Amesbury Public Schools Update

From the Office of the Superintendent - September 17, 2021

Dear Amesbury Public School Families,

It is already the middle of September and we are just finishing our first full week of school! Time sure flies when the students are around! It has been great watching students and staff develop routines, get involved in school activities, and settle in.

As we prepared for this school year, we knew that supporting our students and staff in their return to the classroom would be important. As a result, this summer, we formalized the collaborative relationship between several of our community partners and created ASSET – the Amesbury School Support & Empowerment Team. The goal of this group is to collaborate on assessing student needs and working to ensure that students and families receive the supports that they need. To assist in this process, we are enhancing and formalizing communication between these organizations which will allow us to better support members of our school community. As you may know, we have had School Resource Officers in our schools for many years. Their presence has had an extremely positive impact on our schools’ cultures. Having the SROs in the schools and attending school events has helped to develop positive relationships between these officers and our students. This year, the school has partnered with the Pettengill House in a similar way. Pettengill House has hired two social workers who are assigned exclusively to the schools. We are setting up office hours in each building to increase support for our students, their families and our staff. We are very excited to further enhance these relationships.

On a less positive note, we are still working out some kinks with one of the bus routes at AES. This week we met with the bus company and brainstormed some ways to help that bus arrive at AES at the correct time so that our students return home at the expected time. We have made some small changes and are watching to see their impact. We hope to get this sorted out shortly and we sincerely appreciate your patience as we work to solve this challenge.

Next week I will begin meeting with stakeholders of the Amesbury Public Schools as part of my “Counting, Seeing and Hearing” Tour. This information will help to inform the Strategic Plan that I will write with my Leadership Team. I sincerely hope that many of you will be able to contribute your thoughts either through a conversation with me or in a survey. Stay tuned for more information.

If you are looking for something to do tonight our football team opens their season at home vs. Wayland at 7pm in Landry Stadium. The weather is supposed to be perfect for football. We hope to see you there!


Elizabeth McAndrews


DESE COVID-19 Testing Options

As we have discussed in the past several newsletters, 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 entails.
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Symptomatic Testing and Test and Stay

Symptomatic testing is used when a student is showing minor 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 look identical to other illnesses like the common cold of flu, and this test tells us whether a symptomatic student has COVID-19 or not. This is a rapid test, and we receive the results of the test within 15 minutes. If a student has minimal symptoms and tests negative, they can remain in school.

Test and stay allows students who have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 while at school to stay in school if the student is not showing symptoms. Instead of needing to quarantine and miss school, these students will take a daily rapid test while they remain in school as long as they are NOT symptomatic. Students participate in test and stay for at least 7 days after they have been exposed.


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

Testing Consent

If you have not done so already, please take a moment to sign the consent to test form by clicking this link:

Students will only be able to participate in the school based Test and Stay or Symptomatic Testing with permission from a parent or guardian.

Close Contacts

As we begin to have students and staff who test positive for COVID, we will contact all close contacts (anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period). As part of that conversation, we will determine if each individual close contact meets one or more of the exemption criteria (which means that they simply monitor for symptoms) or if that close contact needs to take additional steps such as entering the "Test and Stay" protocol or quarantining.

Weekend Testing

In addition, should we have students who are participating in a school sponsored event (athletics, drama production, etc.) who are in the Test and Stay Program, have an event over the weekend, and need to test over the weekend in order to be eligible to participate in that event, we will have assigned time where a nurse will be at AHS to administer the test and read the results. This is ONLY for our students who are participating in an Amesbury Public Schools sponsored activity.

COVID Count for DESE

This year, DESE is again requiring schools to share the number of student and staff positive cases of COVID-19. Beginning the week of September 13th (this past week), we were expected to submit the number of positive cases. Although we learned of a positive student case this past Sunday, we were not expected to report that case since it occurred during the previous week. Thus, I am happy to say that we reported zero cases for this week.

COVID-19 Symptoms

Below is a list of symptoms often associated with COVID-19:

  • Fever (100.0 degrees or higher), chills, or shaking chills

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Muscle aches or body aches

  • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as the chronic cough)

  • Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea when in combination with other symptoms

  • Headache, when in combination with other symptoms

  • Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms

  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms

One of the most important things to remember is that if you are sick, you should stay home. Our nurses are reaching out to triage our sick calls to assist in determining if a student or staff member should be tested for COVID. As always, you may reach out to your doctor for further clarification.

Vaccination Status Survey

We have previously sent out a link to a vaccination survey for both Amesbury Public Schools students aged 12 and up and for Amesbury Public School staff. If you have already completed this survey, there is no need to complete it again. However, if you have not yet completed it for your child (if age appropriate), please take a moment to complete it now.

Link to vaccination survey:

If you need assistance in finding and/or receiving a vaccine, please reach out to your building nurse.

What's Happening in the Amesbury Public Schools?

One to One Device Roll Out

Yes! It is finally happening! This week we have begun to distribute chromebooks to every APS student in grades 2 through 12. By providing each student with a device that will be assigned exclusively to them, we provide them with a resource that increases opportunities. Students will be able to collaborate virtually with students during class, participate in formative assessments that provide valuable information to the teacher in real time, as well as being able to capitalize on a teachable moment. Previously, teachers had to sign up for a chromecart days and weeks in advance if they had an instructional activity for which they needed technology.

We are able to deliver 800 brand new chromebooks to our students thanks to funding from the Coronavirus Relief Funding we received. Our hope is that students keep their devices from grade 2 through grade 6, and then receive a new device in grade 7 that will take them through their high school years. This will involve a yearly line in our budget to purchase these devices. Look for that in the FY'23 Budget.

Device Agreement and Signature Form

Each family should have received communication in the past week that contained our Device Agreement and a Google Form to sign electronically. We will accept the signature either on paper or electronically. Students will not be issued a chromebook until the signature page has been received by the school. Additionally, IF a student had previously been issued a chromebook but hadn't yet returned it, he/she will not be issued a device until that one has been returned.

Link to Agreement:

Link to Google Form:

One to One Device Rollout FAQ's

Q: If my child has a personal chromebook, laptop, or other device, can they use it in school?

A: No, we are working towards increased network security and need the devices on our network to be controlled by the district. Additionally, it allows us to manage updates to enhance performance and security. For those students slated to take MCAS tests this year, those tests must be taken on school issued devices.

Q: Will my grade 2 student be bringing the chromebook home?

A: Students in grades 2-5 will not be bringing their chromebooks home.

Q: Some students got brand new chromebooks, but my child did not. How come?

A: As mentioned above, our long term plan is to provide new chromebooks for students in grades 2 and 7. Our roll out this year, takes that cycle into consideration. Students in grades 3,4,5, 6 and 12 will receive "previously used" school devices. This will help us with the replacement cycle moving forward.

School Brains to Aspen Transition

We continue to make progress in our transition back to Aspen. However, one of the challenges we faced was in the accuracy of our data base for mass notifications. We are experiencing a delay in the final steps of setting up our notification system. Our company is working on their end to expedite this process. We have taken steps on our end to devise a "work around" where we can accurately communicate with families until this takes place. Unfortunately, a message designated for all Cashman families this past Monday, did not reach all families. I apologize for this and want you to know that we have rectified the problem. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee

In response to feedback from a state Coordinated Program Review, where the feedback from the document review indicated that "the district does not evaluate all aspects of its K-12 program annually to ensure that all students, regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, limited English proficiency, sexual orientation, disability, or housing status, have equal access to all programs, including athletics and other extracurricular activities." To that end, under the leadership of Lyn Jacques, Director of Teaching, Learning, and Equity, a new working group (DEI) has been created. This group met throughout the summer and has continued to meet in the month of September to review the data surrounding the areas above.

Their work has or will include:

  • Examining each school's and district data to assess areas of inequity and need improvement.
  • Providing concrete strategies for creating or improving existing programs for equitable access.
  • Sharing data/findings with the schools, the School Committee, and the Amesbury community.
  • Integrating the information gathered from this work throughout the District
  • Examining and integrating current research in areas of equity in the educational process.

Ultimately, the goal is to facilitate an ongoing conversation among educators as to how to create a more equitable and inclusive educational process in the Amesbury Public Schools.

Mascot Review Committee Update

The Mascot Review Committee last met on Thursday, September 9th. Following that meeting, The Committee requested an extension to the timeline for sharing the Committee's final recommendation. The additional time will be used to administer a survey to current AHS students, AHS alumni, and the Amesbury community as a whole. I have granted the extension for this purpose as I believe that all stakeholders should have the opportunity to weigh in. One might ask why this did not happen during the three month time frame allocated to the Committee. The simple answer is access and participation. During the summer months many stakeholders are less available. Administering the survey while students are in school and families and community members are less likely to be vacationing, is more equitable and invites a higher level of participation. The Committee will now have until Saturday, October 16th to share their recommendation with me. Once I receive the Committee's recommendation and review any information provided to me, I will share my recommendation with the School Committee.

AEFI is Giving Again!

It is that time of year! AEFI is looking to award grants in any amount to teachers. This year, the AEFI grant application is available on the District homepage in two places. Easiest to located is on the right hand side under quick links or under the Community top tab and then on the left hand side. Either way will get you there. Then, on November 1, 2021, during the Autumn Evening of Giving, held at Ristorante Molise, winners will be announced! Get your application in soon, they are due no later than Wednesday, October 13th. If you have any questions or need any support, please contact Carol Bartlett at

Who C.A.R.E.S?

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at 7pm in the AHS Auditorium.
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Free Breakfast and Lunch Continue!

Students in all grades are eligible for free breakfast and lunch through the end of the school year. The greater the number of students who participate, the greater the amount of money our district is reimbursed. Please take advantage of this awesome opportunity and help the district in the process!

Sgt. Jordan Shay Memorial Lower Elementary School

Our new elementary school is coming along nicely! The crews are hard at work and have already laid the foundation for the administrative wind of the school. They are removing soil in preparation for the foundation of the classroom wing. This week we had a Neighborhood Meeting where key individuals in the building project shared progress updates and answered questions from those who attended. These meetings will be held quarterly with the next meeting happening on December 15, 2021. All are welcome!

Photos - From the Roof of CES

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Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter!