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Superintendent Email Update: September 16, 2021

Superintendent’s Update

Thursday, September 16, 2021

 

Hi Folks,

 

We are now 10 days into the 2021-22 school year and I am very proud of the way our 2600 students and 600 faculty/staff have started the year.  While we still need to observe COVID-19 protocols in all our schools, I have seen excellent compliance and everyone is excited to safely return to in-person learning.  We have seen some typical annual start-up challenges as everyone returns (or learns) new routines (pickup/dropoff, lunches, etc…), and I appreciate everyone’s patience and grace as we gradually settle in.  Please take a moment to review the information below.

 

COVID-19 Updates

We appreciate all families' partnership in order to keep everyone safe in our schools. This includes getting your child vaccinated (use MA Vaxfinder Site if age 12 or older) and keeping your child home if they are sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. We began pooled COVID-19 testing for faculty/staff in all of our schools this week. Next week we will begin testing students at all elementary and secondary schools (ECEC will start on Monday, 9/23). If you have not done so already, we encourage ALL FAMILIES to provide consent for COVID-19 testing (even if your child is vaccinated).  CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ONLINE CONSENT FORM.  Your child may not participate in any aspect of our COVID-19 testing program unless this consent form is completed.

Last night the Dedham School Committee approved the district’s participation in the DPH/DESE “Test and Stay” program. This will allow students who are determined to be close contacts to take a rapid antigen test in school to confirm they are safe before returning to class.  In order to participate, students MUST have a consent on file with the school. 

We are not yet ready to roll out the “Test and Stay” program at all our schools, and we will be piloting the process in targeted instances over the next week or so.  Please be patient while we prepare to ramp up all aspects of the COVID-19 screening testing across the district as this is a logistical, technical, and communications challenge on many levels.  For more information about COVID-19 testing please visit the “Back to School” page on the DPS website or reach out to Emily Kadehjian, our District COVID Testing Coordinator at ekadehjian@dedham.k12.ma.us or reach out to your school principal or nurse.

 

Family Contacts and Demographic Updates

It is imperative that schools have accurate contact information for all students and families. Next week families will receive a Demographic Update form for each child they have enrolled in the district.  This form will be pre-populated with the current information we have on file, and all families will be required to update and return this form to their child’s school by Friday, October 1. We need 100% compliance with this important annual task so keep an eye out for this blue paper form next week.  

 

American Rescue Plan Education Funds - Community Input Needed!

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 was enacted on March 11, 2021. The ARP Act provides additional funding for school districts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Education portion of ARP is known as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III or ARP ESSER) Fund. Through this fund, the Dedham Public Schools will receive a grant allocation of $2,337,646 that may be expended through September 2024. The purpose of the ESSER III funds is to support the safe reopening of schools and sustain safe operations of schools while meeting students' academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

We need your input on how you would like to see these funds allocated in the Dedham Public Schools.  We have created a less than 5-minute survey to solicit your opinions.  Thank you for taking the time to provide your thoughts!

 

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Justice

The Dedham Public Schools values and affirms diversity, equity, and inclusion. These goals are essential in developing responsible, self-motivated learners, effective communicators, and active participants in diverse communities. To that end, we are sharing information about two district initiatives: Equity Action Teams across Pre-K to Grade 5 and Diversity Talks across Grades 6-12. 

 

The goal of the Pre-K to 5 Equity Actions Teams is to increase representation and inclusion of race, ethnicity, language, class, gender identity and expression, disability, and religion in district texts and curriculum materials.  We will do this by providing culturally, linguistically diverse, and enabling texts and materials to support teaching and learning across Pre-K to Grade 5. 

 

The goal of our partnership with Diversity Talks is to increase student agency and voice for all students. For additional information on these initiatives or to learn about our DEI & J work, please visit our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice website

 

Curriculum Updates

The Dedham Public Schools Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment has been working hard to make curriculum documents and resources accessible to all families.  The Elementary Curriculum Website provides information about curriculum, resources, report cards, intervention strategies, and digital/online support.  Our Secondary Curriculum Website contains comprehensive course overviews for all core content (ELA, Math, Science, and History) for grades 6-12. Course overviews contain, by grade level, a unit by unit breakdown of essential questions and Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks covered over the course of the school year.

 

As always, please reach out to me at mwelch@dedham.k12.ma.us if you have any questions.

 

All my best,

 

Mike Welch

Superintendent

Dedham Public Schools