NPS District News
February 2, 2022
Dear NPS Families,
Over the past couple of weeks, we have experienced three upsetting incidents of racist and antisemitic graffiti at our secondary schools. We have certainly experienced these types of incidents before and they are always infuriating, hurtful, and disappointing. These particular incidents, coming on the heels of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, were particularly distressing.
While all proper steps were taken at the school level to investigate, inform, and address the incidents with students, staff, and the community, I want to share what we are doing districtwide to address issues of racism and antisemitism.
As a district, we believe it is essential that our students are taught both the history of racism and antisemitism and the modern day manifestations of prejudice and discrimination. For example, while our students learn about the history of Jim Crow laws, they also learn about the many forms of racism that are still with us today. They learn about the horror of the Holocaust, but also learn that antisemitism is active and present in countries throughout the world today. We continue to update and revise our curricula at all levels to incorporate this perspective and to ensure that we are proactively developing a district and community-wide culture where acts of bias are unacceptable.
We take all incidents of bias and discrimination very seriously and have laid out policies, procedures, and protocols to follow when they occur. We have also created an Online Discrimination Complaint Form that can be accessed by the NPS community to to report any incident of discrimination and bias.
Over the last year and a half, a team of NPS administrators have worked intensively to revise and update our Non-Discrimination Protocol. The proposed revisions were presented to the School Committee during multiple meetings following a collaborative process that included many representatives of the NPS community, i.e. administrators, educators, parents, students and additional community stakeholders. The updated policy, protocol and accompanying forms were unanimously approved at the end of December 202.
This revised tool provides support, clarity and agency when responding to incidents of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation, including additional guidance when considering communication, discipline and restoration for staff, students and families. The protocol was revised to address the following priority areas:
- Provide clear communication for students and families
- An outline of steps to respond efficiently and effectively to any act of discrimination, including needs around confidentiality
- Refine protocol tools that support a consistent and thorough investigation and reporting process with clear forms/steps to avoid redundancy
- Embeds best practices of disciplinary approaches that are supportive and reparative, along with consideration of the developmental ages and learning needs of all
This protocol, together with the important work we are doing in our classrooms and school buildings with our students and staff, will continue to be the foundation of our work to build welcoming, inclusive, and supportive school communities.
At-Home COVID Testing Starts Next Week!
Our new weekly at-home rapid antigen test for ALL students PreK-12+ (vaccinated and unvaccinated) starts next week - the week of February 7, 2022. Please review details below:
All families need to “opt-in” to this new testing program. The previous consent form will not apply.
An at-home rapid antigen test kit will be distributed at school every other week. Each kit will contain two tests.
NPS recommends that all families conduct a rapid test on TUESDAY of each week.
Only positive results need to be reported to the school. You will complete the Form - Positive Result from At-Home Rapid Antigen Test - State Program to report a positive result. Nurses will provide follow up information to families, including the date for return to school, following a positive test.
IMPORTANT!! If your student is within 90 days of a COVID infection, they should NOT test. DESE program guidance indicates that any student within 90 days of a COVID infection should not participate in this weekly at-home rapid antigen test for asymptomatic individuals.
In addition to the weekly at-home rapid antigen testing program, we will continue in-school symptomatic testing for students and staff that develop symptoms during the school day. We will discontinue the Test and Stay testing program and contact tracing. All testing information can be found on our website here: NPS COVID Testing Webpage.
COVID Protocols - Masks
As of January 2022, NPS suggests masks that filter more efficiently, such as surgical masks, KN95 masks, KF94 masks, or double masks, provided the selected mask fits well, can be worn at all times indoors, and can be worn without frequent adjustment or breaks.
IMPORTANT! No mask will be effective if it is not worn properly. The best mask is one that your student can wear comfortably for the entire school day and fits properly on their face. The face covering should cover the nose and mouth.
For mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, please visit this link: CDC Mask guidance
Daily Health Assessment
It is critical that all families conduct the health assessment every day before your student comes to school. If your student is sick, please keep them at home. Be alert for the following symptoms:
Fever (100.0F or higher), chills, or shaking chills
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
New loss of taste or smell
Muscle aches or body aches
Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms
Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, when in combination with other symptoms
Headache, when in combination with other symptoms
Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies), when in combination with other symptoms
NPS COVID Case Data
There are two sources of information on positive COVID cases in the Newton Public Schools. You can view the Newton HHS webpage, which shows all positive cases of students and staff in our schools. Positive cases are from all sources, not just from in-school testing. The Newton HHS website is here: COVID Cases in the Newton Public Schools.
You can also view data on positive pools for the populations we are currently testing. This data dashboard can be found here: NPS Pool Testing Dashboard.
Happy Lunar New Year!
We wish a Happy Lunar New Year to all our NPS families who celebrate this joyous event. Many of our schools have been celebrating the Lunar New Year and learning about historical and cultural aspects of the holiday. Below are a few pictures from Brown, Burr, Day, and Oak Hill.. Oak Hill was fortunate to have the Hung Gar Kung Fu and Lion Dance Academy perform a Lion Dance outside for the school.
Wishing all our families who celebrate health, happiness, and prosperity in this Year of the Tiger!
Save the Date - Middle School Matters - Thursday, March 3, 2022
Please save the date for an important community forum with guest speaker Phyllis Fagell. Ms. Fagell is a licensed clinical professional counselor, certified professional school counselor, journalist, and author of the best-selling book “Middle School Matters: The 10 Key Skills Kids Need to Thrive in Middle School and Beyond—and How Parents Can Help.” She is also a Day and North grad! This will be a terrific night filled with important information and dialogue, including how families can help their students navigate through the pandemic. More details coming soon, but please Save the Date - Thursday, March 3, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. You can take a sneak peek at her work on her website.
Food Service Update
NPS breakfast and lunch service was heavily impacted by the recent Omicron surge as Whitsons Food Services suffered significant staffing shortages. However, staffing levels are starting to stabilize and we continue to work with Whitsons to improve the breakfast and lunch experience for students. Below are a few key updates:
Whitsons began sourcing fresh produce from local wholesaler, Costa, in mid-January. Costa is able to provide new options such as cucumber slices, easy-peel clementines, and apple slices.
The USDA has made Supply Chain Assistance Funds available to all districts who participate in the National School Lunch Programs. Massachusetts is slated to receive $17.8M to be allocated to districts for the purchase of unprocessed and minimally processed domestic food.
NPS has approved a meal increase to food cost and a salary increase for food service staff. These changes were approved to improve food quality and the student eating experience. The impact could be seen as soon as February.
One of the consistent issues that the high school students are sharing through the monthly Food Services Advisory Working Group is the desire for more vegetarian and vegan options, which we will be working to expand.
The Food Services Advisory Working Group is again meeting monthly. If you have questions, concerns, or comments about Newton’s Food Services experience, please contact Amy Mistrot, Director of Business Operations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-559-9038.
ELPAC Meeting - TOMORROW - February 3, 2022
The English Learner Parent Advisory Council (ELPAC) will meet on Thursday, February 3 on Zoom from 6:30-8:00PM. ELPAC supports ELL and former ELL families districtwide and collaborates with schools and the district to improve programming. ELPAC is also a way to meet other multilingual families and learn about community programs as well as ways to support your children. All families are welcome.
February's meeting topics are:
Newton Free Library Resources (Presenter: Andrew Shapira, ELL and Literacy Coordinator at Newton Free Library)
ACCESS testing (Presenter: Allison Levit, Director of ELL Programs in NPS).
Please RSVP here: https://forms.gle/83UWFE61itEPmCKX8. The remaining meet dates this year are April 7 & June 2.
Franklin Building Committee Meeting - TOMORROW - February 3, 2022
The Franklin Building Committee Meeting will hold a community meeting on February 3, 2022 at 6:00 PM. The link to register for the zoom meeting is below.
School Committee Meeting - Monday, February 7, 2022
The next School Committee meeting will be held on Monday, February 7, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. To join the meeting virtual, follow this link:
Zoom meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/390017072
Call-in information: 1-646-558-8656
Call-in meeting ID: 390 017 072
The meeting agenda and meeting materials can be found in this folder (once posted): February 7, 2022 School Committee Meeting Materials
Horace Mann Building Committee Meeting - February 28, 2022
The next Horace Mann School Building Committee meeting is Monday, February 28, 2022 at 6:00 PM. At this meeting we will be presenting several conceptual plans with varying project approaches for discussion. This meeting is open to the public and all are welcome. You need to register to attend using the following link: Register for Horace Mann Building Committee Virtual Meeting
Calling all Kindergarteners!
If your child turns 5 years old before September 1, 2022, you are eligible to start kindergarten in the Newton Public Schools next fall! To help NPS with planning, class size, and school enrollment, please complete this form.
It will help the district to plan for the 2022-23 school year and to stay in touch with your family as the registration process begins. To find out more about registration for kindergarten, please visit this webpage on the Newton Public School district website: www.newton.k12.ma.us/kindergarten
School Calendar for the 2022-23 School Year
At their meeting on Monday, December 6, 2021, the Newton School Committee approved the calendar for the 2022-23 school year. You can find it here:
NPS School Calendar 2022-23 (PDF Document)