Connecticut's #1 City School District for 3 Years in a Row!

January 7, 2021
Statement from the Norwalk Board Of Education and
Dr. Alexandra Estrella, Superintendent

Yesterday’s unprecedented insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., was deeply troubling. When a protest turns from peace to violence, it damages the democratic values we hold dear in this country. Along with the rest of the nation, our children were watching.

Public education is one of the bedrock foundations of our democracy. National and global events always present teachable moments for our schools. As they do with any major historical event, our professional educators will provide safe spaces for students to have appropriate conversations and process yesterday’s events. District instructional specialists are available to help guide approaches on these difficult topics, especially for our social studies, civics and history classes.

While yesterday’s insurrection was a major historical and news event, it is also an emotional one for both adults and children. At a time when Covid has already added stress to so many, events like this can be overwhelming. With that in mind, we have activated our district and school counselors to provide additional supports where needed. We encourage any families who have concerns about their child’s mental or physical health to reach out to their school principal, school social worker or school counselor.
A COVID-19 update from Dr. Alexandra Estrella
As communicated to staff and families earlier this week, Norwalk Public Schools is planning ahead for the next phase of teaching and learning during COVID. While the roll out of a coronavirus vaccine is promising news, we know that there is still a long way to go before we truly turn the corner on the virus. In the meantime, Norwalk Public Schools remains committed to delivering in-person instruction where possible, while keeping our health and safety protocols in mind.
 
Revised Quarantine Guidance
Based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Connecticut State Department of Public Health, the required quarantine time will be reduced to 10 days for anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. This is a change from the 14 days of quarantine that has been in place since the beginning of the school year. Other school districts are also making this change based on this new CDC guidance. In consultation with the Norwalk Health Department, the district will not allow an option to reduce quarantine time with a negative test.
 
Change to Remote Working Protocol
Beginning January 11 all employees not directed to quarantine will report to their work location when a school moves to full remote learning. Previously, employees have been given the option to work remotely or in-person when their school has moved to remote learning.
 
This change will benefit all students by:
 
  • Allowing students with moderate or severe disabilities, and multi-language learners with moderate to high needs, to remain in school full time if not directly impacted by a quarantine.
  • Supporting consistent instruction for all students by reducing the transitions personnel need to make.
  • Giving students the reassurance of seeing a familiar classroom location.
  • Signaling to students that school is still “in session,” even if they are learning from home.
  • Addressing privacy and other concerns that teachers and staff have raised about teaching from home.
  • Reducing tech issues from potential problems with home Internet and Wi-Fi.
  • Providing easier access to administrators and building tech support as needed.

If a positive case is confirmed, the district Facilities team will continue to deep clean and thoroughly sanitize classrooms and other areas as needed, before staff and students return to the building.

Second Semester Expansion of In-Person Learning for Eligible MS and HS
After reviewing attendance levels at our middle and high schools, we recognize that sufficient space is available at these buildings to safely accommodate additional students in full-time, in-person learning. As a result, effective February 1, NPS plans to expand the availability of five-day-a-week, in-person instruction for middle and high school students who have been most negatively impacted by remote learning. Students who are failing two or more subjects in the first semester will be eligible. Individual outreach will be made from the schools to eligible students, should a change in the model of instruction be indicated for a specific student. More information will be available later this month.

The past few months have confirmed our ability to adapt and grow as a district, traits that we will likely need for the remainder of this school year, and beyond. Students and staff have demonstrated incredible resilience, adapting to a learning environment that is different from anything we have ever experienced. We truly appreciate the caring and commitment shown to students each day by our staff, and look forward to continued successes in the New Year.
Next Year's Calendar: 2021-22 NPS
Calendar Reminder
As a reminder, the 2021-22 Norwalk Public Schools Calendar was approved during the December 15 Board of Education meeting. We want to make sure that everyone is aware of the approved calendar for next year. The last day of school is scheduled for June 15, 2022 barring any snow days or unscheduled school closings.
2021-22 Proposed Budget 
money_piggybank_money.jpg
The Superintendent’s recommended Operating and Capital Budget for 2021-22 will be presented at the Board of Ed workshop meeting, which has been rescheduled for Tuesday, January 12.
 
The Finance Committees of the Board of Education and the City of Norwalk will hold a joint meeting on Thursday, January 14 to discuss Board of Education budget goals and preliminary revenue and expenditure projections.
 
Full Board of Education workshop and business meetings are live streamed on Zoom and the NPS YouTube channel. Meetings can now be heard in Spanish and Haitian Creole, with live interpretation available during meeting by through the Zoom meeting link. Recorded translations are posted on our YouTube channel for later viewing.
 
New Board Of Education Committees 
We are excited to announce that the 2021 Norwalk Board of Education committees have been confirmed. Committees are formed on yearly basis and meet monthly, in addition to the full board meetings, which are the first and third Tuesdays of each month. This information is available on the NPS website under the Board tab. Check the website calendar regularly for specific meeting dates and times. All meetings are virtual until further notice. 
NPS School nurses joined the Norwalk Health Department for a clinic to safely distribute COVID-19 vaccines to frontline workers, police, fire fighters, and EMS workers. School nurses also received vaccinations.
Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest Deadline
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Essay contest is underway. Students from elementary, middle, and high school from across Connecticut will participate in honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by submitting essays that reflect on Dr. King’s dream, their own aspirations, and what Dr. King means to them. 
 
Essays should be no more than 500 words for high school students, 300 words for middle school students, and 100-200 for elementary school students. Pictures are optional for elementary school submissions.
The deadline is January 8. If you have any questions about the contest please reach out to MLK_Essay@murphy.senate.gov 

The Norwalk Public Library will also host a Norwalk celebration for students whose essays feature three pillars of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy:
  • Educational equity
  • Environmental equity
  • Equity/racial justice

Students should send a copy of any essay submitted to Senator Murphy’s office to their principal so that the essays can also be submitted to the Norwalk Public Library.
Board of Ed meetings will be held by videoconference until further notice.

Full Board of Ed workshop and business meetings, as well as committee meetings, will be Live Streamed on the NPS YouTube channel at the times listed below. More information on the process for public comments for Board meetings will be available on our website.

Tuesday, January 12, BOE Workshop Meeting, 7pm

Wednesday, January 13, Finance Committee, 6pm

Monday, January 18, Martin Luther King Jr., No School

Meetings also will be recorded and available
on YouTube within 24 hours of the meeting time listed below.

Norwalk Public Schools
125 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06852
Phone: 203-854-4000
This newsletter is compiled & published by the
NPS Communications Department.
Have a question about our school district or an item to share?
Contact Brenda Wilcox Williams, Chief Communications Officer, williams@norwalkps.org, or call 203-854-4003.