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Superintendent's Update & Request for Feedback - November 10, 2020

Dear Shrewsbury Families,

Thank you for all of your continued efforts to support your children's education during this challenging time.

It certainly continues to be a momentous time in history as our nation grapples with the resurgent pandemic, ongoing calls for racial justice and equity, economic uncertainty, and great political division accentuated by the national election. 

We have been working to update you at each School Committee meeting regarding our own school district’s situation.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch recent meetings, I encourage you to view the videos of the updates at the start of the meetings (always posted here) and the update slides (always posted here).  I strongly suggest that you watch the October 28 presentation and Q&A with Dr. Andrea Ciaranello, the infectious disease specialist from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as I think the information she shared was very important regarding the measures we are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools (her presentation slides can also be found here; I found the “Swiss cheese” analogy for how mitigation strategies work together to be particularly helpful).

You have probably seen in the news that this past Friday the state’s Department of Public Health & COVID-19 Command Center updated its metrics regarding the color-coding of communities relative to risk of spread of COVID-19.  The state made these adjustments in order to provide more sensitivity regarding the size of the community, whether a community has a lot of testing happening (e.g., because of a college located in the community), and to reflect updated academic and national data regarding the spread of the virus.  Shrewsbury was rated “green” this past week after three weeks of “yellow” and then two weeks of “red.”  The Department of Elementary & Secondary Education also updated its guidance on in-person schooling to emphasize that global, national, and state data show that the transmission of the virus in schools that use mitigation strategies is very low, even in places where there is higher community spread.  DESE is promoting in-person school where feasible and hybrid education at minimum except for where there is suspected in-school transmission.  Please note that this updated guidance is not prompting any changes to our current approach here in SPS at this time.  I appreciate your support to ensure that our students follow our health and safety protocols, as we continue to have no instances of in-school transmission of the virus despite cases that have come from outside the schools (see the weekly SPS dashboard for specific information on our cases). 

It is hard to believe we are eight-plus weeks into the school year.  At this point in our experience, I am asking that you provide us with feedback regarding how things have been going from your perspective.  I would be very grateful if you would take some time between now and the end of the day on Friday to complete the brief, anonymous family survey found at the link below.  I ask that you complete a separate survey for each of your children in our schools, as it is important for us to get feedback regarding each child's experience at different grade levels and schools:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FamilyReopeningSurveyNov2020

(Note: Families who need the survey items translated, please click here to view a web page where you can use the Google Translate function.)

Thank you in advance for providing your feedback to help us best support our students, our staff, and you during this challenging time.  We will share the results of this survey at a future School Committee meeting.

Thanks again for all you are doing to support our schools.

Respectfully,

Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools