Dear Students, Families, and Staff Members,
On Friday, March 5, 2021, the state Board of Education voted (8-3) to authorize Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley to determine what learning model (full in-person, hybrid, or remote) will count toward the state required time on learning days. On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the Commissioner notified all school districts of his plan for a return to in-person learning for students in grades kindergarten to 5, 6 through 8, and 9 through 12. In order to comply with the expectations to meet the time on learning requirements, the phase into full in-person learning will begin on April 5, 2021 for our elementary students in grades preK-6 and for students in the 7th and 8th grade academy on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. A return date for high school students has yet to be announced by Commissioner Riley. Drury High School students will remain in hybrid and remote learning until the date for full in-person is announced.
Parents and guardians will still have the choice to remain in remote learning or to engage in full in-person learning on the effective date. A survey of parents and guardians has gone out and it is imperative that this survey is completed for each child attending North Adams Public Schools to assist in our planning for a safe reopening. Your cooperation in completing the survey on or before Friday, March 19, 2021, is greatly appreciated. The surveys can be accessed on the district website at www.napsk12.org.
There will be two parent/guardian forums next week to provide families with additional information. These forums will be scheduled as follows and no registration will be required.
- Family Forum for Grades prek-6 will be held on Monday, March 15, 2021 beginning at 6:00 pm. www.napsk12.org/ZoomLinkMarch15
- Family Forum for Grades 7-8 will be held on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 beginning at 6:00 pm. www.napsk12.org/ZoomLinkMarch17
The guidance the district has received from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education includes the following:
- Full time in-person learning means that all structured learning time hours (on average 5 hours per day of structured learning time at the elementary level and 5.5 hours per day at the secondary level) are required to be delivered in-person, 5 days per week.
- The inclusion of pooled testing programs among the mitigation strategies has improved the health metrics across the state to support in-person learning.
- Family surveys are required by each district to determine parent/guardian choice between full in-person and remote learning for the remainder of the school year. (See information above.)
- Individual students may need to isolate or quarantine and learn remotely if they are symptomatic, diagnosed with COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone who tests positive.
- Three feet of physical distance between students when wearing masks is scientifically supported as long as other mitigation measures are in place.
- Where it will be necessary for students to remove masks, such as when eating breakfast or lunch, students will need to have a minimum six feet of physical distance.
- Face masks are required to be worn by all students at all grade levels, unless students receive a medical or behavioral exemption.
Each Thursday evening the Department of Public Health releases the city/town and Berkshire County data updates for the previous 14 day period. There are no new cases of COVID-19 associated with the schools for this week.
The key information used to determine moving to remote learning or remaining with the hybrid model includes:
- The positivity rate for the City of North Adams: Current rate is 0.68%.
- The average positivity rate for 15 communities, not including North Adams, calculated from the total positive cases divided by the total number of tests for the last 14 days multiplied by 100: Current rate is 0.48 %.
- All of the pool testing results for Cohort A and last week’s Cohort B students, staff, and student athletes are reported as negative.
- The report by the school nurse leader of the total number of cases of COVID by school and the status of each case (contact tracing, quarantine and self-isolation, and awaiting follow-up test results).
On Friday, March 12, 2021, the COVID Data Team (a joint labor management team) met to review the data and take a vote for the return to school. The vote was unanimous to accept the data report and support the continuation of the hybrid model effective Monday, March 15, 2021 for all grades.
In school transmission rates remain very low due to the effective use of all mitigation strategies, including: masks, physical distancing, disinfection protocols, and the addition of a pooled testing program. Your continued use of these mitigation measures while not in school will help to keep our students in school for longer periods of time and possibly get all students back to school for in-person learning.
Please practice prevention of infection and as always, if a staff member or student develops symptoms it is imperative that they stay home and contact their health care provider.
Pooled Testing Program
North Adams Public Schools has implemented a voluntary free weekly COVID-19 testing program to help keep our staff, students and community safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Regular COVID-19 testing of students and staff will help us lower the risk of the disease in our school by finding and isolating individuals who have COVID-19 quickly, even before or if they show symptoms. We have confidence in our safety protocols including masking, distancing, and disinfection protocols. The weekly COVID-19 testing program is just another way we are striving to keep our school environment safe for everyone. It is not too late to provide consent for your child to participate in this valuable program.
The ability to join the pooled testing program by providing consent will remain an open enrollment and you can submit your consent form at any time. Please provide an individual consent form for each of your children who attends North Adams Public Schools.The more individuals who participate, the safer our schools will be!
To participate in the testing program, you need to sign a consent form. You only need to sign once to consent for testing each week. The consent form can be found on the new COVID Pool Testing Program webpage on the district webpage located here.
Have Questions? Contact Lauren Gage, District Testing Coordinator and School Nurse Leader at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and we hope each of you and your families remain healthy!
Dr. Barbara Malkas