Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families from Salem Public Schools

A note from Steve Zrike, Superintendent


SPS families,

I wanted to take a moment to affirm our support of the Asian-American community in Salem and around the nation. The chilling events in Georgia over the last few days are a sobering reminder of the hate and xenophobia that exists in our country. Asian-Americans have been falsely blamed and attacked for the COVID-19 pandemic and have been made to feel incredibly unsafe.

Please join me in actively condemning this behavior and ensuring that our Asian-American families, students and colleagues are welcomed in our community. In the next few days, we will be providing you with materials to discuss these events and to help you answer questions that students might have. Thank you as always for your partnership as we work to be actively anti-racist and inclusive of each member of the Salem Public Schools.

I ask that families carefully read through this edition of the newsletter as there is extensive information regarding our efforts to return interested K-8 students to in-person school, five days a week on Monday, April 5th. As promised, in this newsletter, we are providing you with:

  • An update on the shift in school hours to accommodate the new length of day;
  • Information about an additional early release day to allow our staff to plan/prepare for the April 5th transition;
  • A reminder about the deadline for families to request a change from their child’s default learning assignment.

With the start of spring tomorrow, we enter this weekend with much optimism and enthusiasm about the coming weeks and months in the Salem Public Schools!


Updated Start and End times for Grades PreK-8 for April 5th Return

Start and end times for some PreK-8 schools will be shifting to accommodate the school day schedules. Some school start times shifted 5-10 minutes to ensure our transportation schedule can accommodate the increased number of daily riders. Many school end times were extended to the six hour, five minute day. Remote schedules will follow the same schedule as the in-person schedule unless specified for our extended day schools. The new start and end times can be found here on our website.

Additional Early Release Day for K-8 scheduled for March 31st

Wednesday, March 31st is now an early release day – As our schools and educators prepare for another transition this year, we need to ensure that they have the time to plan for this change and implement all of the health and safety practices that will help ensure our schools are as safe as possible.

To do so, we will be releasing all K-8 students for a half day according to the early release schedule here. This means that both Wednesday, March 24th and Wednesday, March 31st will be early release days. Wednesday, March 24th was already in the schedule to accommodate parent conferences, and March 31st is the addition to the schedule for planning as explained. We recognize that this can be disruptive to families and hope you understand our teacher's need for planning to return to the classroom full-time.

In addition, some grade levels at some schools will be adding limited additional independent work time to the schedule in the two weeks prior to the transition to enable more collaborative planning time. Schools will notify parents of any remote student schedule changes by the Friday before such a change, and we do not anticipate this being more than a few hours over the course of a week for planning and modifying spaces. We appreciate your understanding as we do our best to navigate through this year and work to support our educators and school staff.

Reminder: Forms for return to school due

As a reminder, any K-8 family that is REQUESTING A CHANGE from the default assignment MUST complete the form for your child’s school by MONDAY, MARCH 22, 2021 or contact your school’s front office. This is the FINAL opportunity for families to change options. To request a change, please complete the form for your child’s school. Forms can be found here.

Cone of Excellence Award

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 is awarded to the new senior custodian at Horace Mann Laboratory School, Patrick Hagen. Mr. Hagen has recently transitioned to this position and has immediately made a positive impact. He has been diligent in ensuring that proper cleaning and health protocols are followed at the building. He is always open and eager to collaborate with staff in order to create an environment conducive to improved teaching and learning. He has been a tremendous asset to HMLS!

Vaccines for Salem Public Schools' Staff

Need a vaccine appointment? Have time to help a Salem Public Schools' staff member get one? The City of Salem, Salem Public Schools and the Salem Teachers Union 1258 are working together on a volunteer effort to help with booking appointments for Salem educators and school staff who are currently eligible for a COVID vaccine appointment, but are having trouble booking an appointment on-line. The initial goal of this effort is to help get teachers and school staff vaccinated ahead of more of our students returning to school on April 5th.

It can be difficult for school staff to book an appointment during the day, while school is in session. So we’re looking for volunteers to help crowdsource booking appointments for Salem educators and school staff and for those staff members who are having trouble to sign up to be partnered with someone to help.

Volunteering is simple. If you can help from home by volunteering to find appointments for these essential workers, please fill out the form at

If you a Salem Public Schools' staff member (or other education staff in the City of Salem), you can fill out the form at if you would like to be added to the list of “adoptable” education workers for volunteers to help.

Staff should also be sure they are pre-registered for the state’s mass vax sites, by visiting For more information on this program, please visit the Salem Together for our Education Workforce website


Parents of incoming Kindergarten students are reminded that in order to enroll their K student in the same school as a sibling, the registration application must be received in the Parent Information Center on or before March 22nd. Since the original date (3/20) falls on a weekend, applications must be submitted by end of day on the next business day which is Monday 3/22.

Also, if a student was withdrawn from SPS due to the pandemic and the parent/guardian wants to re-enroll the student at their previous school for the 21-22 school year, the enrollment application is also now due on March 22nd.

Please contact the Parent Information Center (PIC) staff at 978-740-1225 or with any questions.

Join Us For Salem High School Future Student Night!

8th grade families - Are you ready to learn about the exciting world of opportunity that SHS can offer? Join us for Future Student Night with Salem High School on March 25th, 6-7pm

From our top-notch academics, and our expanded career and technical programs such as culinary arts, carpentry, computer programming, medical assisting, and more to our robust arts and music programs, JROTC, sports, and clubs… we have pathways for every type of student to meet their needs and support them throughout their high school years.

There will be ample time to have your questions answered during the Q&A portion of the presentation. This event will be recorded. A link will be posted to our social media channels following the event. However. we hope to “see” you there! Please use the following link to access the webinar:

We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got going on at Salem High School.

A note about P-EBT benefits

We recently let you know that P-EBT benefits will be extended through the summer. Your monthly benefits are distributed to your card on the 25th of each month. You may have received an extra benefit this month, perhaps today, that looked like a partial payment. These funds are from a miscalculation in benefits from September that are retroactively being added to your cards. You will still receive your regular monthly distribution on the 25th of the month. If you have questions, please visit P-EBT

P-EBT is a federal program. The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), in collaboration with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), received approval to operate this program in response to the COVID-19 related school closures. P-EBT provides food supports to help families

MA Travel Order Replaced With Travel Advisory

Effective Monday, March 22nd, the new travel advisory urges all persons entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, to quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival if they have been out of the state for 24 hours or more.

Travelers were previously required to produce a negative test, quarantine and fill out a disclosure form, or face a $500/day fine for travel outside the state's designated low-risk locations.

The advisory does not apply to anyone in the following categories:

  • Anyone who is returning to Massachusetts after an absence of fewer than 24 hours.
  • Travelers who have a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to their arrival in Massachusetts.
  • Workers who enter Massachusetts to perform critical infrastructure functions while they are commuting to or from or while at work.
  • Travelers who have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 14 days or more ago and who do not have symptoms.

Call for Nominations - Teacher Recognition Award

Do you know an exemplary teacher from Salem or Marblehead?

Please nominate that individual for recognition.

What is the purpose of the award? Each year, The Margaret Voss Howard Teacher Recognition Award recognizes one Marblehead teacher and one Salem teacher as representative of all the excellent, dedicated teachers in the community who make a difference to children every day.

Teachers from the district schools in Marblehead and Salem, Massachusetts, are eligible. Each honoree receives an unrestricted cash award of $500. Anyone—educators, parents, students, citizens—may make a nomination.

Send a letter of nomination with your reasons for nominating the teacher. Please be as detailed and specific as possible. Please keep nominations confidential and do not inform individuals that they have been nominated. Nominations must be postmarked by April 30.

More information and the nomination form can be found here for download.

Student COVID Testing

Do you know that your child can have a free and easy COVID-19 test weekly while they are in their classroom? We have made it simple to add this extra layer of protection for all our staff and students. All you need to do is provide consent for your child once and they will be able to participate in this in-school testing weekly.

To register and provide consent, please go to this page on our website and click the link for your child’s school. Please remember, you are completing the form for your child, not for you (a quick check recommended by the organization is to make sure you’re putting in your student’s date of birth, not yours). You must complete the form (one for each child) by clicking “consent” on the last page. That’s it! Help us keep our schools safe and enroll your student today!

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.

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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