Salem Returns Update

News for our families from Salem Public Schools

A note from Steve Zrike, Superintendent


In partnership with the City of Salem and as part of our efforts to be a more inclusive and anti-racist school district, we are celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, October 12th. For many, the traditionally recognized Columbus Day has been a reminder of the oppression, abuse, and slavery that our continent’s first inhabitants experienced when Europeans arrived. It remains a source of pain for many families in our district and beyond who continue to be victims of discrimination and injustice. On Monday, we want to celebrate the contributions of the native Americans who have contributed to the diversity that makes our country so special today.

As a school system, we are actively working to embrace the backgrounds of all members of our community, create a space where students and staff feel safe to identify inequities across our schools and where our curriculum represents a balanced and wide range of historical perspectives. We appreciate your support as we strive to create a culture in the Salem Public Schools where all of our students, families, and staff feel heard and valued.

As a reminder, at our School Committee on Tuesday evening, October 13th at 7 pm, I will present a recommendation for a safe return to in-person schooling for more of Salem’s students. I look forward to the discussion that will follow as we work together to provide our students with the strongest educational experience possible during these unprecedented times.

Please enjoy the long weekend with your families,


Homework expectations

Homework is an opportunity for students to practice new skills, explore content already introduced by their teacher more deeply, work on extended projects, read, and take advantage of online interventions designed to address targeted gaps and/or offer extensions for students who are ready. During remote learning, families should expect to following.

  • PK-Gr. 5: No homework should be assigned outside of what can be completed during independent time that is scheduled as part of the remote learning day. The exception is independent reading.
  • Middle & High School: Homework should not exceed 1-1.5 hours/day cumulatively across all content areas. Teachers should consider the amount of screen time when planning homework.

If you have concerns about homework, please connect directly with your student's teacher.

Universal Family Check-Ins

We know that these are difficult times for everyone and want to do our absolute best to ensure that student and family needs do not go unmet. This is why Salem Public Schools is trying a new strategy this fall to proactively identify and meet the needs of our families. We are calling every family regularly to ask about some of the basics like food and technology access, mental and physical health and your child’s overall experience in school.

This comprehensive and universal approach to family engagement and support is new and evolving, and we have been able to identify needs that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. As we face this global pandemic together we thank you for your patience, flexibility and continued care not only for your own children but for our whole Salem community.

Here are a few frequently asked questions:

Q: I already answered these questions, why are you calling me again?

A: The questions are intentionally designed to ask about needs that are constantly changing. We know the pandemic has caused great instability. Access to food, internet and health services can change quickly, so we want to provide support before families are experiencing a crisis.

Q: I don’t have any issues, can I get off the list?

A: We designed this process to be for everyone. We are tracking positive data as well as needs so we can understand how many of our families are secure and in what ways. We want to refrain from making assumptions about who is in need and who is not. Circumstances for students and families change quickly in these uncertain times. We are also asking a question about your child’s learning experience which is important to gather regularly, regardless of need, so we can understand how kids are doing in this remote environment.

Q: Why have I not received a call?

A: This process has helped us check that our contact information is up to date. If you have not yet received a call, please contact your school to ensure the right number is being called. Just like families, our educators have had many adjustments to grapple with and some calls did not get started right away. This process, however, is now fully underway and you should be getting a call soon.

Q: How long will the calls continue?

A: We intend to do the calls weekly for the first month of school and then switch to every other week. Most schools have now moved to an every other week schedule and this will continue at least up to the winter break and then we will reevaluate.

Q: Who do I contact to get more information or to ask a question?

A: If you have questions about the process please reach out to your school principal.

CVS Flu Clinics at Schools

As we mentioned last week, Salem Public Schools is partnering with CVS Pharmacy to provide flu clinics at each of our school locations. This service will be provided to students ages 3 and above with parental consent (expanded from last week when we were told ages 8+). This year, per Governor Baker, all school-aged children must be vaccinated against influenza by 12/31/20 or they risk being excluded from school, both remote or in-person.

Families do not need to go to their "home" school for a vaccine. However, they must have the necessary paperwork complete with insurance information. Those forms can be found here. Vaccines will be administered by MA state licensed CVS pharmacists on a first-come, first-served basis. Masks and physical distancing are mandatory. Clinics will be held outdoors wherever possible. For remote learners, only one parent/guardian per child, please.

Questions can be directed to school nurses or Charlene Moske-Weber 978-265-4059.

Flu clinic schedule:

10/13/20 SHS/Horace Mann 8:30-12:00 (held at Horace Mann, SHS walks over)

10/14/20 Carlton 9:00-12:00

10/16/20 ECC/Bates 10:00-1:00 (held at Bates)

10/17/20 Collins Middle School 9:00-12:00

10/19/20 Witchcraft Heights 9:00-12:00

10/20/20 Saltonstall and Bentley 3:15-6:15

10/21/20 Collins Middle School 9:00-12:00

10/22/20 Early Childhood Center (ECC) 9:00-11:00 (held at Bates)

10/27/20 Salem Prep/New Liberty by appointment at Essex St. CVS (please contact the school nurse to schedule)

Free COVID-19 Testing in Downtown Salem October 8-30

In addition to the free testing offered at Salem High School, free COVID-19 testing will be offered in downtown Salem at Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square, weekdays October 8th through October 30th. Testing will take place Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Enter Old Town Hall on the Essex Street side of the building and follow all signs and guidance to maintain safe physical distancing from others while waiting to enter or inside the testing site.

hub connects!

This week marked the beginning of our in-person Hub Connects program. It was a joy to see our students and staff interacting in person and having fun.

We'd love to hear stories about your student and Hub Connects. Please send them to

Connecting with Superintendent Zrike

Are you looking for a one-on-one meeting with Superintendent Zrike?

Dr. Zrike will be holding one-on-one meetings outside, distanced, and with face coverings at Salem Common by appointment on Friday's between 7:30 am-10:00 am.

Please send an email to to set up your appointment.

Hispanic Heritage Month Highlights

Please submit your family stories and pictures to

Frequently Asked Questions

We know that families still have many questions about this unique start to the school year. We have created a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that will be continuously updated as we advance through this school year.

Please take a look and if you still have a question that was not addressed, please send it to

Other important links

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