Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families

Superintendent's Message

January 7, 2022

SPS Families,

Happy New Year! I hope that you and your child are enjoying today’s traditional snow day to play outside, curl up with a great book or cook your favorite recipe. As you know, it has been a busy return to school with the rise in positive COVID cases across our country. Our staff has been working on overdrive to identify positive cases (always our priority), contact trace, coordinate our weekly surveillance and rapid testing, support students who are quarantined or isolated and juggle staffing at each of the schools. These efforts are essential if we are to maintain in-person learning while keeping our community safe. We appreciate your patience and flexibility as we manage the new challenges with the virus and implement new guidance that has been informed by state and local health officials. We ask for grace, particularly for our nurses, who are tirelessly working to keep up with the influx of cases. Our nurses’ efforts are monumental, well beyond the job description and the typical scope of their roles. If you have a moment, please don’t hesitate to drop a quick note of gratitude to these invaluable health professionals. Given the dynamic nature of the virus, I fully expect that we will continue to adjust our protocols to best serve our students and staff. We will keep you informed with regular communication so that you are kept up to date.

Additionally, I wanted to clarify our approach to outdoor eating and open windows across our schools. Because COVID is a respiratory and airborne transmitted virus, we have been advised to allow for as much ventilation as possible across our buildings. We have been cautioned that while students take their masks off to eat, we should increase mitigation strategies. When the weather was warmer, students routinely ate outside, and windows were consistently open in classrooms. During the colder days and months, we are encouraging students to have the option (when possible) of eating outside and suggesting that classrooms keep windows open as much as reasonably possible. It is not our intention to create conditions where it is impossible for students to learn due to the cold, but rather to enhance airflow by cracking open a window. I trust our school leaders and staff to appropriately balance enhancing ventilation with shielding students from the winter elements. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the administration at your child’s school.

Thank you as always for your partnership. Together we will get through the recent surge. We are resilient, strong, and fully dedicated to the success of our children.


Cone of Excellence

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,” or “Great Job.”

This week's Cone of Excellence goes to Jordan Phelps, reading specialist at HMLS, who organized and ran a newspaper club this school year. More than 40 students in Grades 3-5 currently participate in the club and many more are waiting to join! In the past few months, Ms. Phelps has worked tirelessly with students to become interviewers and journalists. She taught students how to interview staff members, research different topics, take pictures, and write and edit sections of the newspaper. On Tuesday, December 21, she organized a publishing party for the first edition of the school newspaper, The Husky Herald!


The SPS Early Childhood Expo (formerly known as the Kindergarten Expo) has been scheduled for Thursday, January 20th 6:30PM-8:00PM via Zoom. Learn about your school choices. Meet our amazing principals and staff.

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Questions Answered About Masking and New Covid-19 Variant

On Tuesday, January 4th, Salem Public Schools hosted a Facebook Live event to answer questions we have been receiving from families and staff . School Committee member and Associate Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Kristin Pangallo, joined us as well as Dr. Larissa Lucas. Dr. Lucas is a physician in the Department of Internal Medicine at Salem Hospital and Medical Director at North Shore Physicians Group.

Dr. Pangallo and Dr. Lucas answered many questions we had received both prior to the event and during the live broadcast, ranging from masking and eating outdoors to the Omicron variant and important health and safety advice. If you missed the live event, you can still view it on Facebook.

Recruiting Members for the SPS LGBTQ+ Action Committee

The LGBTQ+ Action Committee is a group of caregivers, teachers, staff, students, and other allies working to promote an inclusive, equitable, and celebratory culture for LGBTQ+ members of the Salem Public Schools community.

The group has been active for over 5 years and has accomplished many goals such as:

  • Gender neutral bathrooms in our schools
  • Language changes on enrollment forms
  • Forming three Gender–Sexuality Alliance (GSA) groups in our district
  • Actively engaging with the DESE's Safe Schools program for training and
  • Participation in the North Shore Pride parade

We are growing and have much more to do! We would love for you to join in on the great work we have in our future. Interested? Fill out this form and someone from the SPS LGBTQ+ Action Committee will contact you. Come be a part of this committee to bring positive change to our schools.

Salem Unified Sports at SHS

Salem Unified Sports, a new athletic program at Salem High School, has launched as an effort to build an inclusive climate for all students to explore their passions and interests, create opportunities for connection and growth, and discover a place to belong with their peers and coaches.

For many students, Unified Sports provides the opportunity to experience the joy of participation in a school activity, whether they represent their school as part of an interscholastic Unified Sports team, play on an intramural team, or simply have an opportunity to be involved in other inclusive activities.

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools' strategy promotes a socially inclusive school climate where acceptance, respect and human dignity for all students is the norm. A Unified Champion School equitably supports students with and without intellectual disabilities and fosters meaningful opportunities for every student to contribute.

Salem High School is proud to be a Special Olympics Unified Champion School!

Forum on Use of ESSER III Funding

Dr. Zrike held a community forum on Wednesday night to outline and solicit feedback on the district's plans for use of this funding (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief). If you missed it, you can watch it here.

Salem Education Foundation - Salute to Teachers & Staff

Salem Education Foundation salutes all teachers and staff for their commitment to our children during these challenging times! Thank you for your efforts to keep our children safe as they learn and grow.

SEF is currently reviewing grant applications from teachers and will soon announce funding for projects to be implemented this year.

For more information about Salem Education Foundation, please visit our webpage:


As winter approaches, we want to remind staff and families to be sure we have current contact information to reach you in the event that we have a cancellation or delay. Notifications will go out through ParentSquare via automated phone call, text, and email. We do not have the option of remote instruction in the event of a closure.

Retirement of Susan Hamlin

The Multilingual Learner Education Department would like to acknowledge and honor Susan Hamlin, who will be retiring this January after 29 years of service to students in Salem.

Susan worked first as a regular education teacher at the Bentley and Horace Mann Schools, and for the last 10 years has been a teacher of our multilingual learners at Horace Mann. Susan is relentless and passionate about helping every child learn, and ensures that each student exits her classroom with both the fundamentals in reading and writing and a growing love of books.

Susan actively promotes kindness and empathy in her classroom, both in her teaching practice and by consistently modeling it in her own personal relationships with all of her students. It’s no surprise that her students love her as much as she loves them. We thank her for her fierce dedication to her students, and for her professionalism as a colleague. Susan, we will miss you greatly. And so will the children of Salem.
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The virtual Backpack

Welcome to the Virtual Backpack. This is a space where we will place items that in the past may have been a flyer in your student's backpack from friends and partners to SPS.

Schedule a meeting with Superintendent Zrike

Dr. Zrike would love the opportunity to meet with any SPS staff or SPS family who would like to do so. It could be in a park, a coffee shop, your home, or anywhere else.

If you would like to schedule some time with Dr. Zrike, please email Mindy Marino to set up a time and place.

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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