Superintendent's Message


November 29, 2020

Dear Families:

A positive student COVID case was reported at CCHS.  This case has no connection to the one earlier in the week.  There are no school-related contacts since the student was not in school during the contagious period.

I updated the positive test column on our local district dashboard to reflect the totals as of tonight.

Enjoy the rest of the evening!



Two New COVID Cases and Important Return to School Information

November 29, 2020

Dear Families:

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend!  As we prepare to return to school tomorrow, it is very important that we all collaborate and cooperate to make the return successful.  Please read this carefully to ensure information is commonly understood.

Two COVID Cases Willard

Two new student cases at Willard were reported today.  The students have been out of school for an extended period so there are no school-related close contacts.  These cases are not related to last week’s cases at Willard.

Thanksgiving Travel

The only state not considered high risk currently is Hawaii after Vermont was added to the list this weekend.  IF YOU TRAVELED OVER THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND, YOU MUST QUARANTINE AND HAVE A NEGATIVE COVID TEST TO RETURN TO SCHOOL.   Please consider the well-being of everyone and comply with the Governor’s Order.

Symptomatic Family Members

We are now asking that students stay home until a negative test is received if ANY family member is symptomatic.  With the rate of spread and transmission within families, this is a conservative but prudent approach.

Please Share COVID Related Information

If anyone in your home tests positive, please report it to the school nurse and/or building administrator immediately.  We can help to connect you with the Public Health Nurse who is tracing all school related cases.  It has also been helpful just to send us a quick note that someone in the house is being tested.  All information about what is happening allows us to be proactive.

COVID Data Dashboards

This week’s local community numbers are from the DPH report released on Friday and includes the prison cases.

Our District COVID Data Dashboard is also posted. As of writing this email, our total number of cases to date is 23.

COVID Testing Information

Testing is not as easily accessible as it has been.  We wanted to offer recommendations to assist.  Be sure testing is done via a PCR test.  The schools will not accept an antigen test result.

Massachusetts Stop the Spread Sites

Stop the Spread sites accept everyone including asymptomatic individuals without a PCP order.  The sites generally are first come first serve.  With virus rates high, early arrival is highly recommended as the site will close when it reaches capacity for the day.  Details and locations are found here.

COVID Testing Emerson

Emerson requires an order from the PCP at all of its sites.  More information is found here.   Be sure also to check with your insurance provider since some require that you attend specific testing locations.

Flu Vaccines

A reminder that all public school students are required to have a flu shot by the end of the year.  The deadline to submit documentation to the school nurses of the immunization is December 11.

Quarantine Buddies Expands

Would your elementary or middle school student like to be part of a High School Buddy Program? A lot has changed in a small amount of time with social distancing, virtual school, parents working from home or out on the front lines as essential workers, and so much more. With all this change and a lot of time at home, I am starting a CCHS Buddy Program where high school students can meet over zoom or write pen pal notes once a week with elementary and middle school students. We will match your elementary or middle school student with a CCHS student to write back and forth, talk, play virtual games, help with school work, or just be a friend in a time that kids might feel like they do not always have someone there for them.

If your child is interested in being paired up with a High School Buddy please fill out the Google Form below!

I hope everyone is well and healthy!

Thanks, Susannah Snell (CCHS, Class of 2022)


Joint School Committee Meeting

The Joint School Committees meet on Tuesday evening with an agenda focused on our work in cultural competency and anti-racism.

Thank you so much for your support.



Positive COVID Case Thoreau

November 28, 2020

Dear Families:

An adult at Thoreau received a positive COVID test result this morning.  This adult has not been in the school for over a week so there are no school-related close contacts.

I will have other reminders and updates tomorrow as we prepare to return to school on Monday.  While cases counts are higher, the cases to date remain isolated and managed through the protocols and processes.  We are very grateful for everyone’s cooperation.

Have a wonderful Saturday!



Sad News

November 25, 2020

Dear Families:

I have been getting feedback from the community that it is important to share the news of the unexpected passing of retired Alcott teacher Carol Birdsall.  Carol taught at Alcott for 30 years and retired in 2018.  She clearly touched many lives as have so many of our teachers.  Carol’s obituary is found here.

This is such a wonderful reminder of the gift of those who choose to be with the community’s children every day.  If you haven’t, it is a prefect time of year to share your appreciation with them via a small note or email.



Second Positive COVID Case Willard

November 25, 2020

Dear Families:

I write to share that the case connected to last night’s situation at Willard is also positive.  We acted proactively and have communicated with all school based contacts.  The Concord Recreation program at Willard is involved but not Thoreau and Alcott.

We are very grateful for everyone’s flexibility and remind you that cases are sometimes now contracted through hard or impossible to identify exposures in everyday places.  Please this weekend keep in mind the need for safety practices and caution.  If you travel, compliance with the travel order is necessary requiring a negative test or quarantine.

We are so grateful for the ongoing cooperation and support.  Collaboration to date has been incredible.  Support and empathy for those who contract the virus has also been important.  The school and community’s collective efforts have led to the success of the year so far.

Please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.



3 Positive COVID Cases

November 24, 2020

Dear Families:
I am writing to share that this afternoon and evening we were notified of 3 positive COVID cases:

  • adult at central office
  • adult at CCHS
  • student at Willard

We just completed contact tracing for the two adult cases.  I will shortly be notifying Willard families who are impacted by the student case there.  Please watch for upcoming email if you are a Willard family.

We appreciate your support and upcoming care and caution over the holiday so impact of the virus on the schools remains limited.



Positive COVID Thoreau

November 23, 2020

Dear Families:

We learned this morning of a positive COVID student case at Thoreau.  Since the student has not attended in-person learning in a significant amount of time, there is no contact tracing or school related impact.

We continue to urge caution and care when considering social activities.  Transmission is occurring even in small settings given the high virus rates right now.  Of course, we know this pertains to the holiday on Thursday as well.

Please let us know if you have questions or concerns.



A Safe Thanksgiving, Other Reminders and Updates

November 19, 2020

Dear Families:

As we approach the upcoming holiday week, I want to emphasize the state’s guidelines, advisories, and orders that are in place as well as clarify our own local protocols.  With great support from the entire community, we started school on September 8 and have had 48 successful in-person days since then.  This upcoming week is critical in ensuring that we can continue the course we set.  If we begin to see big outbreaks in one or more schools, it could force us to remote learning for a period of time.  As I said last week, I do not see that happening for months but even switching between models for weeks disrupts the in-person momentum that we built.  The topics below reflect advisories and orders from Governor Baker, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  Where we locally vary from them, it is clearly noted.  The final items outlined here are for your information hoping to offer clarity and avoid confusion.    

Thanksgiving Advisory

MDPH issued a Thanksgiving Advisory in late October.  The advisory emphasizes that the safest approach to Thanksgiving this year is to remain only with immediate family.  We cannot stress enough that with virus rates spiking, it can be very risky to host any kind of typical Thanksgiving event.  We urge caution and a conservative approach so we do not see outbreaks result from the holiday.  

Travel Order

We continue to mandate compliance with the state’s requirements in the Governor’s Travel Order meaning quarantine or negative test is necessary after visiting a high risk state.  This applies to all students returning to school.  Maine and New Hampshire will be added to the high risk category later this week. Only Hawaii and Vermont will then be considered low risk along with Massachusetts.  There is no question that avoiding travel is the safest option.  We urge you to consider staying home unless it is unavoidable.

Revised Quarantine Timeline 

Yesterday, MPDH released revised quarantine guidelines for those identified as close contacts to a positive COVID case.  The revised guidelines allow for an option of a negative COVID test on Day 8 in order to leave quarantine on Day 10.  In consultation with the local health officials, the schools will NOT be allowing this option so all close contacts will need to quarantine for 14 days.  

College Students Returning to the Community

Many families have older children in the home returning from colleges in high risk states who then must comply with the travel order.  In addition, via a letter to the community local health officials remind returning students of the need to avoid groups, wear masks, and comply with the 10 p.m. Stay at Home Advisory.  Many school age families have older children in the home so we bring this to the attention of the school community to ensure safety over the upcoming college break.  


Given how many of you graciously are assisting with transportation, it is important to highlight the MDPH advisory about safe carpooling.  Everyone in the car should be masked unless they are from the same household.  We will also remind you that the car could create a close contact situation and later require quarantine should someone test positive.

Antigen Testing in Schools

Likely you saw yesterday that some schools will receive free antigen testing provided by DESE.  We were in agreement with local health officials not to participate for a number of reasons including:  antigen tests still require PCR tests, testing is available only for symptomatic staff or students, other communities are currently at higher virus rates and supply was limited.  Monitoring of testing options is continuous should the appropriate opportunity arise for our schools.  

Tonight’s Local MDPH COVID Metric

As occurs every Thursday, MDPH will release local community virus rates.  It is important to share that the release tonight will include an outbreak of over 100 cases at the prison.  While there are definitely more cases in Concord over last week, please do not be alarmed at seeing such a dramatic spike.  We are unsure how clearly the data will indicate this so wanted to share it ahead of time.  

The cooperation, flexibility, and engagement of everyone has brought us this far.  I am optimistic that an ongoing collective effort will bring us into December successfully.  Thank you so much.



Final 2020-2021 School Calendar

November 18, 2020

Dear Families:

Last night, the Joint School Committees approved what we expect to be the final version of the 2020-2021 school calendar.

2020-2021 School Calendar November 17, 2020

You will see it includes additional professional days for teachers and meets the required 170 days for students.  All of the school vacations remain in tact and the last day of school for students is June 15.

Thank you for your ongoing flexibility and patience.



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