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Weekly District Update 10/15/21

Weekly District Update 10/15/21
Posted on 10/15/2021
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.
     
Oct 15, 2021
District Calendar
Oct 23 — KMS Ribbon Cutting Event
Observances
  • Learning Disabilities Awareness Month
  • National Bullying Prevention. Month
  • National School Principal Month
Please also refer to your school calendar for school-based activities & information.
School Committee
Next Meeting:
Email the School Committee with questions, concerns or comments
Superintendent Memo
Dear Natick Families,
The weeks after long weekends are so challenging! On weeks with a holiday, we try to fit five days of learning into four days, so it's very busy. I hope you and your family have made it through and are settling into more normal fall routines.
Some days are good, some are bad...
I was musing with my own family (and with my 'family' of superintendents of Metrowest) that everyone thought this year would be "easier"— and in some ways it is — but in sneaky and subtle ways, it isn't. The stamina for the routine is just not there. The stamina for sustained focus is not there. Emotional resilience or tolerance for frustration is just not there. I feel this in our schools, faculty, community and our regional meetings. Maybe this is true for you? Add to it the labor shortage in our field and in most others and we're all waiting in lines, on hold, and getting short with each other. Some of you have shared you are worried your student is not performing as well, grades are lower due to these factors. Please know this is a focus of our leadership, principal, department head and teacher group meetings now. Our team-based and student-centered culture seeks to follow each learner and their needs.
Social Emotional Needs Are Also in Recovery
I name all of this because sometimes, as NHS Vice Principal Galvin says, "you just gotta hang a sign on it." So I am. 
In addition to that, I want you to know that our student social-emotional and well-being surveys are going out to grade 3-12 students in the coming two weeks to capture how kids are feeling about their own efficacy, emotional status and ability to persevere and be resilient. Guidance, teaching staff and administration will be examining results and, just as we do in our academic support model, will reach out to you, the family, if more support or intervention is needed. Some students may require additional screening.  
Our educational vision for both a Profile of a Natick Graduate and that of our Profile of a Natick teacher say we will work with students to build the resilience, empathy and academic skills to work through the ups and downs of times like this, but we all need to understand that the problems cannot be solved overnight. We do welcome your feedback and your stories, though--your school and our organization wants to hear how things are going for you and if your child is struggling, please reach out to teachers and school leaders. We are here to help. Our Speak Up Natick! feedback portal is also available to you. Anonymous feedback detailing students in serious harm or needing help does not allow us to follow up so please ensure emergency situations include ways to assist struggling students or contacts for further follow up. 
A few key updates from the district are below:
Quarantines
COVID worries have not gone away for our elementary students and families. 
When elementary students are exposed to COVID, since they are unvaccinated and have interactions at 3-ft or less in school at times, they will be placed in quarantine. Using COVID relief funds, we have hired teachers to support students in quarantine at every level. 
Unfortunately when students are exposed to COVID outside of the controlled school environment, we are not able to perform 'Test and Stay' on them, per DESE parameters.
With vaccines for ages 5-11 looming, and no major surges in infections (I say with my fingers crossed!) I hope we are seeing the light at the end of this tunnel.
Policy and Safety Refresher When Visiting School Grounds
As a reminder, the school district has two policies that need to be followed.
  1. no furbearing animals on school grounds while school is in session (School Committee Policy IMG)
  2. no unauthorized people are allowed on school grounds while school is in session; that is, if you are not there for a meeting or picking up children, etc. you should not be on school grounds, playgrounds, or fields
We share this refresher because we have had pets interacting with children, dog poop on fields, and dogs and people on the fields where there are music, lunch, and PE classes outdoors. 
Please help us keep our kids safe and allow us to have exclusive use of our school facilities during school hours.
Facilities, Space and Capital Planning
The School Committee will be taking up issues of class sizes and offerings at NHS, space planning for NHS, preschool, and facilities planning for Johnson and Memorial Schools in their next three meetings. Here is the slide deck of information that will be covered. 
I advise reading the in depth report on Facilities, Space and Capital Planning, or, if you have less time, this Executive Summary. Discussions will occur on 10/18, 11/1, 11/15 at a minimum. 
Also, see two opportunities for community discussion with the committee and school administration posted below.
Can't make a meeting? Your voice can still be heard!
Share your ideas with the larger community through our Community Thoughtexchange
School Committee
Next Meeting:
Email the School Committee with questions, concerns or comments
schoolcommittee@natickps.org. See our website portal documenting our work in space and facilities planning below.
Community-wide Forum
Monday, October 25 @ 7PM
Join the meeting via Computer or Phone App:
Meeting ID: 813 9491 6525
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Johnson Family Forum
Wednesday, October 27 @ 7PM
Join the meeting via Computer or Phone App:
Meeting ID: 821 2832 2821
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DISTRICT POLICY
Vaccination or Pooled Testing Updates for Students in Grades 7-12
The School Committee has passed policies regarding extracurricular activities and a vaccination or test requirement. Our nurses will be reaching out to families about this matter. 
As part of our health information system, the State shares vaccination status with our nurses in a protected manner through our State database. If a child's status is unknown (or not recorded) in the State database, and the child is involved in extracurricular activities or athletics, our nurses will be reaching out to understand the status of these students who are eligible for vaccination. 
If your family would prefer to participate in the testing option and you have not consented to in school testing via the Powerschool portal, please do that now. Our staff and the state are now designing the pooled testing processes for this next phase of policy implementation.
UPDATE
School Meal Food Supply Disruptions
As you may be aware, schools across the country are currently facing unprecedented shortages of food and packaging materials, massive delays or cancellations of deliveries, and department labor shortages. Nationwide shortages and delays have affected availability of certain food items, leading to substitutions of menu items that we’ve been able to offer regularly in the past. These supply issues are occurring throughout the country and are especially challenging for school systems, due to the quantity of meals we serve and the nutrition standards we follow. 
All of this means that we may need to make quick substitutions to our menu(s) based upon what we are able to acquire. We know that this affects students, and we are doing our best to provide updates about menu changes when possible as soon as we identify an issue.
Please know that our number one priority continues to be providing healthy, nutritious, and appetizing meals for your children. We love seeing them every day and appreciate your support and patience as we continue to offer meals at no charge for all students. The good news is that free breakfast and lunch will continue throughout the school year, so please stick with us while we face yet another challenge. Your participation helps our program stay strong, and we look forward to serving you!  
Complete Your Free and Reduced Meal Application Today!
Image Text:  Lunch is Served! We are providing free school meals to all students for the whole school year. Visit our Food Services website: natickps.org/freemeals. Learn more about pick-up options and see what's on the menu!
*The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the extension of free school meals for all students now through June 30, 2021. This extension allows Natick to serve free meals to all students.*
The free meal extension from the USDA is temporary and separate from our regular Free and Reduced Meal program.
If your family might require free, or reduced-priced, meals after this extension, please complete a free and reduced meal applicationSee our Free & Reduced Meal application.
UPDATE
Annual Form Completion
Currently, we still have 4,739 (out of 5,322) 2021-2022 Required Annual Forms submitted — that's 89% completed! But we are still shooting for 100% completion! 
Why is it important to fill out the Required Annual Forms for each student annually?
  • Update important emergency, contact, and medical information for your child.
  • Complete required consent forms for the year including photo release and use of technology tools for the classroom.
  • Complete surveys related to Covid testing this year.
Need help completing the form? Contact pssupport@natickps.org or your child's school office.
See below for links to your school newsletters and additional community notices/updates.
Have a great weekend,
Anna
Not seeing the School Newsletters or Community Updates section?
At the bottom of this email, click on "View Entire Message" to see the full Engage newsletter.
COVID UPDATES
10/15/21 UPDATE
Weekly COVID Case Update
Please see below for the weekly COVID case updates. Click on the image to enlarge.
The image displays the weekly COVID stats: 1 student COVID case at Memorial School with 5 close contacts and 1 student COVID case at Ben-Hem School with 22 close contacts.
Chart Terminology:
CC's = Close Contacts
Note:
CC does not mean that these students are in quarantine. Depending on the circumstances, masking and vaccination status, location. As a reminder, direct contact from school nurses and principals occur if a person is a close contact.  We share the close contact information and remind everyone that vaccination helps to avoid needing to quarantine should a close contact occur.
The following close contacts are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols:
  • Asymptomatic, fully vaccinated close contacts: Individuals who are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols. 
  • Classroom close contacts: An individual who is exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual in the classroom while both individuals were masked, so long as the individuals were spaced at least 3 feet apart, is exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols.  
  • Bus close contacts: Individuals on buses must be masked according to federal requirements. As such, individuals who are masked on buses when windows are open are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols.  
  • Close contacts who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days: An individual who has been previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and then becomes a close contact of someone with COVID-19 is exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols if:  
  • The exposure occurred within 90 days of the onset of their own illness AND
  • The exposed individual is recovered and remains without COVID-19 symptoms.
10/15/21 UPDATE
Pooled Testing (grades PreK-6)
Weekly Update:
This week we had two (2) infected pools K-6 (one at Memorial and one at Ben Hem), which resulted in the active cases for those schools noted in the chart above. 
Testing Schedule:
  • Mondays: Wilson, Lilja (including PreSchool) and BenHem
  • Tuesdays: Kennedy, Brown, and Johnson
  • Wednesdays: Memorial (including PreSchool) and Natick PreSchool at NHS
Routine COVID Safety Checks, or pooled testing, will begin on Monday, September 27 for students in PreK through grade 6. (View this kid-friendly video to see how samples are collected.)
A staff member will come to the classroom door. Students who have consent will blow their nose, sanitize their hands and then go out into the hallway. Students will be provided with a swab, which looks like a Q-Tip. Students will be instructed to swab both nostrils by placing the swab slightly into one nostril and rub it in a circle 4 times and then repeat with the other nostril. The swab will then be placed into a tube with other swabs. This is the pool. Students will then return to class. 
If a pool comes back positive, parents will be notified and the students will then be tested with the BinaxNow rapid test. This will allow us to identify the positive case. If the pool comes back negative, no further testing or notification will occur.  
If your child has tested positive for COVID in the past 90 days, please complete the form linked below, as we do not have updated information from the Board of Health. If students have been positive in the past 90 days participate in pooled testing, this will result in a positive pool. We need to ensure that these students are not tested within the 90 day period. This information will remain confidential.
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.
  
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 Information 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.)
WEEKLY SCHOOL UPDATES!
The links below are updated every week and also available on your school website!
NATICK HIGH WEEKLY UPDATE
KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST ON WHAT'S HAPPENING AT NHS
ADDITIONAL INFO FOR FAMILIES
Upcoming Events
SAVE THE DATE!
Kennedy Middle School Ribbon Cutting and Planetarium Dedication
We are pleased to invite you to celebrate the ribbon cutting of this milestone project, where we will also recognize Mr. Ed Jameson with the dedication of the new planetarium in his honor.
TRAINING FOR FAMILIES
Youth Mental Health First Aid Training Available
The Department is pleased to be able to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid training sessions again this year. The training helps teachers, other school staff, parents, and others who interact with youth to recognize and support students ages 6-18 who may be experiencing mental health or substance use challenges and if needed, to refer them to mental health services.
the intended audience is individuals without mental health training who work or interact with young people.
 
Please visit DESE’s YMHFA page for more information, including available session dates and times and how to register. Sessions are currently scheduled for dates starting Friday, October 29 and continuing through January.
REGISTER TODAY
Natick is United Presents:
Racial Justice Series - Brave Conversations on Advancing Social Justice
Please join Natick Is United for a unique three night experience. Each session will build on the last, as we work together and in small groups to create shared language, and forge deeper connections by telling our stories and listening to the experiences of others. By the end of the third evening we will have a deeper understanding of each other, and be able to utilize what we have learned to move awareness into action in our own lives.
This is a FREE virtual event with limited capacity.
Questions? Contact us at natickisunited@gmail.com
WE'RE HIRING!
Join the Natick Team
We’re looking for people who care about kids and have a passion for education.
Sound like you or someone you know?
Then let’s work together! Check out a few of the district openings below, visit our Careers site to see the full list and apply today!

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