February 27, 2022
I hope that the vacation week was restful and relaxing. We look forward to returning tomorrow and seeing spring in the future!
In the Spotlight
At the February 15 Joint School Committee meeting, English Language Learner Coordinator Emily Ferrera shared an overview of our English Language Learner program. The presentation reminds us of the diversity in our schools and the rich environment that results. The slides are posted here or watch the presentation at minute 54 of the School Committee recording that is posted here. Thank you to all of the ELL families, teachers, and staff who support them in our schools.
As noted before vacation, on March 7 all schools will move to a mask optional approach. We will spend this week preparing students so that individual choices are comfortable and accepted. The CDC released guidance on Friday removing the recommendation for masks on school buses. The Joint School Committees will discuss this at their next meeting on March 8.
Tonight or tomorrow morning, please utilize the at-home antigen tests. We would also encourage pool testing this week as we return from vacation and travel.
Concord Free Public Library Update
Due to a complication with the library’s shelving, the Children’s Library, Commons, and Garden at the Main Library will reopen on Saturday, March 5th, one week later than originally anticipated. While patrons are waiting to use the new space, there will be both children’s and teen materials available near the Main Library’s Circulation Desk. Children’s programs that were scheduled for the Main Library will be relocated to the Fowler Branch Library and the Hunt Recreation Center. Please check the library website for additional information and updates about the locations of our programs. Patrons are also encouraged to visit the Fowler Branch Library’s youth collections for materials. The Main Library expansion project has been long, complex, and has experienced additional difficulties due to the supply line delays during the pandemic. The entire Concord Free Public Library staff appreciates the community’s patience during this unpredictable time and are grateful for the support and understanding from the community as this project wraps up.
Supporting Children During the Ukrainian Crisis
As the events in Russia and Ukraine unfold, they can have varying impacts on us as adults and on children. I thought it would helpful to share Riverside Trauma Center’s document entitled, Talking With Your Children About Traumatic Events. Just as we have through the unknowns of the past several years, we will work together to provide stability and reassurance to all students.
We look forward to all being together tomorrow! Have a great night.
February 19, 2022
Welcome to the February break! We hope you are able to enjoy the time with family and friends.
During the vacation, the COVID accounts will not be monitored regularly, allowing the nurses and administrators to enjoy the time off. Please do report positive cases. Since we no longer contact trace, we will log and report case counts on February 28.
Public Health Nurse Tricia McGean is available to all Concord and Carlisle families this week should you need support. Her contact information is below:
Cell Phone: 781-223-0286
Have a wonderful week!
February 16, 2022
We have collectively worked together to successfully support the children in our schools throughout the pandemic. The only reliable thing has been the need to change directions frequently. This has required collaboration and flexibility, unlike we have seen at any other time. We are at that juncture again as we outline our plan for masking in the schools now that the state mandate will expire on February 28.
Simultaneously last night, the Concord Board of Health and Joint School Committees discussed mask wearing. The Board of Health voted to immediately lift the town’s mask mandate, so masks are no longer required. Based on my recommendation, given high vaccination rates and low case counts, the Joint School Committees unanimously voted to rescind the face mask policy and make masks optional for all students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 as of March 7, 2022.
The preschool setting was discussed at length prior to and at last night’s meeting. The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Childcare has not released updated guidance since the Governor’s announcement about K-12 schools. The public health officials and I felt that moving more slowly was prudent in the preschool since vaccines are not yet available for the youngest students. As a result, for the time being, masks will be required in preschool classrooms. At upcoming School Committee meetings, we will review the status of these points and ensure we support the preschool staff and families.
Per federal regulation, masks remain a mandate on school buses and in the health offices. Positive COVID individuals will need to mask for five days after returning to school from the five day quarantine period. Unvaccinated students are highly encouraged to mask per DESE and DPH guidance.
We recognize that not all families and students are comfortable with masks becoming optional. It is very important to us to hear those individual questions and talk about how to support you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to a counselor, school nurse, or administrator.
Inclusion and belonging are core values of our schools. As personal choice is afforded to all, it will be critical that we act according to those values by respecting and honoring each individual choice.
Over the past two years, our work together has shown that our greatest strengths are founded on collaboration and community. I am sure this will be the case as we journey into this next phase.
Thank you again for the collective efforts and shared partnership.
February 13, 2022
I hope you had a great weekend as we look forward to the upcoming vacation week. It was a pleasure to have a hint of spring on Saturday and a reminder that it is still winter return today!
In the Spotlight
One of our initiatives as part of the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan over the past number of years focus on a team teaching approach in grades six through nine. In ninth grade, this led to the creation of a Ninth Grade Academy where students are members of a team of students and teachers for the four core content areas: English, math, science, and social studies. This allows for a philosophical approach of a smaller school within the large environment and for teachers to know students across multiple disciplines.
The slides above are from the recent Grade 8 Orientation held for incoming students from Concord and Carlisle. The entire curriculum and orientation presentation is available here. I would encourage all parents to stay current in our work across the schools. My thanks to CCHS Principal Mastrullo and the entire CCHS leadership team who created the slides and led the discussions.
Interim Director of Student Services
Debbie Dixson’s experience and expertise in special education have greatly benefitted our schools this year. Pending state processes and approval, a second year of her interim leadership would allow us to secure the systems and structures she has begun to implement. We would then conduct a full search for a permanent director to begin in July of 2023. I will share updates and information as I have them through the months of February and March.
COVID cases declined again last week. The COVID Dashboard will be updated throughout the week usually late in the afternoon and evening. The Joint School Committees will discuss masks at Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting.
The draft of the 2022-2023 calendar is also on the agenda at Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting.
Concord Free Public Library
The Concord Free Public Library’s Main location is closed temporarily for installation of shelving and furnishings. The press release found here includes more details.
Enjoy the rest of the night!
February 9, 2022
I wanted to provide you with an update as to our conversations about masks in the schools. The Joint School Committees have an agenda item planned for their next meeting on Tuesday, February 15, 2022. We began this discussion internally at the beginning of the month as the case numbers showed a decline. This morning, the Governor’s announcement is an important informational piece to our discussion, anticipating that the state will retreat from the current mandate that expires on February 28. We are also communicating with the local public health leaders and the Concord Board of Health, given the mask mandate in effect in Concord. We appreciate that there is great readiness and need to move forward which will be accompanied by anxiety and apprehension for some. As the coming week evolves, we will be sure to share updated information. As always, we are grateful for the collaboration and partnership over the past two years.
February 6, 2022
With great sadness, I inform you that CCHS teacher Peter Nichol died earlier today after a brave battle with cancer. Peter touched the lives of many, many students and the entire community with his spirit, energy, passion. He was a dedicated to his colleagues at CCHS and had an unwavering commitment to the environment, wanting others to share in those goals. He could often be seen riding his bike to school to get to an early morning CCHS Green Team meeting.
Tomorrow morning, we will assemble the CCHS Incident Management Team led by Principal Mike Mastrullo. Our partners during difficult times like these, Riverside Trauma, will have counseling available to CCHS staff and students in addition to the support of the CCHS counseling team.
We encourage you to openly discuss with your child their reactions and feelings to this news. We have enclosed some information that may be useful to you in helping your child. Those resources are linked below:
We express our deepest condolences to Peter’s family and remain in close contact with them. Loss can bring us closer together as we support one another during difficult times. Peter’s wish for us would be to find joy in those we love and to treasure those moments. Please reach out if we can support you or your child in any way.
February 6, 2022
In the Spotlight
We are enormously grateful for the community’s support of a new Concord Middle School. The vision and possibilities now feel real and will be tangible before we know it. Reaching this point is the result of the dedication of many, many people, including the Concord Middle School Building Committee with the support of the Concord School Committee, Concord Finance Committee, and Concord Select Board, as well as so many citizens who saw the need and remained engaged throughout extraordinary circumstances. Principal Cameron said it best:
The Education Program developed for the new school outlines our hopes for what the new school will offer to future middle school students. We will soon have a revised scope of work, with the tentative completion date still being spring of 2025. Thank you!!
Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Search
Following the recent resignation of Assistant Superintendent Jared Stanton, we are currently searching for the next fiscal and operational leader of the schools to begin on July 1. We appreciate Jared’s work and leadership over the past four years.
Care Solace – Online Portal to Find Mental Health and Substance Services
Our new virtual connection to mental health and substance services is available to families to connect to mental health and substance professionals. Care Solace is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and is confidential. The school counseling staff can also assist with a connection to Care Solace. Please use this webpage or phone number to request assistance in finding support:
Partners In Rhyme Spring Session
Using Poetry to Bring Generations Together
If you know of a local senior citizen who would be interested in participating in the virtual poetry experience with CCHS students, please see contact information in this attached flyer.
COVID cases continued to drop dramatically again last week, with approximately 19 overall. The COVID Dashboard will be updated throughout the week, usually late in the afternoon and evening. We offer both pool testing and at-home antigen testing programs. You may participate in one, both, or neither. The links are provided here if you want to participate but have not yet enrolled.
At-Home Antigen Testing
If you want to participate in the at-home antigen testing program and have not enrolled yet, please use this student opt-in form.
If you have not signed up but would like to participate, please use this link: Electronic Consent Form
Enjoy the rest of the evening.
February 3, 2022
Due to the expected ice storm, all of the Concord Public Schools, CCHS, and Ripley Building will be closed tomorrow, Friday, February 4, 2022.