Staff & Family Update - August 20, 2021

Dear SPS Families and Staff,

There are less than 2 weeks left before the start of the 2021-22 school year! We are excited to be welcoming students and staff back to our classrooms. Below, please find important information as you and your students prepare for a return to school. Please visit our Back to School Fall 2021 web page for updated information throughout the year.

First day of School

  • The first day of school for students in grades 1-12 is Wednesday, September 1st and will be a half day for all students. 
  • The first day of school for PK and Kindergarten students is Thursday, September 9th.
  • Community Schools afterschool programming will be in session starting September 1st. Click here for the Community Schools afterschool program schedule for August 30 through September 10.

Universal Free Breakfast & Lunch

School breakfasts and lunches will be free for all students for the entire 2021-2022 school year. Please visit the Food and Nutrition Services page for menus.

Summer Acceleration Academies

We are wrapping up summer programming next week with three week-long Summer Acceleration Academies for small groups of targeted students. We will host a Literacy Acceleration Academy at the Argenziano for rising 2nd and 3rd grade multilingual learners from several schools, a Math Acceleration Academy at the ESCS for incoming 8th grade students from several schools, and a Math Acceleration Academy at SHS for incoming SHS 10th graders. Each Academy will include 4 hours/day of core instruction, additional hands-on enrichment programming, and free breakfast and lunch.

COVID-19 Safety Measures

Vaccinations: Vaccination is the most effective prevention strategy available for allowing schools to resume and sustain full in-person instruction. COVID-19 vaccines are available to all people age 12 and older. SPS will continue to promote vaccinations for eligible students, teachers, staff, and families through school-based and community vaccination opportunities. We will be working closely with Somerville’s Health and Human Services Department to coordinate and announce new vaccination opportunities over the coming weeks.

Somerville Health and Human Services will be holding an SPS COVID vaccine clinic on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the East Somerville Community School for all eligible students (12 years and older) and staff in the district who are not yet vaccinated. First dose will be on 8/25/21, second dose will be on 9/15/21. We encourage you to pre-register using the appropriate link below, to save time when you arrive.

To register for the upcoming COVID vaccine clinic:

Proof of Vaccination: School Committee will be meeting on August 30th for the second reading of the district’s vaccination policies for students and staff. As noted in last week’s update, we have asked the School Committee to approve a measure that requires all SPS educators and staff to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. Any district staff member or service provider who does not provide proof of vaccination must submit to routine COVID-19 testing provided by the district and wear a kn95 or high-grade surgical mask which will be provided by the district, inside school buildings. Staff will receive instructions for documenting their vaccination status at a later date.

We also asked the School Committee to approve a measure requiring all educators, staff, and vaccine-eligible students (12 years and older) participating in SPS non-academic extracurricular activities, including SPS Athletics, to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Any vaccine-eligible students seeking to participate in SPS non-academic extracurriculars who are not yet fully vaccinated should plan to be fully vaccinated prior to October 20, 2021. Information on how to provide proof of vaccination will be provided if and when the policy is passed on August 30.

Masks Required Indoors: Masks will be required for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, while inside school buildings. Masks are available at all schools for any SPS employees and students who prefer not to use their own surgical or washable, cloth masks. All SPS-provided masks achieve excellent filtration. More information on proper mask wearing can be found on the CDC’s website. The City of Somerville also passed a public indoor mask mandate effective immediately.

Daily Safety Checklist (Daily Attestation): All students and staff members should conduct a daily health check each morning. COVID-19 symptoms must be taken very seriously by everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Any student or staff member showing symptoms of COVID-19 should not go to school. 

Weekly COVID-19 Testing: SPS will continue to provide weekly Routine COVID-19 Pooled Testing to identify infected individuals and disrupt outbreaks. During the first week of school, once-weekly PCR pool testing will be required for all educators, staff, and students. Rapid antigen testing will also be offered on-site to individuals who develop symptoms during the day.

To minimize disruption to student learning, we intend to adopt the state’s recommended approach of “Test and Stay” diagnostic testing. In the event of a classroom exposure, parents will have the option of keeping their student in school to receive a rapid antigen test for 5 consecutive days rather than quarantining. Parents who wish may still quarantine their student at home following an in-school exposure. 

Parents/Visitors: At least for the first quarter of the school year, we will maintain the same parent/visitor policy that we had last year. Parents and other visitors will not be allowed into the school buildings, except by appointment only. Students should be dropped off and picked up at the school entrance. Tours for families new to the school will be conducted during orientation prior to the start of the school year. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding with this important safety measure.

Thank you for your continued partnership in ensuring a safe return to our schools for our students and staff. We will continue to keep you informed as the start of the school year approaches, and look forward to highlighting the great work of our students and staff as the school year gets underway.

Respectfully,

Mary Skipper, Superintendent