Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families

Superintendent's Message

December 23, 2021

Salem families,

I want to wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday break. Please take the time to enjoy the season with your families in whatever way you celebrate. We know that this is a special time for many students and families and we wish you much joy and happiness. Please don't forget that the COVID virus remains strong and present in our community. Be sure to wear masks, get your vaccine/booster and rapid test using the kits we are providing each student. We ask that your child test before your largest family gathering and the night before returning to school (Sunday, January 2nd). If your child tests positive, we ask that you keep your child home, contact the school on Monday and have your child get a PCR test.

As 2021 comes to a close, we want to thank you for your continued partnership and investment in our schools. It is a privilege working with your child and family. We look forward to seeing you in 2022!



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 Vanessa Fagundes, SPS Transportation Coordinator. Vanessa has brought tremendous leadership, organization and a commitment to customer service to our transportation department since she was appointed as Coordinator one week into the school year. She has worked tirelessly to adjust schedules, establish new procedures and systems and respond to the needs of the students and families we serve. The interests and experiences of our students drives every decision that Vanessa makes in her role. We are grateful for the positive impact she has made over the last few months.

COVID Mitigation Efforts

Since the start of the school year, we have been utilizing all options available to us to keep our community as healthy and safe as possible. This has included many layers of mitigation, including a robust weekly COVID check protocol and our test-to-stay process to make it possible for close contacts to remain in school with daily rapid tests instead of quarantining. Here is a quick snapshot of those programs this year:

  1. Total tests conducted this school year: 32,380
    1. Pool Tests (Total Pools): 3,982
    2. Pool Tests (Total Samples - 5-10 samples per pool): 27,425
    3. Rapid on-site tests: 4,955
  2. Consent rate: Overall - 65%; By school:

Bates 56%

Bentley 58%

Horace Mann 81%

Carlton 93%

Collins 66%

ECC 73%

Salem High 49%

Salem Prep 69%

Saltonstall 69%

Witchcraft 73%

New Liberty 55%

The most effective layer of protection that we have is the vaccine. We have hosted vaccination clinics at all schools and will continue to reach out in the new year if possible. Here's a summary of our latest vaccination information by school (as of Friday, December 17th):

  1. Percent of students with at least one dose of the vaccine overall: 46.3% (Fully Vaccinated - 40.5%)
    1. ECC 26.3%

      Bates 31.9%

      Bentley 18.0%

      Carlton 49.4%

      Collins 54.2%

      Horace Mann 31.3%

      New Liberty 36.5%

      Salem High 64.0%

      Salem Prep 62.5%

      Saltonstall 60.1%

      Witchcraft 31.6%

  2. Percent of staff fully vaccinated: 87%

To make this possible, an amazing team of testers and our phenomenal nurses have been working in overdrive again all year. We are so grateful for their support and your participation to keep our community as safe as possible!" possible!

COVID Response - Use of ESSER III Funding - Virtual Webinar

Please join us virtually on Wednesday, January 5th at 6:00pm to hear about our proposed plan for use of this federal funding and offer your feedback.

Link to join webinar:

Passcode: 248645

School Committee Member Recognized for Service

School Committee member Ana Nuncio's term comes to a close at the end of this month. We are grateful for her service to the Salem community. Ms. Nuncio was recognized at Monday's School Committee meeting where she was presented with the City seal that read:

In recognition and gratitude to Ana Nuncio for her work for, and service to, the greater Salem community throughout her four-year tenure on the Salem School Committee.

Ana has persistently held to dual visions. First, she has worked diligently to ensure that our English Language Learners, and their families, are receiving all necessary support as they work to learn in their new country, and grow to become healthy, successful, and kind citizens.

Second, she has worked from the broader view of what is necessary for all students and their families to learn, and to grow into healthy, successful, and kind citizens, both locally and globally.

This duality has been hard work. Ana has performed with grace and with wisdom. In a quiet voice, she raised the bar for all of us on both.

Thank you and best wishes, Ms. Nuncio!

There will be no newsletter next week, enjoy Winter break


The SPS Early Childhood Expo (formerly known as the Kindergarten Expo) has been scheduled for Thursday, January 20th 6:30PM-8:00PM in the Collins Middle School cafeteria. Masks will be mandatory for all.

Learn about your school choices. Meet our amazing principals and staff. Receive your complete registration package. Interpreters and childcare will be available onsite.

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I want to take a moment to clarify and remind families of our policy regarding the use of cell phones and electronic equipment (including smartwatches) in our schools. According to our district handbook, cell phones are not permitted to be used during the school day without the authorization of a teacher or administrator. They may only be used on school property before and after the school day.

We continue to observe that cell phones and electronic equipment are a distraction to our students during the school day. We want our students to be present throughout the school day so that they can meaningfully engage with their peers, teachers, and the important content that is being shared with them. Following a year of online learning, we want to more strongly emphasize the importance of face-to-face conversations and socialization to build meaningful relationships now that we can be fully in person again.

With our one-to-one Chromebook devices, students have the necessary technology to access learning in their classes. Additionally, if a student needs to contact home during the school day, they can request to use the phone in the school’s office. If it is necessary for a parent to reach their child during the school day, they should contact the school office to get a message to their child.

If a student must have a cell phone for safety reasons or to communicate with their families before or after school, it must be kept off and stored away through the entirety of the school day. The school is not responsible for cell phone loss. If a student is seen using a cell phone during school hours, schools will be implementing the following progressive discipline:

First Step: Student receives a warning. Second Step: Phone is turned into an administrator and held until the end of the school day. Third Step: For repeated violations of this policy, the school may impose discipline, including, but not limited to: detentions, suspensions (in-school & out-of-school), loss of privileges (such as participation in extracurricular programs or athletics), confiscation of the phone up to and until the end of the academic year.

We ask that you review these expectations with your child as I have asked our elementary and middle schools to strongly reinforce this policy when we return from winter break on Monday, January 3rd. We appreciate your support as we ensure that we maximize our focus on providing our students with a first-rate educational experience.


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.

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.

YMCA VIBE After-school Program

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.

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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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