COVID-19

District Updates

August 13, 2020
Dear APS Families,

I have a few brief updates for you this evening. I know everyone is eager to have more information about the upcoming reopening. Please be sure to look for other details from the schools as well, as they remain the primary point of contact for families.

As I mentioned in my email Monday, we need to adjust the start times of our schools to accommodate the cleaning protocols for our buses. These have now been determined and will be as follows:

AHS 7:15AM-1:50PM / Middle Schools 8:00AM-2:35PM / Elementary Schools 8:45AM-3:20PM

We have also set the initial cohorts for the district. As a starting place, last names A-L are Cohort A, and M-Z are Cohort B. This is only the first step in a complicated process to even out cohort sizes at the classroom level, as well as respect the needs of families. Changes must be made under any circumstance as this initial split leaves many classes with significantly uneven groups.

Before we balance the cohorts, we will be asking families if they have any circumstances that they need us to consider in this process. After we honor as many of these requests as possible, we will still need to ask some families to change cohorts to help us to arrive at the safest outcome. For this reason, it is imperative that families indicate their needs when schools reach out next week.

Finally, as mentioned the schools will begin calling families on Monday to review learning options, record preferences, and develop a plan for each individual student in the district. From this vital information we need to immediately begin scheduling our schools so that we can be ready for September 14. For this reason, families need to decide about the start of school by Wednesday, August 26. Whatever you tell schools next week can be changed up until that time. However, after that we cannot process any changes until after the start of school.

I understand that many people will still feel uncomfortable with making a choice more than two weeks out, but we cannot prepare for the first day without the information we are collecting next week. Changes can be made after the start, but it will be a few weeks before we will be able to accommodate them. The focus out of the gate MUST be to ensure the safety of students and staff under entirely new conditions for our schools.

I appreciate your understanding and patience.

Sincerely,
David A. Sawyer


August 10, 2020

Dear APS Families,

On Wednesday evening, August 5, the School Committee voted to adopt our plans for reopening this fall and opted to begin the year in a hybrid mode for learning. The Committee weighed their decision carefully with thorough consideration for both the safety of all involved and the impact on our community. I appreciate that everyone now needs reliable information to now with which to make personal decisions about what is best for individual families.


You can find the APS Reopening Plan on our website. We have also shared there the results from the survey completed August 4. Safety plans for each school can be found within the full district plan. You can also find the state guidance and other materials at the COVID-19 Information and Resources page on the DESE website.


As part of the plan approved last week, the first day of school for grades 1-12 will be September 14 for students assigned to Cohort A and September 15 for Cohort B. Both dates will be half days focused on practicing the procedures from the safety plans and training students in the new protocols under the state’s guidelines for in-person learning. September 17 (Cohort A) and September 18 (Cohort B) will be full days. The first day of Kindergarten will now be September 21. The first day for the Early Learning Center will be September 23.


Families should also note that the start times at our middle and elementary schools will be adjusted slightly to accommodate the extra time needed to clean the busses between runs. We will publish exact times soon.


I understand that this moment leaves more questions than answers. And while we must all prepare ourselves for the possibility that conditions may worsen, causing us to change our current course, the decision to start in a hybrid mode gives us the clear direction needed to address the myriad of unresolved issues we still face.


Starting next week, August 17, schools will be reaching out to every family to confirm preferences and develop an individual reopening plan for each student. In the meantime, more information about cohorts, programs, extracurriculars, transportation, and everything else will be forthcoming.


We hope everyone understands the enormity of our current undertaking and the lag created by waiting for further guidance. We appreciate your patience as we strive to provide the details you need as quickly as possible.


Sincerely,

David A. Sawyer


June 26, 2020
Dear APS Families,

Yesterday the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released its initial guidance about reopening schools this fall.  We appreciate the careful process, informed by the latest medical expertise, that produced these guidelines. We also share the state’s goal of a safe return to school, for as many students as possible, where we can best meet our students’ academic, social, and emotional needs.

Over the coming weeks, we will be closely reviewing the guidance to fully understand how it impacts APS.  As these are only initial guidelines, they do not yet address every topic or provide the necessary depth to fully prepare. We expect further information from the state throughout the summer.  In the meantime, the full document is available for your review. Here are some key features:

  • Returning students safely (with preventative measures) to school this fall is the primary goal.
  • Current medical research supports this goal as infection and transmission rates are lower for children than adults.
  • Preventative measures include masks/face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces. Masks/face coverings will be required for all adults and students in Grade 2 and older. They are recommended for students in Pre-K, K, and Grade 1.
  • Based upon current research, and in conjunction with other preventative measures, a minimum physical distance of three feet has been established.
  • Districts will need to develop three separate plans: one for return to full in-person instruction with safety requirements, one for full remote learning, and one for hybrid learning that combines in-person and remote learning. 

In effect, the Commissioner has provided guardrails for the upcoming school year. Because educational settings vary so widely across the Commonwealth, every district needs to individually determine how to implement these health and safety requirements in each school. Based upon the current conditions, the expectation today is that students will return to full, in-person instruction in late August. However, we must remain prepared to pivot if circumstances change significantly.

We acknowledge that there are likely to be more questions than answers at this time, and we will continue to communicate with you throughout the summer as we proceed with our planning. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,
David A. Sawyer
Superintendent

 
June 3, 2020
On behalf of everyone here at the Attleboro Public Schools, I hope all of you remain safe and well. As we head into the final weeks of the 2019-2020 school year, I wanted to share our plans for winding down.

At the end of this week, you will all receive the last Remote Learning Plan for the year. It wraps up remote instruction by June 9 and concludes with a final assignment to complete one activity out of the Summer Enrichment Packet before June 19. Visit our website for more details. We also need to assess our efforts at remote learning, as there is a good chance that we will need more of it on some level in the fall. You should remember that back In April we asked for your feedback to determine how we could improve our response to the school closure. As a result, we made modifications to our remote learning plans and our overall communication with families. We are now asking for you to complete the survey again so that we can reflect on how to further improve our practice if we are required to operate remotely again. Please click here to complete the brief survey by June 10, 2020.

On June 10 we will be collecting back all Chromebooks across the district. Please look for details from the schools on safety protocols for each building. Grades 5 and 9 students are included in this collection as there is a manufacturer recall on all those units. However, students in various summer programs will be keeping them. Please consult your teacher or school if you have any questions.

During the week of June 15 our schools will be providing families with an opportunity to retrieve any personal belongings. We will also be asking students to return other school property like textbooks and library books. Again, please pay close attention to the details provided by the schools.

As we begin to reopen our offices on a limited basis, if you need to visit one of our schools, please be sure to observe the distancing protocols we now observe in all our buildings. Masks are required of everyone in our schools, so please come prepared. Hours are also limited, so contacting us ahead of time to make an appointment ensures the best possible service.

Finally, we look forward to detailed guidance from the state on the safety precautions we will need to follow in the fall. While we don’t know exactly what will be required, we should all expect that meeting these still unknown standards will drastically alter the educational environment and our ability to operate normally. We will communicate over the summer as the implications of these details become clear. We understand that you all need to plan as much as we do. To improve our ability to communicate quickly and effectively, the district will be implementing Remind (a popular text messaging service) for all schools. Be sure to keep an eye out in August for more information on how to sign up and stay informed.

Here’s to hoping for better times now that the warm weather supports more time outdoors.

Sincerely,

David A. Sawyer
Superintendent




May 12, 2020
Commissioner Jeffrey Riley's Letter to Families (May 8, 2020)
April 26, 2020

Dear APS Families,

I hope everyone continues to endure this challenge in good health, both physically and emotionally. Governor Baker’s decision to close schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year may not have been a surprise to anyone, but it was still a disappointment to most. However, it has brought clarity to our planning through June.

The month of May now shapes up to be a crucial one for our mission to develop and deliver relevant learning experiences, in this case, remotely. We will be working with our schools to ensure this period is focused on streamlined goals and that our efforts are supported with clear and simple routines to diminish any distractions. As we move into June we will then begin to tackle many of the logistical concerns that will remain, such as retrieving personal belongings and returning loaned Chromebooks.

Our partnership with families has always been a key factor in any success, but our reliance on you under these conditions is obviously now greater than ever. We understand how formidable and stressful this work can be (many of our educators are also on the receiving end of this experience as a parent) and appreciate the patience everyone has exhibited in grappling with it.

I want to urge everyone to continue to do their best as our attempts to compensate for the forfeiture of ordinary schooling are important. Our students had their last day of that experience on March 13 and we don’t know when we will be able to return to anything resembling our familiar routines. Despite everyone’s hard work and good intentions, the suboptimal experience this spring is only compounded by the well-documented learning loss that accompanies any extended break from formal schooling. Therefore, these next few weeks will be crucial in putting our students in the best possible position for success when we do eventually return.

That being said, we must proceed in a manner that does not lose sight of the bigger picture. We understand that the needs of our families are far more varied than we can accommodate. And as an educational institution, we are neither trained nor provisioned to provide Remote Learning as well as we educate under normal circumstances. Therefore, everyone must take the situation for what it is: a best effort. And as a partnership, all we ask is the same in return. So please, feel empowered to make decisions about what will work best for your family. If something is more than you feel you can support, do not feel pressured to complete it. Please just be sure to let teachers know your decision. No one will judge your choices. My message to our educators is to be sensitive and supportive. We all need to respect one another and understand we all face different challenges.

Attached to this email you will find three letters, one explaining our guidelines for learning, another outlining some resources for families, and the third sharing important information specifically for families who qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch. I hope you find this information helpful in navigating the weeks ahead. We have also included the state guidance we received this Friday: “Strengthening Our Remote Learning Experience.”

Good luck and stay safe.

Sincerely,

David A. Sawyer
Superintendent

Strengthening Our Remote Learning Experience

Assistant Superintendent's Letter to Families (4.26.20)
Assistant Superintendent's Letter to Families (4.26.20) Spanish Version

Assistant Superintendent's Letter to Families (Community Resources)
Assistant Superintendent's Letter to Families (Community Resources) Spanish Version

Assistant Superintendent's Letter to Families (Pandemic EBT)
Assistant Superintendent's Letter to Families (Pandemic EBT) Spanish Version


April 15, 2020
Dear APS Families,

I had planned to send this email last night, but the power outage yesterday afternoon and then internet issues today postponed that intent until now. Please accept my apologies for the delay...

I hope you all remain in good health as we adjust to these strange circumstances.  The well being of our students is always our top priority, and we will continue to strive to meet their needs despite the obstacles we face. To this end, I have a few important items to share with you this evening:

1.   As many you have already learned, the Commissioner has suspended MCAS for the 2019-2020 school year. We appreciate the efforts of our local legislative delegations for their efforts to take this concern off all of our plates, students, families, and educators alike, as we work our way through the remainder of the spring.

2.   Last Monday the School Committee voted to move the school days scheduled for June 22 and 23, which are required under state regulations, to April 21 and 22. This makes our last day of school, under any circumstances, Friday, June 19. More importantly, these two workdays for teachers will allow us to offer Remote Learning Plans (RLPs) for the week of April Break and for teachers to support students and families in service of those plans. Please pay close attention to the specifics provided by teachers next week, as the adjusted workweek will impact the schedules they create to support their RLPs.

3.   We appreciate everyone’s understanding as we do our best to navigate an impossible situation. While we know we could never replicate what we are able to do in our schools under these circumstances, we certainly seek to improve our performance as this closure continues. To help us to better serve our students, please let us know how we are doing by taking this SURVEY.

4.   I spoke with the chief academic officers for the district (Assistant Superintendent Laurie Regan) and AHS (Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Supervision Kevin Gorman) about Remote Learning on the latest edition of our podcast. You can check it out here.

Thank you again for your patience through this stressful time. We are here to support your efforts, so please do not hesitate to reach out for further assistance.

Sincerely,
David A. Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools


March 26, 2020

News from Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley & the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education On the Desktop – March 26, 2020 Remote Learning Recommendations During COVID-19 School Closures  Dear Superintendents, Charter School Leaders, Assistant Superintendents, Principals, and Teachers Unions, 

Following the Governor’s announcement that schools will not re-open before May 4, 2020, we are issuing additional guidance regarding district and school remote learning plans. Throughout the initial weeks of this crisis, our educational community has prioritized the health, safety, and wellness of students, families, educators, and staff. At the same time, districts and schools across the Commonwealth have been operating with various remote learning models for their students, with significant variation from one district to the next.  With the extension of this closure, we believe students, families, educators, and staff in all communities will benefit from the clarity of statewide recommendations as educators and others continue to support their students during this crisis. In developing these recommendations, DESE consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Parent Teacher Association.  Below, we have developed a short set of guiding principles for our priorities as an educational community in the coming weeks, as well as specific recommendations regarding remote learning.  Remote learning cannot replace students’ experiences in school communities with their teachers, administrators, and support staff. All of the students and educators with whom I have spoken this week sorely miss learning in person as part of a community. That said, we must all pull together – parents and caregivers, students, the community, and of course, our educators and staff – to help students continue their learning over this extended period.  Please note that the guidance below is a set of recommendations and does not constitute a requirement for any district or school. We encourage districts and schools to view the remote learning guidance below as a baseline or starting point that they can modify in collaboration with local stakeholders to fit their unique contexts, capacities, and needs. We expect that you will customize our recommendations for individual districts and schools and for individual students within them. We will continue to issue guidance to support districts and schools in their implementation of remote learning, including specific recommendations related to students with disabilities, English learners, and high school students.  We will also send a letter to families that reflects the content in this memo. I understand that superintendents, principals, educators, other school staff, and families are working hard to support students during these difficult times and are responding to evolving conditions with remarkable care, flexibility, and creativity. Thank you for your tireless work on behalf of our students. 

Sincerely, 

Jeffrey C. Riley 

MA Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education Click Here for the Guidance document


March 23, 2020

From Governor Baker’s March 23 Stay-at-Home Advisory: Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of Tuesday, March 24th at noon until Tuesday, April 7th at noon. These businesses are encouraged to continue operations remotely. Under the Governor’s March 23rd Advisory, our school lunch program will continue to operate.  The program is explicitly exempted by the Governor as an essential service. COVID-19 Essential Services

March 23, 2020

Under the Governor’s March 23rd Advisory, our school lunch program will continue to operate.  The program is explicitly exempted by the Governor as an essential service. 

March 19, 2020 Dear APS Families,

Quite a bit has transpired since our decision last Friday to cancel school this week. The Attleboro Public Schools (APS) is proud of how everyone here has responded to the impact of this global pandemic. The outpouring of support for our students who face food insecurity, the quick action required by our educators to send home learning resources, and the patience demonstrated by all parties involved as we navigate completely uncharted territory are all examples of the unflappable determination with which our APS community has met this unparalleled challenge.

As we prepare to enter a second week of these unfamiliar circumstances, I wanted to update you on a few important matters. First and foremost, we continue to work closely with the Health Department to monitor the local progression of the outbreak. As of this afternoon we still have no positive cases of COVID-19 associated with our schools. If that changes, we will quickly communicate to any affected school communities. You can stay informed with our most up-to-date information about our various responses by checking the COVID-19 tab (www.attleboroschools.com/c_o_v_i_d-19) on the main page of our website.

Our Emergency Lunch Program will continue to operate throughout the closure. Next week we will be making slight changes in the site locations that everyone should note. The AHS site is moving to the Principal’s entrance (The Pit) which is accessible from Blue Pride Way off from Rathbun Willard Drive. The South Attleboro site is moving from Hill-Roberts to the front entrance of Coelho Middle School. These changes take effect Monday, March 23. Please see the program details on the website for more information.

Last Friday all students should have received enrichment activities and other opportunities to extend learning during this suspension of educational services. Attached you will find a letter outlining our further efforts to provide families with access to complementary learning resources.  Everything shared thus far and moving forward can be found on the “Enrichment and Extended Learning (Weekly Enrichment Menus)” page on the website under the aforementioned COVID-19 tab. These materials will be refreshed weekly while we remain closed. Next week you can expect to hear from our teachers as we continue to engage with you under these unfamiliar conditions. Please avail yourselves of this vital two-way communication. 

At this time we are simultaneously preparing for a return on Monday, April 6 and the very real possibility that the state-ordered suspension of school is extended beyond the original three weeks. In practice this means we need to take steps to be ready to effectively jump back into the school year where we left it, but also continue to sustain current circumstances for as long as they last. During this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for assistance of any kind. Our teachers, support staff, administrators, and Central Office are all here working everyday to serve our community in this troubling time.

Sincerely,

David A. Sawyer
Superintendent
Attleboro Public Schools
For the Spanish Version of this letter: Please Click Here
For the Arabic Version of this letter: Please Click Here


March 18, 2020

We are relieved to announce that the results of COVID-19 testing are NEGATIVE for the student who we learned on Friday had been placed in self quarantine pending the outcome. We are confident in this information as a positive result would be reported to the state and be visible to our local Health Department. Moving forward, we will communicate directly to the affected school communities regarding any future positive test results. It is still possible that individuals who had contracted COVID-19 were in our schools during their incubation period. However, we will not be tracking any further quarantines or pending test results as any attempt to do so would be flawed. Neither the District nor our Health Department has access to the necessary information as a universal and complete list does not exist. Positive test results will be the only reliable way to assess potential exposure. We are hopeful that the timing of our closure was early enough to prevent community spread through our schools.


March 15, 2020

In accordance with Governor Baker’s recent school suspension order, Attleboro Public Schools will be closed through April 6, 2020. More information will follow regarding this closure.


March 15, 2020

We truly appreciate the Attleboro Community’s outpouring of support and willingness to assist with our Emergency Lunch Program. Attleboro Public Schools is unable to accept food donations, but local food pantries and shelters need our help. Please refer to the Attleboro Area Interfaith Collaborative’s link below for a list of local food pantries and outreach organizations: https://secureservercdn.net/…/2019/10/AAIC-Brochure-2019.pdf 


March 14, 2020

lunch


March 13, 2020

School Lunch During Closure Notice

Food Support for Students: We are working with Whitson’s to develop a lunch program for students experiencing food scarcity and food insecurity. APS students will have access to a “grab and go” school lunch during this closure. For the safety of participants and staff, our procedure will comply with social distancing expectations. Hours for pick up are 11:30 to 1:00 PM at the Superintendent’s Entrance @ Attleboro High School beginning Tuesday, March 17th through Friday, March 20th.


March 13, 2020

Today we learned a student at one of our schools was placed into self-quarantine pending test results, which we expect early next week. The student has no known risk factors but was tested due to yet-attributable symptoms. The student has not been in school since Tuesday, so there is no threat of contagion today as all of our schools are cleaned thoroughly each night. In consultation with the Health Department, Mayor, and School Committee Chair, Attleboro Public Schools will be closing for the entire week of March 16 through March 20. This action is taken as a mitigation measure to halt person-to-person spread of the Coronavirus as part of a city effort to prevent sustained community spread in Attleboro. We will continue to assess conditions and make a decision next week about whether to end or extend the cancellation past the 20th.

In accordance with state regulations, these days will be made up at the end of the year through June 23. This will now be our last day of school regardless of any further cancellations. Families can plan confidently for this to be the final day of our school year.

We fully understand the disruption this causes to everyone’s normal routines, but ask for everyone’s patience as we navigate the quickly evolving circumstances of this global crisis. The decision to put public safety ahead of our educational mission reflects our commitment to protect not only our students, but the families and especially their vulnerable members, as well as the dedicated staff who serve this community so capably. Please click on this link to view this message in Spanish or Arabic: http://www.attleboroschools.com/cms/One.aspx…


March 12, 2020

The Attleboro Public Schools are open tomorrow, March 13. In consultation with local health officials, we continue to deem our schools to be a safe place for our students. There are currently no cases of COVID-19 in Attleboro. However, as we have all experienced this week, the situation is quite fluid and we will continue to monitor conditions and move swiftly when circumstances change. Everyone should begin planning for the increasingly likely outcome that we will eventually experience a prolonged cancellation of two or more weeks. We will communicate more to families tomorrow after consideration of new information expected in the morning.


March 10, 2020

Our Blue STEAM Ahead event is on as scheduled. APS realizes that Governor Baker has recently declared a state of emergency as a proactive measure. Please use your discretion when making the decision to attend with your family.



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