MURSD District Update
From the Office of the Interim Superintendent
September 29, 2021
This Week in the MURSD
We want your input!
Dear Mendon-Upton School Community,
I hope this week's newsletter finds you well.
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021, the Mendon-Upton Regional School District has qualified for grant funds administered through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Through this one-time grant process, the district will receive $468,915 in ESSER III funding. Please know that these are one-time funds and not recurring and the focus of the fund use is to help with the school's recovery from the multiple impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on our schools, staff, and students. The period of availability for grant fund usage is 2021-2024.
The Mendon-Upton Regional School District is seeking public comment concerning the allocation of these funds. The district has multiple areas of need and appreciates your input in the decision- process to ensure that funds are expended in a way that will positively impact the education of all students within the Mendon-Upton Regional Schools. We ask that you take a few minutes to complete the survey, which lists out evidence-based practices and use of funds recommended by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
In other news, the Commissioner of Education extended the mask requirements to November 1st. Here is a full description of the DESE Extension of Mask Requirements. Additionally, they provided guidance on determining a vaccination threshold regarding masking: DESE Policy on Vaccination Threshold. As of this week, our student vaccination rates for the High School were at 71% fully vaccinated. At the middle school, mostly 7th and 8th graders fall in the age range of students able to be vaccinated. Current vaccination rates for our students are 62% in grade 7 and 72% in grade 8.
We are finalizing a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for later in October, which we will communicate out to the community as soon as we have confirmation.
Have a great week!
Maureen Cohen, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent of Schools
Please click here for the updated district calendar.
- September 29: Open House Miscoe
- September 30: Open House Miscoe
- September 30: DECA Cookout and Activities Fair
- October 8: No School. Full-Day Professional Development Day
- October 9: Nipmuc Homecoming Events
- October 10: Nipmuc Hall of Fame Induction
- October 11: No School.
- October 12: Clough PTO Meeting
- October 13: Nipmuc PSAT
- October 14-20: Clough Book Fair
- October 28: Nipmuc Picture Retakes
Please refer to school websites and newsletters for additional school events taking place.
YOU INSPIRE ME: Amy Buzzell
Amy's enthusiasm, optimism and positivity is absolutely infectious. Not only is Amy incredibly skilled at juggling hundreds of tasks AND serving as a "hub" of sorts for the school, she finds ways to personally connect with staff and students alike. She remembers small details about everyone and follows up, asking about our families, classrooms and students. As we enter our third "unconventional" school year, I feel more optimistic facing the daily challenges with Amy in our building. I know I am not alone when I say that she inspires me every day.
YOU INSPIRE ME: Angela Tinio
No matter how crazy the office can get she still greets everyone with that million dollar smile!
YOU INSPIRE ME: Britt Kahler and Casey Rhodes
These two ladies have taken on the coaching responsibilities of our Unified Basketball Team at the high school. They are truly an inspiration working with all of these students getting them on the same page. Such a remarkable program. This is the 3rd year they have done this and our program is growing each year! They have been wonderful with all the students and we are looking now at the possibility of adding another Unified Sport for the spring."
Send in your #MURSDInspires notifications and we will highlight some in our newsletters and we will send the messages to the recipients to let them know they make a difference. Thanks!
District COVID-19 Resource Page
The purpose of the District COVID-19 Resource Page is to provide up-to-date information regarding local data and school data regarding COVID-19 cases as well as to be a resource to share ongoing updates regarding testing protocols and state guidelines. As a school district, we follow the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines and associated state regulations, who partner with the Department of Public Health. Additionally, we work collaboratively with our local Board of Health and school nursing teams to manage information about cases and testing protocols. We are required to track cases and report the case data numbers to the DESE on a weekly basis.
The COVID-19 Data Dashboard is designed to provide you with weekly data regarding new instances of positive tests as well as information on close contacts. We also will provide cumulative data to reflect the total number of confirmed positive COVID-19 reported to our school nurses since the start of this school year.
COVID-19 Testing-Consent Forms
Thank you for your continued support as we kick off the 2021-2022 school year. In the Mendon-Upton Regional School District, keeping students safe and in school is our top priority. We have learned a great deal over this past year and our current guidance and procedures reflect the most updated recommendations from the CDC, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
For the 2021-22 school year, we are offering an extra layer of protection through our COVID-19 testing program. This program has two components that we are implementing to start the year: symptomatic testing for students who show symptoms of COVID-19 at school, and Test and Stay for students who may have been exposed while in school and are not exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols. Currently, we are not going to begin the year with routine COVID safety checks (formerly known as pooled testing), but ask that you complete the consent for this in the system as it may be something we need to do in the future. MURSD uses the BinaxNOW test. This is a quick, non-invasive nasal swab that is collected under the supervision of a school nurse or trained health provider. Unlike COVID-19 tests of the past, these are not uncomfortable and easy for students to do themselves under adult supervision.
Students can only participate with permission from a parent or guardian. It is important to the Mendon-Upton Regional School District that you are fully informed regarding this process and we answer any questions that you might have in advance of asking you to sign the consent form. Below we describe the testing programs, how they are conducted, and what they are used for.
Symptomatic testing (BinaxNOW) is used when a student is showing symptoms of COVID-19 during school; students should not come to school if they are feeling sick while at home. Some symptoms of the virus can present similarly to other illnesses like the cold or flu. You can find the COVID-19 symptom checklist at the bottom of this webpage. BinaxNOW is a rapid test that provides results in 15 minutes. The school nurse will communicate with parents/guardians to share the results and determine next steps.
Test and Stay allows asymptomatic, in-school close contacts who are not exempt from testing and quarantine protocols to remain in school. Instead of needing to quarantine and miss school, these students will be administered a daily BinaxNOW test while in school or participating in weekend school-related activities (eMed Take Home Test). Test and Stay has a duration of 7 days from the date of last exposure.
If a student tests positive for COVID-19, they must isolate at home for the CDC-recommended ten days from the onset of symptoms or ten days from the date of the positive test. Additionally, the student must be without symptoms and fever-free in the prior 24 hours before returning to school.
If you would like your child to participate in the COVID-19 testing program, please sign the consent form linked above. There is no cost for participation. If you have any questions regarding the program, please contact your student's school nurse.
It is our hope that these measures will work together to keep our schools safe and your student in school. Thanks again for your support during this challenging time.
Maureen Cohen, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent of Schools
The following is the Fall 2021 District COVID-19 Protocols. School-specific protocols and FAQs have been developed and will be shared with families.
The following is a district FAQ document for back-to-school questions. Schools are developing school-based FAQs which they will be sharing prior to the start of school.