Superintendent's Update - September 2, 2021

Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members,

We had a very successful opening to the new school year!  Thank you to everyone whose efforts helped make this happen.  Our school buildings look terrific thanks to the hard work of the custodians and staff from our town's Public Buildings Division and contract cleaning companies.  Our buses ran very smoothly for the first days with minimal issues -- and no driver shortages -- thanks to proactive efforts of our partner AA Transportation.   Our students were well prepared to start classes thanks to the outstanding support of our families.  And, last but not least, we've had an excellent week of learning for both students and staff thanks to the collective efforts of all of my SPS colleagues, including secretaries and clerical staff, food service staff, IT support, extended school care providers, paraprofessionals, nurses, educators, and administrators.  For some photos from the week, take a look at my Twitter feed at and check out #ShrewsburyLearns for tweets from other SPS colleagues as well.

It was particularly special to open up the new Major Howard W. Beal School yesterday.  Check out this short video put together by Marc Serra and Liz Poplawski from the Shrewsbury Media Connection that shows our students entering the building for the first time and provides great views of the exterior and interior of this amazing building.  Thank you to the Shrewsbury community for providing this incredible state-of-the-art learning environment that will benefit our students now and for decades to come!

I greatly appreciate how our students are meeting our expectations for wearing masks in order to help prevent the potential transmission of COVID-19.  We will again be reporting out our district's statistics regarding cases on our weekly dashboard, and I'll speak to this more at next week's School Committee meeting on September 8.  In the meantime, we currently have a total of 3 students out of our entire 6,200 student population who have tested positive for the virus, 2 of whom have not been present at school at all due to quarantining.  One student tested positive today who was present at Oak Middle School yesterday, and contact tracing has been completed.  As a school district, we are notified through the public health database regarding cases, but we still ask that families notify their school nurse right away if a student tests positive or becomes a close contact to someone outside of school so that we can act quickly.  We urge families to help limit the potential of spreading the virus by having your child stay home if they have symptoms.  Please see the updated checklist at the bottom of this message as a reminder of what symptoms to look for in order to avoid the possible spread of COVID-19.

It has been a pleasure to see our students enthusiastically engaged with their classmates and teachers as they have been getting to know one another over these past two days.  This socialization is critically important for their well-being, and we want to keep our students learning in person with minimal interruption.  Thank you for helping us do this by being judicious about your family's approach to COVID prevention strategies outside of school.  

Have a terrific long weekend, happy Labor Day, and Shanah Tovah to all who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah next week!


Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools

  • When doing a daily self-check, what symptoms are now considered COVID-19 symptoms?
    • COVID-19 symptoms list:
      • Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
      • New loss of taste or smell
      • Muscle aches or body aches
      • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
      • Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms
      • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea when in combination with other symptoms
      • Headache when in combination with other symptoms
      • Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
      • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms

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