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Superintendent's Message

Alcott

COVID Communication Over Break

April 16, 2021

Dear Families:

Despite today’s weather, we have reached spring break!

During the break, please use our COVID email account for any COVID reporting or questions since that is the only account that will be monitored consistently:  covid@concordps.org

Our case counts are down with only two cases this week.  Case counts in the state remain high, however, so please remember distancing and masks as well as to follow the travel protocols.

Have a wonderful week!  We look forward to having everyone back on the 26th!

Best,

Laurie

 

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

April 15, 2021

Dear Families:

As you know, we recently created position a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) position to lead the district into the next phase of our cultural competency and anti-racism work.  Goals for the position include:

  • to bring a diversity, equity, and anti-racist lens to every aspect of the functioning of the districts;
  • to improve student experience, particularly for black and brown students;
  • to provide faculty and staff with support on cultivating a school culture that is inclusive and elicits a sense of belonging for all students, families, and employees;
  • to support all administrators in decision making;
  • to be a resource for families and community members; and,
  • to be a liaison with community groups and institutions on behalf of the school system.

I am very excited to announce that current METCO Director, Andrew Nyamekye, will serve as our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as of July 1, 2021.  Mr. Nyakekye has a Master of Arts in Intercultural Relations and has strong connections with students, staff, and families.  He often leads professional development in cultural competency and anti-racism education and is integral to the hiring processes for expanding diversity among the staff.  We are anxious to have Mr. Nyamekye help us accomplish our goals of an inclusive, safe, and supportive learning environment for all students and their families.

The Districts will host a public session on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at 7 p.m. to introduce Mr. Nyamekye and discuss the future of this important work.

We also invite METCO families to join us on Wednesday, April 28 at 6 p.m. to dialogue about the search process for a new METCO Director with whom Mr. Nyamekye will work.

This position and Mr. Nyamekye bring a great energy and momentum for this work to come.

Best,

Laurie

 

Travel Protocol

April 12, 2021

Dear Families:

I wanted to be sure we are communicating as clearly as possible about the travel protocols in preparation for the upcoming vacation. We had feedback and so I am sending this with more detail than in my email over the weekend.

With the vacation coinciding with the return of all students at CMS and CCHS, it brings new factors to the circumstances.  The Out of State Travel section of the district webpage is updated and is pasted below.

The protocols of the Concord Public Schools and Concord-Carlisle Regional School District remain more conservative than the state’s travel advisory dated March 22, 2021.  All students who travel must provide a negative PCR test after returning to Massachusetts.  Antigen and pool tests will not be accepted.  We will accept a rapid molecular ID NOW test.  This does not apply to travel out of state for less than 24 hours.

If a student has had COVID within the last 90 days then a PCR test is not required but proof of the positive test may be required.  If a child were COVID positive more than 90 days prior to travel, the PCR test is required upon return to Massachusetts.

If a student is fully vaccinated (14 days post the second shot), a PCR test is not required.  The schools require proof of vaccination be provided for any child that has traveled.

As of April 26, 2021, CMS and CCHS students who remain home awaiting test results will not be able to live stream into the classroom due to the full return of all students to in-person learning.

This information is accurate to the best of our ability and reflects practice as of April 12, 2021.

Our only goal is for a smooth week after the break when we have everyone back for the first time. We know this can be frustrating and certainly wish that it was simpler.   Please let us know if you have any questions.  And as always, thank you for the cooperation and support.

Best,

Laurie

Two Positive COVID Cases, Pool Testing, and Travel

April 11, 2021

Dear Families:

I hope you had a great weekend!  We are excited to be going into the week before spring break.  We are also asking for your help both during the break and as we return all students on April 26.

Two Positive COVID Cases

Yesterday, we had a positive pool at CMS leading to a positive student case.  Today, we learned of a positive CCHS student.  Close contacts are being identified and quarantined.

Pool Testing 

Last week, we had 1,702 students participate in pool testing.  As seen on the occasions when positive pools happen, it allows us to identify and isolate those cases.  We have a goal of testing 2,500 students in order to ensure the safest environment possible.

In all three situations where we had positive student pools, we knew of the individual case within hours.  Through the use of the AFC Urgent Care rapid molecular ID NOW testing (the only rapid test we accept), results have been almost immediate.  I thought it was important to note that since often I hear concerns about quarantine as a reason not to test.  It is definitely also worth noting that we have so far conducted 9,254 student tests since late February with only three positive pools.

With case counts still approximately 2,000 per day in the state even with 25% of the population vaccinated, this asymptomatic testing will be a key tool when all students return after the break. We are all looking forward to the vaccine availability for all young people.

If you haven’t already provided consent in Aspen and enrolled your child, please do so.  The test is very quick and non-disruptive.  We greatly appreciate all of those who are already participating.

Travel

We will ask you to consider travel with caution especially as it coincides with the upcoming school vacation and full return to school.

The protocols of the Concord Public Schools remain more conservative than the state’s travel advisory dated March 22, 2021.  All students who travel must provide a negative PCR test after returning to Massachusetts.  Antigen and pool tests will not be accepted.

If a student has had COVID within the last 90 days then a PCR test is not required but proof of the positive test may be required.  If a child were COVID positive more than 90 days prior to travel, the PCR test is required upon return to Massachusetts.

If a student is fully vaccinated (14 days post-vaccine), a PCR test is not required.  The schools require proof of vaccination to be provided for any child that has traveled.

We are so very grateful for the support and collaboration that brought us to this point in the school year and look forward to continuing that partnership throughout the spring.

Have a great night!

Best,

Laurie

Updates April 4 2021

April 4, 2021

Dear Families:
I hope you enjoyed the beautiful weekend!

Tonight, we are eager to have all of the elementary schools open for students all day tomorrow for the first time since March 12, 2020.  The preparation for this extension of the in-person day has been detailed and lengthy. As has been the case in every scenario, the collaboration across all groups made it happen effectively.  That said, it is once again a plan that we to execute to find the tricky spots so please have patience.  The same extensive planning is underway at the middle and high schools for a full return on April 26.

Positive COVID Case

We learned of one positive CCHS student this weekend.  Contract tracing was completed this morning.

COVID Dashboards

Our District COVID Data Dashboard is posted as of yesterday morning. As of writing this email, our total number of cases to date is 172.

This week’s Concord and Carlisle dashboards come from the MPDH publication on April 1.  Concord remained yellow last week.  Carlisle moved up to green.

Asymptomatic Pool Testing

Last week, we reached a new high of 1546 students tested- all were negative!  As we return students to school full time, these tests will be valuable pieces of information to ensure safety.  Please provide consent through Aspen so your child can participate.  The state notified us this week that they would continue to cover the cost for the duration of the school year.  Our goal is to test 2500 students per week since other districts have reached 75-80% participation!

Travel

We will ask you to consider travel with caution especially as it coincides with the upcoming school vacation and full return to school.

The protocols of the Concord Public Schools remain more conservative than the state’s travel advisory dated March 22, 2021.  All students who travel must provide a negative PCR test after returning to Massachusetts.  Antigen and pool tests will not be accepted.

If a student has had COVID within the last 90 days then a PCR test is not required but proof of the positive test may be required.  If a child were COVID positive more than 90 days prior to travel, the PCR test is required upon return to Massachusetts.

If a student is fully vaccinated (14 days post-vaccine), a PCR test is not required.  The schools require proof of vaccination to be provided for any child that has traveled.

MCAS

The Commissioner of Education notified us late last week that he is proposing cancellation of the grade 11 test and extension of the timeline for tests in grades 3 through 8 through June 11, 2021.  Things keep changing so stay tuned!

Last Day of School

Now that we are into the spring, it is likely safe to say the last student day of school for this year will be June 16, 2021.

This coming last quarter of the school year will be unlike the ones so far and full of positive changes.  We will still expect the unexpected and know that there may be road bumps that will require patience from all of us.  I am sure that the cooperation and collaboration that got us this far will help us continue to succeed.

Best,

Laurie

 

A Conversation About Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: April 6 7 pm

March 31, 2021

Dear Families:

The Joint School Committees and I hope you will join us for a conversation about leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion.  The district will soon have a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  Your hopes and vision for this role are important to us.

We hope to see you then.
Best,

Laurie

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

7 p.m.

Join Zoom Meeting

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Meeting ID: 939 1079 3720

Passcode: 822226

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Positive COVID Cases and Asympmtatic Testing Request

March 26, 2021

Dear Families:

Of two cases today, CCHS had a positive student case with no close contacts at school.  We also had a positive pool at Willard and later confirmed a positive student case.

With cases on the rise and two positive pools in two days, it is an opportunity to share the value of asymptomatic testing especially as we bring all students back to school.  Identifying and isolating asymptomatic cases allows for containment and prevention of transmission.  This means that we have greater confidence in our prevention measures at school.  That will be especially important as the middle and high school students will sometimes be at less than six feet of distancing when they return full time.

I often hear that quarantine is a deterrent.  We are finding that the positive pools are spending very little time accessing individual testing and getting results, making the immediate quarantine very short.  After that, the positive person quarantines as do close contacts based on our protocols.

The student testing numbers are growing slowly with this week’s total at approximately 1400 across all of the schools.  If you haven’t signed consent and begun to have your student tested, please do that in Aspen.  The experts advise that we need over 75% of the population to test regularly in order for maximum effectiveness.  I know other districts that are meeting and exceeding that level of participation.

I believe strongly that testing is a tool that will help us to avoid school closures and compensate for the moderated protocols required to have all students in school.  We are eager and excited to have all kids  with us all day for the first time in over a year.  We hope you will consider doing your part to ensure the success of these coming months by having your child participate.

Enjoy the beautiful night that feels more like May than March!

Best,

Laurie

 

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