are available.

Mr. Andronico said that time is an issue, parents need to be notified that they are no longer eligible

Mrs. Hubley asked about the current staff. Mr. Draicchio said there are normally 29 full-time drivers, there are currently 23. There are 21 Special Education routes, so only two full-time drivers for regular routes.

Mr. Bregoli asked if the vote isn’t done tonight, that would impact the route development and Mr. Draicchio confirmed.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to adopt the amended School Committee Policy Sections 5.5.1 through 5.5.6 Transportation Services Management as presented. Mr. Bregoli seconded the motion.

On the motion, Mr. Gutro asked for School Committee to receive the communication being sent out and any feedback.

On a roll call vote, the ayes have it 5-0. Mrs. Lebo and Mayor Koch were absent.

The revised Section 9.11.1 Homework Policy is also eligible for vote at this meeting..

Mr. Gutro said that since Mrs. Lebo has been so involved in the revision of the Homework Policy, perhaps the vote should wait until she is present.

Mr. Gutro suggested an amendment “during remote/hybrid learning as it pertains to student grading, the School Committee encourages teachers to consider a less onerous and appropriate balance relative to homework assignments.”

Mr. Mulvey said that on the QPS Fall 2020 Re-Opening Task Force, there has been discussion about the term “onerous” and there is a wide interpretation.

Mr. Gutro offered to strike “a less onerous and”

Mr. Andronico agreed with the amendment.

Ms. Perkins agreed with the amendment and giving our students and families guidelines is important.

Mr. Bregoli made a motion to adopt the revised School Committee Policy 9.11.1 Homework with the amendment. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Hubley.

On the motion, Mr. Andronico recognized the work of the Homework Task Force in creating this revised Policy, which was finalized in February 2020 just before COVID-19.

On a roll call vote, the ayes have it 5-0. Mrs. Lebo and Mayor Koch were absent.

School Committee Policy Section 10.2 Equal Educational Opportunities is referred to Policy Subcommittee.

Mr. Gutro made a motion to adopt revised School Committee Policy Section 10.11.3 Communicable Diseases, which includes a section on face coverings. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Hubley and on a roll call vote, the ayes have it, 5-0. Mrs. Lebo and Mayor Koch were absent.


Executive Session

Mr. Bregoli made a motion to adjourn to Executive Session at 9:00 pm. Mrs. Hubley seconded the motion and on a roll call vote, the ayes have it, 5-0. Mrs. Lebo and Mayor Koch were absent. School Committee will not return to the Special Meeting.



The Special School Committee meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm as School Committee will not return from Executive Session.