A Message from the Superintendent

November 12, 2020

Dear Families:

I write to share information about Governor Baker’s expected press conference at the Carlisle Public School this morning.  The Governor is visiting Carlisle because it is among the few schools in the state to have all students in school full time.  As you heard last week, this is now a priority for the Governor so long as safety measures allow and it is feasible.  The context and circumstances of the current operations, safety measures, and feasibility vary from school to school and district to district.  Among those variables are the percentage of students fully remote.  Our current rates are under 10%, while other districts may be as high as 20% or more, potentially making it more possible for all students who want to attend in-person to do so.  Additionally, as a community, we committed to a distance of six feet of distance between students.  This not only aligns with the CDC guidelines but minimizes the numbers of students we need to quarantine when a positive case occurs.

It is essential to share information about our reopening plan and the rationale for our approaches.  In the elementary schools, all students attend five mornings per week.  This was a top priority for us during the planning process since daily in-person interaction with teachers is critical.  We were able to accomplish this while maintaining six feet of distance between students.  All of the core subjects are held in the morning during in-person instruction.  The remote afternoons accommodate the most challenging portions of the day to ensure in-person safety, including lunch, recess, and specialists.  It was also crucial that the lessons we learned from all remote learning this spring prepared students for a fully remote environment, which could happen at any time without warning for a single classroom or a school.

In the middle and high schools maintaining six feet of distancing does not allow us to have all students in at once.  The classrooms are too small and spaces like lunch and other common times do not support our entire student population.  Transportation and food service have logistical impossibilities given how we have had to structure them for even half of the students at a time.  We prioritized access to learning every day, which is why live streaming from home is happening here while not in a significant number of other districts.

We are thrilled to still be in school in the middle of November.  Statewide cases are rising substantially, having hit a total yesterday not seen since April.  Although we remain optimistic that school is not a place where there is widespread COVID transmission, there are daily instances of quarantined staff and students.   Our 10 cases to date illustrate that this will be an ongoing occurrence, and one we want to be sure is managed without putting an entire school’s or the district’s ability to remain open in jeopardy.  Our goal is a program that allows for consistent, ongoing access to in-person school.

I appreciate that everyone wishes it could be more normal.  We do too.  However, given the current environment, the careful and thoughtful reopening plans that were developed through the work of 11 committees this summer with ongoing feedback from the community are serving us well.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.