- Sudbury Public Schools
February 18, 2021 // Superintendent's Update
Dear SPS Families,
As a district we continue to carefully evaluate our learning model in response to changing guidance from federal and state authorities and our own experience mitigating the COVID-19 virus.
Just prior to the February break, both the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) released new guidance. The CDC guidance focuses on mitigation strategies, community transmission, and testing. The guidance also provides an update regarding the importance of wearing a mask that fits well and has multiple layers. The DESE guidance is focused on transportation and lifts the capacity limitations and distancing requirements for school buses. The DESE guidance applies to all elementary students and middle school students, with the exception of middle school students in high community incidence districts. In those districts, middle school students are limited to two per seat. A public version of this guidance is expected to be available soon.
To date, we have not experienced in-school spread, and have had a relatively low number of cases. We continue to implement the safety measures recommended by the Reopening Task Force and have added additional measures, including most recently Pooled Testing. Pooled Testing allows for more nuanced surveillance and quicker response in the case of asymptomatic exposures. We have conducted trials at Nixon and Central Office both of which have run smoothly and resulted in no cases. We anticipate being able to test at all schools every week after the break. If you have not signed up for Pooled Testing, please consider doing so through the link provide by your school nurse.
We have begun the complex work of reviewing and potentially revising our learning models in order to evaluate how best to bring students back safely for more in-person learning. Buildings have formed working groups to develop options and plans. The specifics of those plans will reflect the particular needs of the individual buildings but timelines and expectations will be consistent amongst the schools. SALT (Sudbury Administrative Leadership Team) will serve as the district working group and, in collaboration with SEA (Sudbury Education Association) leadership, will operationalize the plans.
We know that families have differing opinions about whether it is advisable to increase the time in-school. The winter Family Feedback Survey indicated that over three quarters of families surveyed favor more “time in person learning at school.” In order to better understand the factors impacting families’ decisions about in-school learning we are going to distribute a family survey on Monday, February 22. The survey is very short (2 minutes) and will provide important baseline data. Please note that this survey is intended to gauge families’ thinking and does not represent a commitment to any one learning model.
It is important for families to know that we do not have a timeline yet and that there are still many unknowns, including continued revisions to CDC and DESE guidance and vaccination timelines. We are thankful to be implementing the additional safeguard of pool testing and will work collaboratively to ensure that any changes to the learning model are executed thoughtfully and safely.
Wishing you a warm and safe break,