June 25, 2020
Dear NPS Community,
As many of you know, today the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released initial guidance for school re-opening in the fall. The guidance prioritizes the safe return to in-person school settings to address the academic, and social-emotional health of our students. I fully support this priority, as I shared in a piece that ran in the Boston Globe this morning. This return to in-person school will be accompanied by a comprehensive set of health and safety requirements to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure or transmission.
I am pleased that the guidance is firmly grounded in medical expertise and was developed in consultation with, and is supported by, the Massachusetts medical community, including the MA chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The guidance was developed after thorough review of medical and scientific literature as well as an assessment of the current public health data and COVID-19 trends.
As educators and as parents, we know that there is no substitute for in-person school both for educational progress, as well as for the social and emotional health of our students. We have already begun planning to address the health and safety requirements necessary to bring our students back into our buildings where they learn best. The DESE guidance provides more specifics on the requirements, including physical distancing, classroom configuration, and use of face coverings, among others. I encourage you to read the guidance for the detailed information we will be utilizing to develop our plans.
DESE also recognizes that this initial guidance is based upon the current positive public health metrics and we know that these could change. To that end, DESE is requiring that all districts develop three plans for the fall:
- In-person school with necessary health and safety accommodations
- A hybrid model of in-person and distance learning
- Full distance learning
Our planning teams in the Newton Public Schools have already begun working on these three plans. We also expect additional guidance in other areas of essential school operations, such as transportation, later this summer, as well as any adjustments to this initial guidance based upon public health data. We anticipate our plans for the fall will be finalized by the week of July 20.
Part of our success in re-opening school this fall will be dependent upon your feedback. To that end, in the next few days, and over the course of the summer, we will be sending you short, but very important surveys regarding your plan for your student(s) in the fall. We ask that you please take the time to complete these surveys so that we are developing plans that address areas such as transportation and classroom configuration. Please look for the subject line “NPS Re-opening” in your email for this very important information.
We know you have many questions and concerns and we will develop a range of communication tools to address them. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable start of summer.
Superintendent of Schools
Translated versions are provided through Google Translate and may contain awkward phrasing and structure.