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Superintendent's Message

Concord-Carlisle High School

Updates October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

Dear Families:

I hope you enjoy the long weekend!  It amazes us to already be in the middle of October! One of my goals is to make these updates more engaging and so I hope you will enjoy the addition of some photos this week!

This Week’s Spotlights

Ripley STEAM Lab and CMS Makerspace

It has been 18 months since the Ripley STEAM Lab heard the sounds of students imagining, creating, analyzing, and collaborating.  Elementary students are now returning to the special space on in-district field trips from their individual schools.  Through technology and many other hands-on activities, students work in small groups and as partners to create and design.  This past week,  fifth grade students programmed Spheros Robotics Balls as an example.  The STEAM Lab is led by Assistant Superintendent Kristen Herbert and her staff with the partnership of classroom teachers when their classes visit.

Makerspaces are similar spaces where students engage in a wide range of hands-on activities and materials.  Currently, both middle school buildings have small makerspaces available to students.  With great thanks to Media Specialist Elizabeth Stockwood, the CMS library webpage outlines some of the many possibilities.  The new Concord Middle School design includes space to ensure these opportunities continue.

 

CCHS Unified Basketball

Among our goals in the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan is to continue to foster the inclusion of all students.  An objective in the plan has been to build a Unified Sports program at CCHS.  Unified Sports is an aspect of the Special Olympics program where students with and without intellectual disabilities play together.  The new basketball team had their first game against Acton-Boxborough this past week.  This follows a successful initial season of Unified Track this past spring.  We thank the vision of CCHS Athletic Director Aaron Joncas and a number of talented coaches for launching these programs.

COVID Updates

Last week, we had 2 positive COVID cases for a total of 31:

1 CCHS and 1 Alcott student

The COVID Dashboard will be updated throughout the week.  We will notify those who need to be notified of any positive cases.

Pooled testing is up and running smoothly.  We are using the rapid antigen tests if a positive pool is returned meaning that no one quarantines unless they are positive on the antigen test.

We encourage all students to participate even if they are vaccinated in order to help us ensure the safest possible environment at all schools.  Thank you as always for your support and cooperation.

Communication

We will utilize text and phone calls only for emergencies or critical, timely information.  Social media and email will include both important and informative information but will never be the only place where something timely is posted.  Do you remember the days when our only options were paper notes and handmade phone chains?  It is great to have so many tools.  We know we need to use them purposefully.

Concord Free Public Library

We continue to very successfully partner with the Concord Free Public Library including through the summer reading program.  Throughout the year they offer a wide range of programs for younger students and teens.  We encourage you to continually peruse out.

CFPL Kids Programs

CFPL Teen Programs

Have a great start to the short week!
Best,

Laurie

Twitter: @cps_cchs

Instagram:  @ccsuperintendent

Weekly Updates October 3 2021

October 3, 2021

Dear Families:

I hope this email finds you enjoying your weekend!  We welcome October and its beautiful colors and cooler days!

This Week’s Spotlight

Every week, I will highlight efforts, initiatives, or events in the districts.  For the first time, we will celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 11.  The Town of Concord Select Board approved the change last spring.  Initiative for the efforts was led through the Concord Middle School Eighth Grade who wrote letters to the School Committee and Select Board as their civics project last Fall.

Similarly, a Willard fifth grade class wrote to the Concord Select Board regarding the addition of George Dugan’s name to the Civil War Monument.  Mr. Dugan was a Black farmer and Civil War veteran from Concord.  Recently, the Select Board established a Civil War Monument Task Force as the next step to the request to add his name and that of others.  The fifth grade efforts were covered in an article by the Boston Globe last spring.

We directly teach civics as part of the social studies curriculum and look to give students voice in our schools and community to feel that they can have an impact and make a difference.

New School Resource Officers

We are excited to introduce two new School Resource Officers to our schools.  SRO Derek Rodriguez will be based at Concord Middle School.  SRO Cara Paladino will focus on CCHS.  We enjoy a very collaborative, positive relationship with the Concord Police and have already seen the new SRO’s contribute to that.

Bike to School Days/Thank You CEF

Each school will hold a Bike to School day during the coming weeks.  We engage in the Massachusetts Safe Routes to Schools Program.  Last year, the Concord Education Fund contributed bike racks and repair stations for every school.  The SRO’s will conduct additional bike safety lessons with students.  Biking has been a goal among our sustainability efforts.  The pandemic accelerated the interest and we are happy to support the effort. The principals will share additional details of the Bike to School events.

COVID Updates

Last week, we learned of four COVID cases including two adults (Thoreau and Alcott) and two students (Thoreau and CCHS).  The COVID Data Dashboard is our live mode of communicating cases as they occur.  We have begun to use the Test and Stay program with success to date.

School Closings and Delays

As we were reminded last week at the middle school, school closings and delays can be very unpredictable.  I may call delays for one or two hours depending on the situation.  The intent is to get in as much of the day as possible.  I do use social media first (see below) since it is immediate so following me will get you information as soon as possible.  Simultaneously, we send texts, phone calls, emails, and post on the district webpage in an effort to reach you in as many ways as possible.  Hopefully, we will not need any of it very often!

Have a great night!

Best,

Laurie

Twitter:  @cps_cchs

Instagram:  @ccsuperintendent

 

Updates September 26 2021

September 26, 2021

Dear Families:

This week has us wrapping our first month of school and the weekend weather helped us to sense that October is in the air.  As I mentioned last week, I’ll be providing both COVID and other updates weekly.

COVID Updates

In the past week, we had 3 positive cases:  1 Thoreau adult, 1 CMS adult (pool), and 1 CMS student.  The COVID Data Dashboard will be updated as cases occur during the week.  It is posted here and is on the main district homepage.

Due to current challenges on the vendor’s end, we will NOT be pool testing this week.  Despite the delay, we do believe it is an important, valuable tool.  This year, all consents need to be provided through the CIC portal (not Aspen).  The link is found here if you have not yet enrolled your child:

Electronic Consent Form

Federal Grant Fund Survey- Please Complete

The federal government is currently distributing the funds provided to districts throughout the country through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.  Within that Act, is the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund.  Accessing the most recent round of funding requires input from all stakeholders.  As a result, we ask you to complete a short survey to identify priorities during the pandemic.  The survey is found here.

West Nile Virus

Late last week, the West Nile Risk Level was increased to MODERATE.  Several adjacent towns are now at HIGH risk levels.  A detailed document from Concord Health Director Susan Rask is found here.   At the times of highest risk (dawn and dusk), we strongly encourage all students to be sure to apply bug repellent.

Superintendent Goals 2021-2022

Every year, I set goals for the upcoming school year which are regularly discussed with the School Committees.  These goals identify our priorities and are aligned with the District Strategic Plan.  The goals this year include diversity and equity, special education, literacy, and student mental health.  COVID management is certainly also present but not the sole goal.  The complete set of goals is posted here.

Last week, we held a forum to update the community on the design of a new Concord Middle School.  The recording of the forum is posted here.

MCAS 2021

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released MCAS scores from the spring.  You can find the results on their webpage.  We are reviewing the results.  Individual student information will be sent home in October.  It is very important to remember the many variables during the time prior to and during testing.

Follow Us on Social Media

Especially during the pandemic, we have found social media to be a way to share photos and notes of what goes on in the schools on a daily basis when families do not have as much access.  If you don’t already, please consider following our many accounts. To get started, you might follow my Twitter and Instagram accounts which will link you to many others.

Twitter   @cps_cchs                              Instagram  @ccsuperintendent

Thank you for your ongoing support and collaboration! Have a great week!

Best,

Laurie

 

COVID Cases and Data Dashboard

September 17, 2021

Dear Families:

First, we learned of 4 positive CCHS students in the last two days.  We conducted any necessary contact tracing and made any appropriate notifications.

Now that we are into year two of the pandemic and reporting positive COVID cases, we’ve decided to streamline the process.  A live, current data dashboard is now posted on the district’s home page.

COVID DATA DASHBOARD

This spreadsheet will be kept up to date so everyone has access to how many cases are active each week and overall this year.  I will only send emails to the entire community on a weekly basis to share the summary information unless we experience a spike or signs of school transmission.

This will not change the process of contact tracing and ensuring that everyone who needs to know about an exposure is aware and the needed steps are taken.  This new process will allow me to share updates on much of the other great work going on throughout the districts.

It is important to us that you feel well informed.  Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Best,

Laurie

 

School-Based Close Contact Test and Stay Program

September 15, 2021

Dear Families:

As mentioned last week, we continually review our COVID protocols and will now be implementing the Test and Stay program as outlined by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  This program is available to students who are identified as close contacts as a result of a COVID exposure in school only.  It is important to note that the program is not available to those identified as close contacts outside of school.

Key components of the Test and Stay program as outlined by DESE:

  • Available to those not exempt from quarantine (i.e. fully vaccinated)
  • Duration of Test and Stay:  7 days from the date of exposure
  • Return to School:  Close contacts can remain in school and do not have to quarantine, as long as they
    • Are asymptomatic
    • Wear masks in school at all times, other than when eating or drinking.  When these individuals cannot be masked (i.e. when eating or drinking) they should maintain 3 feet of distance from other individuals to the extent feasible.
    • Take a rapid antigen test (e.g. BinaxNow) on each school day and receive a negative result. When the 7 days from the date of exposure includes weekends or holidays, individuals should quarantine on weekends, and if they remain asymptomatic, upon return to school be tested immediately.  If the individual remains negative, they can stay in school.
    • Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate at home if symptoms develop.

A flowchart is also available to assist in clarifying the process.  The flowchart is posted here.  Please note that in the elementary schools, we will be considering each case as it occurs as to the number of close contacts.  As we have been, we are likely to err on the side of caution especially with the youngest students.

DESE does require consent for the administration of antigen tests in school.  Consent is provided through the CIC Health portal linked used to consent to asymptomatic pool testing.  The webpage to provide consent is found here.    Since the consent form is the same for both programs, we will include your child in both the antigen Test and Stay program AND pooled testing unless you notify the school nurse that you are only enrolling in one of the programs.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the school nurses.  Thank you again for your support and patience as protocols and COVID evolve.

Best,

Laurie

 

COVID Updates 9.8.21

September 8, 2021

Dear Families:

It has been a great start to the year overall.  Thank you! I share a few brief COVID updates tonight:

COVID Cases

Over the past two days, we had 3 COVID cases.  All of the individuals have not been in school since last week so there was no need to contact trace.

  • 1 vaccinated CMS adult
  • 2 CCHS students

Pool Testing

Due to ongoing delays by the testing vendor, pool testing will not begin until the week of September 20.  We are very disappointed but it is beyond our control.  A similar situation is occurring in districts across the state.

Test and Stay

As mentioned, we are continually reviewing our protocols.  DESE rolled out a “Test and Stay” protocol this summer that allows school-based close contacts to remain in school if tested daily with an antigen test.  DESE also recently made clear that ALL remote learning will not be allowed.  As a result, we are looking to implement “Test and Stay” as soon as next week.  We know this brings many questions, especially in the elementary schools.  Please watch for more details to come over the coming days.  This will not change the protocol for positive or symptomatic students.

Have a great night.

Best,

Laurie

 

Very Sad News

September 5, 2021

 

Dear Families:

 

It is with great sadness that I share with you the death of a former CMS student, Kyla Brito like as a result of a sudden medical event.   We were notified late last night of her death on September 3 and spent the day with Riverside Trauma Center while connecting with the middle school staff and some of the families we know to be close to Kyla.

Kyla attended CMS for 6th, 7th and most of her 8th grade year through the METCO program, before transferring to another school district last spring. For the 2021-2022 school year, Kyla was about to enter her first year of high school.

Those who knew Kyla knew her as a young woman who was kind in all of her interactions, soft in the care she consistently gave her friends, and quick to smile and offer calm joy to those around her.  Her loss will be felt deeply by the students and staff who knew her.

It is very difficult for all of us to face the death of a young person. On Monday September 6, a team of counselors from Riverside Trauma Center will be available in-person at the Sanborn building and via Zoom from 2 pm to 4 pm in order to provide support for Kyla’s classmates and teachers, as well as anyone in the community who feels impacted by this tragedy.   The Zoom link is found here:  https://concordps.zoom.us/j/4370634554

Your child may have questions and worries about this loss. Below are resources that may prove helpful as you discuss Kyla’s death. Please feel free to reach out to your student’s guidance counselor or a school leader if you are particularly concerned about the impact this might have on your student.

Talking with Your Children About Traumatic Events

Understanding the Grief of Children

Normal/Expected Reactions to Death

Because we have an extraordinary school community, many of you will ask what you can do to support the family during this difficult time. As soon as we have this information, we will share it with you.

Best,

Laurie

 

Postive COVID Cases

September 5, 2021

Dear Families:

We wanted to update you on the number of positive COVID cases this weekend.  As needed, we conducted contract tracing and identified anyone who was exposed.  With so many staff and students vaccinated, new quarantines are very minimal.  Since I am often asked, the positive cases today do involve vaccinated individuals unless they are under the age of eligibility.  We are seeing patterns in breakthrough cases and in the younger students due to exposure outside of school.  Since Friday:

2 adult cases:  Thoreau and CMS

2 student cases:  CCHS and Thoreau

We are posting our weekly data dashboard again this year.  The dashboard is accurate as of yesterday morning.  Our total case count in the past 8 days is 11.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Best,

Laurie

 

Positive COVID Cases and COVID Reminders

September 2, 2021

Dear Families:

I am sharing information about two positive cases today and other reminders about pool testing and vaccination documentation.

Two Positive COVID Cases

Today we learned about a positive student at Willard and a positive student at Thoreau.  We completed contact tracing and appropriate quarantines.  As a reminder, we are now using the 7-day quarantine protocol which will reduce the time out of school.

Pooled Testing Consent

Please continue to enroll in pooled testing.  An important new piece of the process is that two swabs will be collected at the time of testing.  One will be held so that if a pool is positive it is automatically sent for individual processing.  Families will not have to do the second test on their own like last year or risk incurring cost.  We are still waiting for CIC Health to enroll the students at Ripley and apologize for the delay.

Electronic Consent Form:  www.cic-health.com/consent/ma

Vaccination Documentation

Thank you!  Please continue to submit vaccine documents to these email addresses and include the child’s grade level for the 2021-2022 school year.

                        CCHS:  healthservices@concordcarlisle.org

                        CMS:   cmshealthservices@concordps.org

Thank you for a great start to the school year!

Best,

Laurie

 

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