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Communication to Families 4.28.21

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April 28, 2021

Dear NLPS Whaler Families,

It is wonderful to see so many children back in our schools.  Below you will find some important district-wide updates below.

Students to Return to In-Person Instruction on Wednesdays:
Students will return to in person instruction, 5 days per week, starting on Wednesday, May 12th.  We are so excited to soon have our students back in buildings full time!  Please see the chart below.

Instructional Models 5/3-5/31:
Please see the calendar of the NLPS Instructional Model below, reflecting the updated change to the return to in-person learning on Wednesdays.

May Chart

Food Distribution Update:
Effective Wednesday, May 12th, 7 days’ worth of food may be picked up for Distance Learners ONLY from Jennings Elementary School from 9:00a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Please note this change if you are currently picking up meals from one of the other school locations.

NLPS Summer Programming Guide:
We are excited to share our district-wide Summer Programming Brochure with you here! Our vision for summer programming includes differentiated options for academics, enrichments, and physical and mental health.  We have programmed for three distinct groups: our students, our staff, and our families.  We have differentiated our programs to be offered both in school and virtually.  Excitement is in the air!  Our goal is to keep EVERY student engaged in some form of learning/activity during the summer months.  Families will have the opportunity to begin to register their child/ren for summer programming, beginning the week of May 10th, through an online platform. 

Family Survey:
We value ongoing feedback from our families.  Thank you for communicating as often as you do.  Currently, we are looking to collect information on a variety of topics through an online survey. Please click here to share your feedback.  Thank you! 

Student of the Month:
We are so proud of our April Students of the Month!  Each was highlighted and celebrated at our Board of Education meeting last week.  Please view our presentation here, where you can learn more about each student’s special qualities and accomplishments.  Congratulations, too, to the families and staff who are a part of each child’s success story.  Keep up the hard work!

Unique K/1 Year-Round Instructional Model Offering:
Last week the Board of Education approved continued movement on our proposed K/1 year-Round Schooling Model.  This model has five major aims: 1.) seamless coherence; 2.) a team approach; 3.) deep parental engagement; 4.) differentiated instruction of integrated units, aligned to each student’s needs; and 5.) wrap-a-round services for both child and families.  This model plans to follow a unique school year calendar found here.  The number of instructional days is not more.  Instead, these days are laid out across the calendar year differently.  Click here to see the attached Power Point that shares a framework of the vision for such a program.  Each elementary school will be discussing this program model option with their families during their May parent coffee hours.  The topic will also be addressed during upcoming district-sponsored coffee hours.  In addition, parents are welcome to speak with their child’s principal/s or with Dr. Hills-Papetti.  We are excited about this innovative idea!

District Equity Leadership Team (DELT) Presentation:
At this link, you will find the DELT presentation to the BOE from the April 22, 2021, meeting.  Our entire staff continues to be engaged in learning, conversing, and applying this very important work.  A special thank you goes to members of our DELT (District Equity Leadership Team): Kate McCoy, Jose Ortiz, Jenn Hills-Papetti, Nicole Broadus, and Beth McCaffrey, for their planning and roll out of our district wide workshops and equity goals and aims, which are found across all quadrants of our District Improvement Plan.  Please contact Kate McCoy if  you would like more information.

Approved 2021-2022 School Year Calendar:
The Board of Education approved the school year calendar for next school year.  This calendar highlights the start day, end day, and designated vacation days and holidays.  It DOES NOT designate school hours as of yet.  Please click here. Determining school hour details are the next layer of work.  Please see the next topic below.

Participation Invitation for the School Start/End Time Taskforce:
Throughout the last year we have heard several positive comments about the later school start times, particularly for our secondary students.  Additionally, as we move into next school year, some form of an early release day on Wednesdays is being considered, to be able to accomplish a variety of professional development goals. It is our hope to continue with some adjusted school day times into 2021-22 school year.  To better understand the districtwide impact of adjusting the start and end times of the school day we are convening a Task Force to collect input and review options.  This group will consist of representatives of staff, students, and families. The Task Force will meet virtually four times.  (Participation in at least three of these meetings is required.)  Final plans will be presented to the BOE during the May 27, 2021, meeting. 

To participate as a member of the School Start and End Times Task Force, please email or call Kate McCoy at mccoyk@newlondon.org or 860-271-4005. 

Early Childhood Matters:
Early childhood education is a critical time in one’s life to set the stage for life-long successes with learning.  Our newly approved ESSER (COVID Relief Funds) plan includes 4 distinct actions to do so: 1.) collaboration with the City to launch a brand-new Birth-Age 8 Community Resource Center; 2.) our addition of more preschool classrooms; 3.) new pilot of multi-aged K/1 year-round classrooms; and 4.) time for universal screenings for our youngest learners across the summer.  For those interested, I recommend a documentary entitled, Starting at Zero: Reimagining Education in America. This film affirms that if young children are given the opportunity to thrive in settings with caring and responsive adults, the positive benefits to society will be authentic and long-lasting. During April, the film is available free of charge. Here is the link:  https://mailchi.mp/startingatzerothefilm/woyc#watch

Student Vaccines:
The district is partnering with CT DPH to offer COVID vaccines to our students, aged 16 and above.  A survey went out to families of eligible students to gauge their level of interest in the vaccine. The clinics are planned as follows:  May 4th - Dose 1 of the Pfizer vaccine and May 25th - Dose 2 of the Pfizer vaccine to eligible students.  Students who are 16 years or older will need parental permission; those who are 18 or older do not.  Please contact Scott Morgan, Secondary Assistant Principal at NLHS or Beth McCaffery, our COVID Compliance Liaison, at Central Office if you have any questions.

COVID Quarantine Updates:
In alignment with the quarantine recommendations issued by the CT DPH and CSDE, NLPS is now adhering to the Ledge Light Health District recommendation and following a 10-day quarantine period for close contacts of COVID-positive individuals. Please contact Beth McCaffery with any questions you have regarding these quarantine updates.

COVID-19 Data:
The week of April 18th through April 24th following the April break, the district saw an up-tick in the number of positive cases.  There were thirteen (13) COVID-positive cases (of students and/or staff) that were reported to the district for this period.  Additionally, the district received three COVID-positive case reports during that time that were outside of the dates mentioned previously in that they occurred during the April break, bringing the total number of positive case reports to sixteen (16).  These events impacted over 85 staff and students.  Those who tested positive have been advised to isolate; those who were identified as close contacts have been directed to quarantine. All are reminded to notify the district immediately by calling 860-701-5813 when you or your child are notified of a positive test result. Please stay vigilant, implementing all COVID-19 safety protocols whether in school, home, or out in communities.  COVID is still very real and still very prevalent.  The link to the CT COVID Data Portal for all CT schools can be viewed here.

Spring Sports:
Spring athletics are up and running! Please contact Phil Orbe if you have any questions. orbep@newlondon.org

School Uniform Survey:
This school year, school uniforms were not required for students in grades K-8 due to COVID precautions.  We are interested in our families’ input regarding school uniforms for next school year. Please take one minute to share your thoughts by clicking here to take our survey. Thank you!

Graduations and Promotion Ceremonies:  These are being planned as outdoor, and in person, events.

I appreciate your partnership ensuring excellence for all students.  We are very excited about the various initiatives we have in place for students and families, current and future.  We thank you for your continued collaboration. 

 

Sincerely,
Superintendent Ritchie