September 18, 2021 Update

Dear MPS Families:


I write today with several important updates. First, as you know, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has determined that full-time remote learning will not count toward required learning time hours. However, there has been a slight revision to this directive with respect to students who are isolating and/or quarantining. DESE has stated that if schools have the ability, students may join classes/participate in instruction remotely in this instance only. This past week, we have been creating structures to support your child if they have been identified by district health staff as needing to quarantine because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been determined to be a close contact of someone who tested positive. Access to instruction will look somewhat different depending on the grade level of your child.


I am pleased to report that beginning Monday, September 20, if your child is directed to quarantine by our health staff, and is feeling well enough to participate, the following steps will be in place. If your child is experiencing symptoms and is unable to participate, please notify the front office.


INSTRUCTIONAL MODELS TO BE UTILIZED WHEN STUDENTS ARE QUARANTINED


Preschool and Kindergarten:

Teachers will provide activities that students can complete at home independently. Remote instruction will not be an option for these students.


Grades 1-4:

We have hired a Grades 1-4 Remote Teacher who will communicate with your child’s classroom teacher and provide instruction via Zoom at designated times during the school day. This will not be a full day of instruction; rather, the teacher will provide support and instruction as needed by quarantining students. All necessary instructional materials, technology and resources will be delivered to the student’s home or a parent may pick up materials outside the school building as arranged by administration.



Grades 5-12:

Academic teachers will do the following:

  • Share a Zoom/GoogleMeet link only with quarantined students identified by District Health staff.

  • Put their cameras on in class. Teaching will occur “normally,” with the teacher active in the classroom and moving around.

  • Connect with remote students at the start of class and take attendance.

  • Make sure the student has access to all resources being used in class.

  • Make sure the remote student can see the board or instructional space they are generally using for the class period and can hear the instruction.

  • Check in with the remote student periodically to see if there are any questions or if the student needs help completing the work.

Students will do the following:

  • Follow their daily schedule virtually

  • Stay present and visible for the duration of the class.

  • Complete all necessary assignments

  • Ask questions of the teacher during instruction via the chat feature or wait until the teacher calls on them virtually.

  • Be responsible to complete the work provided and actively engage when the teachers provide them the opportunity.

  • Be prepared to complete formal assessments upon return to school as arranged by the teacher.

  • Limit distractions and create a safe environment conducive to learning.

  • Not use other electronic devices while engaged in classroom activities.

  • Be prepared to complete formal assessments upon return to school as arranged by their teacher.

  • Not share the links assigned to them with anyone.

  • Meet behavioral expectations with one reminder from their teacher. If the behavior continues to be disruptive or inappropriate, the student will be removed from the on-line session.

Families will do the following:

  • Ensure students attend class on time and for the duration of the class.

  • Ensure students complete required assignments.

  • Ensure students have an appropriate workspace, sitting upright at a desk or table (student lying in bed, barely awake, will be removed from the Zoom session).

  • Ensure students have their camera on and their whole face can be seen by the teacher.


Electives and Specials:

Grades Preschool through 6 students will not receive instruction in Specials classes.


Grades 7-12 students will access Specials/Electives classes virtually and receive asynchronous assignments to be completed and submitted during the class period to count as the student’s attendance.


Special Education Services, Counseling and Related Services:


All services will be provided remotely during the student’s regularly-scheduled time.


DISTRICT NURSE LEADER ADVISORY


Attached to this letter are two documents: one entitled, “Sick Student Rules,” and the other entitled, “Other Important COVID-Related Information.” These documents have been created by our Nurse Leader Karen Fedora to provide you with guidance including what to do if your child is not feeling well, athletic exceptions and travel recommendations. We encourage you to print them out and refer to them as necessary.


TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS


We understand that some families were recently given instructions with regard to out-of-state travel, and I would like to provide clarification. There are currently no mandates with regard to domestic or international travel outside the State of Massachusetts. However, the State has adopted the CDC travel recommendations, and they are included in the attached advisory. These recommendations are just that, and are not a district requirement at this time.


COVID-19 TESTING PROGRAM


On September 7, I sent home a letter outlining the three types of testing that we are offering this school year: symptomatic testing for students who show symptoms of COVID-19 at school, routine COVID safety checks to prevent the spread of the virus undetected among students who are not showing symptoms, and test and stay for students who may have been exposed while in school but are not showing symptoms. Each of these is a quick, non-invasive nasal swab that is collected under the supervision of a school nurse or trained health provider. Unlike COVID-19 tests of the past, these are not uncomfortable and easy for students to do themselves.


Students only participate with permission from a parent or guardian. Many families have signed up for their child to participate in all three types of testing. However, we understand that other families were not comfortable with the “routine COVID safety check” option (formerly pooled testing), and did not prefer the “all or nothing” consent. We agree that the ideal situation would be a check-off box for which type(s) of testing you consent to. The State has contracted with a new service provider this year and this is the way it was set up by them. However, to increase the number of students whose parents may want them to participate in the other two testing options, we have revised the consent form to be specific to individual tests only - asymptomatic or symptomatic. This form cannot be completed on line. If your child is an asymptomatic close contact or presents in the office with one symptom, for example, you will be contacted, and a hard copy of the consent will be provided to you which can be completed at that time.


For our families who have consented to the routine COVID safety check testing, the target date for that testing to begin is October 4.


It’s not too late to sign up! To participate in the program, please click on this link: to complete the consent form for all three testing options on behalf of your student. There is no charge for participating. If you have additional questions regarding the program, please contact our Testing Coordinator Leah Zippin at .




We are hopeful that these measures will work together to keep our schools safe and your student in school. As always, we are very thankful for your support during this challenging time!




Sincerely,




Cheryl A. Clarke, Ed.D.


Superintendent