- Newton Public Schools
Planning for Summer and Fall - June 10, 2020
June 10, 2020
Dear NPS Families,
This past Sunday, I was so pleased to take part in the “Celebration Lanes” at both North and South to celebrate our 2020 graduates. It was a great pleasure to see students, staff and families in person after more than three months. Tonight and tomorrow night, we will have our virtual celebrations for both high schools, and I am grateful to our staff, our city partners, and our families who have worked so hard to find creative ways to celebrate these milestones for our students.
As we conclude the 2019-20 school year, we turn our full attention to the 2020-21 school year. As I shared in my May 12 message to you, we have already identified two planning teams to prepare for the many possible scenarios.
- Operations Team will develop plans for school facilities, cleaning protocols, busing, food service, social distancing protocols, among many others.
- Academic Team will develop plans for scheduling, curriculum, distance learning, service delivery and social-emotional support for our students at each level while adhering to public health guidelines.
We are not yet sure what the public health situation will be in September as we begin the next academic year. We do know the paramount importance of protecting the health of our students, staff, and the larger school community. Given this uncertainty, we are developing a plan that is flexible and able to respond to the rapidly changing conditions. We must recognize that portions of the next school year will likely involve three different modes of instruction: in-person learning at schools, distance learning with an improved schedule, and/or a hybrid of the two models to facilitate social distancing.
Late last week and early this week, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) shared guidance for both summer educational programming as well as fall opening (information can be found here). The fall guidance was specifically related to acquisition of cleaning and PPE supplies, which was issued first, knowing that it takes time to navigate the required government purchasing processes.
This guidance raised significant questions and concerns for many, so much so that DESE Commissioner Riley sent this follow up clarifying message to superintendents and district administrators across the state:
...the recently-issued supplies guidance should be used for supplies purchasing and ordering planning only. It should not be used to broadly infer what models of learning DESE might endorse for the fall including how frequently students will attend in-person school, class sizes, or student-teacher ratios. Our initial fall guidance memo, which we are working on in earnest and will be released in the next week or two, will have additional information to support you on fall planning. Please wait for this guidance before rushing to any judgments about state requirements for fall re-opening.
Please be assured we continue to move forward with our own plans within the district while awaiting the guidance from DESE. In the coming weeks, you can expect a survey from us soliciting your feedback on school re-opening.
I will continue to communicate with you as we learn more and as our district plans come into clearer focus. Thank you as always for your patience as we navigate this uncertain time.
Superintendent of Schools