Central Office News
A Message from Superintendent Clenchy and Dr. Maguire
October 2, 2020
Dear NRSD Community,
Welcome to our first newsletter of the 2020-2021 school year!
The start of the school year – albeit with hybrid and remote learning across the District – is yet another sign that by working together, we can manage through this dreaded COVID-19 pandemic and find our new normal. This is not an easy time for anyone, but the hope is that our students can continue full speed ahead with their education and personal development. We are in a better place than we were last March, and we will continue to improve our model until such time as it is safe for all students to return to school full time.
I have a couple of brief updates that I would like to share:
Each of our schools will be hosting Virtual Open Houses in the coming week. The dates for each school are below. Building Principals will be sending details and links for these meetings.
Center School - Tuesday, October 6th 5:00 -7:30 PM
Mary Rowlandson - Tuesday, October 6th 5:00 - 7:30 PM
Florence Sawyer Elementary School (Grades K-4) - Tuesday, October 6th 5:30 - 7:20 PM
Florence Sawyer Middle School (Grades 5-8) - Thursday, October 8th, 5:30 - 7:30 PM
Luther Burbank - Thursday, October 8th 5:00 - 8:00 PM
Hale Middle School - Thursday October 8th 5:30 - 7:30 PM
NRHS - Tuesday, October 13th 6:00 - 7:30 PMMiddle School Remote Learning Academy - Monday, October 5th, 6:00 - 7:00 PM
Remote Learning for NRHS
We have heard some parents express their desire to fully reopen the high school for in-person learning. The reality is that, even with a hybrid model, the challenges are such in our particular building that it will continue to be a challenge to be in compliance with current CDC and DESE guidance.
We would not have use of some of the core of the building because the interior classrooms do not have the capacity for the number of air exchanges required to ensure staff and student safety in this environment. Portions of the building are more than a half-century old and they do not have the HVAC capacity we need; this is one of many reasons we are pursuing state funds to renovate or replace the high school.
With the diminished number of available classrooms, a limited number of faculty and COVID-19-imposed limitations and constraints regarding certain activities like what had been our regular communal lunch, we do not have enough space to ensure six feet of distance between students. A hybrid approach at NRHS may be potentially accomplished with a three foot social distancing approach and we have considered this as a possibility.
The use of learning PODs – teaching students in small cohorts where they are only exposed to those in their cohort – is not consistent with the curriculum track in the high school. Each student within a hybrid model at NRHS will come into contact with at least 100 individual students on a daily basis.
We will need three times the number of bus runs to carry students in accordance with social distance limitations. We anticipate that this will require staggered starts and dismissal times at NRHS.
Lunches will be provided as Grab and Go. We do not believe that we will have the capacity to hold regular lunch times in our cafeteria for the number of students expected in a hybrid model. Our hybrid days, when implemented, will likely run only until the noon hour. We are exploring all options regarding this.
We have created an NRHS FAQ sheet that you can read here with greater detail. We encourage that you peruse it at your leisure.
At best, even with a hybrid model, we could only have three to six feet of distance between students. We continue, however, to work through new models to determine a way to bring students back for at least a hybrid model. We will explore every avenue to do this. We cannot yet commit to a date for doing this, but will keep you apprised.
We continue to work toward implementation of the School Committee’s July 1 vote to change the NRHS team name, symbols and iconography. The vote came at the request of members of our indigenous American community to remove the “Chieftain” name and related symbols. A group that will include our Athletic Director Tania Rich, students and community members will work on the development of a new team mascot and will report back by the first of the year (2021). We have engaged a professional outside agency who will support and lead us on this journey.
Blue Ribbon Honors for Luther Burbank Middle School
The District was absolutely thrilled to learn last week that the Luther Burbank Middle School was named one of six Blue Ribbon Schools in Massachusetts by the U.S. Department of Education. This national award followed a 2019 selection by the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a “School of Recognition.” In fact, LBMS was one of only six – and the only middle school – in the state to earn state recognition in all three categories.
We are so proud of the school’s leadership, faculty and staff, as well as the students and their families, who have worked so hard to earn these honors. The fact that the students met targets in educational testing is a reflection of both the school’s approach of helping every student find the path to success and the community’s commitment to teaching and learning.
LBMS Principal Laura Friend and her team do an exceptional job for our District and we thank them for their many contributions.
We are proud of Luther Burbank, as we are of all of our schools.
We thank our staff, students and parents who are all doing their very best to continue to navigate these incredible times. The challenges are daunting and seemingly never ending. However, we recognize that there are opportunities for growth in all of this - we see certain silver linings and are doing our best to capitalize on them.
Please continue to stay safe and healthy. As a school district and collective communities, we are doing a solid job of collectively finding our way through all of this. It will get better and we will all be stronger for having travelled the journey to the other side of all of this.
Yours in partnership,
Brooke Clenchy, Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Todd Maguire, Asst. Superintendent of Schools