Thursday, December 14, 2023

School Safety Update

 Dear North Reading Staff, Parents, Families, and Caregivers,

 

I’m writing this afternoon to share an update on our school safety initiatives that I described in my welcome back letter in late August as well as others that has been introduced since that time. Our school safety team, including North Reading Public Schools administrators, the North Reading Police Department, and the North Reading Fire Department, have worked continuously on a plan to improve the safety and security of our students and staff. 

 

Cooperation with the North Reading Police and Fire Departments

 

In addition to our School Resource Officer, who has a visible role in each school, last year we implemented the practice of having an increased presence of patrol officers in our buildings who routinely visit each school. On several occasions I have seen these officers visiting our buildings, interacting positively with students and staff, and providing feedback to our administrative team. 

 

Our school safety team, composed of members of the school, police, and fire departments, continues to meet regularly and we have updated our school emergency operations plans. We have developed a schedule of fire and evacuation drills, as well as ALICE training for staff and students. 

 

While this schedule does not provide the exact dates and times of each drill or training it does communicate a plan for the year and the windows for when this would occur and provide an opportunity for families, students, and staff to better understand our proactive approach for school safety. This will also provide all stakeholders with an opportunity to inquire with specific questions related to these drills and trainings in a timely manner.

 

ALICE Training and Drill Timeline

2023-24


 

  • ALICE Drill with Administrators and Office Staff: August (completed)
  • All Employee ALICE Training Review Sept (completed)
  • FIRE Drill #1 (September) (completed)
  • FIRE Drill #2 (October) (completed)
  • ALICE Drill planning and debrief (December/January)
  • ALICE scenario exercise with All Employees (January 2024)
  • ALICE scenario exercise with Students and Staff (January 24, 2024)
  • FIRE Drill #3 (possible additional scenario) (Spring)
  • ALICE/ Health and Safety scenario with Students and Staff (Spring)
  • FIRE Drill #4 (possible additional scenario*) (Spring)

 *A possible additional scenario would be a tornado watch, evacuation for gas leak, chemical spill, etc.

 

As a school safety team we have reviewed the developmental appropriateness of the drills and exercises as well as concerns related to trauma. Our approach will incorporate this awareness and we will practice drills that are sensitive to these concerns. 

 

We will communicate more information at the school level as a follow up to each individual drill so that you are able to have a dialogue with your children and students.

 

If you have any questions about this upcoming schedule or our approaches please contact your building principal and we will be happy to discuss any questions or concerns.

 

Swatting Training and School IDs

 

Members of our School Leadership team, along with our School Safety team, have attended many recent trainings that are held in response to the unfortunate events that we hear about in the news. Many of the tragic school shooting incidents, as well as bomb threats and swatting incidents (hoaxes that may include a call to a school or town building in order to generate a response from safety personnel) have led safety officials to recommend best practices and training for all staff in response to these incidents.

 

This school year we are holding training sessions for staff related to swatting incidents for all staff who may receive this type of message. The resources and supports we are sharing have been compiled from the members of our school safety team who have attended several recent trainings led by the Massachusetts State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Homeland Security Fusion Centers.

 

In addition, at these trainings for school safety and on campus incidents the law enforcement and safety experts have reiterated the importance of having students and staff visibly wear their School ID badges for easy identification on campus and for reunification purposes in the event of an incident.

 

For several years we have required our visitors to sign in electronically and to wear a visitor badge. For many years students and staff have been issued photo IDs. Last year we also initiated the practice of requiring all staff to visibly wear their IDs. This year, at the recommendation of the school safety team, we are initiating this practice for all students in grades 6 - 12.  (Note: We are not considering this for our elementary students at this time but will continue to review safety recommendations from cooperating agencies as they are updated.)

 

Communication on this roll out has been taking place at the building level, with correspondence sent to students, staff, and families from the building principals. I think it is important for me to now include this information here as an update as several questions have arisen that are also being addressed at the building level.

 

In my meetings with the school leaders at the Middle and High School, I appreciated that much consideration had been given to the roll out of this change in the culture-- to have the IDs visible and not just on your person. Principals and Assistant Principals considered that there may be students with individual questions and concerns and they have come up with viable solutions and are committed to working with families on a case-by-case basis to address these concerns.

 

Among the concerns discussed was “what do we do if a student does not wear the ID?” and “what will the punishments/disciplinary actions be if a student does not comply?” The safety team understands and appreciates these questions but we are hopeful that our approach will be one of community-wide commitment to school safety and that all students and staff will wear their IDs in the same way that we comply with not propping open doors and ensuring that we follow sign-in procedures during the school day. 

 

We appreciate the cooperation of all students, staff, and families as we make it the norm to have everyone on our campus follow this additional step for safety.

 

Cybersecurity

 

Finally, as a district we will be participating in year four of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Cybersecurity Training program. This grant funded program, offered by the Executive Office of Technology Services & Security, provides training for all North Reading Public Schools educators and staff that has proven beneficial both professionally and personally as we work to ensure data privacy, safety, and security in the cyberworld. I am excited to report that there will be a future program for our families and community as these lessons and modules are beneficial to everyone. More information on this program will be forthcoming.

 

Thank you for your support in our efforts to keep our schools safe. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any additional questions.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Dr. Daly


Monday, August 21, 2023

2023-24 Welcome Back Letter for Families

                          August 21, 2023

Dear North Reading Public Schools Community,

This week, as we witness the return to campus for many students, athletes, and others attending orientation meetings, walk-abouts, and related activities, the schools are buzzing with excitement and anticipation. I hope that all of our students and their families had a wonderful summer and everyone is looking forward to returning to school in the coming weeks.

As we look ahead to the start of the 2023-24 school year I write to offer a few reminders and updates:

  • Wednesday, September 6, 2023 is our first day of school for students (grades 1-12)
  • PreK & Kindergarten Orientation is on September 6th and 7th
  • Friday, September 8, 2023 is our first day for PreK and Kindergarten students


Thank you to Mr. Sonny Campagna and our incredible Buildings and Grounds team who have once again done an amazing job preparing our schools for the upcoming year. The Digital Learning team, under the leadership of Dr. Daniel Downs, has also worked throughout the summer to update our devices and prepare the classrooms for the return of our students and educators. We also appreciate all of the staff who completed so many behind-the-scenes tasks during the summer months!

I also extend my thanks to the administrators and educators who led our Our Extended School Year Program and Acceleration Academies which provided many opportunities for our students.

During our leadership retreat this summer we came together and reviewed our district strategy, NRPS 2025, and focused on our goals for the upcoming year with respect to each of the “big rocks.” We engaged in sessions that looked deeper at how we use data to inform our decisions, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Multi-Tiered System of Support (M.T.S.S.), and the next steps we will be taking with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging as we work to continuously improve our practices to meet the needs of all students.

Once again, our Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, Mr. Michael Connelly, and Director of Student Services, Mrs. Cynthia Conant, have worked tirelessly to prepare for the upcoming year. In addition our entire Central Office team has been exceptional, as always, in making sure all of the details are in place for the new school year.

We are very pleased to welcome two additional individuals to our administrative team, both of whom are veteran educators in North Reading. Mrs. Michelle Caulfield joins us as our new Coordinator of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics and Mr. Robert Gannon will serve as the interim Coordinator for Secondary Special Education. Please join me in welcoming them to their new roles in our district!

In addition, we were also able to partially move forward with another of our NRPS 2025 goals with the addition of a 0.4 FTE School Adjustment Counselor for the elementary schools. This brings us closer to our goal of having at least one full time School Adjustment Counselor at every building.

We are also very pleased to welcome our new Director of Food Services, Mrs. Kate Filteau. After meeting with her I was very pleased with her background and experiences and I look forward to working with her in this role in the upcoming year.

School Safety


Once again, as we are all mindful of the primary goal of providing the safest and most supportive learning environment for all students, we will be continuing several action steps in cooperation with the North Reading Police and Fire Departments.

Our school safety team, composed of members of the school, police, and fire departments, has met over the summer to revisit and update our school emergency operations plans. We have developed a schedule of fire and evacuation drills, as well as ALICE training for staff and students, that we will share in the near future. While this schedule will not provide the exact dates and times of each drill or training it will communicate a plan for the year and the windows for when this would occur and provide an opportunity for families, students, and staff to better understand our proactive approach for school safety. This will also provide all stakeholders with an opportunity to inquire with specific questions related to these drills and training in a timely manner.

As always, our School Resource Officer will be present in our schools and provide our students with a positive connection to law enforcement on a regular basis. In addition, we will continue to have an increased presence of patrol officers who will continue to familiarize themselves with our school buildings, staff, and students as they routinely visit our schools in coordination with the building administration in order to provide enhanced visibility, security, and accountability for our emergency operations plans.

We look forward to welcoming all of our students and staff back in just a couple of weeks. Please enjoy the remaining days of summer with your family and friends!

Sincerely yours,


Patrick C. Daly, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Have a Great Summer!

On Friday evening we wished our class of 2023 graduates farewell and this week we are busy with end of year celebrations, field days, and final exams. As we move into the summer I would like to provide an update on the work we’ve done this year as a school community and highlight a few areas for continuous improvement.


For the past three years we have been working as a leadership team on our strategic plan for district improvement: NPRS 2025: https://www.north-reading.k12.ma.us/district/pages/nrps-2025


We have gathered information from all stakeholders, including students, educators, administrators, staff, families, parents, caregivers, and community members about what we value in North Reading and what we believe should be a part of our plan.


The three areas that we identified are Student Support Services; Teaching & Learning; and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Under these larger umbrellas come the strategic objectives, focus areas, and the strategic initiatives for each school year. 


Below are some of the highlights of our accomplishments this year:


Student Voice and Awareness

*Developed student voice and encourage students to participate in their own learning;

*Piloted disabilities awareness program at elementary schools;

*Implemented disability awareness activities and events;

*Created and shared inclusive calendar of events;

*Continued discussion with leadership team and include all educators in the conversation about increasing opportunities for student voice and how this looks through an equity lens;

*Offered Family University sessions for additional opportunities for student, family, and community education and information sharing.


Human Resources and Hiring

*Hired Human Resources administrative position to assist with the hiring process and to manage student registrations;

*Reviewed District HR Policies and hiring practices and implement inclusive hiring decisions;

*Received Diversification grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;

*Enhanced relationships with area colleges to offer mentoring programs and improve recruitment and retention.


Data Analysis

*Supported data leaders at each school to develop common practices for data analysis;


School Safety

*Received and implemented year three of a grant for Cybersecurity and identified focus areas for growth in the area of Cybersecurity Preventative Practices;

*Reviewed Safety Protocols with the School Safety Team;

*Instituted Walk-throughs with the North Reading Police Department and updated the School Resource Officer agreement;

*Implemented safety scenarios/exercises at all five schools for staff and students.


Equitable Access

*Lowered tuition for Full Day Kindergarten;

*Reviewed opportunities for Advanced Coursework options for high school students;

*Continued to assist families in connecting the internet at home;

*Updated classroom technology in all elementary classrooms.


Teaching and Learning

*Updated plan for for utilization of all Computer Labs;

*Enhanced all spaces to include digital access (PAC,DLL,Cafeteria, Digital Signage);

*Enhanced Interactive Classroom Technology/Peripherals(Projectors) for elementary classrooms;

*Developed replacement plan for wired & wireless infrastructure;

*Reviewed hardware and software to enhance Network Security;

*Continued roll-out of student devices (1:1 program)

*Reviewed the range of options for student course selection to meet college and career readiness;

*Reviewed Program of Studies to offer advanced courses in the Arts (e.g. 3D design);

*Updated the Elementary report card 


https://www.north-reading.k12.ma.us/district/pages/nrps-2025


We extend our sincerest thanks to everyone who has been involved in this process and we look forward to the next steps in continuing this important work for the students of the North Reading Public Schools.


Have a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing you in the fall!


Monday, March 13, 2023

Important Update

Dear North Reading Public Schools Community, Parents, Families, and Caregivers,


Due to the upcoming potential snow and wind conditions from late Monday into Wednesday we are making the following adjustments to our schedule:


**Tomorrow/Tuesday, March 14, 2023, will now be a half-day for the entire district. (This replaces the previously scheduled half-day for elementary only on Wednesday.) The buses and the YMCA will follow a typical half-day plan for dismissal. This will be a half day irrespective of any snowfall accumulation. Grab and go lunches will be available for elementary students tomorrow.


**There will be no Pre-K on Tuesday or Wednesday this week.


**The decision on Tuesday afternoon/evening activities will be made by midday tomorrow.


**Wednesday is now a full day for K-12 (it was originally an elementary release day for conferences). There could be a 90 minute delay or cancellation on Wednesday and that information will be communicated either later on Tuesday or early Wednesday.


**Elementary conferences on Wednesday are now virtual and will take place even if there is a delay or cancellation of school. (If there are power/weather circumstances that do not allow for a teacher or family to participate the conference(s) can be rescheduled.)


**At this time the previous scheduled half day for elementary on Thursday and for K-12 on Friday are still planned as scheduled.


Thank you to everyone involved in thinking through this plan, especially our administrative and union leadership teams. There are many variables to consider and we believe this plan puts us in the best position to address the safety and weather conditions on each day and make the best choices for our students, staff, and families. 

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. 


Dr. Daly

Friday, October 14, 2022

School Safety Update

 Dear North Reading Staff, Parents, Families, and Caregivers,


I hope that everyone is having a good school year so far and that you’ve had some time to enjoy this beautiful fall weather. 


I’m writing this afternoon to share an update on our school safety initiatives that I described in my welcome back letter in late August. Our school safety team, including North Reading Public Schools administrators, the North Reading Police Department, and the North Reading Fire Department, have worked continuously on a plan to improve the safety and security of our students and staff. 


In addition to our School Resource Officer, who has a visible role in each school, we have implemented the practice of having an increased presence of patrol officers in our buildings who routinely visit each school. On several occasions I have seen these officers visiting our buildings, interacting positively with students and staff, and providing feedback to our administrative team. 


Our school safety team, composed of members of the school, police, and fire departments, continues to meet regularly and we have updated our school emergency operations plans. We have developed a schedule of fire and evacuation drills, as well as ALICE training for staff and students. 


While this schedule does not provide the exact dates and times of each drill or training it does communicate a plan for the year and the windows for when this would occur and provide an opportunity for families, students, and staff to better understand our proactive approach for school safety. This will also provide all stakeholders with an opportunity to inquire with specific questions related to these drills and trainings in a timely manner.


  • ALICE Drill with Administrators and Office Staff: August 2022 (completed)

  • All Employee ALICE Training Review Sept 2022 (completed)

  • FIRE Drill #1 (September) (completed)

  • ALICE Drill School Safety Team planning and debrief (October)

  • FIRE Drill #2 (October)

  • ALICE Drill with All Employees (Nov 2022) 

  • ALICE Drill with Students and Staff (November 2022)

  • FIRE Drill #3 (possible additional scenario*) (Spring 2023)

  • ALICE Drill with Students and Staff (Spring 2023)

  • FIRE Drill #4 (possible additional scenario*) (Spring 2023)

  

 *A possible additional scenario would be a tornado watch, evacuation for gas 

leak, chemical spill, etc.


As a school safety team we have reviewed the developmental appropriateness of the drills and exercises as well as concerns related to trauma. Our approach will incorporate this awareness and we will practice drills that are sensitive to these concerns. 


We will communicate more information at the school level as a follow up to each individual drill so that you are able to have a dialogue with your children and students.


If you have any questions about this upcoming schedule or our approaches please contact your building principal and we will be happy to discuss any questions or concerns.


Finally, as a district we are participating in year three of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Cybersecurity Training program. This grant funded program, offered by the Executive Office of Technology Services & Security, provides training for all North Reading Public Schools educators and staff that has proven beneficial both professionally and personally as we work to ensure data privacy, safety, and security in the cyberworld. I am hopeful that there will be a future program for our families and community as these lessons and modules would be beneficial to everyone.


Thank you for your support in our efforts to keep our schools safe. Have a wonderful weekend.


Sincerely yours,


Dr. Daly

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Inclusive Calendar of Events

 Dear North Reading Public Schools Community,

I am writing today to share a link to our recently updated Inclusive Calendar of Events. This is a living document and a work in progress, so if you notice something that is missing please do not hesitate to let me know. For this document we have combined several sources that pull in the heritage months, federal holidays and proclamation days, and a link to the religious observances as shared by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

Each month we plan to share more information about some of the events for that month as well as include more hyperlinks within this calendar to teacher and parent resources to help celebrate and learn more about the events and topics. While we may not touch on every single event every month we plan to focus on different events each year, as well as continue to add to our calendar that celebrates all.

Among the events we celebrate this month are National Hispanic Heritage Month and International Sign Language Day! Did you know that we have newly formed American Sign Language clubs at our middle and high school? Contact the school principal to learn more!

Thank you!

Dr. Daly

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Welcome Back 2022-23



August 25, 2022

Dear North Reading Public Schools Community,

As we enter these last days of August our thoughts begin to return to fall and our return to school. I hope that all of our students and their families have had a wonderful summer break filled with memorable experiences. In recent weeks we have welcomed the return of students for orientations, academies, camps, and athletic sessions and it is wonderful to see our campus active once again.

As we look ahead to the start of the 2022-23 school year I offer a few reminders:

Wednesday, September 7, 2022 is our first day of school for students (grades 1-12)

                 PreK & Kindergarten Orientation is on September 7th and 8th
Friday, September 9, 2022 is our first day for PreK and Kindergarten students

Please join me in thanking our incredible Buildings and Grounds team who have once again done an amazing job preparing our schools for the upcoming year. All of our administrators, teachers, and staff have also been so hard at work this summer making sure classrooms and buildings are ready to receive our students.

The Digital Learning team has also worked throughout the summer to update our devices and prepare the classrooms for the return of our students and educators. We also appreciate all of the staff who completed so many behind-the-scenes tasks during the summer months!

Our Extended School Year Program and Acceleration Academies ran once again this summer and I would like to thank all of the teachers who taught, led, and supported our students as well as the administrators who designed and managed these programs.

We are very pleased to welcome two additional individuals to our administrative team. Mrs. BarriAnn Alonzo is the new Assistant Principal at North Reading High School and Mrs. Morgan Soares is an administrator for Human Resources. Please join me in welcoming them to our district!


School Safety


This year, as we are all mindful of the primary goal of providing the safest and most supportive learning environment for all students, we will be taking several actions in cooperation with the North Reading Police and Fire Departments.

Our school safety team, composed of members of the school, police, and fire departments, has met over the summer to revisit and update our school emergency operations plans. We have developed a schedule of fire and evacuation drills, as well as ALICE training for staff and students, that we will share in the near future. While this schedule will not provide the exact dates and times of each drill or training it will communicate a plan for the year and the windows for when this would occur and provide an opportunity for families, students, and staff to better understand our proactive approach for school safety. This will also provide all stakeholders with an opportunity to inquire with specific questions related to these drills and trainings in a timely manner.

As always, our School Resource Officer will be present in our schools and provide our students with a positive connection to law enforcement on a regular basis. In addition, we will have an increased presence of patrol officers who will continue to familiarize themselves with our school buildings, staff, and students as they routinely visit our schools in coordination with the building administration in order to provide enhanced visibility, security, and accountability for our emergency operations plans.

COVID-19

Recent communications from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education indicate that there will be no masking requirements as we begin the school year and we will keep everyone informed of any updates or changes to these recommendations. There will continue to be a masking requirement when in the nurse’s office and when returning from having COVID-19 that our nursing staff will be able to assist you with if you have any questions. There will be no daily health screener as we begin the year but we will keep everyone informed of upcoming vaccine clinics that are being offered by the Town of North Reading. Finally, there will not be any COVID-19 related testing this year but our nurses will continue to distribute self-tests as needed throughout the fall.

We look forward to welcoming all of our students and staff back in just a couple of weeks. Please enjoy the remaining days of summer with your family and friends!


Sincerely yours,

Patrick C. Daly, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools