Thursday, May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021 Updates

 Dear North Reading Public Schools Community,

I've enjoyed visiting classrooms in all five schools in recent weeks and it has been wonderful seeing so many of our students return to in-person learning. I especially enjoyed May the 4th (be with you) and seeing students of all ages (and staff!) with their Yoda ears and Star Wars t-shirts!

As we've communicated in the past there is a second opportunity for students to return in-person on May 10, 2021. Those students who selected to remain in remote have all been contacted and are confirming their choice to remain in remote through the end of the year or to return in person on Monday. If anyone has any questions about this process please feel free to contact me at any time.

The 2021-22 school year calendar has been updated to reflect the proper start and end times for half day Kindergarten. 

Please remember that May 28th is a half day early release for professional development and there is no school on May 31st for the Memorial Day holiday. I have shared the end of year schedule for students again below.

Please continue to follow all safety precautions with our students when outside of school, when carpooling, and at small gatherings with friends. This week has been a very good week thus far with no new reported positive cases in our schools. Thank you to everyone for your continued efforts to keep our students and schools safe.

Have a great day,

Patrick

Dates

School

Event

Dismissal Time

     June 15

Pre-K at Hood & Little School / PM Kindergarten Batchelder

Last Day

Normal dismissal time

June 16

Batchelder School

(Full Day Kindergarten, AM Kindergarten, & Grades 1-5)

Last day

11:15

June 16

Hood School & Little School

(Full Day Kindergarten, AM Kindergarten, & Grades 1-5)

Last day

11:35

June 16

High School

(Grades 9-11)

Last day

12:00

June 16

Middle School

(Grades 6-8)

Last day

12:21


Lunch Information

June 15

Batchelder, Little, Hood, Middle, High Schools

Last In-School lunch served

June 16

Batchelder, Hood, Little Schools

Grab and Go lunch served at elementary schools only

Friday, April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021 Updates

 Dear parents, guardians, and families,

I’m writing today with a few important updates and reminders.

Safety Precautions

In recent weeks I've continued to communicate about the positive cases in our schools. We have not seen any increases or changes in transmission due to having more students in school at a distance of three feet, which is great news. However, there are still many positive cases identified and it's so important, as more adults become vaccinated and the state moves into Phase IV, that we continue to follow all safety precautions for our children including mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing. This continues to be integral to our mission to remain in person in our schools. Please continue to complete our Daily Health Screener in order to provide additional information to our school nurses about COVID-related concerns.

FAQs about Travel 

On March 22, 2021 the Massachusetts Travel Order was updated to a Travel Advisory. However, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has confirmed that schools can continue to follow and enforce the advisory in order to maintain the safest possible environment for learning. Many parents have expressed their concerns about students and staff who travel, especially during the April vacation week.

Until further notice the North Reading Public Schools will continue to follow the same process we have been adhering to all year and continue asking students who travel to produce a negative PCR test before returning to school.

A notable difference is that this does not apply to anyone returning after being out of state for fewer than 24 hours.

We understand that this is an additional request of many travelling families but we believe that this allows more students to safely remain in person at school and this is our main objective.

Students travelling out of state for more than 24 hours over April vacation must have a PCR test prior to returning to school. If students are unable to receive those results prior to their return then they should take a test when they return to Massachusetts and remain home in quarantine until they have the results.

Since this would be a COVID-related quarantine, students in this situation would be able to remotely access the classroom via livestream in the same way as other students who are unable to attend school for COVID-realted reasons (isolation, quarantine, etc.). 

Parents and guardians of students travelling over the vacation week should alert the school nurse or building administrator in order to inform them of the potential need for students to access school remotely for up to two days following the vacation while awaiting test results. (If there are extenuating circumstances requiring additional days to await test results those should be discussed with the building administrator at that time.)

The remote experience for students will be a livestream access to class and may be slightly different than the hybrid experience but will provide all students the access they need to continue learning while in quarantine for travel or other COVID-related reasons.

Pooled Testing

Through the support of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the outstanding efforts of our school nurses, the pooled testing program will continue through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

This program has been very successful in the weeks since it has been introduced and all students and staff who are participating have been doing a wonderful job. We strongly encourage anyone who would like to participate who is not yet enrolled, especially those who are student athletes or participating in other programs or activities, to enroll by following the instructions in these directions.


2021-22 School Start Times

Last evening the North Reading School Committee approved the proposed changes to the school start times for next year. In order to make these changes we have added additional buses to the runs which allow us to have the middle and high school start times aligned and all anticipated students who typically request busing continue to receive bus transportation. Our recommendation incorporated the feedback received from parents, guardians, students, and staff from the surveys and forums that we've held on this topic. The approved times for the 2021-22 School Year are:

Elementary School 8:00 a.m. - 2:15 p.m.

Middle and High School 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

We will continue to review bus routes, schedules, drop off and pick up, and many more aspects of the logistical considerations to make these changes move forward as smoothly as possible. Our Start Times Committee will continue as a group to collect data, make recommendations for improvements, and continue to offer opportunties to educate our community about the benefits of the later start times for middle and high school students.

This group, made up of representatives of parents from all grade spans, a North Reading School Committee member, administrators, and a teacher representative have spent many hours since 2018 discussing schedules, impacts to afterschool programs, considerations for childcare etc. and will address many of these concerns at the forum. The group has a website that also contains helpful information as well as the history of our exploration of this concept for our schools.

As always, thank you for your continued support. The transition to full in-person learning at all levels K-12 has been smooth and we are excited to bring all of our students back excited for learning following a much needed break next week.  

Be well,

Dr. Daly

Friday, April 9, 2021

April 9, 2021 Important Updates

 Dear parents, guardians, and families,

I’m writing today with a few important updates and to share some good news about pooled testing.

Safety Precautions

As more adults become vaccinated and the state moves into Phase IV it is important that we continue to follow all safety precautions for our children including mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing. This is so important in all aspects of their lives but integral to our mission to remain in person in our schools. Please continue to complete our Daily Health Screener in order to provide additional information to our school nurses about COVID-related concerns.

 

FAQs about Travel 

On March 22, 2021 the Massachusetts Travel Order was updated to a Travel Advisory. However, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has confirmed that schools can continue to follow and enforce the advisory in order to maintain the safest possible environment for learning. Many parents have expressed their concerns about students and staff who travel, especially during the April vacation week.

Until further notice the North Reading Public Schools will continue to follow the same process we have been adhering to all year and continue asking students who travel to produce a negative PCR test before returning to school.

A notable difference is that this does not apply to anyone returning after being out of state for fewer than 24 hours.

We understand that this is an additional request of many travelling families but we believe that this allows more students to safely remain in person at school and this is our main objective.

Students travelling out of state for more than 24 hours over April vacation must have a PCR test prior to returning to school. If students are unable to receive those results prior to their return then they should take a test when they return to Massachusetts and remain home in quarantine until they have the results.

Since this would be a COVID-related quarantine, students in this situation would be able to remotely access the classroom via livestream in the same way as other students who are unable to attend school for COVID-realted reasons (isolation, quarantine, etc.). 

Parents and guardians of students travelling over the vacation week should alert the school nurse or building administrator in order to inform them of the potential need for students to access school remotely for up to two days following the vacation while awaiting test results. (If there are extenuating circumstances requiring additional days to await test results those should be discussed with the building administrator at that time.)

The remote experience for students will be a livestream access to class and may be slightly different than the hybrid experience but will provide all students the access they need to continue learning while in quarantine for travel or other COVID-related reasons.

 

Pooled Testing

I’m very happy to share that, through the support of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the outstanding efforts of our school nurses, the pooled testing program will continue through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

This program has been very successful in the weeks since it has been introduced and all students and staff who are participating have been doing a wonderful job. We strongly encourage anyone who would like to participate who is not yet enrolled, especially those who are student athletes or participating in other programs or activities, to enroll by following the instructions in these directions.

 

2021-22 School Year Calendar/Start Times

Please follow this link to review the calendars for both this year and next year.

The first day of school for students in 2021-22 is September 8, 2021.

The School Start Times Committee, which has been actively exploring the research-based advantages for high school students starting school no early than 8:30 a.m., shared an update at a forum on April 6, 2021.  

This group, made up of representatives of parents from all grade spans, a North Reading School Committee member, administrators, and a teacher representative have spent many hours since 2018 discussing schedules, impacts to afterschool programs, considerations for childcare etc. and will address many of these concerns at the forum. The group has a website that also contains helpful information as well as the history of our exploration of this concept for our schools.

In addition we are also collecting any feedback from our staff, parents, and guardians about the three models discussed in the presentation and will use this information to help inform our recommendation to the school committee. Please complete this brief survey as soon as possible but prior to April 13th so that we can include your feedback in our presentation.

Please be sure to view/review the video of the forum as well as the website prior to completing the survey to ensure that you have the latest information to help inform your feedback.

 

As always, thank you for your continued support. The transition to full in-person learning at the elementary level has been smooth and we are excited to bring our students back to full in-person at the middle and high school next week!  

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Daly

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

School Start Times Forum Video and Brief Survey

The School Start Times Committee, which has been actively exploring the research-based advantages for high school students starting school no early than 8:30 a.m., shared an update at a forum on April 6, 2021.  

This group, made up of representatives of parents from all grade spans, a North Reading School Committee member, administrators, and a teacher representative have spent many hours since 2018 discussing schedules, impacts to afterschool programs, considerations for childcare etc. and will address many of these concerns at the forum. The group has a website that also contains helpful information as well as the history of our exploration of this concept for our schools.

In addition we are also collecting any feedback from our staff, parents, and guardians about the three models discussed in the presentation and will use this information to help inform our recommendation to the school committee. Please complete this brief survey as soon as possible but prior to April 13th so that we can include your feedback in our presentation.

Please be sure to view/review the video of the forum as well as the website prior to completing the survey to ensure that you have the latest information to help inform your feedback.

Thank you,

Dr. Daly


Friday, March 26, 2021

Important Updates: School Start Times Forum and Pooled Testing

 Dear North Reading Public Schools Community,


I'm writing today to provide two important updates on our work related to school start times and pooled testing.


School Start Times

The School Start Times Committee, which has been actively exploring the research-based advantages for high school students starting school no early than 8:30 a.m., will be presenting a parent/guardian forum on April 6, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

This group, made up of representatives of parents from all grade spans, a North Reading School Committee member, administrators, and a teacher representative have spent many hours discussing schedules, impacts to afterschool programs, considerations for childcare etc. and will address many of these concerns at the forum. The group has a website that also contains helpful information as well as the history of our exploration of this concept for our schools.

In addition we are also collecting any additional questions or concerns so that we can share that information as a part of our presentation that evening. Please complete this brief survey prior to April 6th so that we can address as many concerns in our presentation as possible.


Pooled Testing

I’m hoping to have more information next week about the possibility of continuing our pooled testing program beyond the current end date of April 18, 2021. We have heard from both the parents and staff involved in the program that they are very pleased and would like to see this continue, if feasible. 

We did have our first pool return positive this week. Nurses and school administrators were made aware of this and followed our procedures so that none of the staff or students in that pool took the bus or arrived on campus today. Those students and staff in the pool arrived at a later time and the nurses followed the protocol for the BINAX Now test in order to identify the individual who was the true positive in the pool. That individual started in isolation immediately and we contact traced for that positive individual in the same way we have been all year.

As always, our nurses came together as a team and did an outstanding job this morning. This is evidence that the pooled testing is working and helped us to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 by identifying the asymptomatic individual and allowing us the head start on the contact tracing process.

Thank you to all of the parents and students involved in this process today and every day for helping to make our schools as safe as possible.

This also serves a good reminder for everyone to continue to follow all distancing requirements, continue wearing masks, and practice hand hygiene procedures. 

Have a great weekend,


Dr. Daly

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Return to In-Person Learning Updates

 Good morning North Reading Public Schools Community,

I am writing this morning to provide a few important updates of our return to in-person learning plan as well as the 2021-22 school calendar that were approved last evening.

Dates for return to in-person learning

Thank you to everyone who completed the return to in-person learning survey last week. With 95% of all student selections reported we will be able to promptly make any changes to elementary assignments for those opting for Cohort D (full remote) and will hope to communicate this information out later this week or early next week. Our plan is to make the least disruptive decisions and to accommodate as many students as possible with these grade level placements.

Barring any unforeseen additional logistical challenges, Elementary Schools will return in-full for grades PreK-5 on March 31, 2021 and the Middle and High School will return to full in-person on April 14, 2021.

Additional details and communication will be forthcoming from each school along with updates and specific information about the processes for the return to in-person learning for that school. Updated school bus information will also be forthcoming for those students who currently ride the bus to school.

Updates to the Travel Order

On March 22, 2021 the Massachusetts Travel Order was updated to a Travel Advisory. However, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has confirmed that schools can continue to follow and enforce the advisory in order to maintain the safest possible environment for learning. Many parents have expressed their concerns about students and staff who travel, especially during the April vacation week.

Until further notice the North Reading Public Schools will continue to follow the same process we have been adhering to all year and continue asking students who travel to produce a negative PCR test before returning to school.

A notable difference is that this does not apply to anyone returning after being out of state for fewer than 24 hours.

Also exempt will be staff who are fully vaccinated (i.e. who have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines OR who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 14 or more days ago) and who do not have symptoms. Staff will work with their building nurses and administrators to confirm this information.

We understand that this is an additional request of many travelling families but we believe that at this time this allows more students to safely return to school in person safely and this is our main objective.

2021-22 School Year Calendar

Please see the attached 2021- 22 school year calendar or follow this link to review the calendars for both this year and next year.

The first day of school for students in 2021-22 is September 8, 2021.

Please note that the school hours and start times on the 2021-22 calendar are tentative until a final approval of the updated start times at the April 15, 2021 meeting of the North Reading School Committee.

The tentative last day of school for students this year is June 16, 2021. This is tentative until June 1st, at which time we can finalize the end-of-year schedule.

As always, thank you for your continued support. We are excited to bring our students back to full in-person in the coming weeks and for the opportunities this provides our students this spring.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Daly

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Return to In-Person Learning Forum and Survey

 Good evening parents, guardians, and families,

This evening’s Return to In-Person Learning Forum was attended by many parents and guardians in the district and has been recorded for everyone to view. Please view this recording, review the FAQs, slides, and attachments here prior to completing the survey so that you have all of the relevant information as you make your choices for your student(s).

Also included is a photograph from NRMS of the minimum 3 feet seat edge to seat edge as described in the DESE guidance (the front four seats). We believe the 3 foot desk to desk, as pictured in the presentation, will be the minimum for NRPS.

As mentioned during the presentation I have linked recent DESE communications about the safety of returning to school at less than six feet of physical distance, including this recent study.

Please complete this survey as soon as possible but no later than March 19th. We will send reminders this week to encourage everyone to complete the survey. For anyone who does not respond by March 19th we will assume that the student(s) will be returning to full in-person learning for our planning purposes.

You will need to complete this survey once for every child enrolled in the North Reading Public Schools. Your answers will be binding for the April return dates and there will be another opportunity to revisit this decision prior to a May 10th return date.

Again, before completing this survey it is recommended that you review the FAQs and video/live forum to have the most up-to-date information about our plans.

Survey link: https://forms.gle/fgsKF8oMhr16si627

Thank you,

Dr. Daly