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Superintendent's Message

Concord Middle School

Second Positive COVID Case Willard

November 25, 2020

Dear Families:

I write to share that the case connected to last night’s situation at Willard is also positive.  We acted proactively and have communicated with all school based contacts.  The Concord Recreation program at Willard is involved but not Thoreau and Alcott.

We are very grateful for everyone’s flexibility and remind you that cases are sometimes now contracted through hard or impossible to identify exposures in everyday places.  Please this weekend keep in mind the need for safety practices and caution.  If you travel, compliance with the travel order is necessary requiring a negative test or quarantine.

We are so grateful for the ongoing cooperation and support.  Collaboration to date has been incredible.  Support and empathy for those who contract the virus has also been important.  The school and community’s collective efforts have led to the success of the year so far.

Please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Best,

Laurie

3 Positive COVID Cases

November 24, 2020

Dear Families:
I am writing to share that this afternoon and evening we were notified of 3 positive COVID cases:

  • adult at central office
  • adult at CCHS
  • student at Willard

We just completed contact tracing for the two adult cases.  I will shortly be notifying Willard families who are impacted by the student case there.  Please watch for upcoming email if you are a Willard family.

We appreciate your support and upcoming care and caution over the holiday so impact of the virus on the schools remains limited.

Best,

Laurie

Positive COVID Thoreau

November 23, 2020

Dear Families:

We learned this morning of a positive COVID student case at Thoreau.  Since the student has not attended in-person learning in a significant amount of time, there is no contact tracing or school related impact.

We continue to urge caution and care when considering social activities.  Transmission is occurring even in small settings given the high virus rates right now.  Of course, we know this pertains to the holiday on Thursday as well.

Please let us know if you have questions or concerns.

Best,

Laurie

A Safe Thanksgiving, Other Reminders and Updates

November 19, 2020

Dear Families:

As we approach the upcoming holiday week, I want to emphasize the state’s guidelines, advisories, and orders that are in place as well as clarify our own local protocols.  With great support from the entire community, we started school on September 8 and have had 48 successful in-person days since then.  This upcoming week is critical in ensuring that we can continue the course we set.  If we begin to see big outbreaks in one or more schools, it could force us to remote learning for a period of time.  As I said last week, I do not see that happening for months but even switching between models for weeks disrupts the in-person momentum that we built.  The topics below reflect advisories and orders from Governor Baker, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  Where we locally vary from them, it is clearly noted.  The final items outlined here are for your information hoping to offer clarity and avoid confusion.    

Thanksgiving Advisory

MDPH issued a Thanksgiving Advisory in late October.  The advisory emphasizes that the safest approach to Thanksgiving this year is to remain only with immediate family.  We cannot stress enough that with virus rates spiking, it can be very risky to host any kind of typical Thanksgiving event.  We urge caution and a conservative approach so we do not see outbreaks result from the holiday.  

Travel Order

We continue to mandate compliance with the state’s requirements in the Governor’s Travel Order meaning quarantine or negative test is necessary after visiting a high risk state.  This applies to all students returning to school.  Maine and New Hampshire will be added to the high risk category later this week. Only Hawaii and Vermont will then be considered low risk along with Massachusetts.  There is no question that avoiding travel is the safest option.  We urge you to consider staying home unless it is unavoidable.

Revised Quarantine Timeline 

Yesterday, MPDH released revised quarantine guidelines for those identified as close contacts to a positive COVID case.  The revised guidelines allow for an option of a negative COVID test on Day 8 in order to leave quarantine on Day 10.  In consultation with the local health officials, the schools will NOT be allowing this option so all close contacts will need to quarantine for 14 days.  

College Students Returning to the Community

Many families have older children in the home returning from colleges in high risk states who then must comply with the travel order.  In addition, via a letter to the community local health officials remind returning students of the need to avoid groups, wear masks, and comply with the 10 p.m. Stay at Home Advisory.  Many school age families have older children in the home so we bring this to the attention of the school community to ensure safety over the upcoming college break.  

Carpools

Given how many of you graciously are assisting with transportation, it is important to highlight the MDPH advisory about safe carpooling.  Everyone in the car should be masked unless they are from the same household.  We will also remind you that the car could create a close contact situation and later require quarantine should someone test positive.

Antigen Testing in Schools

Likely you saw yesterday that some schools will receive free antigen testing provided by DESE.  We were in agreement with local health officials not to participate for a number of reasons including:  antigen tests still require PCR tests, testing is available only for symptomatic staff or students, other communities are currently at higher virus rates and supply was limited.  Monitoring of testing options is continuous should the appropriate opportunity arise for our schools.  

Tonight’s Local MDPH COVID Metric

As occurs every Thursday, MDPH will release local community virus rates.  It is important to share that the release tonight will include an outbreak of over 100 cases at the prison.  While there are definitely more cases in Concord over last week, please do not be alarmed at seeing such a dramatic spike.  We are unsure how clearly the data will indicate this so wanted to share it ahead of time.  

The cooperation, flexibility, and engagement of everyone has brought us this far.  I am optimistic that an ongoing collective effort will bring us into December successfully.  Thank you so much.

Best,

Laurie

Final 2020-2021 School Calendar

November 18, 2020

Dear Families:

Last night, the Joint School Committees approved what we expect to be the final version of the 2020-2021 school calendar.

2020-2021 School Calendar November 17, 2020

You will see it includes additional professional days for teachers and meets the required 170 days for students.  All of the school vacations remain in tact and the last day of school for students is June 15.

Thank you for your ongoing flexibility and patience.

Best,

Laurie

Updates November 14 2020

November 14, 2020

Dear Families:

Thank you so much for your support this week.  I share other additional updates.

COVID Data Dashboards

The Concord Carlisle COVID Dashboard is posted to the school webpage.

This week’s District COVID Dashboard is posted.  This week we had 5 new cases bringing the total number of cases in the schools since we opened to 13.

Siblings of Symptomatic or Quarantined Students

In accordance with the Concord health officials, we are now asking that siblings of students with COVID symptoms or in quarantine remain at home until a negative COVID test is received for the ill or exposed child.  Given the increased rate of the virus, this will minimize exposures and the number of potential students in quarantine.

Flu Vaccines

Massachusetts mandated that all students receive flu vaccines.  Please forward documentation of the vaccine to the school nurses by December 11, 2020.

Joint School Committee Meeting

The Joint School Committees meet on Tuesday night.  The agenda is posted on the district webpage.

Winter Food Distribution

Open Table found a home for food distribution this winter at the First Parish Church on the second and fourth Wednesday afternoons of the month from 1-2 p.m.  Food will no longer be available at CCHS given the outdoor setting.  Please find the details in the Open Table flyer.

Center for Parents and Teachers Program

The Center for Parents and Teachers is hosting a program on Monday night entitled, “What’s A Parent to do? They’re Adolescents!”  Things Parents Should Know about the Teen Brain and Substance Use.  Zoom information is found at the bottom of this update.

Concord Free Public Library

The library continues to offer programs for children and youth posted here.

Have a great weekend.

Best,

Laurie

 

“What’s A Parent to do? They’re Adolescents!” 
Things Parents Should Know about the Teen Brain and Substance Use
presented by Dr. Sion Kim Harris

Shown by ZOOM on Monday, November 16, 2020, 7:30 to 9:00PM (Please scroll to end of message for the log-in link.)

As our children move into adolescence, they encounter tricky situations where they have to make choices.  Good guidance ahead of time from the adults in their life is critically important so they make responsible and healthy choices, especially when it comes to vaping, underage drinking and substance use.  This expert presentation will allow you to learn the latest scientific research on the impact of vaping, underage drinking, and other substances on the developing teen brain. This information will help you have more confident and effective conversations with your children. Concerns about the higher risk for complications should a teen who vapes later contract the coronavirus will be addressed. 

About our presenter:  Dr. Sion Kim Harris is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and the Director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research.  Dr. Harris will give you the latest science on the teen brain and substances … as well as share ways parents can speak with their children.   Learn more about her impressive background at www.centerforparentsandteachers.org

 

CPT is dedicated to helping you be the best parent possible!  And we urgently need your help as we struggle through this pandemic! The Center for Parents and Teachers is an IRS-designated nonprofit, funded by grants and donations.  CPT is not funded as a line item in either the Town or School budgets.  CPT has been dedicated to supporting families and educators for over 30 years. Now we need your help so we can keep serving our community.

One simple way is through Amazon Smile:  they will send (at no cost to you) a small percentage of your purchases to support CPT.
Simply shop at 
smile.amazon.com/ch/80-0296820 to generate donations for the Center for Parents and Teachers!  You also can support our services by giving a tax deductible gift directly online at: www.centerforparentsandteachers.org/donateThank you for your consideration so we can keep supporting our community!

 

Here is the Log-in Link for free program offered on Monday Nov 16:

 

ZOOM Log-in Link:   

https://concordps.zoom.us/j/99322362581?pwd=OU0zTjhOZ1dVUjdCZlBZdU1RSFYvUT09

Meeting ID: 993 2236 2581

Passcode: 204582

One tap mobile

+13126266799,,99322362581# US (Chicago)

+19292056099,,99322362581# US (New York)

Positive COVID Case Alcott

November 13, 2020

Dear Families:

I write now to notify you of a positive student COVID case at Alcott.  Parents of the students in the classroom have been notified.  As per our protocol, the entire classroom will be tested, quarantined, and learn remotely during the quarantine period.

With three cases today, I offer reminders:

  • Socialization should be kept to a minimum.  Sleepovers and playdates expand the range of potential virus transmission.  Per the Public Health Nurse, anyone on a sleepover in a house where COVID emerges will need to be tested and quarantined as if they are a family member.
  • Sports are playing a role in transmission.  Please be sure you are following the updated guidance and all newly issued out of state travel restrictions.
  • Wear masks, physically distance, and avoid large groups

Finally, I have received alot of questions about whether we will go to remote learning on a district wide or school basis.  During many discussions with the local health officials, we feel that we can remain open if we do not have a cluster within a school that is a result of school transmission.  If school-based transmission appears present or there is a concernt that it could be, then we would look to a period of remote learning to stop that transmission.  I expect that would be a period of weeks, not months.  Of course, there is no predicting exactly how things will evolve but I remain hopeful.  Your cooperation during times outside of school play a big part in that.

We are so grateful for the ongoing communication and cooperation.  Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions.

Best,

Laurie

 

Positive COVID Case Sanborn and Contact Tracing Complete

November 13, 2020

Dear Families:

We learned of a positive COVID student case at Sanborn a few minutes ago.  There are NO CLOSE CONTACTS in the school setting.

We completed contact tracing for the case at Peabody.  All close contacts have been reached.

I’ll be sending other reminders tonight or tomorrow.  I think it goes without saying that we are not immune from the spread of the virus.  Please consider this as you make weekend plans for any type of social event.

Please let us know if you have questions or concerns.

Best,
Laurie

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.

Best,
Laurie

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