Weekly District Update 9/3/21

Weekly District Update 9/3/21
Posted on 09/03/2021
NPS Engage District News - Weekly Message - Natick Public Schools - Parent Academy Logo - www.natickps.org
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Non-Discrimination Statement:
Natick Public Schools does not discriminate in employment nor in its educational programs, services and activities on the basis of race, creed, color, age, sex, gender identity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, physical and intellectual differences, immigration status, homeless status, or any other basis prohibited by law.

Federal and State Legislation Addressing Discrimination in Educational Institutions
You will find links to the contacts for each of the following statutes below.

Sept 3, 2021
Dear Natick Families,

The weather gods shined on our first two days of school giving us cool, dry conditions and even sunshine.  Smiling kids, waving parents and ecstatic teachers were what I saw as I visited our schools on the first day. We know that it is a happy but possibly worrisome transition yet again in this pandemic. We appreciate your trust and patience as we begin new routines. It was a very good week. Let your teachers and school principals know if there is confusion or you need more information or assistance.  

Nothing gave me more worry this week than the buses. Every year at the start of the year, there is a week or so of time where the schedules have to settle in and pick up/drop offs settle into a predictable schedule. Our first day, there was a driver who did not arrive at work and some children's stops missed and I met with the bus company this a.m. to address all of our concerns.  

Relative to health and safety --K-8 assigned seating is mandatory for contact tracing purposes. windows should be open and drivers masked at all times. I have reinforced this with all of our transportation providers. Several parents sent children to ride buses without having registered for bus passes or having them in hand. Please do not do this as we cannot provide rides as we have in the past without contract tracing/assigned seating. Those of you who applied for bus passes on Monday of this week have to allow more than 48 hours for processing, pass creation, payment processing and now assigned seating.  

´╗┐Email the School Committee with questions, concerns or comments
I know there was worry over spacing in music classes and for lunch, particularly at the K-6 level, so I share these pictures from elementary school and middle school so you can see the options and spacing allowed for kids. Indoor and outdoor options exist and spacing has been provided at 3ft of distancing. 

Check out Mr. McCann as he plays maitre'd (host) for the kids as they find their assigned seating (pictured below). Assigned seats allow for contact tracing and are rotated so kids have different options and seating groups. Your school principal can detail the methods but this process will not take seating requests (please do not email or call requesting table groups). Our staff will not allow kids to be isolated and alone and will work with kids to find the right table groupings just as we always have even in normal lunch times.
The entrance to Kennedy Middle School welcomes students back!
Hello! -- from Dr. Nolin and METCO Director, Rasheedah Clayton, pictured here together
First Day Scenes
Middle School Lunch, interior and a look to outdoor options pictured.
Lilja Music room and cafeteria spacing pictured.
Brown, and Mr. McCann as the Assigned Seating Host!
Pooled Testing Update
As a reminder, please complete your students' consent for testing ASAP. We will revisit the Board of Health on 9/13 and hear their guidance on infection rates and pooled testing needs. In addition, while NPS is ready with paperwork and to respond to implement pooled testing, DESE has not yet provided the products, the staff or any of the resources they indicated would allow us to begin pooled testing ASAP. We are aggressively pushing this as are our school committee leadership. 
Staff Vaccination
School committee voted on Monday to ask that we negotiate with all of our unions for mandatory staff vaccination. 

All, except 14, of our 1,021 staff are vaccinated. This includes staff that are coaches or consultants, who may not be in our school buildings all day. Knowing this information allows us to mandate further for vendors, etc. 

Stay tuned for updates on both pooled testing and vaccination for students in the coming weeks.  
Cafeteria Workers Needed
We are short 6 cafeteria servers -- can you help us find great talent to join the team?

We'd love to have you, or someone you know, join our team led by our Food Service Director and Head Chef!  
Taking Care of our Staff, New HR Leadership
Our long time Human Resources Director, Marianne Davis is retiring at the end of the month. We will miss her dearly. 

However, we have appointed a new staffer and wanted to introduce her you!
Registration is Open!
Instrumental Band and Lesson Program
Registration is open for the 2021-2022 Instrumental Band and Lesson Program. 

There is still time to sign up! This is a great opportunity for your student to learn how to play a musical instrument during the 2021-2022 school year. Lessons are remote for grades 4-6 and in person for 7-12. For more information, check the link below.

We encourage families to make the best decisions about online lessons versus in-person based on your family circumstances. However, based on district COVID protocols, the Fine and Performing Arts department has made adjustments to the lessons. We do not expect these adjustments to impact the overall learning; the experience of learning will still be life changing for your student!

It is safe to play music in Natick, and there is no better time to start than now!

For questions, please contact Craig Chisholm, Assistant Director of Fine and Performing Arts, by email cchisholm@natickps.org.
Upcoming Holiday Observances
Labor Day (Sept 6)

Monday, September 6 is Labor Day - a day to honor and celebrate the many contributions and achievements of workers in our country. First celebrated in 1882, Labor Day is a reminder of the constant hard work that makes the strength and well-being of this country possible. 

To all our students, families, and staff, we thank you for your dedication and partnership.
´╗┐Have a great weekend.
Rosh Hashanah (Sept 6-8)

This is a reminder that school will also be closed next Tuesday, Sept 7, in observance of Rosh Hashanah.

Next Monday evening marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and the start of the High Holy Days. Over the next two days, Jewish people around the world will observe religious ceremonies and traditional celebrations with family and friends. It is a time of self-reflection, faith, and healing. 

To all our students, families, and staff, who celebrate, we wish you a new year full of good health and hope!
COVID Procedures
DAILY COVID Symptom Screening Checklist
Students and staff who are SICK should STAY HOME.

Please monitor for symptoms each morning before school by reviewing the COVID Symptom Checklist (link).
COVID Procedures
Included in this link are all the COVID Return to School Processes and Protocols (link) you need to know about our return to school. If you and your child are eligible to be vaccinated, please do so. It is the most important step to helping our community. Our three-part testing program, which allows students to avoid unnecessary quarantine and allows us to begin routine, weekly pooled COVID testing as we did last year, will begin as soon as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides us the resources (tests and person power) to execute the program. NPS is also awaiting consents from over 2000 families to allow the testing.

Please know that the school committee may decide to mandate both vaccinations and pooled testing for any eligible student who wants to participate in athletics or extra curricular activities of any type. Get started on the consent form (in your PowerSchool annual forms) and getting vaccinated now -- don't let anything disrupt your child's full schooling experience.
PLEASE NOTE: Our school nurses are here to serve students and their medical needs. Please do not call school seeking advice if you or your family are sick or quarantined, traveling or testing. If our nurses contact you, it will be about contact tracing within school and outcomes of our testing programs in school.

Our school nurses are NOT contact tracers or advisors for the Natick Department of Public Health like they were last year. If your child is a close contact and eligible for any symptom or test and stay testing you will be notified directly. All other calls should go to your Dr. or department of public health relative to your community based COVID cases.  
COVID Website
We have updated our COVID information website to include all the relevant information that we share in this weekly email. We encourage you to save the NPS COVID information page (link) and visit often. (The direct link is: www.natickps.org/covid.)

Additionally, all COVID updates from March 2020 through June 2021 have been archived and are linked on that page as well.
The links below are updated every week and also available on your school website!

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