Amesbury Public Schools Update

From the Office of the Superintendent - February 5, 2021

Dear Amesbury Public Schools Families,

Happy February! What a way to begin a new month! Crazy to think we have gotten almost a foot and a half of new snow!


February is proving to be a very busy month! Following February vacation, we will begin the interview process for our new Amesbury Middle School Principal and the posting for the next Superintendent will go live. For the past couple of weeks, a lot of work has been done behind the scenes in preparation for both of these things. This week, the selection committee for the AMS principal has been named and next week, they will begin their work of reviewing applications and making the determination of which candidates they will interview. Similarly, Dorothy Presser from MASC, has facilitated many focus groups including parents, staff, city department heads, administration, and SEPAC parents. With this information, Ms. Presser and her School Committee liaisons, Dr. Jurist-Levy and Ms. Welch, will develop the brochure that will delineate the key characteristics, skills, and experiences that the Amesbury Public Schools would like their next superintendent to possess. Below, you will find additional information as to how you can participate in the Superintendent selection process.


As a district, we have begun to build a little momentum in our hybrid models. This is due in part to the great work that our staff, students and their families have done by adhering to the safety protocols as well as the fact that our numbers in the city have dropped significantly over the past couple of weeks. For example, our positivity rate on December 31st was 7.8% and as of January 28th, it was 4.3%. That means that we have dropped 3.5% in our positivity rate in a month. We hope that this trend will continue, especially after the upcoming February break. It is important that all of us continue to do our part to ensure the safety of the members in our community and to help us work towards bringing our students back into school in a more frequent way.


Along these lines, Amesbury High School has agreed to be a vaccination site for our region. While no clinics have been scheduled at AHS yet, we have met with Chief Berkenbush and Deputy Chief Mather regarding the logistics of holding a clinic at AHS. Along with Mayor Gove, these gentlemen are fighting to bring vaccines to our community. If and when there is specific information to share, we will pass it along.


Thank you for your continued support of our schools.


Sincerely,


Elizabeth McAndrews

Acting Superintendent

AMS Principal Search Timeline

Today is the last day that we are accepting applications for the AMS Principal position. Once the finalists are selected, community members will have the opportunity to attend a community forum for each candidate. We will provide more specific details at the beginning of March. We hope that you will be able to participate in these forums.


February 5th: Deadline for submitting applications


February 12th: Semifinalists selected


Week of February 22nd: Semifinalist interviews


March 5th: Finalists selected


Weeks of March 8th and 15th: Finalists to visit AMS, Community and Teacher Forums, Final Interviews with Superintendent, Selection of New AMS Principal

Superintendent Search Information

Timeline

The link below provides the timeline for each step in the selection process for the next Superintendent of Amesbury Public Schools.


https://schools.amesburyma.gov/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=13731&dataid=19397&FileName=SAMPLE%20TIMELINE.pdf

Survey Link - Open through February 8, 2021

The survey below provides an opportunity to share your thinking about the needs of the district, as well as the qualities and attributes that you desire in a superintendent.


Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DVQ3SJG<https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DVQ3SJG?fbclid=IwAR1JENtIhBpmuity31Dws_q4A9_u2PXq87jrdXQsSvDP4TdikwMtogBy7g0>

Screening Committee Application - Letters of Interest Must Be Received by February 12, 2021

Interested in being part of the Screening Committee? Please review the timeline above to ensure your availability, then complete the application below.


At this time we still need:


  • a parent from each level - elementary, middle and high school
  • a teacher from each level - elementary, middle and high school (one applicant so far)
  • a recent AHS alum from either the Class of 2018, 2019, or 2020



If you are interested, please follow the link listed below for further instructions


Invitation to Apply for Screening Committee: https://bit.ly/3o7SJ0b

Superintendent Search Webpage

If you are interested in following along with the selection process, please check the website below for updates.


Search Committee Website: https://schools.amesburyma.gov/Page/8358

Structured Learning Time Update

On Monday, February 1, 2021, the Amesbury School Committee voted to approve the most recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Amesbury AFT. The purpose of this MOU was to address the emergency regulations recently passed by DESE. Some of the key ideas from those amendments are listed below:



  • In a hybrid model, students must receive 35 hours of live instruction over the course of two weeks of school.
  • In a hybrid model, students must have live contact with an educator, which can be instructional in nature, but does not have to be. Below is an excerpt from DESE's December 18, 2021 "On the Desktop"


"Daily interaction requirement in hybrid and fully remote models. In both hybrid and remote models, districts and schools must provide interactions each school day between educators and students. This interaction may be instructional or non- instructional but must take place “live” (i.e., over video or telephone) for all students."



  • In a fully remote model, students must receive 40 hours of live instruction over the course of two weeks of school.
  • In a fully remote model, students must have live instruction with an educator each day.



It is important to make the distinction between live contact and live instruction. The purpose of live contact is for an educator to "see" students each day and to check in with them. In order to meet the hybrid requirement of daily live contact, students at all levels will have at least a check in with a staff member. This looks different at each grade span. For example, at the elementary schools, morning meetings on asynchronous Wednesdays have been in place and will continue to serve as both live contact and live instruction. However, at AMS and AHS, asynchronous Wednesdays provided the opportunity for students to voluntarily check in with any of their teachers. Thus, in order to meet DESE's live contact expectations, when the district is in a hybrid model, we added an expectation that students at AMS and AHS must check in with their homeroom teacher at 8:30 am (AMS) or their advisory teacher at 9:00 am (AHS) on asynchronous Wednesdays. If the district is in a fully remote model, students at AMS and AHS will receive instruction from either their homeroom or advisory teacher, at 8:30 am or 9:00 am respectively. As educators and parents, one of our greatest concerns is the social emotional/mental health of our students. Therefore, when in a remote model, on Wednesdays students will work with their homeroom teacher or advisory teacher on ways to develop, enhance, and support their social emotional welfare.


The DESE regulations also provide additional information as to the minimum number of hours required in each of the models - hybrid and fully remote. The number of required hours in either hybrid or fully remote models are averaged across grades 1-12. This is a deliberate design by DESE (the excerpt is from the same document linked above):


"Requirements deliberately provide flexibility to vary minimum live hours across the grade levels. The standards are based on an average across all the grades within a learning model, over a two-week period. In other words, if a district is fully remote, it needs to meet an average of 40 hours over two weeks across all grades 1-12. We deliberately recommended an average across the grades because we recognize that virtual instructional time for younger children must be developmentally appropriate. Using an average across grade levels (excluding pre-kindergarten and kindergarten) allows flexibility for districts to set, for example, higher amounts of synchronous learning time at the high school level, and lower amounts at the elementary level. Although in-person learning is important for all students, DESE continues to recommend that districts and schools prioritize elementary students for in-person, full-time school to most effectively address the developmental learning needs of younger students."


I hope that this information helps to provide some insight into the specific changes that are described above. My priority continues to be taking the necessary steps to getting students safely back into school, in-person, where they can work directly with our outstanding teachers. Our students need more face time, more opportunities to interact in a learning environment with one another, to experience learning the way that it should be. As the vaccine rolls out, our opportunities to provide learning in this way should increase.

Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at elizabeth.mcandrews@amesburyma.org