Salem Returns Update

News for our families from Salem Public Schools

A note from Steve Zrike, Superintendent


SPS community,

I want to extend a Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Salem Public Schools families and staff! I hope that you enjoy the opportunity to celebrate, rest, and recharge with your family. This year, more than ever, we must be grateful for our health, the opportunity to destress from the hectic pace of our lives, and the chance to spend quality time with our loved ones.

I urge the entire SPS community to heed the recommendations of the Department of Public Health to prioritize health and safety over in-person visits with extended family and friends this Thanksgiving. Please consider celebrating this year only with the people in your immediate household and connecting with others virtually.

Additionally, if you do travel out of Massachusetts, the Commonwealth has in place certain requirements to lessen the transmission of COVID-19 from out of state. All returning Massachusetts residents who are coming back to Massachusetts after traveling out of state to a high-risk state must complete the Massachusetts Travel form and either (a) quarantine for 14 days upon returning OR (b) produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts. If your test result has not been received prior to arriving in Massachusetts, you must quarantine until you receive a negative test result. A link to the form, as well as a list of high-risk states, quarantine information, and more can be found at

In closing, I am grateful to be part of such a student-centered, dedicated, and vibrant city and school community. Thank you for the warm welcome and reception that you have afforded me over my first few months in Salem. It has been a privilege to partner with so many selfless educators, invested families, and above all, talented students.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday!


First day of school!

This week we welcomed back our PreK-2, 6th grade at Collins Middle School, and 9th grade Salem High School students. The excitement from students, teachers, and parents was felt throughout the district!

Here are some photos from the day.

When will we return other grades to our schools?

While we were not able to return ALL students back to school just yet, we are proposing to return all students back, in a hybrid model, on January 4th. There will continue to be a remote option for those who prefer that choice for their families, but we feel we need to get the rest of our student body back into the classrooms as soon as we can, as long as it is safe to do so. As a reminder, we look at the spread in schools and consult with the Salem Board of Health to determine these decisions.

Some of the factors to develop between now and opening for grades 3-5, 7-8, and 10-12 are:

  • Plan for synchronous connections on remote days in grades 3-5 & 7-8

  • Determine staffing capacity

  • Solve for limitations (and costs) of transportation

Planning for January

We wanted to let families know that, upon returning from the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be asking families with students in grades 3-5, grade 6 at Saltonstall, 7-8, and 10-12 to identify whether they want their students to be part of the new hybrid in-person learning or if they want their students to remain fully remote.

The hybrid model will provide two days of in-person instruction (either Monday & Tuesday or Thursday & Friday) with remote instruction on the opposite days. Families will need to commit to their chosen plan by early December so that we can plan for the health & safety of all students. If families choose to remain remote, they will have an option to either remain remote or select in-person in early February. If you have questions, please email or reach out to your school.

Wednesday of Thanksgiving Release Times

Please find below the specific half-day school day schedule for Wednesday, 11/25, the day before Thanksgiving.

There are no changes to school start times.

In-person Dismissal Time

Bates: 10:40am

Bentley: 11:15am

Carlton: 11:15am

Horace Mann: 10:45am

Saltonstall: 11:30am

Witchcraft Heights: 11:15am

Early Childhood Center: 11:45am

Collins: Remote Half Day for All Students, including Tier 1

Salem High: Remote Half Day for All Students, including Tier 1

Salem Prep: 12:00noon

New Liberty: Remote Half Day for All Students

All synchronous live instruction will be completed no later than noon for any remote classes.


Thanksgiving week: No Facebook Live and No Newsletter. Enjoy the holiday!


Next Step for Hub Connects

Hub Connects has continued this week, and a very small number of connects will meet on Monday and Tuesday. Hub Connects will not take place on the early release Wednesday of Thanksgiving.

Beginning November 30th:

  • Hub Connects will move to virtual connects – small group social & emotional focused connection for five weeks until the winter holiday

  • SPS will collaborate with the City of Salem and partners to develop a proposal for ongoing, community-based connecting opportunities for all students after school hours beginning in the new year

Aspen Family Portal

This week, we are opening the Aspen Family Portal for all grades (except at the Bentley Academy Innovation School). Aspen is our web-based student information system. Key information about each student including contact information, demographics, attendance records, grades, student schedules, and more is all stored within our Aspen system.

Beginning November 20th, all Salem parents and/or legal guardians will have password-protected access to their students’ information via the Aspen Family Portal. Your child’s report card will be posted in the family portal and this is where you will view it. Paper report cards will no longer be sent home unless a parent or guardian requests a paper copy.

You will receive an email with a link to log in to the Aspen Family/Student Portal. A separate email went out earlier this week explaining the system and provided helpful links to show you how to access the information and how to navigate the parent portal. If you have questions, please contact the IT Department or your school’s front office for assistance.

MCAS update

At this week’s Salem School committee meeting, the members unanimously voted to send the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education a resolution urging that the Department suspend MCAS for school year 2020-21.

If DESE does not suspend MCAS this year, we hope that it is only for diagnostic purposes and not for accountability given the unprecedented circumstances. We will work on a plan to administer the assessment in a way that is least disruptive to our students and staff.

ParentSquare has launched

Please see your email for sign up information and how to register for the full ParentSquare experience such as 2 way conversations with your classroom teachers, the ability to choose how and when you receive communication, 1-to-1 translation to your preferred language and more. You can visit for more information.

Here comes Thanksgiving!

As we head into the Thanksgiving season, some families are thinking about having family gatherings and even travel. We urge you to be mindful of gathering and understand that Salem Public Schools asks that you comply with the Massachusetts Travel Orders that are in place. We must all work together to stop the spread so we can bring more students safely back to school. If you must quarantine because you have traveled, please contact your school nurse and principal.

If you need support for meals for Thanksgiving, we have you covered! All meals are free of charge. Many of these programs from last year are providing a "take out" version of the traditional Thanksgiving meals this year. If you have needs for Thanksgiving that are not being addressed, please contact the City Connects Coordinator at your school.

Click here to see area options for Thanksgiving meals.

Updated DPH Quarantine Guidance

Yesterday, DPH issued updated quarantine guidance for those who have been exposed to COVID-19. Specifically, an individual must remain quarantined for:

  • At least 14 days from the date of last exposure; or
  • At least 10 days, provided all of the following are satisfied:
    • You have not had, and do not have, any symptoms;
    • You are tested on day 8 of your quarantine period or later using a molecular diagnostic test (e.g., polymerase chain reaction (PCR)) to detect the presence of the virus;
    • You receive a negative test result; and
    • You monitor yourself for symptoms for the full 14 days. If you develop symptoms you should contact your health care provider and be re-tested.

The full guidance can be found here:

Cone of Excellence Award

At Salem Public Schools, we are recognizing one staff member a week who exemplifies our core values of: celebrating differences, facilitating collaboration, fostering innovation, creating equity and access, growing all students, and upholding high standards for all. We are surprising a deserving SPS team member with a construction cone that displays the words: “Awesome,” “Well Done,” and “Great Job.”

Kaitlyn Farinelli RN and Rebecca Likens RN, two extraordinary school nurses at Salem High School, are this week's recipients of the Cone of Excellence Award. According to Director of Nursing and Health Services, Charlene Moske-Weber, Kaitlyn and Rebecca have consistently demonstrated strong dedication and determined resolve in ensuring the health and wellness of students, teachers, and staff at SHS. Embracing innovative approaches to the delivery of school health services during the pandemic, Kaitlyn and Rebecca consistently exemplify the art and science of nursing through their care, compassion, and communication. Thank you, Nurse Kaitlyn, and Nurse Rebecca!

Family Point-person phone calls

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 still committed to its comprehensive and universal approach to family engagement through the Family Point Person calls.

This comprehensive and universal approach to family engagement and support is new and evolving, but in these first few months we have identified and met approximately 700 needs across the district from technology issues to food access to mental and physical health supports.

These numbers and the families and children they represent are the driving force for all of our work but especially this initiative. Moving forward we will switch to monthly calls and if you have further questions please refer to the FAQ or reach out to your building principal. 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.

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.

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