Superintendent's Update - December 14, 2021

Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members,

Please note the following important information.  I will speak to both of these topics at tomorrow evening's School Committee meeting as well.

1) Like other school districts across the state and nation, and like most sectors of the economy, we are experiencing significant staffing issues.  This has been exacerbated in recent weeks by a higher number of COVID-19 cases, staff needing to stay home with other illnesses (especially if there are COVID-like symptoms), a local daycare/preschool where many staff have children closing for two weeks due to COVID-19, and other routine absences.  Because we also have a shortage of substitute teachers, schools have had to redeploy other staff, primarily paraprofessionals, to cover for absent teachers.  We are in great need of substitute teachers ($100 per day).  I am asking parents and community members who have interest and availability to consider helping us as day-to-day substitutes at the preschool/elementary, middle, and/or high school levels, even if you are only available on a limited basis, such as a single day per week.  Click here to apply for a substitute teaching position.  I am also asking for your consideration to serve in a flexible, part-time role as an aide in grades preschool through four at Parker Road, Coolidge, Floral Street, Paton, and Spring Street Schools.  These could be certain days per week or only for time during the middle of the day when we need assistance supervising lunch and recess.  Click here to apply for a part-time, flexible aide position.  Please forward this message to anyone you think might be available and interested in serving in any of these important roles to help our students.

2) As is the case elsewhere, we are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases in our schools.  As you can see from the weekly dashboard we published yesterday, we had the second week in a row with over 40 cases, and we already have over 20 this week.  Of the now more than 300 cases we have had this year across the district, more than 100 have occurred since the return from Thanksgiving.  We have also seen an increase in probable cases of in-school transmission.  I ask for your consideration of the following:

• Please follow public health protocols to reduce the risk of spread and encourage your children to do the same.  Please consider participating in our free, weekly testing program so that we can catch asymptomatic cases early.

• Please be reminded that students who are vaccinated do not have to be absent from school if they become a close contact of someone who tests positive, unless they become symptomatic; unvaccinated students who are close contacts of a school case must participate in the "test and stay" program if they do not have symptoms in order to attend school.  If you have questions about vaccination or boosters, please talk with your family's physician(s).

• Our school nurses are doing incredibly hard work to perform contact tracing in addition to all of their other duties, and deserve our utmost respect.  We know it is upsetting to get news that your child is identified as a close contact of someone who is positive for COVID-19, but that is no excuse to treat the nurse disrespectfully, which unfortunately has happened on a few occasions recently.  

Thank you for your continued support of our schools.


Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools

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