School Closure Until At Least March 27

March 14, 2020

Dear Members of the School Community:

I am very grateful for your support over the past week.  I write to share that all of the Concord Public Schools, Concord-Carlisle High School, and Ripley Preschool and Administration Building will be closed at least until March 27, 2020.

Why March 27?  This week, we were among the first to close for an extended period.  This decision went against advisories from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the Governor’s Office.  A number of my colleagues from local area districts collaboratively reviewed the information from local area experts in the field, discussions in communities where COVID-19 cases were confirmed, and an ongoing concern for the safety of children and all those in the community.   We worked cooperatively with the local Board of Health officials, the local School Committees, and our administrative teams to close for between one and two weeks.

Yesterday, the guidance from DPH, DESE, and the Governor remained the same.  The superintendents, as a large, collective state-wide association, organized ourselves into groups and started to make decisions as to long-term closures.  My amazing group of colleagues agreed on a common two-week shutdown (hence, the March 27 date).  We plan is to use the two weeks to reassess, gather more information, and ensure decisions are made based on the expertise of the most highly qualified professionals available to us.  While this decision is consistent among most regions, it is not 100% consistent, especially given the needs of the large, urban districts.

Although I do not have the answer yet as to what happens in April, I assure you that we are committed to prioritizing safety, health, and wellness and remaining out of school as long as necessary.  I will spend the next two weeks working with the local officials, reflecting on the guidance from the State, consulting experts, and meeting with my regional colleagues (virtually, of course).  I realize that these decisions have huge impact on childcare needs, etc. so they will be made in a timely way that allows you to plan.

I am always happy to have feedback and value the ideas that are shared with me. This past week that input was critical in knowing the sentiment of the community.  Of course, that means we do not all always agree, but do so respectfully, which is healthy in and of itself.

On a positive note, every crisis brings opportunity.  Everywhere I see evidence of support and outreach.  Given so many uncertainties, that is what will get us through.

Still to come over the weekend…we will send additional information about how teachers will provide learning activities and also answer some of the most frequently asked questions so far.

All my best,