March 15, 2020
Dear NPS Families,
As you likely heard, Governor Baker announced earlier this evening that all schools in Massachusetts will now be closed until Monday, April 6th. We know how disruptive this is to everyone’s lives, yet we recognize the need to adhere to these guidelines to support the safety of our city during this unprecedented time.
Learning During School Closure
Governor Baker has asked districts to consider what they can do to keep learning alive for students while schools are closed. As we think about learning, it is important to note that learning in schools includes academic and social and emotional experiences, all of which are challenging to replicate without face to face interaction. That said, we want to ensure that our students have opportunities to be engaged and supported while they are away from school. These opportunities will look different depending on the grade and learning needs of the student.
Our dedicated staff will be preparing appropriate enrichment activities to help students remain engaged while school is not in session. The materials will provide educational opportunities and activities at grade level for your children. These materials and activities are not intended to replace classroom instruction or to substitute for it in any way. They are supplemental and meant to be interesting and to encourage students to explore on their own. In addition, we will be working with our administrators and staff teams to plan strategies to connect with students periodically while they are away from school. More details on our plans will be shared shortly.
As has been recommended by Newton Health and Human Services, and reiterated in Governor Baker’s remarks, social distancing is critical to slowing the spread of the virus in Massachusetts. We are encouraging “social distancing” (staying out of large groups and maintaining 6 feet of separation at smaller gatherings) to lower the risk of transmission of illness to others. We urge families to restrict their childrens' play dates and in-person social interactions and to consider other ways that they can have appropriate and healthy connections with their peers.
We know school closures may significantly impact families in many ways, especially those experiencing food insecurity. Beginning on Tuesday, March 17th, Grab ‘n Go meals will be available to NPS students in need at both Newton North and Newton South High Schools. Please see details below: Time: Between 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Location at South: Front parking loop Location at North: Parking area near auditorium entrance Additional assistance locations for those experiencing food scarcity can be found on our website at: www.newton.k12.ma.us/covid19
The School Committee is making two important changes to meetings to facilitate participation while adhering to state guidance on prohibiting gatherings of more than 25 people and practicing social distancing. They are as follows:
- Beginning with the Monday, March 16th meeting, the School Committee will host virtual meetings. Those wishing to listen to the meeting may do so via the Zoom web-based conferencing. Meetings can also be watched or live streamed via NewTV. For call-in information and more specific details, please visit the School Committee website at www.newton.k12.ma.us/schoolcommittee.
- For meetings with scheduled Public Comment, we ask members of the public to submit written Public Comment by 6:00 PM. Questions will be collated and read aloud during the Committee’s live broadcast at 7:00 PM on NewTV. Each Public Comment is limited to three minutes and must include your name and address. Please submit Public Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Education Center will be closed at 4:00 pm on Monday and remain closed until April 6th. All school buildings will remain closed until then as well. While our offices will be closed, we will be working remotely and continue to provide you with updates through email, social media, and our dedicated webpage at www.newton.k12.ma.us/covid19.
We find ourselves in an unprecedented situation filled with unknowns. However, we are a strong school community filled with caring and compassionate people. Together, we will model for our children what it means to contribute to the greater good by making sacrifices to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
Superintendent of Schools