NPS District News
May 5, 2021
Message from the Superintendent
Dear NPS Families,
As I have visited our schools over the past few weeks, it has been a true pleasure to see many more students in the buildings. Our educators, like our families, are truly excited to work together with more of their students in school on a daily basis. Observing students sitting at desks in rows harkens me back to an earlier era in education, one that we had moved away from in order to provide more opportunity for authentic collaboration. Despite the new physical set up prescribed by the pandemic, our teachers continue to tap into their own creativity to find ways for students to collaborate, learn and engage in this different environment.
As we prepare for a full reopening for all students in the fall, I continue to be in awe of our educators who have taught in a distance or hyflex environment for the entire year. I know that the lessons and strategies they have skillfully utilized in these new mediums will be carried forward and incorporated into their teaching practice in the future. This experience has given our faculty and staff a whole new perspective on teaching and learning and I believe we will return stronger and better than ever in September.
High School Shift to 5 Days In-Person Learning
Last week, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced that all high school students must return to school buildings by May 17. However, like elementary and middle school, all students who wish to remain fully remote may do so through the end of this academic year.
As you know, as of April 26, we had merged cohorts at the high school and all students who wish to attend in person are now attending school in our school buildings four days per week. However, we are still operating with a remote Wednesday schedule. Given the DESE announcement, we are now adapting our Wednesday schedule to accommodate the additional in-person day. We will be in touch with all families soon with the updates to our Wednesday schedule.
COVID-19 Student Testing - We Need YOU!
Our testing participation levels are hovering around 40% in all schools. We really need to increase participation to 70-80% for testing to be effective.
We NEED YOUR participation to make this work. The more students who participate, the better data we have on infection rates in our community. This means we can:
Quickly identify infection
Reduce the risk of in school transmission
Keep our schools, athletics and other important activities open for the rest of the year
Please note: Testing is now MANDATORY for all high school students participating in in-person athletics or extracurricular activities.
Here’s how to enroll and a few details on the testing:
Complete the opt-in in Aspen (here’s the link!)
High school students then create an account at JCM (do it here!) for access to a QR code they use to check in their sample. (Pre-K - 8th grade students will receive their QR code from school staff.)
This is NOT the “touch your brain” swab! This is a sample taken from the front of your nose with a Q-tip like swab. It’s super-fast and painless.
Testing is FREE to all families!
Please REMIND your students to turn in their sample when they arrive at school!
Update: K-12 Start/End Times and High School Schedule
On Monday, May 10th, the School Committee is expected to vote on the new start and end times for K-12 schools for the 2021-22 school year. Here are presentations provided at two School Committee meetings, as well as a recording of the family webinar.
As a reminder, the proposed schedules are as follows:
Elementary Schools (Shift 10 minutes earlier):
8:10 a.m. - 2:50 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 12:20 p.m.)
Middle Schools (Shift 10 minutes earlier):
Bigelow: 8:05 a.m. - 2:35 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 1:50 p.m.)
Brown: 8:20 a.m. - 2:50 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 2:05 p.m.)
Day: 7:55 a.m. - 2:25 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 1:40 p.m.)
Oak Hill: 7:50 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 1:35 p.m.)
High Schools (Later start and end times)
9:00 a.m. - 3:45 p.m. (early release Tuesdays at 3:25 p.m.)
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Newton Public Schools are proud to recognize and celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. During this month, our faculty and staff will place special emphasis on engaging students in learning about the resiliency, excellence, diversity and phenomenal accomplishments and contributions of American Asian and Pacific Islanders to the cultural makeup and fabric of our history. While this work is done throughout the academic year, focusing our efforts during this month allows us to highlight not only the accomplishments, but also the struggles of our AAPI community.
A community Pan Asian Cultural Festival will take place this Saturday, May 8th at 7:00 p.m. You can watch it on YouTube at tinyurl.com/panasianfest.
Teacher Appreciation Week
This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, a week devoted to thanking our teachers for the work they do all year to educate and support our students. This year has been especially challenging given the constant shift in learning models, the health and safety mandates, and teaching in person and remotely. We know the school PTOs have some special celebrations planned for our teachers and staff this week and we join them in saying thank you!
Walking/Biking Traffic Congestion
With the full return to school and decreased ridership on our buses, traffic is up at our schools. Please take extreme care when dropping off or picking students up at school and be sure to follow posted traffic patterns and use designated drop off areas. Even better→ Consider walking, biking, or even parking a short distance away from the school to decrease traffic congestion! Find out how on our website: https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/Page/3320
Newton Schools Foundation Update
Voting Rights: “Where Do We Go From Here?” May 13, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.
In partnership with Historic Newton, Newton Free Library presents its next event in the series “Overdue - Confronting Race and Racism in Newton.” In this session, Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, author of The Voting Rights War, will examine laws posing challenges to American voters -- especially African-Americans -- from enslavement and woman’s suffrage through current controversies of voter suppression. She will also look ahead to challenges that future voters are likely to face, especially after the tumultuous 2020 election. The session and Q&A will be moderated by Josephine McNeil Esq, Social Justice Advocate. Please register here.