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10/23/20 Superintendent & COVID Tracking Update

10/23/20 Superintendent & COVID Tracking Update
Posted on 10/23/2020

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COVID UPDATES
School metrics for 10/23/20
In conjunction with the Natick Board Of Health, the following overview of Virus Thresholds and COVID Closure and Communications Procedures. This is a guiding framework for use in the coming months as we work to keep schools healthy.
For your ease, we will update the NPS COVID dashboard every week with the Board of Health. The Board of Health will work with Dr. Nolin, the superintendent, to make decisions about virus impact to classroom, school and district closures or openings.
The Board of Health has some latitude within aspects of the framework relative to virus clusters (i.e. high rates of nursing home infections should not dictate the closing of schools but would create higher overall community reflection rates). Each Friday, we will also indicate any schools who have quarantined cohorts and overall confirmed cases. However, a three week window of data for the community as detailed in the above memo will be the indicators used by the Board of Health to decide our open/closure rates. Classes and individuals who must be quarantined will be notified by both our nurses and the Board of Health. Rigorous contact tracing and COVID notice procedures will then ensue.
All individuals directly affected are contacted personally and in writing. Here are our communication procedures. Cases are tracked by the BOH, NPS nursing staff and the Department of Education Mobile Virus Response Unit.
INCLEMENT WEATHER PROTOCOL
The district continues to keep our DISTRICT REMOTE LEARNING SUPPORT SITE and DISTRICT REMOTE LEARNING LAUNCHPAD updated so parents can have one-stop shopping when they are looking for the digital backbone of a teachers' class. These are fluid resources, but prior to our first snow day, staff will update this page so parents have easy access to learning resources (both synchronous and asynchronous).
CANCELLING SCHOOL
WHO MAKES THE DECISION?
The Superintendent of Schools is responsible for the final decision, based on various weather-related factors and recommendations from the Department of Public Works and the Director of Facilities.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT THIS YEAR?
This year, due to our hybrid and remote learning models, the Commissioner of Education has indicated that he will allow us, instead of cancelling school due to inclement weather, power outages or other unforeseen natural events, we may call a district-wide "remote learning day." This day will count as a day of school and, all students will be expected to log on to technology to receive remote instruction and assignments. Since school opened, NPS teachers have been preparing for the possible need to revert to remote instruction. We will apply this preparation to snow days as well.
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE?
Our goal is to make the decision as early as possible the night before the possible bad weather day so that the radio and TV stations can be notified, parents can secure supervision arrangements, and teachers can prepare remote lessons.
HOW IS THE DECISION MADE TO CANCEL SCHOOL?
  • Road conditions—The Natick Department of Public Works is contacted for information on road conditions. Careful consideration is given to roads in the district with the most hazardous conditions. Even if your street looks clear, travel elsewhere in town may be dangerous. Also, we must consider that some high school students drive to school.
  • The existing accumulation of snow and/or ice.
  • The rate and expected duration of this precipitation.
  • School building conditions (such as electricity and heat).
  • School parking lot conditions—The Director of Facilities contacts the maintenance and custodial staff who are responsible for clearing and treating school parking lots and sidewalks.
  • Temperature and wind-chill factors—Please keep in mind that a number of students either walk to school or wait on sidewalks for the school bus. 
  • Weather predictions—We prefer not to make my decision based on weather predictions since they are not always accurate. However, this may be unavoidable. Please understand when weather warnings are given, we are up at 4:00 am to begin the process, as listed above, to gather all the relevant information in order to make a careful and well-informed decision. Students safety is our number one priority and the decision to close or delay school depends upon it. 
  • We also consult other districts and share information with local superintendents and take their recommendations into consideration when making my decision.
DELAYING OR ENDING SCHOOL EARLY
Due to the already shortened school day due to COVID schooling models, we will default to remote learning days instead of delaying school by two hours.
EARLY DISMISSAL
Under rare circumstances, the Superintendent of Schools may determine that inclement weather that threatens to make the afternoon commute unsafe requires an early dismissal from school.
If such a decision is made, we will notify families using the emergency function of our automated phone and email system so that all phone numbers on record for both parents will be called (home, mobile, and work) in addition to both parents emails. Families are asked to plan ahead regarding childcare for such a situation. But given our already shortened school schedules this year, we hope this type of dismissal to be a rare event.
PROCEDURES FOR ASAP — CANCELLATION & DELAY POLICY
When school is cancelled/changed to a remote learning day, the After School Activity Program (ASAP) will also be cancelled. Students will remain at home and log into school work from home.
If school closes early due to inclement weather, ASAP is closed. To ensure safety for children if families are unable to pick up by school dismissal, ASAP staff will be on site for one hour after school dismissal.
If the School Superintendent cancels after school programs and school is released at regular dismissal times, ASAP is closed.
* If school is open and the School Superintendent cancels ASAP or closes ASAP early, parents will be notified via email, text and social media and a website popup alert, in addition to message changed on site phones and main office voicemail message. When bad weather is forecast, please check email regularly and plan carefully for pick-up knowing that weather may extend your commute.*
HOW IS THE PUBLIC NOTIFIED?
In the event of school cancellation OR delayed opening, a recorded phone message will be sent to each family's primary phone contact through our mass notification system, Blackboard Connect.
In addition, announcements will be carried starting at 6:00 a.m. by radio stations WBUR (FM 90.9), WBZ (AM 103.0), WRKO (AM 68.0), by television stations Channel 4, 5, 7, Fox 25, CW56. A message will be posted on the Natick Public Schools Website. The following websites may also list school closings:
There are a number of items that factor into the superintendent's final decision, none more than the safety of our students. The verdict to close or not to close (invoke a remote learning day vs. a live day) is more of an art than a science, and we know we are only as good as our last decision. However, the decision is made based upon the best information that is available to at the time.
Note: if there are extensive power outages in the Town of Natick, the school system will call a weather outage and the day will have to be made up in June as former snow days always were. This will be a regional decision with superintendents in Metrowest (working together with Dr. Nolin) assessing regional outages. At times, teachers may experience power outages and in that event, we will notify you and your students.
FYI: TRAVEL ADVISORY BELOW
Have a nice weekend,
Anna Nolin
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