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August 19, 2021 // Superintendent's Update

Dear Sudbury Families and Staff,

I and the rest of the Sudbury Administrative Leadership Team are looking forward to welcoming you and your students to a new school year.  It has been a busy summer with much good work being done to support and further the learning of our students.  Curriculum teams have gathered to refine and develop units of study, websites have been updated, educators have participated in robust professional learning, and the SMILE and Extended School Year programs have provided extended learning opportunities for students.  We have also been busy making physical site improvements and getting ready for others, such as the new Loring playground.

The primary purpose of this communication, however, is to provide an update regarding the COVID safety protocols that will be in place when we return to in-person learning.  It is important to note that with the exception of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Virtual Academies, public school districts in Massachusetts are not offering remote learning this year.

For students who attended Sudbury Public Schools in-person in the spring, much will look and feel the same.  Specifically:

  • Students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks when indoors, with the exception of mask breaks and meal breaks.
  • A 3 foot buffer between students will be maintained indoors whenever practical.  There will, however, be times when students are in closer proximity such as during group work or passing in the hallways.
  • When indoors and unmasked for breaks and meals, students will be socially distanced by 6 feet.  
  • Students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will not be required to wear masks when outdoors.  Additionally, social distancing will not be required.
  • Hand washing and sanitizing will be required before eating and when transitioning from one space to another.
  • Large school gatherings where social distancing cannot be maintained will be suspended, as will off-site field trips requiring bus transportation.
  • Lunch and a breakfast “snack” are available free of charge to all students, but do require students to pre-order.
  • Bus riders will be required to wear masks at all times while being transported.

Some things will look and feel different to students. Specifically:

  • Third party in-school enrichment activities will be allowed, provided that the facilitators follow SPS safety protocols, including being masked and vaccinated.
  • Visitors to the schools will be permitted by appointment and with the requirement of wearing a mask and observing all school COVID protocols.
  • Water fountains will be functional, although we recommend that students use and refill a personal water bottle using the touch free feature of the fountains.
  • Students will be able to share materials, including library books.

Less noticeable, but equally important are updates to our COVID safety protocols.  Keeping students and staff safe while also maximizing access to in-person learning is a priority of DESE and of our district.  A better understanding of the virus and of mitigation strategies has resulted in tweaks to our protocols.  Specifically:

  • Sudbury Public Schools will continue to offer weekly surveillance testing.  This testing will prioritize those who are not vaccinated.  
  • If a surveillance pool is positive, contact tracing will be conducted and close contacts will be tested using a rapid test which can provide results in 15 minutes or less.  This “Test and Stay” procedure will allow unvaccinated asymptomatic individuals who test “negative” to stay in school.  Asymptomatic vaccinated staff and students will also be allowed to stay in school if identified as a close contact.  “Positive” or symptomatic students and staff will enter a quarantine period coordinated by the District’s nursing staff.
  • School based educational teams will develop and implement a COVID Learning Plan for students who can not attend school during isolation periods. 
  • Students in grades k-1 will now be permitted to self-administer the surveillance nasal swab, if they are able. A trained observer will supervise the students to ensure proper sample collection.
  • Families will receive a 2021-22 permission form for COVID testing by email.  This permission form includes all forms of testing including pooled, rapid, and PCR testing.
  • The schools will continue to ventilate the buildings using upgraded filters and will operate the HVAC units before spaces are occupied.
  • The schools will continue to be sanitized daily.  As a part of the budgeting process, we have transitioned from a third-party vendor to district-assigned custodians for this important work.

Federal, state, and local guidance regarding COVID continue to evolve, so families and staff can anticipate further updates.  We will continue to keep our COVID dashboard updated and send notifications regarding positive cases.  Sudbury and the Sudbury Public Schools have demonstrated a strong commitment to keeping everyone safe and enjoy a high level of vaccination and acceptance of COVID mitigation measures.  My sincere hope is that as the new school year opens, we can maintain our focus on what we know to be effective and lean into the opportunities that a full in-person school year offers in terms of academic and social-emotional learning.

In closing, I what to share a couple of resources that may be of use to you:

If you have questions or wish to share specific information about your student, please reach out to your building principal.

See you soon (in-person),

Brad Crozier,