MURSD District Update
From the Office of the Interim Superintendent
September 16, 2021
This week in the MURSD
We are in our first full week of the school year and we can see everyone is getting into the routines of drop off and pick-ups, class schedules, lunches, and learning! Yes, learning! Sometimes we can all get caught up in the back-to-school frenzy of learning new schedules (myself included as a parent of a middle-schooler and high-schooler), that we can get side-tracked from the amazing teaching and learning that is taking place with all of our students back in full in-school learning. It's been exciting to see our students engaging in hands-on learning with our new math resource of Bridges Math in K-5. The energy at the middle school has been right where it should be with laughter, engaged conversations, and creative project-work. Our high school students are back to full engagement in extracurricular activities this fall. I've loved listening to the music from jazz ensemble in the evenings and seeing our students off to practices and games.
This past Monday we shared our District's Strategic Action Goals for the 2021-2022 school year. Here is a link to the presentation. We continue to be committed to strategic improvement in alignment with our district's strategic mission to empower all learners to thrive. In simple terms, we have discussed our work this year with students in the terms of Understand, Support, and Engage. We strive to understand our students as individuals, to support their individual needs, and to engage them in authentic learning experiences. We will continue to highlight our district and school goals throughout the year regarding our progress.
Beginning this week, we are also launching our district COVID-19 Resource webpage which will link COVID-19 updates/resources from the district, state, and federal levels as well as share a new data dashboard that we will update each week. As new resources are shared with us from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, we will continue to update this page.
Have a great week!
Maureen Cohen, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent of Schools
Please click here for the updated district calendar. Two additional early release days for professional development are reflected on this calendar.
- September 21: Open House Clough and Memorial
- September 22: Open House Clough and Memorial
- September 23: Open House Nipmuc and Nipmuc Picture Day
- September 29: Open House Miscoe
- September 30: Open House Miscoe
Please refer to school websites and newsletters for additional school events taking place.
Mendon Turkey Trot
Registration is open for this year's race, and we would love to have you! We'll be kicking off promptly at 8am on Thanksgiving Day, at the HP Clough School, using the same route as before (down North Ave and turning back at Miscoe Hill Road)
We have added a virtual option for anyone who can't join us on Thanksgiving but would like to participate when they can!
All details can be found at www.mendonturkeytrot.com
YOU INSPIRE ME: English Language Coordinators-Debby Coyle and Denise McGovern
"Debby and Denise are fierce advocates in ensuring our families have access to school and district information in their language so they don't miss a beat! I have learned so much from them."
"Debby Coyle inspires me to continue to learn better ways to support and communicate with students and families who speak languages other than English, and to build strong relationships with all families despite the challenges of language differences. She does so much more than help her students to develop English proficiency-she is also a strong advocate for culturally responsive teaching practices and for the students and families she serves."
YOU INSPIRE ME: Family playing 'Sweet Caroline' this morning
"This morning as I came into work, one of our middle school families was playing 'Sweet Caroline' as we sang along in the parent drop-off. Thanks for bringing some musical joy to my day today."
Send in your #MURSDInspires notifications and we will highlight some in our newsletters and we will send the messages to the recipients to let them know they make a difference. Thanks!
Launch of District COVID-19 Resource Page
The purpose of the District COVID-19 Resource Page is to provide up-to-date information regarding local data and school data regarding COVID-19 cases as well as to be a resource to share ongoing updates regarding testing protocols and state guidelines. As a school district, we follow the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines and associated state regulations, who partner with the Department of Public Health. Additionally, we work collaboratively with our local Board of Health and school nursing teams to manage information about cases and testing protocols. We are required to track cases and report the case data numbers to the DESE on a weekly basis.
The COVID-19 Data Dashboard is designed to provide you with weekly data regarding new instances of positive tests as well as information on close contacts. We also will provide cumulative data to reflect the total number of confirmed positive COVID-19 reported to our school nurses since the start of this school year.
COVID-19 Testing-Consent Forms
Thank you for your continued support as we kick off the 2021-2022 school year. In the Mendon-Upton Regional School District, keeping students safe and in school is our top priority. We have learned a great deal over this past year and our current guidance and procedures reflect the most updated recommendations from the CDC, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
For the 2021-22 school year, we are offering an extra layer of protection through our COVID-19 testing program. This program has two components that we are implementing to start the year: symptomatic testing for students who show symptoms of COVID-19 at school, and Test and Stay for students who may have been exposed while in school and are not exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols. Currently, we are not going to begin the year with routine COVID safety checks (formerly known as pooled testing), but ask that you complete the consent for this in the system as it may be something we need to do in the future. MURSD uses the BinaxNOW test. This is a quick, non-invasive nasal swab that is collected under the supervision of a school nurse or trained health provider. Unlike COVID-19 tests of the past, these are not uncomfortable and easy for students to do themselves under adult supervision.
Students can only participate with permission from a parent or guardian. It is important to the Mendon-Upton Regional School District that you are fully informed regarding this process and we answer any questions that you might have in advance of asking you to sign the consent form. Below we describe the testing programs, how they are conducted, and what they are used for.
Symptomatic testing (BinaxNOW) is used when a student is showing symptoms of COVID-19 during school; students should not come to school if they are feeling sick while at home. Some symptoms of the virus can present similarly to other illnesses like the cold or flu. You can find the COVID-19 symptom checklist at the bottom of this webpage. BinaxNOW is a rapid test that provides results in 15 minutes. The school nurse will communicate with parents/guardians to share the results and determine next steps.
Test and Stay allows asymptomatic, in-school close contacts who are not exempt from testing and quarantine protocols to remain in school. Instead of needing to quarantine and miss school, these students will be administered a daily BinaxNOW test while in school or participating in weekend school-related activities (eMed Take Home Test). Test and Stay has a duration of 7 days from the date of last exposure.
If a student tests positive for COVID-19, they must isolate at home for the CDC-recommended ten days from the onset of symptoms or ten days from the date of the positive test. Additionally, the student must be without symptoms and fever-free in the prior 24 hours before returning to school.
If you would like your child to participate in the COVID-19 testing program, please sign the consent form linked above. There is no cost for participation. If you have any questions regarding the program, please contact your student's school nurse.
It is our hope that these measures will work together to keep our schools safe and your student in school. Thanks again for your support during this challenging time.
Maureen Cohen, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent of Schools
The following is the Fall 2021 District COVID-19 Protocols. School-specific protocols and FAQs have been developed and will be shared with families.
The following is a district FAQ document for back-to-school questions. Schools are developing school-based FAQs which they will be sharing prior to the start of school.