Letter from Superintendent David Fleishman, March 22, 2020 – Update on Leaning During School Closure.
March 22, 2020
Dear NPS Community,
I hope you are staying healthy and well. I am writing to give you an update on what you can expect from the Newton Public Schools in both the short and longer-term.
First, I would like to begin by saying that all of us here in the Newton Public Schools understand how worried you are about the impact this out of school time will have on your children from both an academic and social emotional perspective. Our educators share that concern and are working very hard to identify the best ways to keep your student engaged and connected to school. By now, most of you have heard from your students’ teachers and everyone will have heard by early this week. We hope that this connection provides reassurance and an important bridge back to the school community.
Short-term (through April 3rd)
Given the uncertainty of the public health situation and the significance of what we are attempting to do from an educational perspective, we are engaged in a multi-step process that is guided by the projected closure dates.
In the short-term our collective goal is two-fold:
Students will have opportunities to practice and reinforce what has been learned and establish new routines of learning in a virtual environment.
- Provide students a sense of community and connection to their teachers, counselors, and other support staff.
Over the past week, our educators have worked tirelessly to achieve these two goals. Much of this work has been done in virtual teams and our principals report that they are excited about the creativity, thoughtfulness and passion of our teachers during a time of significant disruption.
Over the next two weeks, our educators will connect with students directly to provide guidance on lessons and activities. This will take the form of regularly scheduled check-in and connection with students using technology-based tools.
Given the evolving and rapidly changing public health crisis, we must be prepared that the school closure may extend beyond April 3rd. It is our responsibility as a district to prepare for this possibility and what it will mean for learning. As a result, beginning tomorrow, I am convening planning teams at each of our three levels to plan for what learning looks like should we be closed beyond April 3rd. Each of these teams will be charged with addressing three central questions:
Given that remote learning is our only vehicle for teaching, what should our guidelines be for introducing new learning?
- How do we best ensure that all students have access to new learning?
- How will we assess what students have learned?
I will be sure to keep you updated as our faculty, staff, and administrators answer these questions and as we strive to meet the needs of every student to the greatest extent possible.
- Technology – Over the past week, our technology team has worked to identify and provide devices to students who need one in order to access online resources and technology-based tools. If you need a device for your student, please complete this form by the end of the day on Monday, March 23rd. We have already received a significant number of requests and have limited capacity.
- Grab ‘n Go Food Service – Breakfast and lunch meal service is provided from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. every day at both North and South high schools.
- NPS COVID-19 Website – For more information, please be sure to visit our COVID-19 website, which is updated regularly.
Please remember that social distancing is critical to slowing the spread of the virus. The Newton Health and Human Services Department urges residents to stay home as much as possible, avoid crowds and social gatherings, and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others. We urge families to eliminate their childrens’ play dates and in-person social interactions and to consider other ways that they can have appropriate and healthy connections with their peers.
While this crisis has given us opportunities to find new ways to engage students and to test ideas for learning in different environments, please understand that this is not easy. Like all of you, our educators are balancing personal and work challenges like they have never had to do before. However, I can assure you that they are working very hard and are committed to ensuring that our students are supported academically and emotionally while school is closed. We will continue to keep you updated as we move forward.
Superintendent of Schools