Amesbury Public Schools Update

From the Office of the Superintendent - January 7, 2022

Dear Amesbury Public School Families,

Wow! What a week this has been! I am so appreciative of the levels of communication and collaboration that have allowed us to keep our students in school. I am guardedly optimistic that over the next couple of weeks things will improve on the COVID front. I sure hope so!


I wanted to share with you that, at this time, remote learning is not an option for us. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has said that remote learning DOES NOT count as part of the time on learning that schools must adhere to. There are Massachusetts laws that dictate both the number of days and the number of hours that students must be in school. For that complete information CLICK HERE.


Length of School Year - 603 CMR 27.03: School Year Requirements:


(2) Every school committee shall schedule a school year which includes at least 185 school days at each elementary, middle, and secondary school within the school district.


(3) Every school committee shall operate the schools within its district at least 180 school days in a school year.



Number of Hours in a Sch. Yr - 603 CMR 27.04: Structured Learning Time Requirements:


(1) No later than the 1997 – 1998 school year, schools shall ensure that every elementary school student is scheduled to receive a minimum of 900 hours per school year of structured learning time, as defined in 603 CMR 27.02. Time which a student spends at school breakfast and lunch, passing between classes, in homeroom, at recess, in non-directed study periods, receiving school services, and participating in optional school programs shall not count toward meeting the minimum structured learning time requirement for that student.


(2) No later than the 1997 – 1998 school year, all schools shall ensure that every secondary school student is scheduled to receive a minimum of 990 hours per school year of structured learning time, as defined in 603 CMR 27.02. Time which a student spends at school breakfast and lunch, passing between classes, in homeroom, at recess, in non-directed study periods, receiving school services, and participating in optional school programs shall not count toward meeting the minimum structured learning time requirement for that student.


Last year, special permission was given to alter these expectations. At this point in time, there have not been any changes to these laws. In fact, on Wednesday, Commissioner Riley shared with superintendents that remote learning will not be implemented this year. His rationale included the negative impact on the mental health of our students and that closing schools actually has a negative impact on hospitals. Approximately 30% of health care workers have children under the age of 14. Closing schools would further put a strain on the availability of health care personnel. I can speak first hand about remote learning's impact on our mental health but had not thought about the impact on hospitals.


Just a reminder, we are still accepting applications for substitute teachers and nurses. Daily rate for teachers/paraprofessionals is $125 and for nurses $175. Please have any interested people contact Carol Bartlett in the Central Office. People can choose to work in a single building or multiple buildings -- we need substitutes in all areas!


Have a happy and safe SNOW DAY and weekend!


Take care,


Elizabeth McAndrews

Superintendent

My Child Tested Positive at Home - What Should I Do?

  • If a family/student administers a rapid home test that results in a positive result, please notify your school nurse (see list below) and complete this quick form for the Board of Health.
  • With a rapid home test positive, the parent/guardian will determine the return to school date (with the understanding that the conditions listed below are met). A reminder that the day of the test or onset of symptoms is noted as Day 0.
  • It is also important that our school nurses know that your child has tested positive, especially if they are not yet vaccinated, as they are exempt from testing and quarantine protocols for 90 days.

My Child Has COVID-like Symptoms Or Is Just Plain Sick -- What Do I Do?

We need the continued support of our families in keeping our schools as healthy as possible. If you child is sick with any type of contagious illness, please keep them home and contact the attendance line of your child's school. If you believe the illness could be COVID, please reach out to the nurse at your child's school. Please see the list below of contact numbers and emails. Thank you for all that you are doing!
Big picture

DESE COVID Guidance Protocol Changes

As I shared in my newsletter last week, both the CDC and DESE made significant changes to the length of isolation (positive cases) and quarantine (close contacts). In both scenarios, impacted individuals must remain isolated/quarantined for 5 days and are able to return on Day 6 as long as symptoms are improving (positive cases) and no symptoms have appeared (close contacts). This variant is really impacting individuals for a wide range of time and symptom severity. For the full information, please see the CDC Update and the December 30, 2021 DESE Update.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your school nurse or your building principal.

COVID Dashboard

As you can see from the table below, our numbers have significantly increased over the past two weeks. We did not make a report to DESE last week; instead, they asked us to report both weeks on Wednesday of this week. Given that a lot of that time we were not in school, we were expected to gather as much information as possible about positive student and staff cases contracted over break. This number also includes the staff members who tested positive after Sunday's distribution of tests provided by the state. Our lead nurse collaborated with our public health nurse and compiled the data listed below. We have reported all known cases from this time period.


I have only included the weeks of December and the first week in January; however, the total number is an accurate reflection of our count from the start of the school year.

Big picture

Important Information for 8th Grade Families!

Big picture

Professional Release Day on Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Just a reminder that teachers will be participating in professional development on Wednesday afternoon. Dismissal times are as follows:


AHS, AIHS, AMS: 11:30 am

AES, CES: 12:00 noon


If you have any questions, please contact the principal of your building.

Progress on the Sgt. Jordan Shay Memorial Lower Elementary School

As many of us experienced as we prepared for the holidays, shipping can be delayed for a significant amount of time. Although we have avoided delays related to shipping thus far, we have encountered our first one in terms of the arrival of the long steel beams needed to complete the steel erection in the admin portion of the school. Nonetheless, work continues in other areas, especially with the underground work - electricity and plumping - while the ground remains unfrozen. CTA Construction is working with NV5 (our Project Manager) and DiNisco Designs to limit the impact of the shipping delays. We do know that the steel is en route to Canada from Virginia for fabrication after which it will be delivered to Amesbury. Concurrently, the steel needed for the classroom wing is being fabricated as we speak. Even with this "bump in the road", significant progress continues to be made. Please see the pictures below!

Thank you for reading this newsletter!