Dear Parents and Staff,
I hope that everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday and are looking forward to other seasonal events in the coming weeks. I wanted to take a moment to share some updates with you.
Board of Education
On November 16, we presented our departing BOE members with plaques to memorialize their dedication and service to Newtown Public Schools. We bid farewell to Dr. Michelle Ku, Dan Delia, and Debbie Leidlein. Our next BOE meeting, December 7, will be the first meeting for our new BOE members: Don Ramsey, Janet Kuzma, and Jenn Larkin. We look forward to working collaboratively on behalf of our staff, students, and families.
Please continue to review the data on our website's COVID Dashboard as it outlines the number of COVID cases and numbers of students or staff quarantined, In November, we have had 15 students quarantined as opposed to 243 in October. You can find the COVID Dashboard on our website at www.newtown.k12.ct.us
Our new Screen & Stay is now in place, and details were sent via communication from our Nursing Supervisor, Ann Dalton. The Screen & Stay provides families with the option of daily screening for students identified as close contacts of cases in classrooms and on the bus, as long as both the positive case and close contacts were masked. Through daily screening, students may continue attending school if they remain asymptomatic.
Transition to Blackboard
We are starting the migration process from School Messenger to Blackboard Communications. With our families using smartphones to stay connected, a flexible communications platform that is mobile friendly is a more desirable option. Our new mobile app will keep families better informed about the news and events in our district and schools. The app will enable users to do the following:
Get the latest district and school news
Select the schools you want to follow
Get push notifications about breaking news, closures, weather, events, and more
See the latest photos from school events
Tap to see school locations, phone numbers, and staff information, fast
You may download the new app in three easy steps:
On your smartphone, go to the iTunes App Store® or Google Play®
Search “Newtown Public Schools]”
Then select our Newtown Public Schools App for free download
While the app is optional, Blackboard Communication will be replacing School Messenger as the primary venue for sending alerts and district-wide information. Over the next few days, we will be testing the Blackboard Communication system.. On Tuesday, November 30, parents and staff will receive a communication that will provide explicit details about the "test" to be conducted on Wednesday, December 1st. This same communication will also provide contact information to guide individuals who may not receive a text, phone call, or email during the test window.
Bus Driver Shortage and "Early Drop Off"
We continue to work with All Star Transportation and are currently waiting for the hiring of new drivers to minimize the need to "park" buses in the a.m. or p.m. In the meantime, we are planning to implement a temporary "early drop off" for students when their bus is parked. However, All Star will continue sending buses to pick up students after the regular runs are complete. Our administrative team is currently soliciting the help of staff who are willing to supervise students up to an hour before school for Grades K-6. Both NMS and NHS already allow students to enter the building prior to bus drop off schedules. School leaders will be sending out a communication with a start date for early drop off when they have secured supervision.
Hawley HVAC Project
As you know, the Hawley HVAC project passed, and the work is scheduled to begin at the conclusion of the school year. Currently, we are working on the details regarding the moves that will be necessary during the renovation in the fall of 2022. Our goal is to keep everyone well informed about the project, including staffing needs and timelines.
After reviewing space at each of the buildings, in the fall of 2022, Grades K-1 will be housed at SHES while Grades 2-4 will be housed at Reed Intermediate School. The pre-school (currently at SHES) will be moved to HOM. Chris Moretti, Principal of Hawley, and I will be scheduling a virtual Q & A for parents once we have solidified the plan and presented it to the Board. We will share the plan in its entirety with staff at the respective schools and field questions as well.
On November 23rd, Public Building & Site had a discussion with Downes Construction regarding the timing of the bid for the project. It is expected that bid documents will be prepared and ready for advertisement by mid-December with walkthroughs at the Hawley site planned for the holiday break. The goal is to have bids received by mid-January and be on the calendar for the Board of Selectmen to take action.