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Superintendent's Message

Willard

CMS Will Reopen In-Person on Monday

September 19, 2020

Dear Families:

Thank you so much for your engagement and support over the past two days.  Through discussion and review of all of the information we needed, the Concord health officials and I are confident that the COVID case at Sanborn is isolated and contained allowing for a safe return to school.  As a result, CMS will reopen on Monday for in-person instruction.

We will continue to provide other information as needed.  The safety protocols and processes are working effectively as is the response plan.  We will of course continue to debrief and make any necessary modifications.

Please enjoy this beautiful weekend.

Best,

Laurie

Final Updates for Today

September 18, 2020

Dear Families:

I start with great thanks to everyone involved today as we processed the first positive COVID case in the schools.  The work in collaboration with Susan Rask, Concord Health Director and Tricia McGean, Concord Public Health Nurse was very effective.  We are so appreciative of their support and guidance.  It is very clear that the safety procedures that are in place are working as is the response protocol that we developed this summer.

Middle School Update

All of the parents were notified if their child was a close contact.  Given our distancing and processes, these contacts were made with a very conservative mindset.  We are awaiting a few more pieces of information before deciding when we will reopen the buildings.  I will provide that information on or before Sunday to middle school families.

Webinar Recording

Above is a link to the recording of this afternoon’s webinar:

Contact Information in Aspen

Please again check to be sure all of your contact information is updated in Aspen.  If you need assistance, please reach out to the administrative assistants in the main offices.   That information is also pulled into the automated notification system used when school is closed or moved to remote learning.

Concord Carlisle COVID Data Dashboard

This week’s local data dashboard linked above was created yesterday.  There were NO cases in Concord and Carlisle until last night when this one occurred.  This is evidence of a lack of community spread right now locally.  We believe our efforts today will allow that to continue to be the case.

District COVID Data Dashboard

Since the COVID symptom list is so common and our protocols so strict, there is a continual flow of staff and students being tested.  We are using this data to create a district COVID dashboard to help communicate what is happening in the schools.  We are categorizing it according to individuals who are close contacts to a diagnosed case and quarantined, those who travel out of state, and those who are symptomatic and need a negative test to return to school.  The data to date is linked to the heading above.

Who to Contact Positive COVID Diagnosis

If your child receives a positive COVID diagnosis, please email the school nurse, building principal and me so we are sure to see the email in a timely way.

Thank you again for your support.   Enjoy the weekend.

Best,

Laurie

COVID Case Updates and Parent Webinar at 4 pm

September 18, 2020

Dear Families:

I wanted to offer updated information and an invitation to meet this afternoon regarding the positive COVID case at Concord Middle School.   The student did not have siblings or contacts in any other schools so the case is contained to the Sanborn building.   Contact tracing has begun this morning.  Families of those in close contact with the child will be notified during the day today by Concord’s Public Health Nurse.  Upon gathering that information and any other pertinent data, decisions about the length of remote learning for middle school students will be determined.  It is unclear if we will know today or if it will take a few more days to make that decision in conjunction with the local health officials.

This afternoon at 4 pm,  a webinar will be hosted for all Concord Middle School parents.  Everyone is welcome but the focus will be on the middle school.  I will be joined by the local health officials and Principal Cameron.  Zoom information is shared below.  Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns.

Best,

Laurie

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Sep 18, 2020 04:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Parent Session

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://concordps.zoom.us/j/95382612111?pwd=cjhOU294M0d3S2E2SkV5STNjNmpkQT09
Passcode: 322909
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +13017158592,,95382612111#,,,,,,0#,,322909#  or +13126266799,,95382612111#,,,,,,0#,,322909#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 301 715 8592  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 929 205 6099  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833
Webinar ID: 953 8261 2111
Passcode: 322909
International numbers available: https://concordps.zoom.us/u/anKkLHzCw

Positive COVID Case Sanborn Building Concord Middle School

September 17, 2020

Dear Families:

I am writing to inform you that a person in our school community has tested positive for COVID-19. Our first responsibility is to keep our students and staff safe. We have been planning for this scenario during our reopening planning process and have a comprehensive plan in place to sanitize the school, inform families whose students were at risk of exposure or in close contact, and support the affected family as they navigate this stressful experience.   In order to fully clean the school, both buildings of Concord Middle School will learn remotely tomorrow, Friday, September 18, 2020.

Our student body and staff have been closely adhering to the safety protocols including mask wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing. We are grateful to our families for their continued efforts to keep students home at the first sign of symptoms. These measures, taken in combination, greatly reduce the risk of additional transmission.

We cannot provide specific information about our school community member who tested positive.  Please continue to monitor your child for symptoms, and keep your child home if he/she/they shows any symptoms or is not feeling well.  Parents of students who were in close contact with the community member will be notified privately. All close contacts should be tested but must self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of test results.  We are also following all Department of Health protocols, including collaborating with our local board of health to complete contact tracing.

To further prevent transmission of the virus to other staff and students, we have sanitized the school with a focus on those areas frequented by the community member that tested positive. We will continue to be vigilant in adhering to all of the protocols that have been put in place in an effort to continue in person learning.

For more information on COVID-19 symptoms and testing, visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/about-covid-19-testing#where-can-get-a-test?-.

You can also find a map of testing sites at https://memamaps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=eba3f0395451430b9f631cb095febf13.

We will provide additional information as we have it over the coming days.  Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.

Best,

Laurie

Thank You, Emergency Contact Information, Extra Masks

September 17, 2020

Dear Families:

Thank you all so much for the support in the successful opening of the school year,  We also extend great appreciation to your children who are following the safety protocols and processes with remarkable independence after just a week (or less for the hybrid students).

We thought it would be helpful to remind everyone to pack extra masks.  That way, if you forget it when you run out for the bus or arrive at school, there will be one in the backpack.    We do not have extra masks on the buses so we will need to turn students away.

It is also important that you review your contact information in Aspen.  We have had a couple of instances where it was difficult to reach someone because the phone numbers were not updated.

Best wishes for a wonderful night.

Best,

Laurie

A Successful Start and Related Updates

September 12, 2020


Dear Families:

Starting the new school year and reopening the schools this week was a result of the tireless work of so many including administrators, teachers, custodians, all of the school staff and every single family.  It cannot go without saying that the wonderful students (remote or in-person) made them come alive while also ensuring everyone’s safety.  We are so appreciative of the efforts to get here.  For me, it was assuredly the most challenging and rewarding first days of school in 21 years as a school leader.  

I am including reminders and updates of certain processes and their current status since there will continue to be new information and revisions.  

Concord Carlisle COVID Data Dashboard

This week’s local Concord Carlisle COVID Data Dashboard is posted to the school website.   

Aspen Emergency Contacts and Health Update

In Aspen, please be sure to update emergency contact information and any health updates for you child via Aspen as we ask you to do every fall.  

Aspen Symptom Screener

Thank you so much for the high completion rates with the symptom screener.  We are reminding everyone again as we are expecting 100% participation given the importance of this tool in everyone’s safety.  

District Illness Protocols

Not surprisingly, there have already been a handful of students and staff with COVID like symptoms (no positive cases).  Everyone has been so cooperative in getting a COVID test and not returning to school until 24 hours or more symptom free.  We are expecting ongoing updates to these protocols from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH).  The most up to date version will always be linked to the district webpage as COVID District Response Protocols.

Please note that if one child in the house has symptoms, asymptomatic siblings do not need to stay home or be tested according to the protocols.  

DESE Dashboard and Mobile Testing 

DESE is in the process of creating a COVID dashboard to track COVID cases in the school settings across the state.  We also have information as to how districts can access DPH’s mobile testing fleet should there be an outbreak.  

Student Arrival and Dismissal/Transportation

Thank you for your patience and cooperation in the use of the buses and arrival and dismissal procedures at each school!  We are continuing to review the situations at the elementary schools to reduce wait time and traffic congestion.  Bus ridership was lower than expected this week so we will continue to watch that.  The Concord Police Department was extraordinary in supporting these efforts to ensure we got off to a smooth start.  We had multiple officers at every school each day this past week.  

Free and Reduced Lunch

Lunches are always available for students in the free and reduced lunch program, even on early release or remote days.  Please do not hesitate to contact the schools to ensure your child receives what is needed. 

Open Table

We are thrilled that the Open Table Food Pantry will be partnering with us to bring their mobile food pantry to CCHS on Wednesday afternoons beginning shortly.  In the meantime, they are open in Maynard on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for anyone in need.  

Athletics

The School Committees and administration are supportive of a modified athletic schedule as proposed by our district league and MIAA.  Soccer, field hockey, cross country and golf are slated to start on September 18.  An overview of the middle school program and the CCHS upcoming fall season is found on the webpage.  

School Calendar 2020-2021

The current school calendar only reflects a schedule until October 13.  We will be meeting shortly to review dates further into the fall or early winter.

Concord Town Meeting

The Concord Town Meeting postponed from April will be held tomorrow on the Doug White Field at CCHS.  The warrant and proposed articles are available on the town website.

Face Masks and Physical Distancing

I am compelled to remind everyone that opening school was possible because of the community’s commitment to wearing face masks, physical distancing, and avoiding large crowds.  While the COVID numbers are excellent right now locally, we must remember that it is a fragile situation.  Dedham this week suddenly had to indefinitely learn remotely after teen parties created a local hotspot.    An out of state travel order remains in place per Governor Baker with modifications happening often depending on the situation in each state.  A negative COVID test or quarantine is required after traveling to identified areas.  Finally, we are aware of club sports travel to neighboring low risk states to play sports not currently allowed in Massachusetts.   Massachusetts is not allowing those sports as a conservative approach to control the virus.  Playing those sports and returning to school increases the chance of COVID transmission, closure, and extensive quarantines.  I urge great caution as families consider those decisions.  

With heartfelt appreciation, I extend thanks for this week’s accomplishment in reopening our schools.  Over and over again we heard, “it is so good to be here” from adults and children.  I look forward to that continued partnership as we navigate the coming weeks and months.

Best,

Laurie

Parent and Student Contracts/Transportation/COVID Dashboard

September 5, 2020

Dear Families:

As we come to the final preparations for students to return to school, I am sharing several updates.

Parent and Student Contracts

I am sharing the Parent Contract and Student Contract (grades 6-12) that outline the expectations for both safety protocols when physically at school and for remote learning via Zoom.  The goal is a commitment to these as a community so we remain safe while in the schools and maximize learning during remote teaching.

All parents are asked to indicate receipt and agreement with the documents via Aspen.  Middle and high school students are also asked to do the same via their Aspen portals.  The deadline to acknowledge receipt is Tuesday, September 8.  If you prefer, it can be incorporated into the first virtual day of school on Tuesday.  Linked here are instructions to acknowledge contracts in Aspen.

 

Face Covering Policy

The Joint School Committees have adopted a formal Face Covering Policy aligned with our other safety documents.  Of note is the decision to only allow face masks until more study is done on other types of face coverings.

 

Transportation

The transportation department is working around the clock to complete the overhaul of all of the bus routes based on the generous agreement of so many families to transport.  We expect we may need a good portion of the long weekend.  We will notify everyone when the routes are posted.

 

Concord Carlisle COVID Dashboard

The Concord health officials will provide an updated local COVID dashboard every Friday.  Yesterday’s dashboard is posted to the main homepage of the district webpage as will be the case every week.

 

Finally, I offer a few thoughts on the days ahead.  We feel well-prepared and that our work this summer has addressed the safety and learning goals we aim to accomplish during this very challenging year to come.  That said, we have to recognize that we have reinvented absolutely everything and will be implementing procedures and learning environments that have never been done before (or were even imagined!).  There will be great successes and there will be things that need review and revision.  Expecting perfection would be unrealistic.   With patience, flexibility, and collaboration between families and educators, we will serve students to the best of our abilities under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.  We are so grateful for the support to date and look forward to fostering the connections further as the year begins.

 

Please enjoy this beautiful Labor Day weekend!

Best,

Laurie

 

 

Daily Symptom Screener in Aspen

September 3, 2020

Dear Families:

As mentioned, completion of a COVID symptom screener is required at least one hour before the start of the school day via the Aspen portal.  In order to streamline the process, we are asking all parents to complete the screener (for each individual child).  This replaces the earlier plan for high school students to complete it since through the parent portal is friendly to mobile devices.  Students learning remotely either full time or via the hybrid model do not need to complete the screener on remote learning days.

Any student looking to attend in-person learning must have a complete screener posted in Aspen.  A designee at each school will review the information simply for completion.  If a child has the symptoms as posted in the screener, they should stay home and learn remotely.  Our illness protocols require a negative COVID test and being symptom-free for 24 hours before returning to school.  If a child arrives to school with symptoms, they will immediately be sent to the nurse and you will be contacted to take your child from school.

The information below outlines the simple steps to access the screener in Aspen and complete the form.  Thank you for your cooperation and support in opening our schools safely.

Best,

Laurie

 

The Family COVID screening workflow is mobile-friendly and easy to use on a phone or tablet. Please watch the video tutorial for instructions on how to submit a new COVID screening for your student(s) on a mobile device.

From a computer, log into your Aspen account and click the link under Announcements to enter a new COVID screening for your student(s):

If you have any difficulties or need help with your account credentials, please email parentportal@concordps.org for assistance.

 

One Week to Go…….Masks and Physical Distance

 

September 2, 2020
Dear Families:
We could not be more excited to welcome students back to school next week! We thoroughly enjoyed a little taste of that today and will again tomorrow when incoming ninth graders were able to visit the high school.
The virus rate at the state and local level remains low. That is not an accident. That is a result of caution and diligence in following safe practices. In working closely with the local health officials, it is clear that the decisions made outside of school may be more important than all of the in-depth safety practices that we have in place when we reopen.
Please continue to wear face masks. This should include young people when they are together. Please also continue to avoid large groups and physically distance. We have worked tirelessly to open the schools. We ask for your help so that we can open successfully and remain open.

 

Finally, if you are traveling, it is important to remain aware of the Governor’s Travel Order that requires a COVID test or 14 day quarantine based on where you go.  You must also file a Travel Form with the state.  Students who travel to restricted states may not return to school without proof of a negative test or two week quarantine.
Thank you all for your continued support and collaboration.
Best,
Laurie

 

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