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DPS Email Update: Back to School August 25, 2021

DPS Family Email Update:  Back to School Edition

August 25, 2021


Welcome Back to the 2021-2022 School Year in Dedham!


Next Thursday, September 2, will be the First Day of School for all of our Dedham students in grades 1-12.    We are beyond excited that we will be welcoming all our students back into classrooms, in-person to learn with us.  It cannot be understated how challenging the past year and a half was for students, staff, administrators and families.   We persevered, we adapted and now, we can look ahead into a new school year in-person, refocused on student achievement, growth, potential and improvement.


Our first day of school last year was much different, so if you have questions or need reminders on some of the basic Back to School logistics, we encourage you to refer to our DPS Back to School website, where you will find answers to many questions you may have - calendars, busing, food services, technology and more.  Some important updates that you should know: 


Busing:    Our bus routes and schedules are now posted on our school websites. 


Calendar: The full, detailed 2021-22 school year calendar is now posted for download.


Food:  All school meals will continue to be FREE for Dedham students through June 30, 2022.   We still encourage families eligible for Free/Reduced lunch to complete the registration process, as it ensures you can benefit from the other program offerings including access to reduced fees in other areas.  Also, please note that due to supply chain issues, our posted lunch menus may be subject to last minute changes.


Community Programs:  Be sure to check our Community Page for the latest programs available for families, including English and Adult Secondary Education Classes provided by the Blue Hills Adult Education Program currently located at the Capen School building on Sprague Street in Dedham.


Forms: There is always homework for parents during Back to School!  Please be sure to complete any forms and documents as soon as possible.  All forms requiring attention will be available on all school websites and we will try to consolidate them for you as much as possible.


COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines In Dedham Public Schools: 


COVID-19 continues to be an ongoing risk in Dedham, with variants and rising numbers reported every day in our community over the past two weeks.   Returning students and educators to classrooms in-person means we need to ensure that everyone in the shared space feels as comfortable and safe as possible, so they can focus on learning, instead of worrying about COVID.  


Throughout the summer DPS school leadership and Town health officials have been reviewing and discussing the dozen or more recommendations and guidelines issued for schools.  (If you are interested in any of these documents, they can be found on our Back to School page under the COVID section).   


At tonight’s Dedham School Committee meeting, a proposed set of reopening guidelines for all our schools were voted and approved.  We will be working to finalize these guidelines in the coming days and there are still many finer points to work out.  Because guidance continues to change so quickly, we encourage you to find the latest details and additional information or questions on any of these guidelines on our Back to School page.  These guidelines include:


  • Until further notice, ALL DPS staff and students (PreK-12) will be required to wear a mask at all times (other than mask breaks and lunch) while indoors in any Dedham Public School building.  This is in line with the DESE Statewide Mandate issued today by the Education Commissioner and extends the State mandate to include PreK students.  This rule will apply to ALL, whether vaccinated or not.   
  • All DPS students must wear masks at all times while riding on the bus (including field trips and athletics)
  • Students and staff will NOT be required to wear masks when outdoors (including outdoor athletics)
  • Provided students are masked indoors, students will not be required to maintain social distancing, but will be encouraged to do so whenever feasible.
  • School lunches will be encouraged to be outside whenever feasible, otherwise lunch will be held in an area where students are individually seated no less than three feet apart.  
  • Weekly COVID-19 Safety (Pooled) Testing will be encouraged for all students and staff.  New consent forms will be required for all participants.  More information will be shared next week along with links for the online consent form.
  • All DPS staff will be required to provide evidence of COVID-19 vaccination or consent to COVID-19 testing twice per week.
  • In all DPS facilities, use of HEPA air purification units, CO2 monitoring and daily cleaning of high touch surfaces will continue.
  • Fall Indoor Sports and Activities will be conducted with masks on and school visitors and indoor athletic event spectators will be allowed provided mask guidelines are followed
  • Fine Arts classroom activities (Chorus, Band, Drama) will be permitted in accordance with MME guidelines


We understand that many of our Middle and High school students have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but these guidelines have been designed to help ensure that ALL students and staff can feel safe in our buildings at all times.  If your student has not been vaccinated and is eligible, we strongly encourage you to get them vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccinations for anyone age 12 and older are readily available.  Please use the MA DPH Vaccination Locator website for more information.  Returning students and educators fully in-person to classrooms ensures we can continue to provide opportunities for group work and social engagement throughout the school day.   


We look forward to a wonderful school year ahead!  Enjoy the rest of your summer vacation.


All My Best, 


Mike Welch