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Oct. 6th - Elementary Updates

October 6, 2020

Dear NPS Elementary Families,

I want to provide you with a few updates on the following:

  • Transition to longer elementary hybrid day
  • Elementary schedule 
  • Distance Learning Academy 
  • Playground access
  • Technology distribution 

Transition to longer elementary hybrid day

As we shared at the end of August, our goal is to lengthen the in-person days at the elementary level to 3:00 p.m. beginning in November. We are working hard to ensure adequate staffing for this revised model and have had a team working full-time for weeks on recruitment. The employment market is proving to be quite challenging due to the need for more staff than typical for all districts given the implementation of multiple learning models, combined with the projected impact of COVID on absences (illness, quarantine, etc.). In addition, we have lost many aides to full-time positions given the increased demand for teachers. 

At this stage, the path forward for Newton elementary schools to remain open until 3:00 p.m. is to hire approximately 70 monitors per cohort to facilitate this longer day. Individuals hired would “monitor” students while at lunch, recess, and during afternoon specials via Zoom, allowing teachers and staff adequate lunch and planning time. We are seeking a commitment of two days per week from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  

Please help us to spread the word about these available positions and of course feel free to apply if you are interested. More details, as well as an online application, can be found here.

Elementary schedule update

Here are a few updates on the elementary hybrid schedule:

  • Per the information above on the transition to a longer day, a decision will be made by October 20 so families can plan accordingly.
  • On Election Day, November 3, we will switch our Tuesday and Wednesday schedules. Tuesday will be distance learning, following the Wednesday schedule. Wednesday, November 4, will be an in-person day for Cohort A.

Distance Learning Academy Update

The Distance Learning Academy is moving forward with learning in our fully remote model of schooling. This week, DLA administrators will hold Zoom meetings with DLA families focused on supporting students with organization and engagement in online learning. In addition, this week the DLA website will also launch as a single point of information for all of our DLA families. 

Playground Access

The playgrounds at our schools are tremendous resources, not only for our students, but also for the Newton community. Given the current hybrid schedule, we know families may want to use the playground during the school day, on their distance-learning days or if they participate in the Distance Learning Academy. However, in consultation with the Newton Health and Human Services Department and the Newton Parks, Recreation, and Culture Department, we have made the difficult decision to limit playground access during school hours to only those students attending in-person school. This decision was made to limit contact across cohort groups and mitigate risk factors. Please do not enter the school playgrounds between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Playgrounds are open after school hours and on any day school is not in session.

Technology Device Distribution

We expect all iPads and Chromebooks for elementary students to arrive this week. Devices will be distributed at students’ home schools during in-person days for hybrid, or by arrangement of the school for students participating in the Distance Learning Academy. The goal is to distribute devices as quickly as possible both this week and next. Individual schools will send out additional and more detailed information when devices are on hand at the school and ready to be distributed. Please keep an eye out for information from your child’s school in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman

Superintendent of Schools

 

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