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District Update: February 11, 2021

All,

This week marked over 90 days of learning for our students in Dedham Public Schools, and next week brings us all a much needed and well deserved February break.   I appreciate how difficult this year has been for everyone - students, faculty/staff, and parents.  Thank you for your efforts and patience as we navigate all the challenges presented by COVID-19 in our schools and in our community.  Please enjoy a healthy, safe, and (hopefully) relaxing break, and take a moment to review some important updates below, along with some highlights from around the District.   

COVID-19 TESTING FOR FACULTY, STAFF, AND STUDENTS

In our continued efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially in our classrooms, Dedham Public Schools was approved this week to participate in a statewide program now being offered to provide pooled COVID-19 testing for all faculty, staff and students.  This pooled testing program, created through the combined efforts of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). Pooled testing is designed to quickly test groups to determine if COVID-19 is present, and would be voluntary, self-administered (with oversight) by students grades 2 – 12, or conducted by a trained adult for our younger learners.   Additional details, including an FAQ and required consent form for all students, will be sent out after February break.  Our current timeline includes a soft rollout of testing to begin after February break, followed by a ramp up to universal testing for all beginning in early March.   More information on this program can be found here.

 

GRADE 1 – FULL RETURN PLANNING

As the risks from COVID continue to require a hybrid learning approach, we have begun looking into ways to expand our in-person learning model to include the possibility of bringing back all our Grade 1 students in-person, 4x/week.   This shift continues our efforts to do whatever we can to help minimize the educational and social impacts facing our youngest learners.  Grade 1 classrooms will continue to maintain social protocols and Principals are working with our educators to make the necessary adjustments to the classroom spaces, supplies and schedules.   Grade 1 parents will be receiving more detailed communication about next steps shortly.  Our current goal is to begin welcoming back all first graders who wish to attend in person 4 days per week beginning on March 1.   

 

DISTRICT SPOTLIGHT NEWS

- Congratulations to two of our DPS Librarians - Wendy Garland and Ingrid Mayassi – who will share the honor of co-chairing the MSLA Awards Committee, as part of their work on the Executive Board of the Massachusetts School Library Association.    

 

- Be sure to check out some of the amazing work done by the DMS 8th grade Boylston Team to close out a recent Science unit on Gravity. Students were asked to create a moving model that answered the question:  How does gravity manipulate the universe?  Students shared videos, Powtoons and more with the class over Padlet to showcase their knowledge.  You can learn more about the assignment and see some of the creative results here.

 

- Last week, DHS Football welcomed interim head coach, Michael Landers.  Coach Landers comes to DHS with a wealth of experience coaching at the college level and was the unanimous choice of an interview committee made up of senior players and administrators.  Coach Landers and our players are excited to get the modified season underway starting on February 22nd.

 

VACATION REMINDER 

February 15 – 19 there will be No School for February Break.   We hope everyone is able to take some time to relax, be creative, get outside and enjoy the winter snow.    While we know you may be excited to ski, play or visit with friends during this time off, please make sure you are following safe, responsible COVID practices – including wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds or indoor gatherings.    

Please keep in mind the current Travel Guidelines which continue to be in effect as you make your plans:

DO NOT come into close contact with people who are outside your household circle.

DO NOT travel outside Massachusetts.

DO NOT gather in large groups for any period of time.

 

If school staff or students are unable to comply with these three guidelines, the Dedham Public Schools will require you to self-quarantine for 10 days or provide the schools evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test administered no earlier than 5 days after last exposure to non-household members or returning to Massachusetts.  All students will require a fully transparent health attestation upon entry back to the school buildings after break.  Please refer to our school webpages for additional information and clarification.

As a reminder, Wednesday Asynchronous Learning Afternoons will continue as we move through the second half of the school year.  Please remember to check our 2020-21 school year calendar for upcoming professional development days that frequently occur on Wednesdays also.

FACILITIES UPDATES

An ongoing thank you to all our hard working Facilities and Custodial staff who continue to help ensure that our classrooms and school buildings are regularly sanitized, room CO2 levels are recorded, sidewalks and grounds are safely cleared of the ever-accumulating snow.    

 

As required by law, we are sharing the current notification regarding the completion of the DPS asbestos inspections and annual reporting requirements. 

 

 

All my best,

Mike Welch

Superintendent