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

October 1, 2020
Educational Equity Survey & Focus Group
 Registration Available For NPS Families
Norwalk Public Schools, in partnership with Temple University, is launching the next phase of the districtwide Norwalk Educational Equity Initiative.
 
There will be two opportunities for NPS families to share their thoughts on this important topic: a survey and focus groups.
 
To get a deeper perspective from the NPS community on equity in education within our school system, a survey for families is now available.
 
Focus groups for parents will also be held over the next several weeks to explore equity through facilitated conversations. To ensure effective discussions, sessions will be limited to six participants at a time. Conducted by Dr. Fergus and Temple University researchers, focus groups will take place both virtually and in-person at a variety of locations throughout the city. Focus group signups are also available online.
 
NPS Survey Link: Temple University & NPS Family Survey on Equity in Education
 
 
Input from the survey and focus groups will be utilized to develop the next Strategic Operating Plan. Separate surveys and focus groups for employees and students will also be available.
 
All parents and guardians, both who currently have students enrolled in the district and those who have had students enrolled in the past, are encouraged to volunteer to participate in both the survey and focus groups. Your input is vital to the development of our next strategic operating plan. Thank you!
Fan Attendance at Fall Athletic Events
After careful review, Norwalk Public Schools has made the difficult decision that spectators will not be allowed at athletic events and competitions hosted by our schools during the month of October. This decision was made with the input of coaches and staff, the Board of Education Executive Committee, as well as with the advice of the Norwalk Health Department and our medical advisor, Dr. Norman Weinberger.

An exception will be made for a single home game for each sport, where senior athletes will have permission to invite two parents or guardians to attend. Games will also be streamed live wherever possible.

As you know, NPS has put enhanced health and safety precautions in place throughout the district, so that we can continue to offer in-person learning options, despite the ongoing COVID crisis. This decision on fan attendance is consistent with our policy to limit visitors to our schools to reduce the coronavirus risk.

This was not an easy choice. We know it is a different approach than what some neighboring districts may decide. But we strongly believe that it is the right choice for the students and staff at Norwalk Public Schools.  

After analyzing the most recent health trends, the district will review the decision at the end of October for November games. Thank you for your support and understanding. 
NPS Strategic Plan Listening & Learning Tour
As part of our "Listening and Learning" tour, the Board of Education & Superintendent Dr. Alexandra Estrella is seeking input from parents & the community as we prepare to develop our next Strategic Operating Plan. As part of our research, we want to hear from you! Please join us at one of the focus groups below to learn more and share your thoughts. Advance registration is required, please click here to register.
COVID Procedures For Positive Tests And
Possible Exposure
We know that the threat from COVID-19 will remain part of our lives for some time to come. Until this public health issue has been resolved for all, NPS will continue to carefully move forward to provide the best learning environment possible, while keeping the health and safety of our students and staff in mind.
 
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, NPS follows strict, state mandated protocols and guidelines in order to keep members of our community safe. These protocols include contact and exposure tracing, self-quarantines, sanitization, and consultations with the local health department and medical director.
 
 
NPS Chief of Operations Frank Costanzo is the district's COVID-19 Health and Safety Compliance Liaison. Below are some of the most common questions we heard from families recently.
 
Question: When there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at a school, does that mean that the entire school closes?
 
Dr. Costanzo: For the most part, a confirmed COVID-19 case in a school building does not require that the entire school close. Contact tracing protocols identify anyone who has been in close contact, for an extended period of time, with someone who has been confirmed positive for COVID-19, and direct him or her to self-quarantine. Therefore, only the affected staff members and students will be required to quarantine for a 14-day period.
 
If a large number of staff are affected and there is a challenge in providing substitute teachers, the school may temporarily close and shift to virtual learning. In most cases, the building remain open after it has been thoroughly sanitized.
 
Question: How are decisions made once a positive case has been confirmed?
 
Dr. Costanzo: Once a case has been confirmed, Dr. Estrella will work closely with the director of the Norwalk Health Department, as well as our medical advisor, Dr. Norman Weinberger. Contact tracing will begin immediately to identify who had close contact with the individual. Based on that information, decisions will be made about who will be directed to self-quarantine and what areas of the school need to be deep cleaned.
 
Question: What is the contact tracing process?
 
Dr. Costanzo: The Norwalk Health Department identifies anyone who has been in close contact with the person who tested positive. Per the Centers for Disease Control, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. Following this process, NPS Health Services contacts those who may have been exposed.
 
Any students who have been identified through contact or exposure tracing will be directed to their health care provider and may return to the school after a self-quarantine period of 14 days.
 
Question: If contract and exposure tracing shows that a student has been exposed, how will this person be notified?
 
Dr. Costanzo: If a student is confirmed positive, those who were identified through contact and exposure tracing will be notified via phone call from an NPS Health Services representative.
 
School Safety Reminders

Our emergency policies and procedures are reviewed regularly throughout the year, and safety drills are performed monthly at all schools. While we don’t communicate details about these for safety reasons, they have become part of the routine for students over the years. Students in Norwalk will continue to practice Secure (formerly referred to as Lockout), Lockdown, Evacuate and Shelter-in-Place at all grade levels. 

NPS has several security systems in place to help keep our schools safe:

  • Digital cameras and surveillance equipment are enabled throughout our schools. Cameras are placed in strategic areas, depending on the school.
  • Secondary students and parents have access to the Anonymous Alerts app. Our safety motto at NPS is “See something, say something.” Therefore, we encourage students to contact a school administrator or teacher if they are worried about a fellow student, or use the Anonymous Alerts app if they prefer. We ask that our families please reinforce this message at home as well, especially with our secondary students.
  • Due to COVID, school visitors are limited. However, NPS is working to provide parent volunteers with the opportunity to sign up in advance to help in classrooms. Registered volunteers will need to sign in at the front security desk and provide the security guard with a valid license or government ID to run through the Raptor system. Raptor is a web-based software application that provides an effective and efficient manner in which to track visitors in and out of the schools, helping to increase protection for our staff and our students. The system allows schools to electronically check all visitors against registered sexual offender databases, produce visitor badges, and monitor visitor hours. 

Finally, please be aware that the District School Safety Committee, which is made up of representatives from every building, meets monthly to discuss safety needs and initiatives.
Online Health Screening App For Middle And High School Students

To maintain a healthy learning environment, all in-person learners must continue to complete a daily health screening form prior to entering school. High School and Middle School students and/or their parents may now do so via the newly launched LiveSafe App. The LiveSafe App can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. High School and Middle School students may also scan the LiveSafe QR code or access the form on ClassLink. Once the form is submitted, students will need to show the “check mark” screen to a school staff member. Responses are monitored through the system and flagged if necessary.
 
If a child or parent does not have a mobile device, the paper health screening form may still be used. Paper forms are available at each school should one be needed. Parents of elementary school students should continue to fill out the paper form each morning.
NPS Parent University Partners With Common Sense Education
 
October is Digital Safety Month! To raise awareness about online safety and provide parents and students with the digital tools they need to succeed, NPS has partnered with Common Sense Education. Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of all kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century.
 
Parent University is a virtual learning experience for parents, guardians, and all Norwalk community members. This resource is designed to help parents learn skills to work with their students and help them achieve. Our mission is to provide parents and families with experiences to create a lasting learning partnership that will transfer to positive outcomes for our students. Families enrolled in Parent University have the opportunity to attend collaborative learning sessions with their students. Sessions are designed to be either live presentations with Q&A or pre-recorded informational sessions about the various technologies and activities students are using at Norwalk Public Schools. All sessions are family oriented and can be attended by all members of the family.
 
October 7
 
October 14

For more information, please visit: www.NPSParentUniversity.org 
NPS Virtual Parent Help Desk Update

The NPS Virtual Help Desk can assist with basic application support, questions about your computer and assistance with items such as password resets etc. For those who need support in Spanish, please call 203-666-2330.
 
Note, help desk hours will change slightly effective immediately. The help desk will be open from 8:30am-12pm and 1pm-3:30pm.
 
To access the support page you can: 
  • Click on this link (make sure complete the registration), or  
  • Call in:(646)558-8656 

Meeting ID: 918 3017 1136 # 
Passcode: 988022 
Capacity and Coherence Review

As part of our next steps in creating the district’s new Strategic Operating Plan, Norwalk Public Schools has engaged the Connecticut Center for School Change to conduct a Capacity and Coherence Review. This review was originally scheduled for March 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19.
 
The Capacity and Coherence Review will be conducted by a small team of external advisors, who will work with district leaders to review the strategies implemented and outcomes achieved under the previous strategic plan. The primary purpose of this work is to identify the district’s current assets, as well as potential areas for further development. It will include an analysis of important systems, organizational structures and processes. The Center’s final report will be used as another point of input to help guide the continuous improvement work of our district. An overview will be presented at the December Board workshop meeting.
STEM Teacher-In-Residence

Naramake Elementary School third grade teacher and project-based learning specialist Scott Santaniello will hold the role of STEM Teacher-In-Residence for the 20-21 school year.
 
Scott’s interest in project-based learning stemmed from Naramake’s association with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). ICLE provided teachers at Naramake with training in Quad D instructional practices. Quad D teaching and learning is student-centered and based on developing in students the 21st-century learning skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. 
 
As the STEM Teacher-In-Residence, Scott will work to grow in his profession and to learn more about curriculum construction and management. Utilizing this experience, Scott will help support teachers across the district in developing student-centered learning experiences rooted in 21st-century learning skills.
No School For Students On October 12 For Professional Development Day

In collaboration with the Norwalk Federation of Teachers, an additional Professional Development day was added to the school year schedule. The PD day is scheduled for October 12. There will be no school for students on that Monday. By offering professional development in October instead of later in the year, teachers and staff will have the opportunity to implement strategies learned during the sessions throughout the school year. 
Welcome Fox Run Elementary School Principal Dr. Sylvia Sanders

Join us in welcoming Dr. Sylvia Sanders to NPS! Dr. Sanders will be the new principal of Fox Run Elementary, as Mr. Martinez transitions into his new role as districtwide director of school counseling. Welcome, Dr. Sanders!
 
Free Meal Location Update As Of October 5
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.

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

Tuesday, October 6, Policy Committee, 5:15pm

Tuesday, October 6, Board Workshop, 7pm

Monday, October 12, Professional Development (no school for students)

Wednesday, October 14, Finance Committee, 6pm

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.