NPS District News
October 27, 2021
Message from the Superintendent
Dear NPS Families,
At the start of the school year, I shared with faculty and staff that our number one priority for the year was to remain open for in-person learning. As we end October, I am very pleased to report that we are very well-positioned to keep our students learning in-person in our school buildings. Our current success is thanks to several health and safety measures that have been supported by our staff, our Medical Advisory Group, and our NPS families. We have taken the lead in the region and the state on many of these measures, including:
Mandatory Vaccinations: We are one of the few, and certainly the largest district in the state, that has already implemented mandatory vaccines for all employees. As of today, more than 99.5% of our employees are vaccinated. The handful of employees not vaccinated are on unpaid leave. Our collective bargaining units (The Newton Teachers Association, The Newton Custodians Association and the Newton Educational Secretaries Association) deserve great credit for their collaboration on the vaccine mandate. I would also like to recognize our School Committee for their commitment to ensuring that our vaccination policy was enacted.
COVID Testing - Weekly COVID testing has now been implemented for grades PreK-6 and symptomatic and Test and Stay has been implemented in grades PreK - 12+. Despite some early and significant challenges with the state contractor, we were one of the first districts in the State to implement all three testing strategies. As I visit schools almost daily, I can personally attest to how efficient and routine the weekly testing has become in grades PreK-6.
Our nurses also continue to perform the herculean task of managing a variety of COVID scenarios in our schools, from contact tracing and testing to management of quarantines and vaccinations. They are doing all of this while attending to the regular day-to-day work of keeping our students healthy and well. I am truly in awe of the work our nurses have done over the course of the pandemic, under the highly capable leadership of Ruth Hoshino, Director of School Health Services.
More than 80% of eligible students are fully vaccinated. We, together with Newton Health and Human Services, continue to encourage all eligible students and families to get vaccinated. With a vaccination for our younger students on the horizon, we are optimistic that the majority of our student population will soon be vaccinated.
One thing we have learned over the course of the pandemic, is that the future of COVID is hard to predict. However, I am comforted by the many steps our district has taken, in partnership with our families, to ensure that we will continue to be able to keep students in school learning where they learn best - together with their educators, and peers. As always, thank you for your partnership.
COVID Testing Data Dashboard
We have recently relaunched our COVID Testing Data Dashboard. On the dashboard, you can review the percentage of students who have opted into testing, as well as the results of the weekly pooled testing. The data dashboard can be found here: COVID Testing Data Dashboard and on our website here: COVID Testing Webpage. For information on COVID cases and vaccination rates in the Newton Public Schools, please visit this page on the City of Newton Website: Newton HHS COVID Data
What happens if a family learns that their student is a positive case on Friday or over the weekend?
If a student tests positive for COVID after dismissal on a Friday or over the weekend, please email your school nurse and your principal. The school nurse and principal will begin contact tracing on Monday morning to identify close contacts. The school nurse will follow up to advise families of next steps. Students who are close contacts and are eligible for the Test and Stay program will begin testing provided they have consent.
Culturally Responsive Instruction Training
MIddle school administrators and staff participated in a half-day workshop, facilitated by the DEI Department, to learn about Culturally Responsive Instruction.
In this workshop, NPS staff explored the philosophy and brain research to support culturally responsive instruction in the classroom. This content is a follow-up and supplement to the Racial Identity Development training that all middle schools have been participating in since last school year. This train-the-trainer model will be implemented throughout the year in all middle schools through staff professional development days, beginning next week.
Newton Early Childhood Program (NECP) Now Enrolling for 2022-23!
Newton Early Childhood Program (NECP) is now accepting applications for students for the 2022-23 school year. NECP will be moving to its new location at 687 Watertown St. midway through next year. The fully renovated building will be completely customized for NPS' littlest learners! If you have a preschool age child and would like to learn more about enrolling in this fantastic program in an amazing new space, please visit the application process section of the NECP website at: www.newton.k12.ma.us/NECP.
2021 Newton Pumpkin Smash
Green your Halloween at Newton's Pumpkin Smash! What will you do with your pumpkin after Halloween? You could put it in with your yard waste, but how much more fun would it be to smash it? Event details below:
When: November 6, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Where: City Hall War Memorial Circle (1000 Commonwealth Ave).
This family friendly event will be focused on options to manage food waste in Newton. All smashed pumpkins will be composted by Black Earth Compost. By composting your pumpkin, you are reducing waste, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating a valuable amendment for our soils.
Find out more about the City of Newton composting program on this webpage.
Turn off your engines!
Please remember to abide by the Massachusetts anti-idling law. The anti-idling law was passed to protect the environment and kids’ health. If you are stopped for more than 60 seconds in your car, please turn your engine off. This is especially true when on or near school grounds. To find out more, please visit this link: Anti-Idling Law and Information
Free Flu Clinics at Newton City Hall
In place of the school-based flu clinics this year, Newton Health and Human Services will be offering two free clinics at the City Hall War Memorial Auditorium (1000 Commonwealth Ave.) Dates and times are as follows:
Monday, November 8: 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Register at: www.newtonma.gov/flu (registration preferred, walk-ins welcome)
Questions? Call: 617-796-1420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org