Revised Timeline for In-Person Learning; Enrollment Forms & Annual Forms

Revised Timeline for In-Person Learning; Enrollment Forms & Annual Forms
Posted on 08/19/2020

Dear CPS Community,

I am writing to share an important update for the reopening school plan for the 2020-21 school year. As you know, our Back-to-School plan has most CPS students participating in remote (at home) learning, with some eligible families provided with the option for in-person (at school) learning. At tomorrow’s School Committee meeting, I will be sharing a revised timeline:

  • Family conferences will be scheduled during September
  • September 16: All students will begin the year with remote learning (at home)
  • October 13: In-person learning will begin, for eligible families that choose it

This delayed start for in-person (at school) learning will provide more time to address the complex staffing and scheduling decisions for in-person learning, necessary planning and training, as well as the contingencies outlined in the re-opening plan.

I know there are lots of questions about this timeline change and other important details. We will share an additional update this week with more details. You can also:

Complete Your Fall 2020 Enrollment Form and Annual Forms
Log-in to the Back-to-School Portal to access the following forms.

  • By August 22: Families eligible for in-person learning complete the Fall 2020 Enrollment Form to choose remote (at-home) or in-person (at school) learning and provide information about internet challenges
  • By August 26: All other families complete the Fall 2020 Enrollment Form to identify their interest in child care or supervised spaces for student work and to provide information about internet challenges
  • By September 16: All families complete the annual forms

Please note: It is unfortunate that information about this delay was shared informally before we were ready to share it with the full community tomorrow with details and messages translated into families’ home languages. Translated messages will be distributed as soon as possible.

I recognize that this new timeline is a big change for families who were expecting in person learning to begin earlier. Please know that this decision is being made so that we can have a more successful launch for in-person learning for eligible students.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Salim, Ed.D.
Superintendent

Key Questions
Which students are eligible for in-person (at school)?

  •  All students in substantially separate special education programs or sheltered English immersion programs (preschool through grade 12)
  • All students in CPS preschool programs (Children’s House, Special Start, Scholar College), Junior Kindergarten, Kindergarten, or Grade 1.
  • Some students in Grade 2 and 3. There is limited capacity, prioritized for students with disabilities, English Language learners, former English language learners, and students experiencing homelessness.

Can I change my mind later?
To support our planning, we ask that families make an initial commitment to in-person or remote learning through December 2020. Families can request a change through September 30, and for those families with individual health situations.

What public health information is being used to inform school opening?
CPS is monitoring and using a set of COVID-19 metrics developed by its scientific and medical advisors to determine it safe to open schools. The CPS School Committee has identified a set of conditions that must be met in order to open schools:

  • A COVID-19 testing plan;
  • Approval of a final Safety and Facilities manual, which describe safety and health protocols;
  • Independent analysis of building spaces;
  • Use of classrooms only if they meet the requirements in the analysis; 
  • Ongoing use of key metrics centered on equity and vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by COVID 19; (See draft safety metrics)
    Co-created plan for substantially separate classrooms by educators, families, administration, and Taskforce experts;
  • Exploration of childcare options for students engaged in remote learning; and
  • A social-emotional learning, mental and behavioral health plan for students.

How will students and staff in-person (at school) stay safe and healthy?
CPS has put in place a range of Safety and Health protocols to minimize exposure and transmission of COVID-19. See the draft Safety, Health, and Facilities manual for details. A few highlights:

  • Students will be placed in smaller cohorts or groups that will stay with each other to minimize mixing of students
  • Room setups will create 6 feet of minimum distance, to the extent possible.
  • All staff and students in the building will be required to wear masks. CPS has purchased masks and face shields for students and staff as a backup, and gloves and protective gowns for staff as needed.
  • CPS has installed hand sanitizer stations, extra sinks, and portable hand washing stations.
  • CPS has hired engineering experts to review the air ventilation systems. For buildings with older systems, CPS is repairing windows and has purchased box fans, air scrubbers with HEPA filters, and CO2 meters.
  • Additional custodial staff are in the process of being hired to clean and sanitize the classrooms daily and high touch areas and equipment throughout the day.
  • CPS also purchased electrostatic sprayers for each building and disinfectant supplies for every classroom.
  • The Cambridge Public Health Department will support a COVID-19 testing plan for CPS. All staff who are returning to work will have voluntary testing opportunities. Plans for student testing are still being developed. The goal is to establish regular and ongoing surveillance testing for staff.
  • Every building will have a designated quarantine room for students who demonstrate symptoms during the day.

Which teachers will work with my child?
Once CPS has final information about staff return-to-work plans and families choices, schools will develop schedules and classroom assignments.

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