Superintendent’s Update – March 26, 2021

Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members,

With spring fully underway, our schools are very busy preparing for a return of students in Grades K-12 to full, in-person instruction five days per week according to the schedule approved by the School Committee this past Wednesday evening.  You can view the presentation here and see the details in these presentation slides.  The return dates for in-person are as follows:

Grades K-4:      Monday, April 5

Grades 5 & 6:   Wednesday, April 14 (phase-in starting Monday, April 12)

Grades 7 & 8:   Wednesday, April 28 (phase-in starting Monday, April 26)

Grades 9-12:     Monday, May 3

Detailed information regarding these transitions is being provided by principals with specifics for each school. 

As expected, there are a variety of opinions among families regarding the return to full, in-person school, and you can see these articulated in the comments in the family survey we sent earlier this month (which, in the interest of transparency, can be viewed here).  Our staff members have varied perspectives as well.  I understand that there is a range of feelings, from eagerness to reluctance, depending on one’s point of view.  That said, I am confident that a return to full, in-person school will be safe, based upon the updated public health guidance from the national CDC and medical guidance cited by the state Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.  This guidance has evolved based on the actual experiences in schools and data (including this recent study) that show in-school transmission is very rare at 3-feet of distancing when masks and other mitigation strategies are in place.  

Students who will be returning to full-time school also have a mix of feelings regarding this change.  Families are encouraged to review the information found here for resources to assist in supporting students through this transition.

Families will receive the latest edition of the Shrewsbury School Journal in the mail in the next few days; it is also available to all here.  You will see in my column that I believe that our school communities are characterized right now by a mix of exhaustion, worry, pride, and hope.  I cannot thank our staff and our families enough for the ongoing efforts to support our students through the pandemic, exhausting as this has been.  While there are reasons to worry about the ongoing impact of the pandemic on mental health and well-being and academic progress, I am incredibly proud of the ways in which our students, educators, support staff, and families have continued to adapt to ever-changing and challenging circumstances.  I am hopeful and confident that our students who are returning to full, in-person learning will benefit from being in school more, and I am also certain that our students whose families chose to remain in full-remote learning will continue to be well served through the rest of the school year.

Finally, I also want to make everyone aware that the School Committee approved this calendar for the 2021-2022 school year.  Please reference it when making your plans.

Best wishes to all who will be observing the Jewish holiday of Passover, the Christian holiday of Palm Sunday, and the Hindu holiday of Holi over the next several days, and thank you for your continued support of our schools.


Joe Sawyer

Superintendent of Schools

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