The all-Island school committee discussed ways to expand racial and social justice learning in the Martha’s Vineyard public school system Thursday, adding diversity training, anti-racist curriculums and racial literacy programs to the agenda for the new year.

Plans for expanding diversity programs at the schools have been a topic of discussion at a handful of school committee meetings in the past year, but the conversation took a formal step forward Thursday, when Martha’s Vineyard Diversity Coalition — a community-based organization focused on eradicating racism on the Island — came before the school committee to share its work.

Assistant superintendent of the Island schools Richard Smith, who is a member of the coalition, said the presentation marked the first steps in a collaborative effort between the schools and the coalition to bring about change in the school system.

“I wanted to invite on Martha’s Vineyard Diversity Coalition so they can extend the conversation. That’s what we’re looking for — to extend the conversation and consider how we can make progress for our kids in our school system,” said Mr. Smith.

Jocelyn Coleman Walton and Lisa Pimentel, co-chairmen of the coalition’s education committee, shared the educational initiatives on the Island that the group has begun. So far, the projects include hosting educational workshops for young students and working with public school libraries to incorporate more books on diversity.

Mr. Smith said at the recommendation of the group, he was also vetting a racial literacy program — called Pollyanna — that he hopes to incorporate into school curriculums down the line.

“I think a big part of what we want to do with the diversity coalition and their support is to look at curriculums that help with racial equity,” he said.

School committee members expressed their support for the initiatives, with many suggesting the committee itself take a more active role in diversity training and anti-racist work as well.

“I think that we have to be explicit about creating policy that can actually effect change within the school system,” said committee member Alex Salop. “So I would encourage us in future meetings to really come up with proposals and things that we can do as a committee that will have an impact on the on the Island community.”

Committee chairman Robert Lionette agreed, suggesting that the committee engage in formal diversity, equity and inclusion training facilitated by the coalition. Others suggested extending the training to parents and educators as well.

Committee member Amy Houghton pushed the conversation a step further, suggesting the committee bring more diversity within its own ranks.

“We need to find a mechanism by which we have an advisory committee or a subcommittee that can really help us to be better informed because I don’t think the group of the 13 of us bring enough diversity to the table,” Ms. Houghton said. “I think we need to have folks at the table who can make those decisions and really influence how and what the best approach is.”

Administrators and committee members pledged to continue the conversation.

In other business Thursday, superintendent of schools Matthew D’Andrea gave an update on the school-wide, asymptomatic testing program that began three weeks ago. The program is off to a strong start, Mr. D’Andrea said, noting that operations have been mostly smooth and only one student had received a positive test result so far.

Compliance with the school-mandated testing program has been largely successful, he said, although about 10 students and staff members who are working and learning in person have refused testing.

“I have not restricted anyone from going into the building at this time,” said Mr. D’Andrea, who is communicating one-on-one with the students and teachers. “On the advice of our attorney, I’m working with the families to find out what the issue is and hopefully we’ll be able to work it out.”

Discussions of noncompliance also led to a conversation about school immunization policies, with some committee members raising concerns over Covid vaccine non-compliance in the future.

“You’re foreshadowing the future with the immunization policy,” said committee member Mike Watts. “We’re the highest non-vaccination county in the state by a long shot . . . This is a precursor. If you won’t get tested, the non-vaccination piece is coming.”

Committee member Kate DeVane also raised concern about successfully vaccinating high-need students and children with disabilities, if vaccine supplies run short.

Mr. D’Andrea said conversations about testing compliance and vaccinations have begun in the health and wellness committee, but many details remain undetermined. Under current guidelines, schools cannot require students under 16 to be vaccinated and mandating vaccines for faculty would require bargaining with the teacher’s union, he said.

Vaccination policies will depend on guidelines set out by the state later this year, he also said.

“The vaccination for our younger students is not going to be available for quite some time so I would say that’s something that we’re going to have to see how it unfolds,” Mr. D’Andrea said.

Also Thursday, the committee voted to hire interim business administrator Mark Friedman as the full-time administrator, and approved the retirement of co-director of student support services Nancy Wigglesworth Dugan.