COVID-19 Update: School Closing

Helpful Resources + Information

Newton Public Schools: District Updates, NPS Learning from Home, Food Resources, Students Services & Special Education, Technology, Talking to Kids about COVID-19, Transportation

City of Newton: Updates and alerts

Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

March 22, 2020

Dear NPS Community,

I hope you are staying healthy and well. I am writing to give you an update on what you can expect from the Newton Public Schools in both the short and longer-term.  

First, I would like to begin by saying that all of us here in the Newton Public Schools understand how worried you are about the impact this out of school time will have on your children from both an academic and social emotional perspective. Our educators share that concern and are working very hard to identify the best ways to keep your student engaged and connected to school. By now, most of you have heard from your students’ teachers and everyone will have heard by early this week. We hope that this connection provides reassurance and an important bridge back to the school community. 

Short-term (through April 3rd)

Given the uncertainty of the public health situation and the significance of what we are attempting to do from an educational perspective, we are engaged in a multi-step process that is guided by the projected closure dates. 

In the short-term our collective goal is two-fold:

  • Students will have opportunities to practice and reinforce what has been learned and establish new routines of learning in a virtual environment.
  • Provide students a sense of community and connection to their teachers, counselors, and other support staff.

Over the past week, our educators have worked tirelessly to achieve these two goals. Much of this work has been done in virtual teams and our principals report that they are excited about the creativity, thoughtfulness and passion of our teachers during a time of significant disruption.

Over the next two weeks, our educators will connect with students directly to provide guidance on lessons and activities. This will take the form of regularly scheduled check-in and connection with students using technology-based tools. 

Long-term

Given the evolving and rapidly changing public health crisis, we must be prepared that the school closure may extend beyond April 3rd. It is our responsibility as a district to prepare for this possibility and what it will mean for learning. As a result, beginning tomorrow, I am convening planning teams at each of our three levels to plan for what learning looks like should we be closed beyond April 3rd. Each of these teams will be charged with addressing three central questions:

  • Given that remote learning is our only vehicle for teaching, what should our guidelines be for introducing new learning?
  • How do we best ensure that all students have access to new learning?
  • How will we assess what students have learned?

I will be sure to keep you updated as our faculty, staff, and administrators answer these questions and as we strive to meet the needs of every student to the greatest extent possible.

Reminders

  • Technology - Over the past week, our technology team has worked to identify and provide devices to students who need one in order to access online resources and technology-based tools. If you need a device for your student, please complete this form by the end of the day on Monday, March 23rd. We have already received a significant number of requests and have limited capacity.  
  • Grab ‘n Go Food Service - Breakfast and lunch meal service is provided from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. every day at both North and South high schools.
  • NPS COVID-19 website - Please be sure to visit our website, which is updated regularly: www.newton.k12.ma.us/covid19

Social Distancing

Please remember that social distancing is critical to slowing the spread of the virus. The Newton Health and Human Services Department urges residents to stay home as much as possible, avoid crowds and social gatherings, and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others. We urge families to eliminate their childrens' play dates and in-person social interactions and to consider other ways that they can have appropriate and healthy connections with their peers. 

While this crisis has given us opportunities to find new ways to engage students and to test ideas for learning in different environments, this is not easy. Like all of you, our educators are balancing personal and work challenges like they have never had to do before. However, I can assure you that they are working very hard and are committed to ensuring that our students are supported academically and emotionally while school is closed. We will continue to keep you updated as we move forward.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman

Superintendent of Schools

March 15, 2020 

Dear NPS Families,

As you likely heard, Governor Baker announced earlier this evening that all schools in Massachusetts will now be closed until Monday, April 6th. We know how disruptive this is to everyone’s lives, yet we recognize the need to adhere to these guidelines to support the safety of our city during this unprecedented time.

Learning During School Closure

Governor Baker has asked districts to consider what they can do to keep learning alive for students while schools are closed. As we think about learning, it is important to note that learning in schools includes academic and social and emotional experiences, all of which are challenging to replicate without face to face interaction. That said, we want to ensure that our students have opportunities to be engaged and supported while they are away from school. These opportunities will look different depending on the grade and learning needs of the student.

Our dedicated staff will be preparing appropriate enrichment activities to help students remain engaged while school is not in session. The materials will provide educational opportunities and activities at grade level for your children. These materials and activities are not intended to replace classroom instruction or to substitute for it in any way. They are supplemental and meant to be interesting and to encourage students to explore on their own. In addition, we will be working with our administrators and staff teams to plan strategies to connect with students periodically while they are away from school. More details on our plans will be shared shortly.

Social Distancing

As has been recommended by Newton Health and Human Services, and reiterated in Governor Baker’s remarks, social distancing is critical to slowing the spread of the virus in Massachusetts. We are encouraging “social distancing” (staying out of large groups and maintaining 6 feet of separation at smaller gatherings) to lower the risk of transmission of illness to others. We urge families to restrict their childrens' play dates and in-person social interactions and to consider other ways that they can have appropriate and healthy connections with their peers.

Food Scarcity

We know school closures may significantly impact families in many ways, especially those experiencing food insecurity. Beginning on Tuesday, March 17th, Grab ‘n Go meals will be available to NPS students in need at both Newton North and Newton South High Schools. Please see details below: Time: Between 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Location at South: Front parking loop Location at North: Parking area near auditorium entrance Additional assistance locations for those experiencing food scarcity can be found on our website at: www.newton.k12.ma.us/covid19

School Committee

The School Committee is making two important changes to meetings to facilitate participation while adhering to state guidance on prohibiting gatherings of more than 25 people and practicing social distancing. They are as follows:

  • Beginning with the Monday, March 16th meeting, the School Committee will host virtual meetings. Those wishing to listen to the meeting may do so via the Zoom web-based conferencing. Meetings can also be watched or live streamed via NewTV. For call-in information and more specific details, please visit the School Committee website at www.newton.k12.ma.us/schoolcommittee.
  • For meetings with scheduled Public Comment, we ask members of the public to submit written Public Comment by 6:00 PM. Questions will be collated and read aloud during the Committee’s live broadcast at 7:00 PM on NewTV. Each Public Comment is limited to three minutes and must include your name and address. Please submit Public Comments to: schoolcommittee@newton.k12.ma.us.

Administrative Offices

The Education Center will be closed at 4:00 pm on Monday and remain closed until April 6th. All school buildings will remain closed until then as well. While our offices will be closed, we will be working remotely and continue to provide you with updates through email, social media, and our dedicated webpage at www.newton.k12.ma.us/covid19.

We find ourselves in an unprecedented situation filled with unknowns. However, we are a strong school community filled with caring and compassionate people. Together, we will model for our children what it means to contribute to the greater good by making sacrifices to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman

Superintendent of Schools

March 13, 2020

Dear NPS Families,

We write to provide you with an update on our school closure related to COVID-19. While we continue to assess the situation and ultimately make a firm decision on the length of our closure, we want to let you know what to expect over the next few days.

Because we had only used one of our five “snow days” when we decided to close, the days out of school until Wednesday, March 18, will be considered “snow days.”  Only these four days are required to be made up at the end of the school year, which means that the last day of school for students is now firmly set for Wednesday, June 24.  As with any snow day, there are no expectations of academic work by students and teachers are not expected to provide assignments or instruction. Next week, we will provide you with an update on next steps to support student learning. 

We know a school closure may impact our most vulnerable families, especially those experiencing food scarcity. Food resources, as well as additional resources and updates related to COVID-19, can be found on our website at: https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/COVID19

As a reminder, the decision to close schools is an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. It will only be effective if the community also takes steps to practice self-isolation, monitor for any symptoms, and avoid large gatherings. We need all community members to do their part or the school closure will not be successful in limiting the spread of the virus. Of course, all school activities regardless of location, including athletics, parent/teacher conferences, club meetings, and extra-curricular classes are cancelled until further notice.

We will be in touch with you next week as our plans progress. Thank you for your patience as we navigate this unprecedented situation.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools

March 12, 2020

Dear NPS Families,

For the past two weeks, we have been working closely with the Newton Department of Health and Human Services to reduce the community spread of COVID-19. We have received many emails from concerned families and understand that this is a stressful and unsettling time.

Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our region, coupled with new guidance from the Governor, the state, infectious disease experts, and our local health partners, we have made the difficult decision to close the Newton Public Schools beginning tomorrow, Friday, March 13. There will be no school tomorrow, next week and possibly for a longer period. 

The decision to close schools is an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. It will only be effective if the community also takes steps to practice self-isolation, monitor for any symptoms, and avoid large gatherings. We need all community members to do their part or the school closure will not be successful in limiting the spread of the virus. 

We know the cancellation of school, its associated activities, and events that use our school buildings is disappointing and extremely disruptive to our daily lives. However, we believe we must do so for the health and well-being of our community. 

We expect to provide an update to you next week as we further assess the situation.  We also know you will have questions regarding learning opportunities for your children while school is closed and we will have more information on this subject late next week.  

This is a unique public health situation that is rapidly changing. Our hope is that if we all work together, we can reduce the spread of this virus, protect residents, especially those most vulnerable, and resume normal activities as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

​​​​​​​David Fleishman

Superintendent of Schools