COVID Update – January 15, 2021

Hello Georgetown Community,

  1. Update on COVID Cases

I hope you have had a good week! I am writing to provide you with an update on COVID 19. We learned yesterday that there is a positive case on our girls’ varsity basketball team. As a result, all coaches and players are being tested and quarantined in accordance with the regulations. Any positive cases will be contact traced to ensure no spread in the school. Since we opened our schools in a hybrid on October 1, 2020, we have had 16 positive cases (13 students and 3 staff) at Penn Brook with no spread in the school and at the MHS; we have had 29 cases (22 students and 7 staff members) again with no spread in the schools. Any close contacts have been notified and quarantined. We have seen some increase in the number of cases since the holidays but remote learning last week proved to be helpful. Every day we are in school, we continue to be vigilant about masking up, social distancing and hand sanitizing so that we can continue to be able to learn safely in school. I again ask everyone to be vigilant at home as well. I am looking forward to educators being eligible to receive the vaccine next month and we are looking into a testing option that the state is offering to test and track staff and students on a weekly basis beginning in February.   The Georgetown School Committee voted last night to sign onto this program with the state and more information will be coming out soon. This is optional but everyone is looking for additional reassurance and protection and these programs would help with that.

 

  1. Reminder Monday is Martin Luther King Day and schools will be closed. Enjoy the long weekend!

 

  1. Flu Vaccination Requirement Lifted

Today we were notified that the mandate for all students to receive the flu shot or risk being excluded from school has been lifted and is no longer required. The reasons given were the low incidence of flu and the wearing of masks has helped to contain the spread. They also credit the significant number of people who received the flu shot as a significant reason why the flu was not as bad this year.

 

  1. Final Calendar Adjustments for Parents

We have reviewed the school calendar for the end of the year and I want to notify you of the final adjustments that will be made. Here is the summary of the changes for the remainder of the year.   Monday, March 15-   Hybrid School day for the Monday/Friday Cohort in school (Tuesday/ Thursday remote). This was previously scheduled as a typical Monday with a half day of classes and asynchronous work in the afternoon Thursday, March 18- Elementary Parent Conferences are moved to Monday March 29th in the afternoon.   Students will follow the typical Monday schedule with class in the morning and asynchronous work in the afternoon.  Elementary parents and teachers will conduct conferences in the afternoon.   On Thursday March 18th since this will no longer be a parent conference half day, it will be a full day of school in person for Tuesday/Thursday cohort. Thank you for your understanding and flexibility making adjustments to the schedule this year. I know it has not been easy and having a predictable schedule makes things easier. Considering safety first, we are going to do our best to remain in school and, with your help, ensure that we keep COVID out of our schools. If you have any questions, please let me know.

 

  1. Difficult Times Require Working Together

These are frankly scary and uncertain times with what is happening in our country. We are all on edge and have a heightened sense of concern for what is happening now and may happen in the future. Many of our students are feeling concerned and conflicted also. As you know there are many opinions, perceptions, beliefs and assumptions that are heightened by strong emotions that make it so difficult to dial down the rhetoric and find common ground for the good of the country. As parents, we have a very difficult job helping our children make sense of what is happening and this is certainly true for our teachers. One of the hardest jobs in education at this time is to be a history, social studies or civics teacher. It is not easy to discuss controversial and difficult topics especially with so much division and negative emotion surrounding all of us but I hope we can all agree that as a public school we have a responsibility to expose our students to facts and a historical context so they can make connections. Our classrooms must provide students with the place and space to explore different perspectives, wrestle with ideas, think critically and form their own opinions with supported facts. In this process, there may be times that discussions raise ideas that challenge previous or currently held beliefs, which may raise concerns however; it is an important part of the process.    In speaking with the history and social studies teachers, they want you to know that they welcome anyone who has questions or may be concerned about something they may be teaching to reach out to them personally. We want to reassure you that our goal is not to tell students what to think but to help them think for themselves within a historical context. We are all in this together and all of us have a very challenging job trying to help our children navigate this period in our country’s history. I am confident that there is more that we agree upon than we disagree upon in terms of the role our public schools should play in dealing with controversial topics. I am very proud of our teachers and have a lot of respect for the professional way they do their job and I respect and appreciate the challenging role that parents have trying to raise their children particularly in these tumultuous times. There is no playbook for any of this and we value your partnership very much. We thank you for trusting us and/or for bringing any issues directly to our attention so we can address them together. We appreciate it and I hope you have a wonderful long weekend! Carol