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SPS COVID-19 Update - April 23, 2020

Dear Shrewsbury Families & Colleagues,

Thank you for your continued perseverance during this challenging time.  

I wanted to provide you a brief update regarding our district's response to the pandemic, both through this email and through this six-minute video I recorded earlier today, which I encourage you to view.

Please note:

1) The district administration provided an update to the community at last night's School Committee meeting.  You can view the meeting here, and you can view the presentation slide deck here.  The report includes information regarding what Governor Baker's order to close schools for the remainder of the academic year means for our district.  As we continue to adapt, we will be reaching out sometime next week to solicit feedback from families regarding our remote learning program.

2) While not being able to return to school this year is a great disappointment, we know it is the right thing to do for the health and well-being of our community.  However, we also know that this is particularly disappointing to our SHS seniors.  The SHS administration has already reached out to students in the Class of 2020 and their parents for their thoughts regarding how we can best celebrate our seniors' accomplishments, despite not being able to hold traditional ceremonies due to the pandemic, including graduation.  We will do our best to properly honor the Class of 2020 during this important time in their lives.   

3) Last night's report also discussed the fact that the economic impact of the pandemic will have a significant negative effect on our town government's finances, and this will make what was already a very difficult budget situation much worse.  We will be providing more information regarding our financial situation in the coming weeks as we learn more specifics regarding state and local funding, and as we determine what impact reduced resources will have on our program.

We will continue to be transparent regarding the realities we face due to the pandemic.  During last night's report, I stated that I am not optimistic that things will return to normal any time in the foreseeable future, and that I expect that our schools will face formidable challenges over at least the next two years.  I also suggested that while optimism may not be in order due to the "brutal facts" that we must face, we must maintain our hope.  In a recent interview in the New York Times by Thomas Friedman, the business leader and author Dov Seidman said, "The true antidote to fear is hope, not optimism. Hope comes from...bring(ing) out the best in people by inspiring collaboration, common purpose and future possibilities. It takes hope to overcome great fear and meet great challenges."    We certainly have great challenges before us, but I am confident that we will work effectively together to achieve our common purpose, which is to best serve the needs of our community's children.

Tomorrow is a school vacation day.  I hope our students, families, and staff have a restful long weekend, and to our Muslim families who begin observing this evening, I wish you a generous Ramadan.

Respectfully,

Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools