NPS COVID Update
January 2, 2022
NPS COVID Update
Dear NPS Families,
Happy New Year! As we prepare to return to school tomorrow, I am writing to ensure you are aware of our plans for the week and all of the precautions we are taking to keep our school community healthy.
We know there has been extensive media coverage about the reopening tomorrow. Our district will open tomorrow, as will an overwhelming number of districts in Massachusetts. We know this will inevitably be a challenging week, particularly around staffing. Our building administrators have done an excellent job navigating staffing issues throughout the course of the year and are prepared to address a range of scenarios that may occur in the next couple of weeks..
Below you will find key information for our return to school on Monday. We are fully committed to keeping our students in school learning together in-person with their teachers, staff, and peers. With your partnership, and the tireless work of our NPS faculty and staff, we believe we can continue to keep our school communities healthy and safe in the new year. As always, we will continue to monitor the health situation and will communicate any changes or necessary adjustments to you in a timely manner.
We are encouraging everyone to consider upgrading their masks to at least a surgical mask. KN95 or N95 masks also are more protective. However, no mask will be effective if it is not worn properly. Please ensure your child(ren) understands how to properly wear a mask which will reinforce the same messaging we are providing in schools. For additional information on masks, please visit the CDC’s website: CDC Mask guidance. NPS has also received a supply of KN95 masks for our staff who may choose to wear them.
A reminder that regardless of vaccination status, all staff and students Pre-K-12 are required to wear a face-covering throughout the day (including on the bus) except while eating, drinking, or outside. The face covering should be well fitting, covering the nose and mouth. Make sure the mask fits snugly against the face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask. Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick.
Changes to Health and Safety Protocols
In addition to our standard health and safety protocols, we are making the following changes:
- Wherever possible, large meetings will be held virtually. This includes faculty meetings, professional development, and any other large group meetings currently scheduled for January in which staff would typically gather in person.
There will be no large indoor student gathering or assemblies (with the exception of lunch.) We will continue to utilize our current safety protocols for eating, including distancing.
Only NPS employees, students, and visitors considered educationally essential will be permitted in our school buildings.
Parent/guardian meetings, including IEP meetings, should be held virtually.
Indoor field trips will not be permitted, consistent with fall guidance.
Depending on the venue, athletic events and other performances will either have no spectators or be restricted to parents/guardians only. Athletic Directors and performing arts staff will be in touch with families with specific information.
Updated CDC Guidance on Isolation and Quarantine
On December 28, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance on the isolation time period for those who have tested positive for COVID-19. This guidance has now been adopted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).
If you test positive for COVID-19:
Stay home for 5 days.
If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your home but you must continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 additional days.
A reminder that an isolated individual is one who has tested positive for COVID; a quarantined individual is one who has been identified as a close contact but has not tested positive for COVID. You can review the updated DESE guidance for isolation and quarantine here: DESE Guidance for Isolation and Quarantine - Updated December 30, 2021.
The state has made COVID rapid antigen testing kits available to all NPS staff. They will be distributed on Sunday and we are encouraging staff to take a rapid test prior to return to school on Monday. We will continue to provide symptomatic and Test and Stay COVID testing to all students grades PreK-12+ and we will continue weekly pool testing in grades PreK-6.
Vaccinations and Booster Shots
The federal, state, and local health organizations and advisors continue to tell us that getting vaccinated and getting a booster shot is critical to reducing the impact of COVID. Please help our school community by obtaining a vaccination or booster shot if your student is eligible. All people age 5 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine and all people age 16 and older are eligible for a booster following the recommended time after the initial vaccine series. You can find appointments statewide at vaxfinder.mass.gov.
As a reminder, all of the ventilation systems in our school buildings were upgraded last year. Work continued throughout the summer and into this fall to address any outstanding issues. All information on ventilation is posted on our website on this page: https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/Page/3804
We have been asked how families might be able to help. We are always looking to expand our staff pool through the company that hires and trains our substitutes, and would welcome parents/guardians and their contacts to get involved in this way. Given our health and safety guidelines, coupled with the fact that we cannot guarantee staff available to supervise volunteers, we are only able to use hired staff at this time.
In addition to our current internal substitute pool of Instructional Support Staff (ISS), the district has also partnered with PrecisionHR, our new supplemental substitute vendor. If you would like to learn more about PrecisionHR, click here: https://precisionhr.net/ or you can reach out directly to our account representative if you or someone you know wish to consider work as a substitute: Sandra Andrade - Director of Operations - phone: 617-275- 8627| Fax: 617-219-9019