- Sudbury Public Schools
January 15, 2021 // Superintendent's Update
Dear SPS Community,
We are living in extraordinary times: a pandemic, a presidential election, a racial reckoning. SPS educators are embracing the challenge of educating students in a compassionate, civic-minded, and learning-forward manner with creativity, commitment, and compassion. The purpose of this communication is to provide updates and enlist the support of the community in our efforts to continue in the hybrid model.
We have experienced the anticipated spike in COVID cases and the resulting close contacts. We implore our community to abide by travel and gathering restrictions as required by the State. Contact tracing and absences are taxing our ability to provide a quality education for all. Educators find themselves in an uncomfortable position when students share travel plans that violate the governor's orders. As a community, we need to prioritize our students, and this may mean sacrifice. We have reasons to be optimistic as vaccines are coming and we are positioned to implement more robust testing protocols. School safety protocols have been effective with no verified in-school transmissions, despite the increased number of cases. Let’s stay the course.
Educators respond to current events and student concerns in a developmentally appropriate manner. As an educational institution we have an opportunity to connect learning standards to current events and to support discussions in a culturally responsive and anti-racist manner. The Teaching & Learning and Equity teams have shared resources and will be supporting educators with student-directed conversations. Additionally, the January 29th professional development day will focus on culturally responsive and inclusive educational practices. We realize that we are at the beginning of a crucial conversation as a community, but are committed to an educational environment that is welcoming and celebratory of all. We would also like to remind everyone of the family education session offered by DESE on the District which can be accessed on our website.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
We started the school year with a focus on SEL and have been monitoring the wellness of our staff and students with surveys and benchmarking tools. We know that families, students, and staff are facing unique challenges, and want to leverage District resources to support all. We will continue to provide professional learning opportunities for staff and want to remind families of an SEL session scheduled for January 28 with Dr. Jaime Micco on supporting the mental health of children during the pandemic. Additional SEL resources can be found on the District website.
Through formative assessments, benchmarking, and teacher observations, educators have been responding to the need to provide some students additional supports or alternative learning paths. The needs of students with IEPs are being addressed through COVID Learning Plans. Sudbury Public Schools will be proposing a Town Meeting warrant article authorizing a summer general education recovery program for qualifying students in grades k-5 (SMILE, Sudbury Mathematics Learning Intervention and Literacy Engagement program). Additionally, we are budgeting for student supports for the 2021-22 school year. That said, it is important to remember that our students are not “behind.” They simply haven’t had the opportunities that they would have in a non-pandemic setting.
In closing, I want to share a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. whose life we will celebrate on Monday: “I have decided to stick to love. Hate is too great of a burden to bear.” Our children come to us with love in their hearts. Let’s protect and nurture that.
Superintendent of Schools