NPS District News
January 19, 2022
Dear NPS Families,
One of the realities of COVID life in school districts is that we must always remain nimble. As the pandemic shifts and changes, we listen to our medical advisors and health organizations and make the necessary operational changes.
Last night, two of our distinguished Medical Advisory Group members spent over an hour with our School Committee answering questions on issues ranging from testing to masking. I always learn a lot from listening to thoughtful doctors discuss timely issues. It was particularly helpful to better understand their recommendation on how our testing strategy should change in the coming weeks in light of the Omicron variant.
Over the next few days, we will review the latest guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on testing protocols. We hope to make decisions on our path forward with regard to testing early next week. We will continue to share all details in a timely manner so that you are aware of changes to our health and safety protocols..
Medical Advisory Group Recommendation - January 5, 2022
The Newton Public Schools Medical Advisory Group met on January 5, 2022 to discuss the current COVID surge and any changes or adjustments that might be necessary given the higher case counts. Topics covered included masks, meals, testing, and meeting/activities. You can review the recommendations from the meeting here: Medical Advisory Group - January 5, 2022 Recommendation.
The School Committee held a meeting last night (January 18, 2022) to review the recommendations with two members of the Medical Advisory Group, Dr. Ashish Jha and Dr. Dori Zaleznik. A presentation summarizing the recommendations can be viewed here: January 18, 2022 Slide Presentation. A recording of the meeting can be viewed here: NewTV Recording of January 18, 2022 School Committee Meeting.
Vaccine Booster Clinic - January 22, 2022
Newton HHS has again worked with the Holtzman Medical Group to organize a vaccine booster clinic for all eligible students. If your student has not yet received a booster and is eligible, we encourage you to “get boosted!”
Location: Newton North High School (457 Walnut St.)
Date: Saturday, January 22, 2022
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Eligibility: Anyone 12 and over who is eligible for a booster (or 1st or 2nd dose)
Vaccines: Pfizer (12+) and Moderna (18+) available.
Book Appointment: https://www.holtzmanmedical.org/school
Thank you to the Holtzman Medical Group for their ongoing partnership.
COVID Communication Notification/Contact Tracing Update
Given the COVID surge we are now experiencing, we need to adjust contact tracing protocols in our schools.
Please note that given the surge and new guidance from DESE, we are not contact tracing in grades K-12+ right now. We are contact tracing at the preschool for our population of students not currently eligible for vaccination.
We will continue to notify a classroom, grade, or team that there was a positive case and advise families and staff to actively monitor for symptoms and to stay home if symptoms develop.
If it is necessary to return to contact tracing, we will alert families and staff if they have been identified as a close contact who is not exempt from quarantine and testing. We would also prioritize contact tracing in our unvaccinated or partially vaccinated grades.
For the complete COVID notification protocol, please review this document: COVID Communication Protocol
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
COVID Protocols - Meals
To manage lunch and snacks, we will continue to utilize the health and safety protocols available to us. Currently, we do the following:
Our lunch and snack breaks are short, limiting the time students are unmasked.
Students are instructed to only remove their mask when they are actively eating and drinking and to put the mask back on when finished.
We ask students to stay seated during the meal and to talk quietly.
We do also spread students out to the extent it is possible and many of our schools have come up with ways to creatively distance students during meals or offer more outside time during lunch, depending on the physical space and age of the students.
We have increased ventilation in the spaces in which students are eating, where possible, and are in the process of adding air purifiers to all eating spaces in our school buildings to further enhance filtration.
Daily Health Assessment
It is critical that all families conduct the daily 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
Updated CDC Guidance on Isolation and Quarantine
On December 28, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance on the isolation time period for those who have tested positive for COVID-19. This guidance has now been adopted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).
If you test positive for COVID-19:
Stay home for 5 days.
If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your home but you must continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 additional days.
A reminder that an isolated individual is one who has tested positive for COVID; a quarantined individual is one who has been identified as a close contact but has not tested positive for COVID. You can review the updated DESE guidance for isolation and quarantine here: DESE Guidance for Isolation and Quarantine - Updated December 30, 2021.
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.
MLK Day and Statement of Values
As we recently celebrated and honored the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his legacy reminds us of the collective responsibility of all members of society to participate in the pursuit of social justice for all. For equity to be achieved, it requires an ongoing commitment to learning, self-reflection and action.
Please see our revised version of NPS' "Statement of Values and Commitment to Racial Equity", updated to reflect our intentional focus on dismantling racial inequities and lifting the voices of our students, staff and families of color in alignment with our mission towards an antiracist school community. We have also linked the Martin Luther King Day City of Newton Celebration (link.)
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
ELPAC Meeting - 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).
Interpretation will be provided with RSVP by January 31. Please RSVP here: https://forms.gle/83UWFE61itEPmCKX8. The remaining meet dates this year are April 7 & June 2.
Horace Mann Building Committee Meeting - January 27, 2022
The first Horace Mann School Building Committee meeting is Thursday, January 27th at 6:00 PM. Topics to be covered include an introduction of all the Committee members, an overview of the school building process, roles and responsibilities, and the project timeline. This meeting is open to the public and all are welcome. You need to register to attend using the following link:
Franklin Building Committee Meeting - 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, January 24, 2022
The next School Committee meeting will be held on Monday, January 24, 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 on this webpage: https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/Page/3896
Winter Walk, Roll, Bike, Bus Day - Tuesday, February 2, 2022
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)