Superintendent's Message

COVID Cases, 2021-2022 Calendar, Survey Closing

March 5, 2021

Dear Families:

I share a few updates this morning.

Positive COVID Cases

Over the past couple of days, we had three positive COVID cases all of which were not in school when contagious:

1 CMS student

1 CCHS student

1 Willard adult

Pool Testing

In the pool testing, an Alcott pool came back positive on Wednesday.  Each of the individual tests was negative meaning the class can return to school this morning upon advisement of the state epidemiologist.  This is not a common occurrence.  As we firm up plans for more in-person time at school and an expected reduction of the 6′ distancing at the older grades,  the testing program is very important.  If you have not enrolled your child yet, please do so through the consent form in Aspen so they can be tested next week.

In-Person Learning Survey

Thank you so much for the wonderful response to the survey regarding expanding in-person time for students.  The survey closes at noon today.  If you have not completed it yet, please submit one form per child at this link.

2021-2022 School Calendar

The Joint School Committees approved the 2021-2022 school calendar this week as linked here.  Wednesdays will remain early release days at the elementary schools and middle school while the high school will return to full days in order to meet state requirements for learning time.

Have a wonderful Friday!




Parent Survey Regarding Expanded In-Person Learning

March 2, 2021

Dear Families:

As I mentioned this weekend, we are actively discussing plans to expand in-person learning time.  Below is the link to a very brief survey for your input.  It is important to remember that we are following the Governor’s mandates and looking to determine how we can attain them.  This may require changes to the current safety protocols so we need your input as to your level of comfort and if it impacts your plan to send your child as well as to understand your priorities.  Likely this will be the first of several surveys so the data is intended to be high level and not be prescriptive to our decision-making.

Please complete the survey for each child in your family so the information is specific to that age group.

Parent Survey March 2021

The survey will be available until Friday, March 5 at noon.  Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions.




10 Day Quarantine for Close Contacts

March 1, 2021

Dear Families:

We learned of 2 student COVID cases today:



Both students were not in school during the contagious period.

As of today, we will be applying the CDC and MDPH approved 10-day quarantine protocol for all close contacts.  The lower virus rates and availability and efficiency of testing allow for this to safely be applied in the school environment.  As has been required, all close contacts should test at approximately the fifth day after exposure and provide a negative PCR test prior to returning to school.  Please let us know if you have any questions.




An Important Letter Regarding Spring 2021

February 28, 2021

Dear Families:

This afternoon, I offer thoughts about the upcoming months.  The superintendents met with the Commissioner of Education late last week.  It was clear that the state is expecting to mandate the full-time return of K-5 students in early April.  Middle and high school will have full return dates that follow.  Full-time remote learning will remain an option for families.  As has often happened, the districts were given no notice of the announcement or any guidance to accompany it.

Here, we were discussing the expansion of in-person time with better weather and lower virus rates.  We are shifting that discussion now to meet the expected mandates.  It is important to note that change is going to require a great deal of decision-making, logistics, and planning just as it did last summer.  We already spent the late part of last week and all weekend starting the process.

Not unexpectedly, we are hearing from parents as to their hopes.  We read every email and are aware of circulating petitions.  Since we want to be sure everyone’s voice is heard, we will send a parent survey over the next couple of days and would encourage you to use that as a vehicle to share your thoughts.  Subsequent surveys will occur with staff and very importantly, with older students.  We have always known that many people want their kids in school more and suspect this will confirm that.  The hope is that the survey will also offer insight as to how we accomplish that and what is most important since there will be choices to make.

We completely agree and understand the concerns about student mental health.  All of our drive to open and stay open has been because we believe being in school is better for kids than a fully remote environment.   We agree that more time in school will offset the impact of isolation and limited social activity.  This might lead us to creative approaches to return students so we maximize this need, especially at the secondary level where the alphabetical cohort split has been very difficult.

Any changes to plans will continue to follow the science.  Based on the science, we purposefully have the most conservative safety protocols in place.  That served us well so far.  We opened on September 9 and remained open throughout as a result.   Modifying any of those pieces will increase risk.   In conjunction, then, there will be more quarantines and possible school closures since we will not be as confident in preventing school transmission.  There will need to be a common understanding of that.  As reminders of the effectiveness so far, updated data points are included at the bottom of this email.

As the plans are being developed, I share thoughts on what would benefit us the most right now.

  • Limit your social events, even with close family and friends

We continue to see positive cases result from small, intimate gatherings of extended family and close friends.  We know people are trying to be careful.  Please just know that even those you see often could have COVID and you won’t know until after everyone is exposed, often leading to a cluster.

  • Enroll your child in the pooled testing

This will be a critical piece in maintaining school safety.  The current 25% participation rate is inadequate for significant assurance of limiting asymptomatic transmission.  If you have questions, please ask them.  I’ll refer you to the FAQ document that we shared earlier.

  • Advocate for elimination of the MCAS with those in the Massachusetts State House

We are deeply involved in the preparation for the test since the requirement is still in place.  This is a distraction from preparing for the return of more students to the classroom and will take from precious instructional time with little value later.

  • Advocate for teachers to get vaccinated with those in the Massachusetts State House

The media statements are true.  Teachers do not need to be vaccinated to open school.  We have demonstrated that since September.  As we increase risk , however, it is a critical part of the elements that will allow us to do so comfortably and safely.

The school year has been a success so far in that we served all students daily, worked collaboratively and collectively, and supported one another.  I share a huge appreciation and respect for our teachers and school staff who were determined to bring kids back to school initially, created a plan that was safe and met educational needs, and dedicated themselves to the work it took for the year to be highly productive and effective. Parents partnered with us in an intimate and equally dedicated fashion.   As usually happens in Concord and Carlisle, it was clear that the entire community invested in returning students to school offering emotional, fiscal, and structural supports in many, many ways.

The extraordinary relationships have brought us this far.  I have no doubt that they will serve us well during this next phase of the journey.




COVID Positive Cases

Since Friday, we learned of 3 student cases as outlined below.  None of the students were in school while they were contagious.

1 CCHS student

2 Alcott students

Asymptomatic Pooled Testing

Last week, we tested almost 800 students and 250 staff.  All of the pools were negative which helps build confidence in the safety of the school environment.  The consent form for this week is closed.  Anyone who enrolls through Aspen will be included during the week of March 8.

COVID Dashboards

The District Dashboard is updated as of today with our current total case count at 141 since September.

The DPH Community Dashboard indicates that Concord is in the yellow category and Carlisle is in gray.


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