Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families from Salem Public Schools

A note from Steve Zrike, Superintendent

May 21, 2021

SPS families,

This week the State of Massachusetts relaxed guidance for COVID protocols associated with schools. Beginning this week, students no longer need to wear masks for recess and for other outdoor activities. Students will no longer be required to quarantine if in proximity to a positive case while outdoors. Later in this newsletter, you will find changes in the protocols related to our spring athletic programs. Indoors, our guidance to students and staff remains unchanged except that there are no longer restrictions on sharing classroom materials and supplies.

We are working on adjusting our end of the year activity guidance (graduations, field days, etc.) based on recent information we have received from the Department of Education. We will be sure to distribute it as soon as possible so that families, students and staff have ample time to prepare. We also believe that as the State of Massachusetts will continue to provide updates in the coming weeks that may impact our protocols for the last month of the school year and as part of our summer programming. As has been the norm all year long, we appreciate your patience and flexibility as we modify our plans based on the latest health and safety measures.

Finally, next week we will be providing our families with updates on the Salem High School schedule changes and the potential of extending the schedule for students in our shorter day elementary schools - Horace Mann, Bates, Carlton and Witchcraft Heights. We are carefully reviewing the input we have received from our students, families and staff in the last week. Thank you to all those that have offered their thoughts.

Enjoy the last full week of May!



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,” or “Great Job.”

This week the Cone of Excellence is awarded to Witchcraft Heights special education teacher, Andrea Norton. Ms. Norton comes to school each day with a huge smile and upbeat attitude. Her commitment to her students, the program, WHES and Salem is always evident in her words and actions. Working with our most vulnerable population of students, Ms. Norton embraces the needs of each child, holding them to high expectations while providing all necessary supports to guarantee their success. She goes above and beyond, including staying late after dismissal with students, writing a social story for a family to read to their nonverbal child about losing a beloved pet, or riding the bus with them to help them re-acclimate to the routine after being home for several months during the pandemic. In short, students in Ms. Norton's class are fortunate to have her as their teacher and we are grateful for her contributions to our district!

COVID Protocols - Updated Guidance

Given the low rate of outdoor transmission of COVID-19, students no longer have to wear masks when outdoors, even if distance cannot be maintained. This updated guidance applies to recess, physical education, youth sports, and outdoor learning environments. Adults must continue to wear masks outdoors if distancing cannot be maintained. At this time, adults and students must continue to wear masks indoors.

Given the low likelihood of surface transmission of Covid-19, new guidance states that schools no longer have to avoid sharing objects. This includes classroom materials, items for physical education, or art supplies. Shared objects no longer have to be cleaned or disinfected between use and should follow the updated cleaning guidance outlined below. SPS will continue to enforce good hand-washing practices.

Based on CDC guidance and updated information on the low likelihood of surface transmission, schools now only need to clean high touch surfaces (door handles, bus seats, drinking fountains) and shared objects within the school and on school transport vehicles once a day, excluding certain circumstances.

Additionally, in alignment with state guidance, the gathering limits for school events with outside participation will be lifted starting May 29, 2021. The other health and safety measures, such as masking, distancing, and other protocols, previously outlined by DESE will continue.

As a reminder, we encourage everyone ages 12 and over to get vaccinated! At this time, we are only planning to do the second shot clinic on June 5th, and highly encouraging our community to go to the many options right here in Salem to get your vaccine. CVS and Walgreens in Salem have appointments available daily. The clinic at SSU’s O’Keefe Center is now taking walk-ups! It is open next week Tuesday and Thursday 3-6pm. Please email if you are having any difficulty identifying vaccination options.

Student COVID Surveillance Testing

We are grateful to all those who have signed students up to participate in our weekly COVID screening testing. We are excited to announce that all testing will now take place in school, including the follow-up rapid test. Our partner, Project Beacon, is able to provide the extra support for the follow-up testing in schools on Friday in the event that there is a positive pool, so there will no longer be a need to come back on Saturday for the second test. Families of students who were in a positive pool will be notified of their individual results, as it is a diagnostic test. No action is needed by those who already participate and we hope this will make the process easier. If you would like to sign your student up for testing for the final month of school, we encourage you to do so. Click the link for your student’s school here: If you have any trouble, email or reach out to your school nurse.

SHS Athletic Department - Spring Sports Update regarding Mask/Facial Covering

The announcement by Governor Baker and the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) on May 17, 2021 regarding the removal of mandatory masks/facial coverings was reviewed and discussed by the MIAA Sports Medicine Committee (SMC) Monday afternoon. The SMC voted unanimously to recommend the approval of the May 17, 2021 EEA guidelines effective May 18, 2021.

To clarify, this means as of Wednesday, May 19, 2021 Salem Public School Athletics will follow the below guidelines :

  • Athletes on spring teams in active play outdoors are not required to wear a mask/facial covering.
  • Athletes on spring teams that play outdoors are not required to wear a mask/facial covering when they are on the bench or in a dugout.
  • Athletes in low-risk sports when indoors where a distance of at least 14 feet or more is consistently maintained between each participant, are not required to wear a mask/ facial covering.
  • Spectators and chaperones, coaches, staff, referees, umpires and other officials who can social distance while outdoors, are not required to wear a mask/face covering.
  • Visitors, spectators, volunteers, and staff while indoors are required to wear mask/facial covering.

All athletes participating in high school sports are considered youth and fall under youth guidelines.

2021 Pops Concert

The CMS and SHS music departments are proud to present the 2021 Pops Concert! This video was presented to families Wednesday night via a Zoom webinar. We hope you will take some time to enjoy the outstanding performances of our students who continue to be resilient beyond measure. As you well know, the pandemic has forced us to reinvent so many things, including how the music department showcases student performances. While we eagerly look forward to returning to in-person performances with live applause, we are in awe at how gracefully our students have adapted to the current circumstances and at how much they have grown socially, emotionally, and musically over the course of this unusual school year! You can see the concert here

Bus Transportation for the 2021-2022 School Year

Applications for bus transportation for the 2021-2022 school year went out on Monday. This application must be completed for all riders. If you have more than one child in the Salem Public Schools, you may receive more than one packet, and a separate application must be submitted for each student. All bus applications must be returned to the Transportation Office by June 1, 2021, with a deposit (If applicable) of $100.00 per rider.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program:

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that provides a temporary discount on monthly broadband bills for qualifying low-income households. Eligible households can receive:

  • Up to a $50/month discount on their broadband service and associated equipment rentals
  • Up to a $75/month discount if their household is on qualifying Tribal lands
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)
Only one monthly service discount and one device discount is allowed per household. Households can begin applying for and enrolling in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on Wednesday, May 12. The program will end when the fund runs out of money or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner.


This year, our SHS CTE program will offer a FREE summer exploratory program for 7th and 8th graders.

Campers will participate in activities in Auto Technology, Early Education and Care, Building Property and Maintenance, Medical Assisting, Culinary Arts, Electrical, and Internships.

There will be two opportunities: Session 1 is the week of June 21st, and session 2 is the week of June 28th. This FREE program will allow students to explore some of the CTE pathways available at SHS. More details on the program and how to sign up have been sent to families via ParentSquare.

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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.

Garnish for Good!

Camp Fire Summer Camp flier

Information about Summer Camp with the Boys and Girls Club

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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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