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Weekly District Update 11/19/21

Weekly District Update 11/19/21
Posted on 11/19/2021
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.

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District Calendar
November (upcoming week)
Nov 24: Early Release Day & Pep Rally
Nov 25: Thanksgiving
Nov 26: Native American Heritage Day
Nov 28-Dec 6: Hanukkah (Chanukah)
Observances
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:
School Committee
School Committee Response to Opinion of Ethics Commission
We have heard the concerns that many in the community have expressed over the recent opinion provided by the Ethics Commission on the issue of a committee member’s participation in an upcoming decision. 
In an effort to always be transparent and responsive, we invite you to read our letter regarding the Ethics Commission decision.
Superintendent Memo
Hello Natick Families,
The end of Daylight Savings Time has meant a diminished amount of daylight for us, and it also ushered in a dark time for decision-making for the district. Problems kicked down the road for decades regarding space, budget, and buildings had to be addressed recently, and that meant some tough decisions had to be made for our Johnson Elementary School and our budget choices.
The School Committee had to make a tough decision about the future of the Johnson Elementary School, which will remain open as late as June 2025—but no longer than that time period. Updates on this transition process and personal meetings with Johnson families and incoming Kindergarten families are forthcoming in the month of December to help families plan and transition. Information sessions with each elementary PTO will also be planned so the community has information for planning purposes. Meetings with staff began this week to help them understand the changes and impacts.
The tone of discussion on these matters would be hard no matter what, but the times we are in (and our social media first manner of addressing each other) has been hard on the community. But I have hope for the next phase, and, as the vaccinations rise and COVID infections fall, I will be reaching out asking us to connect in person more and more. We need this to get back to the school community collaborations we had prior to the pandemic.

I am thankful, however, for all the families who reached out, came to meetings and organized on all sides of discussion. 
Thank you for investing so much in our schools. We hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving week with your families—gaining rest, connection, and recharging!  
Anna
P.S. Don't forget to see below for links to your school newsletters and additional community notices/updates!
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).
MANDATORY POLICY IN EFFECT
Student Vaccination or Test Policy for Extracurriculars
Does Your Child Play Sports? or Participate in Any Extracurricular Activity? 
The deadline for our mandatory 'Vaccination or Test' program passed. By November 15, families with students in grades 7-12 should have notified your school about whether your student waiss vaccinated or to opt-in to participate in pooled testing in order to participate in extracurricular activites.
Soon, we will be asking for the same documentation for students ages 5-11 as well.
Students whose families do not choose vaccination can rest assured about the safety and privacy of the at-home test that your child will be expected to do each week in order to participate in extracurricular activities and athletics. The test kit can be picked up at nurses' office in one month batches (4 weeks worth at a time) and will be collected and registered by families at home each week. Results go directly to parents who will update their school nurse each week to clear students to participate in their activities.
Nurses and principals have sent letters, emails and calls to any family who have not shared vaccination information or completed consent to test. If this is you, please reach out with the necessary information so your child does not miss time in their extracurricular activities!
THANKSGIVING WEEK UPDATE
Pooled Testing and DESE Advisory
Due to staffing shortages from our state vendor in combination with the short week, we will not be able to perform pooled testing for all students in K-6 this pre-Thanksgiving week (Nov 22-24). Pooled testing will resume immediately after the Thanksgiving break.
We and our partners from the Department of Education and State testing program, regret this issue, but due to the holidays and staffing issues, we cannot spread out the testing as we might in a 5-day week. We do not control the staffing provided to us at the state level, and our own nurses are consumed with regular student care and contact tracing given the uptick in cases and the students involved in the 'Test and Stay' program.
Staffing challenges have apparently become such an issue across the state that DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) has issued this statement; The Department has posted an FAQ about pooled testing during short school weeks (download), such as Thanksgiving week.
DESE recommends that pooled testing programs only run when the school is able to complete the entire pooled testing process, from the initial pooled test through any needed follow-up tests. The FAQ is posted on DESE’s COVID-19 FAQ page.
Our Staff Over Thanksgiving Break
Our district will be closed over Thanksgiving Break starting at Wednesday at 11:30pm. 
Our bus supervisor will be available until the last bus returns home to Connolly and our Boston students arrive home safely. After that, it is our expectation that our staff and administrators are OFFLINE and spending time with their families and loved ones.  
If there is an emergency relative to safety and / or emotional needs, please call 911 or head to emergency servcies.
If you are a close contact or become infected with COViD over the Thanksgiving Break, you should interact with your Dr. or urgent care for advice. If advised to do so, you will need to send PCR / testing results to our nurses by noon on the Sunday before the return to school . Please use the emails (below) to send the test results that would clear your child to return to school.
Preschool
MaryAnne Lagan (mlagan@natickps.org
Brown
Maria Chopur (mchopur@natickps.org)
BenHem
Denise Twiss (dtwiss@natickps.org)
Kelly Keene (kkeene@natickps.org)
Johnson
Kristin Gilbert (kgilbert@natickps.org)
Lilja
Barbara Naser (bnaser@natickps.org)
Memorial
Michelle LeBlanc (mleblanc@natickps.org)
Kennedy
Wilson
NHS
If you are traveling, it is your family's responsibility to provide appropriate return to the US testing or other travel monitoring expectations.  It is up to families to help us keep our school environment safe for all students.
ATHLETICS UPDATES
Three Teams Advancing to State Finals!
We have 3 Teams advancing to the State Finals in their respective sports! Congratulations to all of the athletes and coaches for another tremendous Fall Season. Thanks for your patience with all of these email but every day brings more exciting news.  
Boys' Cross Country will compete in the All-States this Saturday November 20, 2021, 10am @ The Wrentham Developmental Center.
There will be a parking fee of $10 at the site but there is no ticket needed for spectators.  
Girls' Soccer continues its memorable season advancing to the D1 State Final v. Hingham.
The game will be played on Saturday November 20, 3pm @ Whitman Hanson Regional HS.
By new MIAA rule, tickets should be purchased online. There will be no cash accepted at the gate. See link below.  Game administration staff will assist patrons as they enter by checking their digital tickets and redeeming the tickets on smartphones at the gate.  
Tickets prices are set by the MIAA and will cost: General Admission for all spectators - $10
By MIAA rule, no league or local passes will be accepted. Only MIAA passes are accepted at entry. Everyone who enters will have to have a ticket on their phone or enter with someone that has the appropriate number of tickets on their phone.  
To purchase a ticket, please see below.
Having Trouble with GoFan Digital Tickets - See below.
Cheer will compete at States on Sunday November 21, 3:30pm @ Worcester State University
Get your tickets here: Cheer States 
General Admission for all spectators - $10
*SPECTATORS and TEAMS will be required to adhere to all school COVID protocol requirements including wearing full face coverings for the duration of the event.
This information can also be found on the Natick Athletics Website
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.
PARENT RESOURCE
Common Sense Media — Helping Kids Navigate the Digital Media World
Working together, schools and families can prepare kids to think critically and use technology in positive, creative, and powerful ways. Students need to hone their sense of digital agency and responsibility.
What can we do to help students navigate digital media all?
Inclement Weather Procedures for Winter 2021/22
Our most current School Cancellation and Delay procedures that will be used in the event of inclement weather is accessible on our website at https://www.natickps.org/about/cancellations_delays.
COVID UPDATES
FOLLOW UP
November COVID Vaccine Clinics
We are currently coordinating with the vaccine clinic vendor to provide follow up information to families who attended the event about the 2nd dose clinic. We appreciate your patience as we work to coordinate and will share information as it become available.
11/19/21 UPDATE
Weekly COVID Case Update
We have had a continuous uptick in cases at the elementary and early MS age level this week. 
We are very concerned about these matters and consulted with the state epidemiology department, the mobile response unit at the Department of Education, and our local Board of Health. 
It is important for families and staff to continue to be vigilant as our youngest learners become fully vaccinated. It is our hope that when this comes about, we will be able to lessen any distancing and masking in the future. But right now, we must all continue to be vigilant about COVID—it is still alive and well, and affecting our children.
COVID CASES
Through 11/17: 5 student/1 staff & 131 close contacts @ Wilson; 2 student cases / 31 close contacts @ Brown; 2 student / 21 close contacts @ Lilja; 3 student / 23 close contacts @ Ben-Hem. From Nov 18: 1 student / 21 close contacts @ NHS
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.
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!
PRESCHOOL
NATICK HIGH WEEKLY UPDATE
KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST ON WHAT'S HAPPENING AT NHS
ADDITIONAL INFO FOR FAMILIES
Upcoming Events & Resources
JOIN US ON DECEMBER 1 @ 6:30PM
Natick SEPAC Event: Reading & Understanding Your Child's IEP
The Natick SEPAC invites you to attend their upcoming event: Reading & Understanding Your Child's IEP. This event will be held virtually on Google Meet. Login details are included below.
Wednesday, December 1 · 6:30 – 8:00pm
Google Meet joining info
Or dial: ‪(US) +1 240-903-1821‬ PIN: ‪894 219 336‬#
** NEXT WEEK **
Natick 180 hosts Jon Mattleman for a talk about The Secret Lives of Teens
Natick 180 is hosting a presentation led by Jon Mattleman entitled The Secret Lives of Teens.
This presentation will take place over two evenings - November 30th and December 7th from 7:00 - 8:00 PM. The target audience for this presentation is parents, caregivers, and community members caring for teens and tweens (mostly those at the middle and high school level).
Attendees will automatically be registered for both evenings. If you are unable to attend both nights - no worries! A recording of both evenings will be available for 4 days after each session.
NATICK 180
Make the Right Call this Holiday Season
HOLIDAYS CAN BE A CHALLENGING TIME OF THE YEAR
If you are concerned about yourself or somebody else's substance use, there are available local resources and ways to reduce risk.
Natick 180 is committed to assisting community members who are addicted to opioids, which include commonly prescribed painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin, as well as street drugs like heroin. In order to save the lives of friends and neighbors who experience opioid use disorder, and shares tips to reduce the risk of a fatal overdose in this PDF.
For more information, contact Natick 180 at natick180@natickma.org or (508) 647-6623.
Resources at our Local Libraries
The Morse Institute and Bacon Free Library have a number of resources available to support various types of activities around teaching and learning in Natick. These two spaces offer great resources for your families.

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