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April 9, 2021 // Superintendent's Update

Dear SPS Families and Staff,

It was a pleasure to welcome the majority of elementary school students back to in-person learning 5-days a week this week. From a variety of perspectives, the return was smooth and many joyous voices were heard in the classrooms and hallways.  In-person and remote classmates are settling into new schedules and new routines for learning together.  In-person students are attending specials with their in-person and remote classmates, and remote students are meeting grade-level peers during district-based PE classes.  Instrumental music lessons are taking place in a socially-distanced manner.  The students have demonstrated remarkable flexibility adjusting to the combined remote/in-person classrooms and changes in routines and schedules. SPS staff has worked hard to prepare for the change in learning model and we are truly grateful to be able to return to some semblance of normalcy.

As I have stated before, we are experiencing a rise in positive student cases.   

The cause of this uptick is uncertain and, at this time, we do not suspect school spread. The district continues to rigorously implement safety and mitigation measures.  We urge families to join us in these efforts, both at home and when participating in community activities.  Keeping students in school will take all of us working together.  

It is important to remember that positive cases have a ripple effect in terms of the mitigation strategy of quarantining close contacts, both students and staff who have not been vaccinated or have not yet crossed the immunity threshold.   SPS has adjusted social distancing requirements for students in alignment with DESE guidance, maintaining 3 feet when masked and 6 feet when unmasked for breaks or meals.  Consequently, the community can anticipate that more students will be identified as close contacts when a positive case is identified.  

A common concern for both staff and families is what happens when a student is identified as a close contact and is required to quarantine.  First and foremost, it is important to prioritize students’ social and emotional well-being.  Students may feel worried or anxious.  A coordinated and compassionate message from home and school that they will not be left behind and that no one is to blame is important.  Your child’s instructional team will collaborate to develop a Quarantine Learning Plan that focuses on core instructional components, including supplemental services, English Learner instruction, and special education services.  Families will be provided with information regarding how to access synchronous periods of direct instruction and asynchronous learning materials, including a Chromebook, if needed.  Families are asked to be patient as educators have a lot on their plates and it may take a day or two to develop plans that are meaningful and manageable.  Students who are in quarantine and are not ill will be marked “Virtually Present” and expected to maintain a connection to school.

If a student is in isolation due to illness, COVID or otherwise, there will be no expectation of completing school work and, consequently, no Quarantine Learning Plan.  The priority will be student health and a supportive transition back to school when the student is well.

With Gratitude,

Brad Crozier

Superintendent