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DPS District Email Update: January 1, 2022

DPS January Return To School Family Updates

Hi Folks,

Happy New Year!  I’m reaching out tonight to bring all students and families some important information about our return to school on Monday, January 3, 2022.  It is important to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our schools safe and open for students, and we need your help to make this happen:

  • If your child tested positive during the December break, please contact and inform your child’s school nurse and school principal as soon as possible (see the email contact information below).

If your child is experiencing any of the following COVID-19 symptoms, you MUST KEEP YOUR CHILD HOME FROM SCHOOL.  Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
  • Sore throat when in combination with other symptoms
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea when in combination with other symptoms
  • Headache when in combination with other symptoms
  • Fatigue when in combination with other symptoms
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms

 

On Thursday, December 30 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) revised their guidance for isolation and quarantine for COVID-19.  This new guidance reduces isolation (for people who test positive for COVID-19) and quarantine (for people who are in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person) to 5 days from symptom onset or positive test date when individuals are asymptomatic (showing no COVID-19 symptoms) and/or showing reduced symptoms (no fever for 24 hours without medication).  In these situations your child may exit quarantine on Day 6.  These new guidelines are effective immediately and apply to anyone who was a confirmed positive COVID-19 case or a close contact (unless you are exempt - see definition on pg. 3).  

In other words, if symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test occurred on Tuesday, December 28 or before and your child has no COVID symptoms or fever-free without medication for 24 hours, your child is cleared to return to school on Monday, January 3.

Remote Learning: At this time there is still no option for public schools to shift to remote teaching and learning.  DESE is not currently allowing any districts in Massachusetts to return to any mode of teaching and learning other than in-person.  In other words, only in-person teaching and learning counts toward the legal obligation to provide 180 days of school. This also means that there will only be “traditional” snow days this winter - no remote learning days if school is called off due to inclement weather.

Pooled Testing:  Dedham continues to provide weekly “pooled” COVID-19 PCR testing for all students and staff. Parents must provide consent in order for their children to participate.  Pooled testing for next week will occur at all schools on Monday, 1/3/2022.  If you have not provided consent for your child to participate in pooled testing PLEASE COMPLETE THIS CONSENT FORM immediately.  If your child has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days (since October 1) they should NOT participate in pooled testing.

In School Expectations: In consideration of the rising numbers of COVID cases in our community, the schools will be vigilantly continuing the following measures:

  • Universal indoor masking is still required for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors in all PreK-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. KN95 masks will be available to all staff in January.
  • To the fullest extent possible, schools will maintain physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk.
  • All classes will keep seating charts to assist with contact tracing.
  • Families are strongly encouraged to vaccinate and boost their students ages 5 and older. 

Athletics: We will continue to monitor positive COVID-19 cases within our athletes and throughout the Tri-Valley League.  We will make decisions about future play in the best interest of all our student-athletes.

If your student athlete has tested positive for COVID-19, they must provide a medical clearance letter from their primary care doctor and complete a COVID-19 Return to Play Protocol with the athletic trainer prior to participating in practice or games.

Staff Shortages:  Staffing all positions in all our schools is a challenge as we continue to balance the well-being of staff and students with the need for qualified instruction and supervision. Hopefully, the shortened isolation periods will help us meet the staffing challenges caused by COVID. 

Please reach out to our Principals and School Nurses if you have any questions or concerns:

School

Principal

Email

School Nurse

Email

Avery

Dr. Clare Sullivan

csullivan@dedham.k12.ma.us

Sheila Bennett

sbennett@dedham.k12.ma.us

High School

Jim Forrest

jforrest@dedham.k12.ma.us

Jen Atkins

jatkins@dedham.k12.ma.us

Middle School

Karen Hillman

khillman@dedham.k12.ma.us

Donna Farrar

dfarrar@dedham.k12.ma.us

ECEC

Kim Taylor

ktaylor@dedham.k12.ma.us

Carol Laurino

claurino@dedham.k12.ma.us

Greenlodge

Jenny McGowan

jmcgowan@dedham.k12.ma.us

Kate Duckworth

kduckworth@dedham.k12.ma.us

Oakdale

Kim Hermesch

khermesch@dedham.k12.ma.us

Sue Healy

shealy@dedham.k12.ma.us

Riverdale

Ed Paris

eparis@dedham.k12.ma.us

Judy Byrne

jbyrne@dedham.k12.ma.us

 

Thank you for your continued support of the Dedham Public Schools.

 

All my best,

 

Mike Welch

Superintendent