Berkshire Hills eyes hybrid reopening model, but teachers wary

Peter Dillon, superintendent of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, has delayed the return of students to in-person learning to Feb. 1, citing high COVID-19 numbers in Great Barrington. 

GREAT BARRINGTON — Several schools in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District will either continue or shift to remote learning over concerns about the rise in COVID-19 cases in the community. 

W.E.B. Du Bois Regional Middle School and Monument Mountain Regional High School will continue to learn remotely, Superintendent Peter Dillon wrote in a letter to families on Thursday. Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School will shift to remote learning after classes end on Tuesday. 

"I remained concerned about the rising trends in our own and neighboring communities as well as individual cases across our schools," Dillon said. "Public health advisors have expressed real concern about spread during and after the holidays."

High-needs students will continue to learn in person, and Dillon said that school principals will provide more details in the coming days. "This may include small changes in school day and bus schedules," he wrote. 

After the Christmas break, high-needs students will return to school on Jan. 4. 

The district is planning to bring all students back for in-person learning starting Jan. 19. 

"At that time we will continue with all Muddy Brook Elementary students in grades (K)-4 attending four days a week, and include bringing back 5th and 6th graders at Du Bois Middle four days a week," Dillon wrote. "7th and 8th graders at Du Bois Middle and all Monument Mountain High students will continue with two day a week Hybrid at that time, similar to the schedule and days they followed before 11/24.

"All these decisions will be informed by data trends and I will likely share updates on or around January 11th."

Dillon said he understands that these decisions will create challenges for students, their families and staff. 

"I appreciate your collective efforts, flexibility, and resilience," he wrote. "I am buoyed by the Governor’s recent announcement around the vaccination roll out. That being said, please remember to social distance, wear masks, wash hands, and avoid gatherings and travel."