September 15, 2023 Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members, It is nice to have had more seasonable weather these past two days, and I'm glad Hurricane Lee is staying well to the east of us! We have had a very successful start to our school year, and I am especially proud of the way our educators, support staff, and leaders have worked hard to create a welcoming environment that conveys a sense of belonging to all of our students in our school communities. Please read on for a few informational items: on 1) transportation; 2) our recent School Committee meeting and our homeless/migrant students; 3) a notice about the "One Chip Challenge"; and 4) a reminder about our updated homework policy and this being our first "No Homework Weekend" of the school year. 1) Transportation: Thank you to families for your help in ensuring that students are getting to and from school safely. The vast majority of our bus routes have been running on schedule, and like every year we are working out the kinks on a few routes running later than planned (particularly in the afternoons). Given the significant change in school schedules this year, I am grateful to our SPS Transportation Team, especially Assistant Finance & Operations Manager April Yu and our partner AA Transportation, for their hard work. Thank you also to families who are driving students to and from school for using the designated drop off and pick up processes in order to maintain student safety. Finally, please be reminded that late bus service at the high school and middle schools begins on Monday, September 18 so that more students can access after school academic help and activities -- click HERE for the schedule and to register your child. 2) The School Committee met last week for its first meeting of the year. As always, you can watch video of the meetings HERE and view all documents and slide presentations from the meeting HERE . Some items from the September 6 meeting: the Committee accepted a generous donation of $5,500 from Lexus of Northborough to help fund start-up costs for our Oak Middle School Girls and Boys Soccer teams; heard a report on various projects we are grateful that the Public Buildings Division completed over the summer in our schools; and heard an update on the enrollment of homeless/migrant students from the shelter within our community (as of today there are 52 spread across grades K-12 attending Beal, Floral Street, Sherwood, Oak, and SHS). I am very proud of the efforts our staff have made since May to support our newest students' needs, and the way our community as a whole has responded to this difficult situation. I will provide another update at the next School Committee meeting on September 27. 3) Notice to families re: the "One Chip Challenge": You have likely seen the very sad news that a 14-year-old student in our neighboring community of Worcester recently died, and while the cause is yet to be determined there is concern that it could be related to his having become severely ill after eating an extremely hot chip as part of the so-called "One Chip Challenge." This past week, some middle school students in Holliston became very ill from doing the same. Parents and caregivers may want to click HERE to review the information on poison.org about the "One Chip Challenge" and advise your children to avoid them (and not bring them to school). While these chips have been removed from store sale, they may be available via mail order. Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of the deceased student and the Worcester Public Schools community. 4) Updated homework policy and "No Homework Weekend" : Please be reminded that this year there is an updated homework policy in effect, and that this weekend is our first "No Homework Weekend," which applies to all students in all grades. No homework will be due and no assessments requiring studying over the weekend will be given on Monday, September 18. Please click HERE for a list of the no homework dates for this school year and HERE for a calendar view (both are Google Docs that can be translated). There are 15 school days out of our 180 school days when no homework will be due (8%); this approach helps us meet the policy's statement that "It is a shared responsibility between home and school to ensure that students have balance in their lives while pursuing educational excellence." Many of the "no homework" dates correspond with major religious holidays where many students would be exempt from homework, and this includes the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah this weekend and Yom Kippur next weekend. On behalf of our school district, shanah tovah to all who are celebrating the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah starting at sunset this evening. Thank you for your continued support of our schools as we strive to provide our students with an education characterized by academic excellence and the well-being of all. Respectfully, Joe Sawyer Superintendent of Schools
September 5, 2023 Dear Shrewsbury Families & Colleagues, Today was uncomfortably hot and humid in our non-air conditioned spaces, and I appreciate the way that staff and students persevered through the day, especially on upper floors. I have reviewed the weather forecast, and I have determined that all of our schools will be open on their regular schedules tomorrow, Wednesday, September 6 . We will continue to take steps to mitigate the heat, as I outlined in my message yesterday (see below). There remains a possibility that I will place the schools on an early release schedule on Thursday and/or Friday, so families should make plans for childcare as necessary. I will communicate the day before if I decide on an early release for the following day. Respectfully, Joe Sawyer Superintendent of Schools Reminder: Everyone is encouraged to dress comfortably for the weather and bring water bottles to stay hydrated. We take a variety of steps to mitigate the heat in our buildings that are not climate controlled , such as venting buildings and drawing in cool air early in the morning, limiting physical activity when appropriate, and monitoring classroom temperatures and moving classes to cooler spaces in the building where feasible.
Dear Shrewsbury Families & Colleagues, I hope that you have had a terrific Labor Day Weekend! While this is the unofficial end of the summer season, we will be having hot and humid summer weather this coming week. Unfortunately, this means that conditions in our schools with classrooms that are not climate controlled (SHS, Oak, Coolidge, and Floral Street) can become very uncomfortable from midday on, especially on upper floors. Everyone is encouraged to dress comfortably for the weather and bring water bottles to stay hydrated. We take a variety of steps to mitigate the heat in our buildings that are not climate controlled , such as venting buildings and drawing in cool air early in the morning, limiting physical activity when appropriate, and monitoring classroom temperatures and moving classes to cooler spaces in the building where feasible. Please note that if I determine that heat conditions become too extreme, there is a possibility that I might c all an early release day the evening before, so please consider what your childcare options might be if the school day is shortened. Please note that due to logistics regarding transportation, siblings at different levels, etc., early release decisions apply to climate controlled schools as well – details will be provided the evening prior if that decision is made. Hopefully this will not be necessary, but please be advised that this might occur sometime in the coming week, depending on the levels of heat and humidity. Respectfully, Joe Sawyer Superintendent of Schools
Dear Parents & Caregivers of Students in Grades PreK-4, Sandra Fryc, the Chair of the Shrewsbury School Committee, is seeking to appoint one parent or caregiver representative each from Parker Road, Beal, Coolidge, Floral Street, Paton, and Spring Street Schools to serve on the district’s Grades PreK-4 Capital Planning Study Committee. This study committee will review last year’s report on the current state of PreK-4 school buildings, future enrollment projections, and possible options for future projects in order to make a recommendation to the School Committee regarding a pathway forward for potential future investment in PreK-4 school buildings. For more specific information about the study committee, dates it will meet, and to apply online by Friday, September 8, please click HERE . Thank you for your consideration. Joe Sawyer Superintendent of Schools
August 28, 2023 Dear Shrewsbury Families, All of us here in the Shrewsbury Public Schools are very excited to welcome students back to school this week! We will see all of our students in Grades 1 through 12 tomorrow (Tuesday), and Preschool and Kindergarten students will start Wednesday after they visit school with parents and caregivers tomorrow. Please see the messages that school principals have sent to you in recent days for details regarding the first week of school, including our new start and end times (as a reminder, click here to see times for Grades K-12 and here to see times for preschool programs). Because of the updated school schedules, bus stop times are different this year – please check the PowerSchool Parent Portal to view your child's bus stop location and time if they are registered to ride the bus. You may have seen in the news that many school bus companies are struggling with finding enough drivers, but we are very pleased that our excellent partner, AA Transportation, does not have a driver shortage. Please remember that every year bus routes and car drop-off and pick-up lines may run more slowly during the first week-plus of school as everyone gets used to new routines, so give yourself extra time. Thanks in advance for your patience! We had an excellent opening day for our staff today, and I'm confident that we will have a strong start to the school year with our students. Please remember that Friday is a professional development day for staff and Monday is Labor Day, so there is no school for students on those days. I'll be in touch soon with news about our educational program and information about our school district's priorities. In the meantime, whether you are new to SPS or are a returning family, I am glad that you all are part of our Shrewsbury Public Schools community. I am confident that our phenomenal educators and staff will provide your children with excellent experiences and support in the year ahead. Happy new school year! Respectfully, Joe Sawyer Superintendent of Schools
Does your child need a vaccination prior to starting school this year?
Dear SPS Families, We hope you are enjoying summer and are pleased to share the following information regarding vaccine clinics that will be offered by Osco Pharmacy on Wednesday August 23rd and Friday August 25 . While the main purpose of the clinics is to provide an opportunity for students to receive immunizations that are required for school entry, flu vaccines will also be available (not required for school entry). Please see the information below and complete the Google form found here if you are interested in bringing your child to the clinic. You must complete the Google form by August 17 in order to attend (the pharmacy requires advanced notice in order to be sure they have the correct number of doses of vaccines available).
WHEN: Wednesday August 23rd from 9am - 1pm and Friday 8/25 from 11am - 1pm
WHERE: Sherwood Middle School, 28 Sherwood Ave.
WH O is eligible: All SPS students ages 5 and up who require additional vaccines for school entry* and/or would like to receive a flu vaccine (not required for school entry).
H OW: Osco pharmacists will be available to administer vaccines to those who have completed the Google form linked above. You may be contacted by an Osco pharmacist in advance of the clinic if additional information is needed. If possible, print and complete the attached informed consent form and bring it with you to the clinic (forms will be available at the clinic, however completing the form in advance will decrease wait/processing time).
Q UESTIONS?: Contact Noelle Freeman, Director of School Nursing firstname.lastname@example.org
* If your child requires additional vaccinations for school entry, it is likely that you have received an email or call from your school nurse as a reminder. Per Massachusetts Law and Massachusetts Department of Public Health regulations, students who do not provide documentation of the required vaccinations can be excluded from school until documentation is provided. See the attached document for a list of requirements for the 2023-24 school year.
Dear Families, The Shrewsbury Public Schools are committed to the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. All students in kindergarten through grade 12 are being educated in 1:1 learning environments using iPads. Similar to how students and their families are responsible for textbooks or other equipment issued to the student, families are responsible for protecting the iPad and are liable for any and all damage to, theft of, or loss of the device, case, and accessories, accidental or otherwise. We strongly recommend that you purchase insurance for your child’s school iPad, as the most common cost for a typical glass breakage is $236.55. We are pleased to announce that this year we are continuing to offer streamlined enrollment with Worth Ave. Group, which is providing optional iPad insurance to Shrewsbury Public Schools families. A one-year, no-deductible policy is available for $34. For more information this policy, including a link to enroll, please visit this link: https://schools.shrewsburyma.gov/it/Private-iPad-Insurance Open enrollment for this policy will be available until 5 p.m. on September 12, 2023. Please note that the policy is in effect until August 7, 2024, and does not cover damage to the protective case, charger, or cable. While theft of an iPad is covered (with a police report), loss of an iPad is not covered. Please note that policies purchased for last school year expire tomorrow. All iPad repairs must be performed through the district to ensure proper repair quality. If you elect to use an insurer other than Worth Ave. Group, please be sure that in the event repair or replacement is required, that the insurer will provide funds to reimburse the district for the repair and/or replacement and does not require that they perform direct repairs, or send replacements. Devices not purchased directly by the district cannot be used in our program due to the need to "supervise" the devices for management. Family-purchased and insurer-purchased devices cannot be managed in our system in a timely manner, and therefore will not be accepted by the district to replace a lost or damaged iPad. Please see the following links for additional information: Additional information on iPad liability and device insurance: https://schools.shrewsburyma.gov/it/Device-InsuranceLiability-Information SPS 1:1 Technology Program: https://schools.shrewsburyma.gov/it/11-technology-program If you have any questions on this, please email email@example.com . Sincerely, Brian L'Heureux Director of Information Technology Shrewsbury Public Schools