August 31, 2021
Thank you for your continued partnership as we navigate COVID in school. In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have been again working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to implement a free COVID-19 pooled testing program for students and staff at our school.
The purpose of this letter is to ask for your consent to test your child in school. As it did last year, pooled testing involves mixing 10 individuals’ test samples together into one “pool” and then testing the pooled sample for COVID-19. This approach increases the number of individuals that can be tested at one time and allows us to regularly test our school community for COVID-19.
The pooled tests will be performed weekly with a shallow nasal swab for all participating students and staff members. Students in grades 2 through 12 will self-swab. Grade one students and younger will be swabbed by a nurse. Schools will receive the pool results within 24-48 hours. If the result of the pool is negative, then all individuals are presumed to not have COVID-19. If the result of the pool is positive, then all individuals in the pool must be retested individually. Because pooled testing does not give individual results, you will only be individually notified if your child requires follow-up testing. Additional information is noted below on the following documents:
Visual of Nasal Swab
We will begin weekly testing on September 7, 2021. To give permission for your student to participate in the COVID-19 Pooled Testing Program at our school, please complete this form by Thursday, September 2, 2021. Please complete the form for each child in your family. Consent this year is directly between parents and CIC Health.
Unfortunately, they have not yet been able to link the students who attend in the Ripley building. We will send notice to those families as soon as that problem is resolved.
Electronic Consent Form
We urge you to participate in pooled testing as another mitigation strategy for our school community. Testing is appropriate for all students including those who are vaccinated. This will provide important information as to the prevalence of both initial and breakthrough cases in the school. We are extremely grateful to our committed staff and families that continue to collaborate with us. It takes all of us working together to contain the spread of this virus.
The school nurses are able to answer your questions if you have them.
August 29, 2021
I write with a few COVID updates and resources as we return to school tomorrow!
We learned of two positive vaccinated adults this weekend at Thoreau and Ripley. Both were at work last week and contact tracing completed. We also learned of two positive Thoreau students. We expected to have cases given the current state numbers and also expect our COVID protocols to be effective.
We created a portion of the district webpage to host this year’s COVID information. It is found here: https://www.concordps.org/covid-21-22/
The following resources will be posted to that website tomorrow:
PCR Testing Sites
Close Contact Flow Chart
Symptomatic Flow Chart
Asymptomatic Pooled Testing Update
Pool testing will begin the week of September 7. Please watch for the consent form this week. Everyone will need to reregister. We believe pool testing is an important mitigation factor to know what is happening in the schools. Please participate.
This is a reminder to complete the screener before school tomorrow morning and to monitor for symptoms, even mild ones.
I look forward to providing updates on other topics this year in addition to COVID! It will be one thing we do, not everything we do! Welcome back!
August 27, 2021
This message is specifically for incoming grade 6 parents. I am sharing this with everyone so the same information is available throughout the community.
This afternoon, possible mold was found on music stands and instrument cases in the Peabody “forum” which is used as a music classroom. The high levels of humidity and moisture this summer had us already carefully monitoring the two unairconditioned middle school buildings.
ServiceMaster was on site within an hour. The space will be thoroughly cleaned over the weekend. The rest of the building will be surveyed to ensure there are no other issues. Prior to adult or student use, air testing will be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the cleaning. This likely will result in that space being offline for a portion of next week. We will provide additional information as needed.
We are very excited to welcome students back on Monday. I offer great thanks to our building service workers who are navigating this situation, the Thoreau fire impact, and COVID readiness across all of the schools. Despite all of that, the buildings are shiny and bright awaiting students.
Have a wonderful weekend!
August 25, 2021
I share a few COVID related items this afternoon.
Community Forum Recording
We recorded last night’s forum. The recording is found here. Thanks to the many who attended.
DESE Issues Mask Mandate Through October 1
Commission Riley issued a mask mandated for all schools through October 1 after gaining authority from the Board of Education yesterday. The press release and related information are found here.
Phone App for Symptom Screener
As noted in the COVID protocols for this fall, the symptom screener will again be used daily in Aspen. The screener can be accessed by cell phone. I am resharing the video we posted last summer in hopes it makes this process as easy as possible. The video is located here.
Through very collaborative dialogue and agreement, all members of the Concord Teachers Association and Concord Carlisle Teachers Association will be vaccinated.
Student Vaccination Documentation
Thank you to everyone who submitted student vaccination documentation to date. Please continue to submit vaccine documents to these email addresses and include the child’s grade level for the 2021-2022 school year:
We will soon provide a list of local COVID PCR testing sites as well as a flowchart of quarantine protocols.
Thank you for the ongoing collaboration. We look forward to the advent of a new school year!
Parent and Community Forum
COVID and Returning to School
Tuesday, August 24, 7:00 pm
The administrators and local health officials will answer your questions about this year’s back to school protocols.
August 17, 2021
As previously mentioned, the Joint School Committees met this morning to review and approve our COVID protocols and face mask policy as we open school on August 30. We worked closely with the local health officials and considered all aspects of the guidance from the CDC, DESE, and MDPH. As we did since the start of the pandemic, the local data also played a significant role in guiding the decisions. The intent is to being the year and then review the protocols on a regular basis.
We will have all students in masks regardless of vaccine status to the start the year. We will also follow a number of the protocols that were in place last year. Please review the following two documents:
Revised Face Covering Policy August 2021
COVID Protocols August 2021
On Tuesday, August 24, 2021, at 7:00 p.m., we will hold a webinar to answer questions and provide an opportunity for dialogue about the protocols. Questions can be sent ahead of time to the Concord School Committee or Concord Carlisle Regional School Committee. The Zoom link for the webinar is found below:
We are very much looking forward to having everyone return and get the year off to a great start. Thank you for partnering with us again so we balance safety with a very rich and joyous learning environment for everyone.
I hope you are having a wonderful August! I have two important updates tonight. Enjoy the time with families and friends during these last weeks of summer!
We had hoped that the very low virus patterns of the spring and early summer would continue. But as has been the case since the pandemic started, we are adjusting a bit as we monitor the most recent virus data and trends.
Before sharing our plans for that, it seems very important to start with the great news for the 2021-2022 school year:
- All students will return to full time in-person learning.
- Our greatest challenge in reopening last year was the distancing requirement. Since there is NO distancing requirement, most school routines will be operating normally. We will be thoughtful about settings like lunch as appropriate.
- Any protocols we institute will be far less extensive and do not include travel or transportation restrictions.
- COVID will not need to dominate our work this year given our previous experience and well established procedures. The focus will be on students, learning, and the joy of school with COVID as a factor in the backdrop like so many other aspects of school safety that we take very seriously.
I share a few COVID related data points as of August 5, 2021 provided by the Concord health officials:
In good news:
Concord vaccination rates:
95% of 16-18 year olds
67% of 12-15 year olds
70% of all Concord residents
Carlisle’s rates are very similar:
90% of 16-18 year olds
83% of 12-15 year olds
80% of all Carlisle residents
In the past month:
Concord saw 32 cases of this breakdown:
12 cases in children under 12 not vaccine eligible
20 cases in people over 12 15 cases in vaccinated people
2 of the 4 12-18-year-olds were vaccinated
Carlisle had 4 cases:
1 case in child under 12 not vaccine eligible
3 cases in people over 12 2 cases in vaccinated people
This data will be reviewed until the third week in August so decisions are made based on the most up to date information possible by the Joint School Committees and local health officials. That discussion is scheduled for the School Committee meeting scheduled for 8 am on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. We will be discussing the state and CDC recommendations for indoor masks at each level and reviewing other protocols including pool testing, illness, and quarantine. The agenda will be posted later this week including a draft of the face mask policy for the start of school.
Any decisions made on August 17 about how we open will be considered temporary and reviewed at least every two weeks. All of us want to have the fewest restrictions on the school environment as possible.
In order to assist with our data collection, we ask that parents upload their child’s vaccination card to the CCHS and CMS nursing staff. Please submit vaccine documents to these email addresses and include the child’s grade level for the 2021-2022 school year:
Concord Middle School: firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to the high volume, please do not expect a response or confirmation. Questions that require a response should be submitted to the school nurses directly as we get closer to the August 30 return.
Interim Director of Student Services
I am pleased to announce that Deborah Dixson has been named the Interim Director of Student Services for Concord and Concord-Carlisle School Districts for the 2021-2022 school year. Ms. Dixson most recently served in the same capacity for the Acton-Boxboro School District and Dover-Sherborn Regional School District and brings more than 30 years of experience in similar roles in Sudbury and Franklin. She holds a Master of Art Education from Boston College where she majored in Special Education Administration as well as a B.A in Education from Bridgewater State College where she majored in Special Education Administration and minored in Elementary Education. She is scheduled to start on August 16, 2021 with a focus on preparations for the start of the upcoming school year.
July 21, 2021
I write to share that we had a COVID case in the summer school program today. I primarily share it as a means to provide a few thoughts about the fall since we have heard of some questions.
We will certainly have a full in-person return to school with normal operations as the theme in most environments including transportation and lunch. The state continues to share that as the message with the caveat that masks may be required at the younger grades. The Commissioner shared that his office is working with DPH to review the recent CDC guidance and provide us any updates. The rest of the summer will include a review of any remaining COVID protocols around illness, etc. We will have that ready as August comes and be sure it is shared ahead of time. If you have any questions before then, please reach out to the building or district leaders.
Have a great night!
July 21, 2021
As was shared earlier this morning, Ruth Grube, Director of Student Services, has decided to pursue other opportunities and will be leaving us in the early fall. We are very appreciative of Ruth’s service to the district and wish her all the best.
Given the timing, I will be posting for an Interim Director of Student Services for the 2021-2022 school year. The goal is for that person to be in place for the start of school at the end of August. I will share updates as I have them.
The building leaders continue to be available to you as we provide a continuity of service to students throughout the transition.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Enjoy the sun while it is out!
June 29, 2021
The day was spent assessing and reviewing the situation at Thoreau following last night’s fire. Below, I share the email from Principal Charles to the Thoreau community earlier tonight for everyone’s information since we now know that the impacted wing of the building will not be accessible in time for the start of school.
We also continue discussions with the Concord Fire Department as to the cause of the fire. The State Fire Marshall was on site last night and an investigation is still in process. It does appear that a heater installed in the attic for winter use to prevent the sprinklers from freezing may have been involved. In conjunction with the fire department, we will assess the other schools and any particular systems as well.
As appropriate, we will continue to share updates. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
June 29, 2021
Dear Thoreau Families,
I am writing with an update on the fire which occurred last night in the 94 wing of the school. Dr. Hunter and I spent today at Thoreau working with folks from various town departments, facilities and water/fire restoration specialists and would like to provide an update on what we learned and next steps.
While the fire affected two classrooms significantly, the harm caused by the activation of the sprinkler system was far more impactful to the entire area. We learned today that the extensive water damage is what will be the biggest obstacle we will need to address before we are able to safely reopen the 9 impacted classrooms. We are so grateful that the incident occurred with no students or staff present, classrooms had been packed away for the summer and that it happened so early in the summer.
The water remediation process began last night and will continue in the coming weeks. The next phase will include demo and rebuilding and, as we learned today, will take several months to complete. As this work gets underway we are actively exploring the relocation of the impacted classrooms for the fall and are confident we will be able to serve some of these homerooms in our building. We are also exploring the utilization of classrooms at the Concord Middle School, sixth grade building, to handle the overflow.
While there is much to figure out in the coming weeks, please know that the safety and best interest of our students is the driver behind every decision we make.
I will provide updates in the coming days as I receive any new information.
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