High School Working Group Update

Dear Newton South and Newton North Parents/Guardians, 

The High School Working Group (HSWG) can only succeed with the involvement and input from our key stakeholders in our school community and by learning from other district implementations. We also want to assure you, our parent community, that regardless of how we got here, the sense of urgency is clear for the HSWG to assess options for more in-person learning for all our 4,000 high schoolers in Newton.  As part of the parent representatives on the group, we wanted to provide some more details about the HSWG process and work ahead in the coming weeks. 

On October 14, 2020, the School Committee convened the High School Working Group that includes representatives from a diverse group of community stakeholders. This working group has been charged by the School Committee to develop a recommendation to phase-in implementation of in-person learning at Newton high schools for this school year.  While the high schools started in full remote learning, students with high needs and special needs have been in the buildings since school started on September 16, 2020. The HSWG is now focused on expanding in-person learning for all of our high school students and is expected to complete our recommendation by November 30, 2020 to present to the School Committee on December 2, 2020.     

The HSWG’s process includes outreach to parents, teachers, and students to ensure that we incorporate the needs and concerns of our stakeholders in our recommendations.  A survey link will be emailed on Monday, October 26th to all parents/guardians with high school students enrolled in Newton Public Schools.   Student Services, METCO, SEPAC and ELL departments will also be doing outreach to ensure those families have access and are able to complete the survey.  Please be on the lookout for the email from NPS with the link to the survey on Monday, October 26, 2020.  All survey responses must be received by Thursday, October 29, 2020. 

All students and teachers will also receive surveys and will have the opportunity to respond during the coming week during class and/or Flex block. Please encourage your child to complete the survey. Both high schools will also have student focus groups next week to obtain further feedback.

The surveys are one of several data points that the HSWG is incorporating to ensure our school community is proactively represented in our work to develop our recommendation.  Initial survey results will be shared by Friday, November 5th on our dashboard at http://www.newton.k12.ma.us/npshighschoolplan. Based on the results of the surveys, we also expect to hold public forums and/or focus groups in the coming weeks, as we work toward our recommendations.   

Concurrently with the stakeholder surveys, the HSWG is finalizing a list of school districts that have implemented a range of in-person learning models and will connect with them to learn about their experience and gather insights on their implementation.  This current list includes, but is not exclusive to, Lexington, Lincoln-Sudbury, Needham, Wellesley, and Westport, CT.  We appreciate the feedback and information that we have already received from many members of the community about these districts and their in-person learning models.  Lastly, the group will be diving into the known past and current obstacles next week so we can better assess any impacts on our recommendation.   

To learn more about the HSWG work and progress,  please check our dashboard and please don’t hesitate to contact us at npshighschoolplan@newton.k12.ma.us if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing your Survey responses and working together to support our high schoolers. Thank you.  

~ May Chiu, Newton South Parent Representative (NSHS PTSO co-President)
~ Janna Lacatell, Newton North Parent Representative (NNHS PTSO co-Secretary, NNHS PTSO Representative – Academic Standards Committee)
NPS High School Working Group