In-Person Learning Resumes Monday, Plus New Details on 2nd Semester Plan

In-Person Learning Resumes Monday, Plus New Details on 2nd Semester Plan
Posted on 01/06/2021

Dear CPS Community,

As I share today’s update, I know that many of us are watching frightening and unsettling events unfold in our nation’s capital. We are hopeful for a peaceful and speedy resolution to the transfer of power in the coming days. If it is helpful to you, please see this resource from one of our partners for how to speak with your children about traumatic events.

I’m pleased to announce we will resume in-person learning starting Monday, January 11 for the students who were participating in in-person learning prior to December 10. In collaboration with the Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD), we reviewed the most recent COVID-19 data, including staff testing data. Approximately half of our in-person staff have already participated in testing this week, and only one individual received a positive result. We determined that we are able to safely re-open school buildings for in-person learning.

This decision is aligned with the School Committee approval last night of our updated COVID-19 health and safety framework, which is based on guidance in the report, Schools and the Path to Zero: Strategies for Pandemic Resilience in the Face of High Community Spread. The foundation of this framework is the idea that keeping schools open is the default position. Important components of this framework:

  • CPS will use COVID-19 metrics to inform, rather than decide, remote/in-person status. In consultation with CPHD, we’ll take a more nuanced approach. We’ve learned that every case must be considered on its own, based on who was exposed and how, to determine the appropriate course of action. We are fortunate to have a strong contact tracing program and robust quarantine procedures. (See our updated dashboard)
  • Three-feet distancing in classrooms for younger learners (preschool through Grade 5), which was approved by the Cambridge School Committee on December 22, to be implemented as part of the expansion of in-person learning,
  • Expanding the CPS COVID-19 testing program to include students in grades 6-12, and explore options for testing younger students, and
  • Strengthening communication and training of students, staff, and families on infection control procedures, and develop school-level “infection control teams.”

Our work continues to expand opportunities for in-person learning to encompass students in all grades in February. We presented updated details of our Second Semester Plan to the School Committee last night, and the committee will continue discussion on Tuesday, January 12. Here’s a summary of the grade-level plans:

  • Preschool - Grades 3: We will continue the current model, using criteria to prioritize students for in-person learning seats, four days per week. The shift to 3 foot distancing will allow us to combine many currently split in-person classrooms, distribute support staff to support additional learners across the school, and possibly support more 2 - 3 grade students in-person.
  • Grades 4 - 5: CPS will use the criteria to prioritize students for in-person learning seats, four days per week. Each school will implement this approach differently, depending on the staffing and enrollment scenario at each school. This may mean students may participate in mixed classrooms, where educators are supporting both in-person and remote learners, or may be assigned to a new teacher and classroom.
  • Grades 6 - 8: Students will be assigned to two cohorts, which will attend school in-person either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday. In the case of capacity limits due to staffing, students will be prioritized using district wide criteria. Students will be dismissed at lunch, with grab-and-go meals, and remote learning continuing in the afternoon.
  • Grades 9 - 12, CRLS: In-person slots will be prioritized for Academic Tier 2 & 3 students (based on course grades) to attend in-person four days per week, and if there is additional space, 9th grade students.
  • Grades 9 - 12, HSEP: HSEP will maintain its current operational model due to its success and student/family preferences.
  • Wednesdays will remain a remote learning day for all students, to enable staff planning and collaboration.

We’re asking families to fill out an enrollment form, which will be sent this Friday, January 8, and specify your choice for either in-person or remote learning. The form is due January 15. Schools will notify families on January 25 about their enrollment status and classroom assignments.

We’ll be announcing additional opportunities for discussion about upcoming plans, including school-based staff discussions and family information sessions (districtwide and school-based).

We know there’s a lot of new information coming your way and we thank you for working with us to provide children the best learning opportunities possible during the pandemic. We’re excited to move forward with you and your students.

Sincerely,

Kenneth N. Salim, Ed.D.
Superintendent

1. Flu Shot Requirement - New Deadline: The state has extended the deadline for students to get their required flu vaccine, unless a religious or medical exemption is provided, to February 28, 2021. CPS students who are between 12-22 years-old can receive a flu shot at the Teen Health Center located at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. You can call 617.665.1548 for more information. Please email or call your child's school nurse with the date and location of your child's flu
vaccine administration.

2. Key Dates & Upcoming Meetings/Events

  • January 8-15: Families submit enrollment requests (choosing in-person or remote)
  • January 12 | 5:30PM: Curriculum and Achievement Sub-Committee Meeting
  •  January 12 | 7PM: School Committee meeting to vote on Second Semester Plan
  • January 19 | 6PM: School Committee meeting, review of refined implementation plan
  • January 25: Family notification of in-person enrollment status
  • February 8: Earliest targeted date for expanded in-person learning
  • February 28: NEW state deadline for all students to receive a Flu Vaccine
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