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Message from the Superintendent - August 27, 2020

 

Dear Shrewsbury Families,

I hope that you and your loved ones remain well as we continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has been encouraging to see that the public health data for our community and surrounding communities has been trending in the right direction.  Yesterday's weekly state COVID-19 report indicates that there have been 7 cases in Shrewsbury over the past 14 days and that the rate per 100,000 people (used for comparisons) is an average of 1.3 cases per day over 14 days, placing Shrewsbury in "green" status and well below the 4 cases per 100,000 threshold for entering the next level  of caution.  Further, the positivity rate for COVID-19 testing dropped again (over the past four weeks it has gone from 1.23% to 1.00% to 0.72% to 0.56% this week).  Thank you to everyone for continuing to stay the course by wearing your mask,  physically distancing, and washing your hands -- it truly makes a difference in keeping our community healthy.

I want to update you on our reopening planning.  Please note the following important information that we shared at last night's School Committee meeting.  I encourage you to review the slide presentation or watch the presentation at the meeting (YouTube link here), or see our full reopening plan here and Frequently Asked Questions here, or watch the recent family informational webinars here.

1) Based on the number of families who selected the stand-alone, all remote learning program (i.e., "Cohort D"), students in Cohort D in Grades K-8 will be taught be Shrewsbury Public Schools (SPS) educators who will be teaching the SPS curriculum through a mix of live and asynchronous learning (see the slide presentation for sample schedules).  

2) Based on the number of stand-alone, all remote students at the high school and the complexities of offering about 250 different academic courses, we cannot free up SPS educators to separately teach Cohort D.  As a result, for SHS students in the all-remote Cohort D we will be utilizing separate online education programming in order to provide asynchronous, self-paced coursework with live online tutoring that matches Massachusetts and Shrewsbury standards for course credit.  The primary provider of courses will be Edgenuity, with some other online providers offering some courses that are not available on that platform.  We plan to have licensed SHS educators (either from our existing faculty or whom we hire) to serve as subject-specific liaisons who will monitor and facilitate Cohort D students' progress through their courses and maintain the connection with SHS.  Additionally, SHS Cohort D students will remain connected to their classmates and school through online co-curricular activities, athletics, participation in remote events for all students (such as online "assemblies,"), working with their school counselor, and being part of the SHS Schoology network of announcements and information.  More specific information on the programming for Cohort D will be provided to high school families by SHS Principal,Todd Bazydlo, tomorrow.

3) In order to serve as many preschool students as possible in person, we will not be providing remote learning programming to preschool students without disabilities at this time.  More specifics on this will be sent to preschool families by Parker Road Preschool Principal, Lisa Robinson, early next week.

4) Families do have the opportunity now to change their initial choice of educational programming (either the hybrid, in-person program OR the stand-alone, all remote program).  If a family wishes to change their choice of program so that your child starts school in your new choice of programthe deadline is tomorrow, Friday, August 28 at 3:00pm. This deadline is necessary for us to complete our planning and ensure that we can finalize our staffing model.  If you do not need to make a change, you do not need to take any action.  To change your choice of program, you must send an email to reopenchoice@shrewsbury.k12.ma.us and include your child's name, their school, their grade, and your new choice of program.  You will receive an auto reply that your message was received, and then a staff member will send a follow up email sometime next week to confirm that your child's assignment has been changed.  Requests for changes after tomorrow's deadline may result in a waiting period until some point after school has begun, which could be as long as 30 days depending on space available in classes with physical distancing constraints, enrollment in an online program, etc.  (Please note that students from families who did not respond to our original request for a choice were placed in the hybrid in-person program).

5) In order to create balanced numbers between the hybrid cohorts (Cohort B attends in person on Mondays and Tuesdays; Cohort C attends in person on Thursdays and Fridays), based on our enrollment numbers in the hybrid program and in order to keep families in the same cohort, the cutoff between the two cohorts has been established: Students assigned to Cohort B have last names from A to LARA, and students assigned to Cohort C have last names from LARK to Z.

6) Some families who have chosen the hybrid program have asked if they can switch their child from one cohort to another.  Due to the complexities of ensuring that the number of students in classrooms remains at or below the number needed for physical distancing, we do not have the capacity to accommodate these choices based solely on family preference.  However, if we need to make switches to balance numbers, we will consider families who have made a request, which can be done by filling out this Google Form. If your request can be accommodated, you will be contacted, but it is unlikely that we will be able to do so.  Thank you for your understanding.

Thank you for taking the time to read this information.  Our staff is working incredibly hard at creating the best program possible under the circumstances, and it is by far the most complex work we have ever done as a school district.  I greatly appreciate everyone's patience, understanding, and flexibility as we continue our planning, and we will continue to communicate with you as we have more information and details to share.

Respectfully,

Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools