Amesbury Public Schools Update

From the Office of the Superintendent - August 18, 2021

Hello Amesbury Public School Families!

Dear Amesbury Public School Families,


I hope that this letter finds you well rested and having enjoyed a wonderful summer. I am thrilled to begin my first official year as Superintendent. I have enjoyed working and meeting many of you last year and am eager to connect on a larger scale with you.


The summer has been an incredibly busy one in the schools. Throughout the District, administrators have been screening applications, interviewing candidates, and hiring the educators that they believe will contribute in the best way to the educational experience of our students. It has been a pleasure to meet our new staff members and I look forward to working with them this year. Additionally, we have had more than 250 students participate in summer school opportunities this year. It has been great seeing so many students in the hallways this summer!


I really cannot wait to see all of our students back in school! The start of the school year has always been my favorite time of year - as a former student, a current parent (yeah for routines!), and as an educator. It is a chance for a fresh start and to set new goals for myself. I was very excited to have a school year that was “normal.” However, a couple of weeks ago, our planning for the opening of school took a turn based on guidance from the CDC and then from DESE. This past Monday, I shared some of that information with our School Committee and the public who was watching. During that meeting, based on my recommendation and with the input from our medical professionals, the School Committee voted to maintain the use of masks indoors to help protect our students and staff. In addition, the School Committee agreed to have the review of the mask policy as a standing item on each School Committee agenda - we meet twice a month. We will continue to work with our medical professionals to review the data and make evidence based decisions. Thus, it will be an expectation for anyone, including staff, students, and visitors, that a mask is worn when inside a school building. We will continue to have a supply of masks for those who might need one.


Please click on this link for the information that I shared on Monday night as it provides some additional information. As we start school, your school nurse will be the best contact for any COVID related questions. Otherwise, please feel free to contact my office if you need additional information or clarification. In order to help keep students in school, we will be conducting in-school testing. I have included a section on testing below to help explain the three options provided by the state. We believe that this will reduce the number of students who will need to leave school as close contacts. At the start of the school year, we will send home consent forms for in-school COVID testing. On Monday night, I shared that my most immediate goals are to: keep students and staff safe, keep students in school, make the school experience as close to normal as possible, and use local data on vaccination and positivity rates to drive decision-making. I know that if we work together, we can have a very successful and productive school year.


As a first year Superintendent, I am participating in the New Superintendent’s Induction Program (NSIP) which provides mentoring and guides me through the Entry Plan process as well as helping to build the new Strategic Plan for our district. This involves several steps over the course of more than a year. One of the first steps is having conversations and asking questions of stakeholders; therefore, I will be seeking input in a variety of ways that may include a survey, a forum, and/or small group conversations. I hope that many of you will be able to participate and share your thoughts about Amesbury Public Schools with me.


As a reminder, the first day of school for students is Wednesday, September 1st. Students will be in school on Wednesday and Thursday, there will not be any school on Friday or Monday, and students will return to school on Tuesday, September 7th. Each principal will send more detailed information about the start of school to families. I am very excited to begin this school year working with all of you!


Sincerely,


Elizabeth McAndrews

Superintendent

Return to Aspen, Teacher Assignments, and Class Schedules

As you know, we have been working diligently this summer to transition our student information back from School Brains to Aspen. It has been a team effort and we have made significant progress. We will be ready for the start of school!


Teacher assignments for students at AES and CES will be mailed tomorrow, Thursday, August 19th. If you have not received your child's letter by Tuesday, August 24th, please contact the schools directly. Similarly, AMS Team assignments will be emailed to families tomorrow, August 19th. For AHS students, schedules can be picked up during the Open House on Monday, August 30th between 6 and 8 pm. Schedules will be available beginning at 5:45 pm. Next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, AHS guidance counselors will be meeting with students who have conflicts. Schedules for AIHS students will be emailed out by the end of next week. In addition, AIHS students will receive their schedule on Wednesday, September 1st when they return to school.


We are also moving to a new notification system that will allow us to communicate with you more effectively. We expect that it will be up and running by the first week of September.


Thank you for your patience as we continue to finalize our transition back to Aspen. It will be worth it!

In-School Testing Options and EXEMPTIONS from Testing/Quarantine

This year, DESE is offering three different types of in-school testing. As a district, we will be implementing Symptomatic Testing and the "Test and Stay" Testing. We will not implement the Routine COVID safety checks (Pool Testing) at this time. We will continue to monitor our data and determine if or when we would need to implement Pool Testing. The chart below clearly outlines what each of the testing programs entail. Consent for in-school testing is required and, to that end, we will be sending a consent document to families in the near future. DESE and DPH have identified EXEMPTIONS to both testing and quarantine which are outlined here:


1. Asymptomatic, FULLY VACCINATED close contacts

2. Classroom close contacts - provided that both individuals were masked and spaced at least 3' apart

3. Bus close contacts - provided that masks were worn and windows were open

4. Close contacts who have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days

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Bus Fees

This past spring, the Amesbury School Committee voted to reduce the transportation fee by 25%. The adjusted rates are: $187.50 for an individual rider and a family cap of $337.50. Bus passes will be distributed to students in school during the month of September. Effective October 1, 2021, all bus riders will need a valid bus pass. Bus routes and bus stop times will be published on our district website the week prior to the start of school. Please register for bus transportation as soon as possible as it helps us to design the most effective routes for our students and families.


If you have any questions, please contact Joan Liporto at (978)388-0507.

Start and End Time By School

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Dismissal Schedule By School

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Early Release (ER), Professional Release Time (PRT) and Professional Development Day (PD) Dates

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Entry Plan Timeline

Below please find my Entry Plan Timeline. Once the Entry Plan is finalized, it will be posted on the District's website. I am hoping that many of you are able to participate in the opportunities for feedback that will be offered.
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Sgt. Jordan Shay Memorial Lower Elementary School Update

On Tuesday, July 20th, the ground breaking ceremony was held to signal the start of the building process. At this time, work is moving along at a good pace and should you head to Woodsom Farm you would have a pretty good view! We continue to have weekly trailer meetings to discuss the progress, review the three week plan, and anything else that might arise. Cashman Elementary will be "open for business" on Tuesday, August 24th.
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Mascot Committee Update

The Mascot Committee has continued to meet during the summer. Each member of the committee has been responsible for gathering information and sharing that information with the committee as a whole. The committee next meets on Thursday, August 26th and will work on a survey with the intention of gathering input from all stakeholders. Please keep your eyes open for links to the survey in September. All Mascot Committee meetings are open to the public and follow the guidelines of the Open Meeting Law.

Technology Update

This summer we have made significant strides in terms of our technology infrastructure refresh. Some of the updates that we have made include upgrading the power circuits in AHS, AMS and CES with uninterruptible power supplies. We have reconfigured all switches, firewalls, and wireless access points and replaced our static routing with dynamic routing which will speed things up for us. We will continue to make improvements to our infrastructure throughout the year.


It is my goal to provide our students grades 5-12 with a school-owned chromebook for use in and out of school. We are still working on the details for distribution of the devices and the policy that guides their use. I will provide more information as soon as I have it available.

Social Media

Please follow me on Instagram @amesburypublicschools, on Twitter @amesburypublic1, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/amesburyschools

Enjoy the rest of the summer! Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter!