March 23, 2021

Message from the Superintendent

Dear NPS Families,

Below you will find an important update on plans to increase in-person learning at our high schools this spring. However, I first wanted to take a moment to reflect upon the tragedy that occurred in Atlanta last week and its impact on our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community here in Newton.

A few weeks ago at our Race and Achievement Leadership Team (RALT) meeting, we had a deep and thoughtful discussion about what a harrowing year it has been for the AAPI community in this country. Nationally, we have witnessed an uptick in violence against Asian American Pacific Islanders, who have been victims of hate crimes and targets of harassment. In Newton, we have experienced "Zoom-Bombing" incidents targeted at our students of Asian descent.

You can view my reflection sent to faculty and staff here.

The hateful acts and discrimination faced by the AAPI community, particularly in this past year, reminds us that racism towards all people of color persists. NPS will continue this challenging work to be an anti-racist district by considering the ways in which we can stand up, take action, and support our AAPI students, and all students of color, in our school community.

I look forward to this continued work together in our district.

High School In Person Learning

We are planning to transition all high school students who wish to attend school in person to a four day in-person schedule beginning Monday, April 26th (the Monday after April break.) The high school will continue to use the hyflex model so there will be no change for students who wish to remain fully remote. We will share a transfer request form in the coming weeks for any families who would like to change their learning model.

We currently plan for students to attend in-person four days a week and to continue with our fully remote Wednesday schedule. We will update families if additional changes are possible to the Wednesday schedule and our high schools will reach out with more detailed information about the shift.

Ad Hoc Medical Advisory Group Recommendation

The Ad Hoc Medical Advisory Group met again on March 16, 2021. The meeting discussion focused on returning secondary students (middle and high school) to full in-person learning. Here is a summary of their recommendation:

"It is the consensus of this Ad Hoc Medical Advisory Group, convened by the NPS and the Newton Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that increasing in-person learning across all grades can be done safely in a manner that prioritizes the health of students, their families, teachers and staff. After reviewing the experience from schools across the U.S., the published scientific evidence, and guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the MA Department of Public Health (DPH), these recommendations are informed by the best available information and data to date."

You can view the full recommendation here.

You can view a summary of the meeting here.

Middle School In Person Learning

Middle School will return to full in-person learning on Wednesday, April 28th. School hours will remain relatively the same as the hours pre-pandemic. Students who wish to remain in full distance learning may do so.

This week, middle school families will received a change request form asking if you would like to transfer your student to a different learning model: remote to in-person or in-person to remote. The survey only needs to be completed if you wish to change learning models.

More details are coming from middle school principals shortly.

Elementary Return to Full In-Person School

The Newton Public Schools will return elementary students to full in-person school on April 5th. Students who wish to remain in the Distance Learning Academy (DLA) may do so. School hours for elementary (in-person and DLA) will be:

8:25 a.m. - 2:15 p.m. - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

8:25 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Wednesday

Bus registration for elementary students is open again. If your student does not currently ride the bus and you would like to register, please follow this link.

April 5th and April 8th are elementary conference days. Early dismissal at 12:30 p.m.

COVID-19 Testing in the Newton Public Schools

Newton Public Schools is in the process of rolling out free, weekly COVID testing for all students. Testing for high school students began the week of March 8th. Testing for middle and elementary students will coincide with their full return to in-person learning (April 5th for elementary, April 28th for middle school).

All NPS staff are currently eligible for testing, either in their school building or at a central location (until it is rolled out to all buildings).

General information on the program can be found on this webpage. A webinar for Pre-K and elementary families to learn more will be held on Tuesday, March 30th at 6:30 p.m. Login information is available on this page.

This testing program is VOLUNTARY and you must provide your consent in order to participate. You may opt-in at any time (see FAQ for details.) The consent form can be found in the Aspen Student/Family Portal. Please follow these instructions to sign the consent form.

School Committee News

The School Committee met on Monday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. Topics discussed included: updates on social emotional learning, spring/fall planning, and an update from the Newton Schools Foundation. A recording of the meeting can be found here: Meeting materials can be found here:

To join the School Committee email distribution list, follow this link: