Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families

Superintendent's Message

December 17, 2021


SPS families,


I am thrilled to share that next week we launch our new Salem Public Schools' website! Thanks to the leadership of our Chief of Public Relations, Liz Polay-Wettengel, and her team of developers our site is cleaner, better organized and much easier to navigate. We have heard extensive feedback that our current site is clunky and hard to find essential information about a child's school, district programs, important events and resources. As a result of this input, Liz engaged in a multi-month effort to design a website that was responsive to what she heard from our community. During this time, we had many users review and explore the site so that we could have the strongest launch possible. While we are excited about next week's reveal, we know that we will need to make adjustments as we have more users interact with the new interface. If you have any thoughts, ideas or input about the new site, please do not hesitate to email publicrelations@salemk12.org.


Finally, as you may know, we are in significant need of substitutes to support our schools when staff are out due to being COVID positive, experiencing COVID symptoms or to care for children/family members who are sick with the virus. If you or anyone you know is interested in working in our schools (even if it is for a 1/2 day) as substitute teachers, paraprofessionals or other support staff, please contact our employee engagement department at (978) 740-1115 or humanresources@salemk12.org. To serve as a substitute, we prefer that interested candidates have some college experience. Additionally, we are taking steps to become more competitive with our substitute pay by raising our daily rates in January. We would love to see some of you join the SPS team!


Have a great weekend,


Steve

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 Ms. Michelle Flewelling, physical therapist in SPS. During the holiday season, she wears different holiday outfits and accessories to motivate and energize her students during their therapy sessions. She is also the mastermind behind our annual Special Olympics event which requires tremendous coordination and planning. We are grateful for her many contributions to our school system!

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What to expect for monday's website launch

We are excited to launch a new website on Monday, but sometimes this process takes time to fully implement. When you visit the site on Monday, it is possible you may see an SSL error pop up (see photo). An SSL certificate error occurs when a web browser can’t verify the SSL certificate installed on a site. Rather than connect users to your website, the browser will display an error message, warning users that the site may be insecure, this error message could look different depending on the browser you are using. It can sometimes take 24-48 hours for an SSL certificate to transfer from one website to the other. Please check back if you get that error.

SAVE THE DATE! EARLY CHILDHOOD EXPO

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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Winter Break Covid-19 Testing information

We wanted to provide you with some updates and information regarding Covid-19 testing and free testing kits this winter break.


Weekly COVID Checks - Monday ONLY: Due to an increase in demand (and therefore delays) at the testing lab and the short week for the holiday, there will only be one day of COVID checks at all schools next week. All schools will test on Monday, December 20th. This will allow us to resolve all results before the holiday break. For other testing options, please visit https://www.salem.com/testing. Many thanks to all those coming together to make this possible!



At-Home Test Kits for ALL over winter break! Thanks to the City of Salem, Salem Public Schools is able to provide one kit of two tests to every student and staff member in Salem Public Schools. These are at-home test kits that give results in 15 minutes. If you would like more tests for your family, please check Walmart and CVS, as we are asking you to please use both tests for the student or staff member. Individuals that have been positive in the last 90 days are exempt and should not receive or use the tests. Thank you!

  • Test 1: Please use the first test in the morning before your largest gathering over the winter break. If you will not be gathering with others outside of your household, then you can use the test any day in the middle of the break.

  • Test 2 – Required: All staff and students should use the second test on Sunday, January 2nd, before returning to school on Monday, January 3rd. We are asking every member of our community to participate to help keep everyone safe and healthy.

Instructions for Use: Each test comes with more detailed instructions or you can find video instructions online here: https://youtu.be/36s_J-u5yaI

If the results are positive, isolate the individual and reach out to your healthcare provider. Anyone who gets a positive result over break may not return to school on Monday, January 3rd. Please note the date of the test and contact the school nurse on Monday, January 3rd, and report the result. We recommend a follow-up PCR test. School nurses will be able to provide timelines for return to school. If the test is negative, you are all set and we look forward to seeing you Monday, January 3rd!


Thank you for helping to keep our community safe! If you have questions, please reach out to C19Test1@learn.salemk12.org. Please note there may be a delay in responding over the holidays but we will do our best to respond to all emails.

CELL PHONE USAGE IN SCHOOLS (K-8)

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.

SCHOOL CLOSURES OR DELAYS DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER

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.
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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.


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.

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 www.parentsquare.com for more information.

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