Dec 23, 2021
Superintendent Memo
Jan 2022 Return-to-School & COVID Precautions
Dear Parents and Guardians
As you may have heard, the CDC, MADPH and DESE have all supported updates to isolation and quarantine guidance. So far, DESE has only updated the isolation guidance for schools and I share it with you here.  

Updates to isolation guidance.
Isolation guidance only applies to those infected with COVID and the time they must be in isolation while contending with the infection.
The Department of Public Health (DPH) has updated the state-wide guidance which includes a reduction of the required isolation period for COVID-19 positive individuals in K-12 schools to 5 days (from 10 days in current guidance), effective immediately. PLEASE NOTE: in order to be eligible for day 5 exit, the patient must be asymptomatic and fever free for 24 hrs without the use of medication. If you are contending with this in your home, it means that you were previously told ten days and now can use 5 days as the time for which isolation ends. However, those individuals who come out of isolation on day 5 must remain masked for the remaining 5 days (and this is suggested even in the home).

Updates to quarantine guidance will supposedly come from DESE within the week.
Quarantine guidance is for those individuals who are considered close contacts--individuals exposed to COVID positive people who must monitor for illness after the exposure.

I also wanted to remind you of the safety measures in place in the Natick Schools and the measures we have taken to ensure we have adequate staffing for school next week.  
  • Take home test kits and KN-95 masks are being supplied to all school employees and being distributed on Saturday. 

  • All returning students will continue to wear masks indoors.
  • HVAC, ventilation systems, air purification units are in every classroom for maximum air flow and infection reduction

  • All schools have been sanitized during break and will continue to be sanitized nightly using our electrostatic cleaning tools

  • Test and stay and pool testing for those currently enrolled in it (PK-6th grade) will continue, starting Monday (as long as testing staff arrive to work). as The mandatory testing for any unvaccinated staff and students grades 7-12 who are participating in extracurricular activities will resume its normal schedule.
  • Nurses have begun the process of reaching out to families in grades K-6 who are unvaccinated to continue to enroll in testing.

  • Vaccination rates in Natick are high--thank you for doing your part to keep the community safe
  • Vax rates for students in grades 9-12 are over 90% 

  • for Grade 8: 87%
  • for Grade 7: 81%
  • for Grade 6: 57%
  • or Grade 5: 65%

  • K-4 Students: We served over 2000 at our recent K-4 vaccine clinics and our nurses are currently working with state databases to gain grade by grade rates for these students as well. We have roughly 2000 MS students, 1500 NHS students and 2000 elementary students in district. MA state sites indicate 61% of our students aged 5-11 were vaccinated as of 12/16/21.

I have three requests for you as we head into this next phase of COVID.

Review mask wearing expectations with students of all ages. While teens are tired of them and rebel, little ones become absent minded about mask slippage; please remind them of the importance of masking.

Send them in with masks that fit snugly over the mouth and nose. KN95s are best, but closely followed by surgical, triple ply masks. Doubling up on single or double ply masking also works.  

Keep your children home if they have symptoms.

If your child is not vaccinated and is eligible, please do it. VCare Pharmacy in Framingham indicates if you call, they can assist with this. Vaccination is the single greatest protection against this virus and it will help us to end the current manner of spread.  

For those with unvaccinated children, please sign up for our school testing program. It keeps students and staff safe and in school.  

Sunday Night January 2/Contending with Possible School Closures
It is my sincere hope that we will be able to fully staff all of our buildings on Monday, January 3, 2022. While we appreciate the state allowing us the resources to test every staffer on Sunday to determine their safety status, it may mean that some schools cannot open. This may be the case in the coming weeks.  

Like snow days, I will need to monitor "the weather" of the district relative to staff illness and be in touch via our emergency robocall feature. This Sunday, staff will take their antigen tests in early morning so we can call substitutes and make arrangements. I will know by Sunday evening if we are good to go.

Assume school is on as usual unless I call to close it--just like a snow closure. This call would come to you Sunday evening by 8pm. The state department of elementary and secondary education will allow school closures if certain staffing conditions cannot be met or if student absenteeism means we cannot count the day as a school day of attendance. Any cancellation of school, however, will mean a make-up day for instruction in June, just like a snow day. I will seek to minimize closures but ask you to understand that we will all have to be flexible in the coming weeks.

Snow/Weather Closures
This is also a good time to remind everyone that snow and ice season is also upon us. Procedures for school closure are on our website and in below part of this newsletter, and we seek to cancel school the night before if possible so childcare and work routines can be arranged. This is not always possible. Also, for morning routines, during the first storms leave time to safely arrive at bus stops and school drop off. Students should dress warmly: coats, hats, gloves or mittens and boots to avoid a day at school in cold, wet clothes. With air purification systems and open windows in some areas, the schools are chilly and students should dress in layers.

Please know that school buildings and offices are now closed and we will respond to questions as soon as we are able. Our website contains frequently asked questions and information often requested through email.

Talk to you soon, Happy New Year

Anna P. Nolin, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Get Your COVID Vaccine During Break
If you or your family are interested in obtaining a vaccination, VCare Pharmacy offers daily appointments at their Framingham location.

Please visit their website to schedule your vaccine today.
P.S. Don't forget to see below for links to your school newsletters and additional community notices/updates!
Not seeing the School Newsletters or Community Updates section?
At the bottom of this email, click on "View Entire Message" to see the full Engage newsletter.
Please click on the school name below to read the newsletter for this week.
Natick 180 Event
Addressing Family Stress and Depression
Natick 180 and the First Church Natick are partnering with Families for Depression Awareness to bring a program about family stress to Natick.

This free virtual workshop (for parents and caring adults) will be held on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 from 7pm to 8:15pm.
Reminders & Resources
Inclement Weather Procedures for Winter 2021/22
Our most current School Cancellation and Delay procedures that will be used in the event of inclement weather is accessible on our website at https://www.NatickPS.Org/About/Cancellations_Delays.
Lanugage Lessons with Global Child
Your journey into world languages and cultures begins with global child.

Join their fun and academic in-person or virtual classes. Classes are available for one-on-one/private or group sessions. They now offer classes for adults & children in:

  • Arabic
  • ASL
  • Chinese
  • French
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Russia
  • Spanish

Jeff’s Place Program Updates: Counseling and Support
We are so glad to continue offering our virtual Young Adult Support Group for individuals 18-25 years old who have experienced the death of an immediate family member. 
If you or someone you know is interested in joining, click Apply here with this link.
Requests for Individual Counseling services have been increasing throughout the pandemic. They are pleased to announce that they are accepting new clients. Apply here with this link.
Season’s Breathing: Jeff's Place Yoga
This month Jeff’s Place offered its first yoga class as part of the Coping with the Holidays workshop series. Yoga offers many benefits including supporting a grieving heart by helping us loosen the emotional and physical tightness in our bodies caused by grief.

This form of self-care isn’t about physical flexibility, it is a way to find peace and stability during a time when this is missing from our lives. It is a practice that allows you to show up as you are and can be a great companion for your overall health and healing.

For more information about yoga at Jeff’s Place, learn more by clicking this link.
Caring for Our Community
Our current landscape has been challenging, and the holidays can be hard for many on top of it all. To that end, we wanted to remind the community of two resources for counseling and emotional support. Both of these resources are free to you.

The District is in partnership with William James College and shares these resources for your family if you need support.

Providied by Behavioral Health Partners of MetroWest (BHPMW)
Our knowledgeable and compassionate Care Navigators are here to listen and then to match you to the best services for yourself, your family member, or—if you are a health care or other service provider—a person in your care. There is no charge for this service.

The Navigation Line supports the following languages:
Arabic, English, French, Moroccan, Portuguese, Spanish

How to Request Services or Make a Referral
Call our toll- free number Monday-Friday for a free consultation with one of our Care Navigators.
(a Care Navigator will return your call within 24 hours, Monday through Friday)

Make the Right Call this Holiday Season

If you are concerned about yourself or somebody else's substance use, there are available local resources and ways to reduce risk.

Natick 180 is committed to assisting community members who are addicted to opioids, which include commonly prescribed painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin, as well as street drugs like heroin. In order to save the lives of friends and neighbors who experience opioid use disorder, and shares tips to reduce the risk of a fatal overdose in this PDF.

For more information, contact Natick 180 at [email protected] or (508) 647-6623.
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Non-Discrimination Statement:
Natick Public Schools does not discriminate in employment nor in its educational programs, services and activities on the basis of race, creed, color, age, sex, gender identity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, physical and intellectual differences, immigration status, homeless status, or any other basis prohibited by law.

Federal and State Legislation Addressing Discrimination in Educational Institutions
You will find links to the contacts for each of the following statutes below.