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Sept. 25th News: - Facilities, COVID, Tech, HS/MS

Dear NPS Families,

As we conclude our first full week of learning in the Newton Public Schools, I would like to provide you with an update on school operations. In this email, you will find information on the following topics:

  • Modifications to the facilities maintenance plan
  • COVID-19 case communication protocol
  • Technology device delivery update
  • Middle and high school dismissal time modification
  • Next steps on high school model discussion
  • Newton Community Education

Modifications to the Facilities Maintenance Plan

On Monday, Sept. 21, we shared a memo and presentation with the School Committee on revisions to our plan for maintenance, repair, and modification to the ventilation systems in our buildings. You can find the memo and presentation here: NPS Ventilation Plan to SC 9.21.20 and NPS SC Ventilation Presentation 9.21.20 

Given the critical nature of ensuring all components of our HVAC systems are functioning at full capacity, the district, in partnership with the City of Newton Public Buildings Department, has developed a multi-pronged strategy to address the repair, maintenance, and modifications to our mechanical ventilation systems. This week, we engaged the following professionals to assist us with this work:

  • Mechanical engineering firm
  • HVAC contractor(s) (in addition to our current Boston Mechanical HVAC vendor)
  • Air testing and balancing firm(s)

The purpose of this work is to ensure that all components of our ventilation systems are operating at full capacity and meet or exceed professional standards. A timeline for this work will be shared with you as soon as it is finalized. All testing results, reports, and maintenance actions taken will be shared and posted to the NPS website. 

While this work is being completed, we are comfortable with students continuing in-person learning given the action steps we have taken to increase the introduction of fresh air into the building and the decreased number of students in staff in our spaces.

COVID-19 Case Communication Protocol

We know in this uncertain time, families want to receive timely information about COVID-19 infections in our school community. It is our commitment to be as transparent as possible, while also abiding by privacy regulations. In this linked document, you will find more specific information about our communication process and public health definitions. In addition, the Newton Department of Health and Human Services will maintain a data dashboard on their website to document positive COVID-19 cases in the Newton Public School community. This will include students and staff in all school models (hybrid, remote, and the Distance Learning Academy) and will be updated every Thursday.

Technology Device Delivery Update

We are committed to a 1:1 model for all students so that students in all learning models can access their academic programs with a district-issued device. We are waiting on the arrival of 2,300 iPads and 2,800 Chromebooks. While deliveries of devices have been delayed across the country, we expect the following:

  • Grades K-2: The iPad order shipped at the end of last week. We expect it to arrive this week.
  • Grades 4-5: Our Chromebook order, originally slated to ship in early September, is now expected to ship this week. 
  • DLA or Middle School - More than 1,000 devices have been distributed to students participating in fully remote learning without an alternative device at home. It is our intention to provide all students with an NPS device once the devices are delivered (see note above). Current distribution plans include families picking the devices up directly from their middle school or, in the case of DLA, the student’s home school.

When devices are ready for distribution, we will reach out with additional details.

Middle and High School Dismissal Time Modification

We are making the following change to the middle and high school dismissal time, beginning 10/7.

  • Wednesdays - 1:55 pm dismissal - Middle School
  • Wednesdays - 3:15 pm dismissal - High School

Next Steps on High School Model Discussion

We have received several questions about the high school distance learning model and our plans for updates and modifications. You can find answers to your questions here and learn more about next steps in our planning process.

Newton Community Education

Newton Community Education (NCE) is a branch of the Newton Public Schools that provides after-school enrichment opportunities for younger students as well as classes for teens and adults. Visit newtoncommunityed.org to see the complete course offerings. If you have questions, please email staff@newtoncommunityed.org. 

We look forward to next week as we settle into a rhythm for the 2020-21 school year.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman

Superintendent of Schools