Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families from Salem Public Schools

A note from Steve Zrike, Superintendent


SPS families,

This week we were thrilled to welcome back interested grade 10-12 Salem High School students to in-person learning as part of a hybrid model. Many of these students have not been in school since the start of the school year and were enthusiastic about returning to SHS.

Additionally, Bentley Academy Innovation School welcomed Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, Commissioner Riley and Secretary of Education Peyser to visit their classrooms. Bentley students and staff showcased their many talents and the incredible work they are doing despite the challenges. Our visitors observed a dynamic STEM lesson in Ms. Otteson’s 1st grade classroom, a 3rd grade mathematics lesson about the use of variables in Ms. Newark’s classroom and Ms. Llorca’s Kindergarten dual language classroom where students were discussing a campaign to protect the Earth.

Finally, this week we kickoff Black History Month in the Salem Public Schools. We have provided our educators with resources and guidance to utilize as part of their instruction. Also, in this newsletter, and through social media, we are sharing materials that families can use at home with their children. The celebration of Black history must extend beyond this month and must be deeper than merely celebrating the achievements of famous African Americans. It is critical that we examine what we teach in history classes and how we teach history so that it is more inclusive of multiple stories and voices of those not traditionally represented in our curriculum. This is work that will continue well beyond February as we ensure that our students are presented with a wide range of perspectives as they understand how the past shapes their experiences today.

Please don’t forget that February vacation is scheduled for the week of February 15th. School will resume on Monday, February 22nd.

Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday weekend,


Student COVID testing

We are excited to be moving into planning to launch weekly student COVID-19 surveillance testing. We do not yet have all the details, but here is the most important information for you to know:

Testing will be once per week for any student in grades preK-12. We are working to finalize the schedules and will share them as soon as we have them.

The tests are a lower nostril test which is the least invasive option available for our families. It is also a PCR test, which is the gold standard. Five to ten students will be tested at once in a “pool.” Which is essentially a group of tests tested at the same time. It also means that, if your student is part of a “positive pool” where someone in the group of five tests is positive, you will need to get a SECOND test (available for free throughout the city) to get an individual result of positive or negative.

To participate, families will need to fill out a consent form for each student for our testing vendor, Project Beacon, even if your family has been tested by Project Beacon before.

The consent forms are specific to the individual schools, If you have children at different schools, you will need to click on each child’s school and register them individually, if you have multiple children at the same school, you will still need to register them separately, but at the same school link. There will also be a list of unique school codes that you can enter if that is easier.

Families will only receive notification if a student is part of a positive pool, there are no individual results obtained from this type of testing. If the student is part of a positive pool, our plan is to use Parent Square to notify families with the information of how to get the second test, along with a google form to share with us how you plan to follow-up. If we do not hear from you, you will receive a phone call.

We look forward to sharing more details with you in the coming weeks and are proud to be able to offer testing in our schools to keep our students and our staff as safe as possible.

Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito Come to visit!

This week we were proud to welcome Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito to Bentley Academy Innovation School. They were joined by Secretary Peyser and Commissioner Riley, and of course Mayor Driscoll and Superintendent Zrike. Our students were proud to show what they are learning and gave our teachers a chance to showcase the hard work they put into engaging all our learners.

Black History Month

We look forward to highlighting people and places important to Black history this month with you and with our students. The Center for Racial Justice in Education states: “We believe that the histories, stories, and voices of Black people should be centered, honored, and uplifted in school curricula every day. We also acknowledge the importance, relevance, and origins of Black History Month.” As we highlight some great stories this month on our social medial channels, let us remember that Black history is ALL of our histories.

Click the image below from the Anti-racist Art Teachers website and explore resources for your family.

Salem High School Family Night for 8th Grade families

Salem High School is making waves, innovating, and reaching goals. We are expanding and growing our content pathways to connect students to their futures. Come learn about all these possibilities during our webinar and meet our amazing educators!

Tuesday, February 9th from 6 to 7:00 pm

A video presentation will review what we offer at the High School.

Then meet our talented staff panelists:

Shamus Mruk- 9th Grade Assistant Principal

Jamie Navins- 9th Grade Math Teacher

Mary Celli-9th Grade English Teacher

Scott Connelly- Athletic Director

Kim McFarlane- Career Technical Education Director

Ellen Johnson- Special Education Team Chair

Amie Capodanno- College and Career Center Director

Rachael Kozlowski- SY21/22- 9th Grade School Counselor

Alice Ryan- SY20/21- 9th Grade School Counselor

Junemarie Kershaw- SY21/22- 9th Grade School Adjustment Counselor

Vicki Tzortis - LEAP for Education

Col. Beaudoin-JROTC

SgtMj Sumner- JROTC

Please join us at this Zoom link on February 9th from 6:00-7:00 pm to explore everything Salem High School has to offer.

National School Counseling Week

National School Counseling Week is Feb. 1-5, 2021, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors to our school systems.

This week and this shout out highlights the tremendous impact our school counselors have in helping students with their social-emotional needs, achieve school success, and plan for a career.

We have an incredible team of school counselors right here in Salem Public Schools, and now more than ever, we are grateful for them.

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Common Family P-EBT Questions Answered

Families can access this information and FAQ from Families inquiring about P-EBT cards (lost card, card pinning, card issues), timing of funds issuance, etc. can visit (which is available in six languages) or the DTA Assistance Line at 1-877-382-2363.

P-EBT benefits are paid out on the 25th of each month. On that day, benefits will be loaded to the account of families who have an existing card. Families new to P-EBT who do not yet have a card will receive one in the mail sometime after the 25th (allow for up to two weeks for mailing) unless they receive DTA benefits (SNAP, TAFDC). Those newly eligible households will receive P-EBT on their DTA EBT card.

Executive Director for Special Education Search Process

The search process for the position of Executive Director of Special Education in the Salem Public Schools is currently underway. The position was posted on January 20, 2021 with an application deadline of February 12, 2021. The district will offer an opportunity for a small group of parents to participate in a facilitated discussion about the goals for this role and the priority competencies that a successful candidate must possess.

Date: February 8, 2021

Time: 7:00pm-8:00pm

Location: Zoom meeting*

Interested in applying for this position? You can find the job posting here.

*If you are interested in participating in this focus group, please email Jensen Jacobsmeyer at or call her at (978) 740-1214 to reserve a spot and access the Zoom Link. There is a maximum of 30 available slots.

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.”

This week, National School Counseling week, we celebrate Mia Riccio, City Connects Coordinator, Collins Middle School. If you asked Mia Riccio's colleagues at Collins Middle School to describe Mia in one word, you would hear things like: passionate, dedicated, reliable, systems-builder, compassionate, and anchor. Mia embodies all the qualities of an impactful school counselor who is focused on ensuring every student gets what they need to thrive. She has quietly, yet tenaciously, led her team in strengthening student support systems within Collins Middle School. Mia's daily work is grounded in ethical and evidenced based school counseling practices. What stands out the most about Mia is how she relentlessly shares her kindness with students, families, and colleagues

ST Math February Challenge!

Reminder! You can win a dance party with Jiji the penguin!

Dr. Zrike and Jiji challenge you and your classmates to solve as many ST Math puzzles as you can during the month of February! This is a district-wide challenge! Each grade level will compete for prizes against other similar grade levels. For example, kindergarteners compete against other kindergarten classrooms in the district. The class at every grade level that solves the most puzzles wins! Imagine, Jiji coming to your classroom, dancing with you to your favorite music, and passing out fabulous prizes! All because you did an outstanding job playing ST Math with Jiji! Ready, set, MATH!

ST Math can be found on your student's Classlink dashboard on their Chromebook.

Download the ParentSquare app today!

A reminder that ParentSquare is the district platform for communication. You will receive communication from the district, your school, and your student's classroom all in one space. You can communicate 1-to-1 with teachers, sign up for parent-teacher conferences, and more.

This is how the schools will communicate with families districtwide going forward. Please be sure you are receiving messages from ParentSquare. If you are having trouble, contact your school's front office. You can visit for more information.

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