Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families from Salem Public Schools

A note from Steve Zrike, Superintendent


SPS families,

This week DESE Commissioner Riley established the goal for districts to return students to in-person learning five days a week. It is unclear whether this will ultimately be a mandate or an aspiration. Nevertheless, Salem Public Schools is in the process of developing a plan for expanding in-person learning for more students in April. In order to consistently offer a 5-day a week learning experience to more students, we would have to reduce the 6-foot distancing which has been an essential part of our current learning models. As we consider this shift, we must evaluate the current spread of the virus in Salem, examine access to the vaccine for our educators and assess space and staffing at each school. At the same time, we want to minimize further interruption for our students, staff, and families during the final months of the school year. I will present a plan at the March 15th School Committee meeting that details a timeline and proposed logistics for offering more in-person schooling to students. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we work to ensure the health and safety of our community while continuing to enhance the learning experience for our students.

Finally, I wanted to remind everyone that Feb. 27th is Dominican Independence Day. On Saturday, the Dominican Republic will celebrate the 177th anniversary of its independence. Salem Public Schools joins Dominican staff, students, and their families in celebrating this significant day! As a school district with a high percentage of Dominican students, it is important that SPS take the opportunity to recognize and learn about this moment in the history of the Caribbean island. Moving forward, we will be sure that all of our students have an opportunity to learn about Dominican history beyond the Feb. 27th celebration.

Have a terrific weekend,


Dr. Zrike's Strategic Objectives, Priorities and Goals

As part of Dr. Zrike's entry plan, he has created a document of findings and strategic priorities that he has identified as areas of focus. This document has been shaped by the countless conversations and input sessions that Dr. Zrike has had with stakeholders- staff, students, parents, School Committee members, and community leaders- since he started in July. The invaluable feedback he received informs a series of strategic priorities, initiatives, and goals that build from the existing Salem Public Schools strategic plan. It is not meant to overhaul the current plan, but rather to prioritize and focus on critical work that still needs to be accomplished. Equity must be at the core of these efforts, the lens through which we examine everything we do and serve as the operating principle through which we ground our improvement.

Dr. Zrike genuinely wants your feedback on these priorities, initiatives, and metrics in advance of his formal presentation to the School Committee on Monday, March 1st.

If you are interested in additional conversations, you can email or complete the aforementioned form and include your name and interest at the bottom.

Signing Up and Consent for student testing

This week we began expanded testing of our students in our schools. In order to enroll your child in covid testing at their school, you must fill out the consent form. You only need to do this once but we do need consent from the parent in order for your child to participate in the weekly testing. It is pooled testing by an easy nasal swab that students can do themselves (but we do help our youngest students) and adds another layer of safety and peace of mind for our in-person students AND our staff. We are proud to say that the testing results from Tuesday's testing of staff and students revealed ZERO positives. All tests were negative for the students that took part in this testing opportunity. Please know that with any new process, there have been and will be bumps in the road that will smooth over with time. Some families at the beginning of the week received notification from Beacon about test results. In the future, you will only receive a notification if your student was in a positive pool and that notification would come from a Salem Public Schools staff member.

To register and provide consent for your student to participate, 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 birthday, not yours). You must complete the form by clicking “consent” on the last page. A dashboard that says “schedule a test” pops up - please ignore it! That function is not for schools, but rather for the public sites. You need to complete one form per child. If you run into obstacles, we highly recommend the testing organization’s FAQ:

Community Budget Forums

Dr. Zrike will be hosting forums to provide an opportunity for the community to learn about our strategic priorities as well as the budget planning process and to provide input on the 21-22 school year budget. (Separate forums will be scheduled for staff.)

You can register to attend ONE of the community forums by clicking on the desired date below and providing your name and email address.

March 8, 2021 06:00 – 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:


March 17, 2021 06:00 – 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

youth culinary job training program

Root offers a free 14-week culinary job training program for young people ages 16-26 who want to grow their skills for entering the workforce. Each participant has the opportunity to train with a professional chef, receive one-on-one job coaching, and gain personal finance and workforce readiness skills, all while earning a weekly stipend! The program takes place on-site in our commercial kitchen located in downtown Salem and currently runs from 10AM to 2PM, Monday - Friday. Please note, that Root is committed to the health and safety of trainees and staff and therefore we strictly enforce handwashing, space sanitation, social distancing, mask wearing, and daily temperature taking.

For more information, reach out to Root's Program Director, Beth Alaimo, at or call 978-616-7615 ext. 107. To apply now, visit

Classroom highlight: Carlton Innovation School

A submission from a couple of our amazing teachers. Jessica Eveleth and Kristin Ciarmataro told me about this amazing project in their classrooms. "Our in-person students at Carlton (grades 3-5) chose a stanza that spoke to them from "The Hill We Climb" by Amanda Gorman and wrote down their interpretation of that stanza. They then created an image that connected to it through a picture in writing project, using watercolors."

English Learner 6-year review

The EL Department is in our 6-year review process by DESE called Program Quality Assurance or PQA. During the week of April 5th, 2021 the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE’s) Office of Language Acquisition will conduct a Tiered Focused Monitoring Review of Salem Public Schools. The Office of Language Acquisition reviews each district and charter school every six years to monitor compliance with federal and state English learner education laws and regulations. Areas of review will include English learners’ student assessments; identification of English learners; what programs English learners are placed in; parent and community involvement; curriculum and instruction; student support services; licensure requirements for faculty, staff and administration; program plans; and evaluation and recordkeeping.

In addition to the onsite visit, parent outreach is an important part of the review process. The district will send a survey to the parents of students whose records the review team examines. The survey focuses on key areas of their child’s English learner education program. Survey results will contribute to the monitoring report.

Parents and other individuals may call Judith R. Magloire, Office of Language Acquisition Review Chairperson, at (781) 338- 3571 to request a telephone interview. If an individual requires accommodation, such as translation, to participate in an interview, DESE will make the necessary arrangements.

Within approximately 60 business days of the onsite visit, the review chairperson will provide Salem Public Schools with a report with information about areas in which the district meets or exceeds regulatory requirements and areas in which the district requires assistance to correct or improve practices. The report will be available to the public at

Dominican Republic Independence Day

We want to remind the Salem community that Dominican Republic Independence Day is celebrated annually on Feb. 27th. The holiday marks the day that the Dominican Republic gained independence from Haiti in 1844. Juan Pablo Duarte, along with leaders from the ‘La Sociedad Trinitaria’, successfully overthrew the Haitian regime. This is a special day of celebration and pride for Dominicans across the world and those who reside in the city of Salem. As a school district with a high percentage of Dominican students, it is important that SPS take the opportunity to recognize and learn about this significant moment in the history of the Caribbean island.

WHES Dominican Republic Independence Day Celebration

Collins Food Distribution Site

Due to low participation, Collins Middle School will cease to be a food distribution site. The last day to pick up distributed meals will be this Friday, February 26.

All of the other sites will continue to operate on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at their regular times.

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,” and “Great Job.”

This week’s cone of excellence is presented to Salem High School’s athletic trainer Samantha Norman. Ms. Norman is a valuable member of the SHS athletic department who always puts the health and wellness of student-athletes at the forefront. During COVID, Ms. Norman has upheld the highest standards to ensure a safe environment by respectfully reminding Salem and opposing team athletes to wear masks, sanitize and distance when possible. Her leadership has been instrumental in allowing our athletes to participate in team sports this school year.

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.

2021 Salem Little League, T-ball, Baseball, and Softball information

Girl Scout Exploradoras for grades 6-12

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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