Superintendent's Update - September 10, 2021

Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members,

As we complete the second week of school, I am pleased to say that we have had a very good opening to the school year despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.  It has been gratifying to witness students learning in person, and the energy in our schools has been high and positive. To view the report made to the School Committee this past Wednesday with updates regarding COVID-19 mitigation, transportation, lunches, and what our staff focused on during recent professional development days, click here for the video and here for the presentation slide deck.  So far this school year we have now had 17 positive cases of COVID-19 among the approximately 6,800 students and staff in our schools.  We will be again publishing a COVID-19 data dashboard every week with detailed information about cases in our schools, so please look for that on Monday afternoon.

Please read on for important information about 1) providing feedback regarding a federal grant, 2) parent and caretaker attendance at upcoming curriculum nights, and 3) remembrance of 9/11: 

Feedback regarding use of federal grant funds: At the School Committee meeting we also presented information regarding federal grant money from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund.  This $1.23 million allocation is intended to provide school districts with funding to support students who have been affected by the pandemic, including using at least 20% of the funds "to address lost instructional time," with particular attention to the needs of students who may have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic (including students from low-income families, students of color, English learners, children w/ disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, and migratory students). Initial thinking regarding how we might utilize these funds includes increasing mental health support for students; providing support in reading and mathematics where students may be behind due to the disruption of the past two years; and funding summer and after school programming to provide additional support for students.  Part of the grant's requirements for school districts is soliciting feedback from students, families, staff, and the community, and I invite you to complete a short survey to share your perspective by clicking here. (If you would like assistance translating the survey, click here.) If you wish to provide feedback please do so by the end of the day on Wednesday, September 15.

Parent & caretaker attendance at upcoming curriculum nights: Annual curriculum nights are an important way in which our schools partner with families by providing the opportunity to learn about students' classroom experiences and expectations.  These are always extremely well attended by parents and caretakers.  Given the current circumstances of the pandemic, in order to reduce the total amount of people attending to avoid overcrowding in classrooms and meeting spaces, we request that only one parent/caretaker attend from each of a student's households.    In most cases, this means one parent/caretaker will attend per student;  in cases of separation/divorce where the parents live apart, each may come.  If there are two students from a family in the same school but in different grades or classes, one parent/caretaker may attend for each student.  Please also note that everyone who enters our schools for curriculum night must wear a mask.  We appreciate your cooperation with limiting the number of attendees and masking at our curriculum nights -- thank you.   

Remembrance of 9/11: As we observe the 20th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001 tomorrow, I want you to know that special recognition of this historical event was made at morning announcements today at Sherwood Middle School, Oak Middle School, and Shrewsbury High School.  It is hard for me to believe that it has been two decades since this cataclysmic event in our nation's history.  To read a short piece I wrote about a few years ago about the importance of teaching the history of 9/11, click here.  Tomorrow's anniversary is a poignant reminder of the tragedy of those lost, the courage of those who responded, and the unity of national spirit that emerged, all of which inspire us today.    

Thank you for your continued support of our community's public schools.


Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools

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