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

September 17, 2020
Norwalk Educational Equity Initiative:
Survey & Focus Groups

Our comprehensive initiative designed to examine and address educational equity in Norwalk will soon be under way! This ongoing project consists of four phases of work: an examination of disproportionate representation that looks at where children of color are under-represented or over-represented in programs and situations; a community survey and focus groups; presentations to the Norwalk community on findings and recommendations; and equity literacy development of district leadership. Recommendations from the work will also include plans for a year-long program of professional development for employees that will focus on strategies for reducing implicit bias-based beliefs.
 
To get a deeper perspective from the community on equity, NPS and partner Temple University will kick off a “Listening and Learning Tour” over the next several weeks. It will include surveys for parents, students and staff, as well as focus groups that will explore equity as a pillar of the conversation. A variety of focus groups will be held both virtually and in-person for staff, parents and educators.

We greatly value the feedback from our community and encourage participation in both the survey and focus groups. More details will be shared shortly regarding focus group timing and sign up.
Sign Up To Be A Parent Volunteer

Parent volunteers have always been an important part of NPS. The hard work and dedication of our volunteers helps build community and support our children, educators and schools. Although COVID-19 has impacted our ability to allow visitors into school buildings this year, NPS is eager to have parent volunteers support our teachers and students. As a result, we are rolling out a parent volunteer option with a focus on grades K-3. Both virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities will be available.
 
To support our entire community of learners, we encourage parents to consider volunteering for a different school than the one heir child attends. Volunteers will be able to choose their top three schools for volunteering. In-person volunteers can select their own child’s school if they choose, but will not be assigned to their child’s classroom. Remote volunteers will be able to assist in their child’s classroom.
 
Fingerprinting is required for both virtual and in-person volunteers.
 

Additional grades may be added in the future. Thank you for helping to support our students, educators and schools! 
Internet Safety And Privacy

One of the keys to our reopening learning plan was to make sure that every student has access to a computer, so that instruction can be seamless between home and school. At all times, Norwalk Public Schools is very serious about internet security, with filters and software in place to limit the websites that students can access.

Here is some important information on internet safety for parents: 

  • We use Securly as out internet filter across the district, which works internally as well as externally on our district issued Chromebooks and laptop computers. All devices are filtered. 
  • NPS also uses Gaggle to monitor and flag inappropriate content posted in any of our Google platforms. Depending on the issue, the student is directly notified if Gaggle identifies a problem. If it is an issue that warrants an administrative response, the administrator in the building is notified, not the student, to intervene.
  • New Dell computers were issued this year, as a result of a statewide donation funded by private donors to make sure that all students have access to online learning. The new Dells have their own filter already in place, in addition to the district filters.
  • Starting in October, Parents will be able to use Securly to monitor their student’s web traffic on their NPS computer when they are home, as well as when they are in school.

Promoting Responsible Internet Usage at Home
The district partners with Common Sense Media for digital citizenship and security instruction for students. During the month of October, NPS will also offer classes for families through Common Sense Media, which will be available through the NPS Parent University.

A non-profit organization, Common Sense Media is a national leader in providing education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children. Parents can access the organization’s resources and materials to learn more about how to better manage their child’s internet usage at home.

Respecting Privacy During Virtual Learning
We wanted to remind everyone about the importance of respecting the privacy of our students, especially during virtually learning
 
As you know, students may receive group lessons through video or teleconferencing. Parents and guardians may incidentally see or hear images or information about students other than their own child. To maintain student privacy, we ask that all families and students agree and implement the following:
 
  1. Where possible, arrange for your student to participate in video or teleconferencing lessons in a private space where, other than a parent or guardian, no one else is around. Encourage students to use headphones or earbuds if available.
  2. Parents and guardians who may be present during video instruction should distance themselves from the lesson to avoid unnecessary access to confidential or personally identifiable information regarding other students (and their families).
  3. Parents and guardians should not share any information about other students or their families that may be discovered during any observation of a class or lesson.
  4. As with school visits, electronic recording or video/audio taping by parents of students or teachers is not permitted. If you take photos of your child learning, make sure that other students cannot be seen in the picture.
  5. Make sure that siblings or others residing in your home are also aware and abiding by these requirements.
  6. Please do not use your child’s time online with their teacher and class to talk with the teacher or ask questions. Parents should contact the teacher directly via email or phone for any questions or comments. 
 
By participating in our hybrid or full virtual program, parents and guardians are agreeing to abide by these requirements. Any recording, release or disclosure of confidential information about other students or their families, and any disruption to the delivery of instruction to any student, may result in the suspension of online learning privileges. If you have any questions, please notify your principal via email.
 
Implementing the procedures outlined above will help all our students get the most out of instruction, while supporting student confidentiality.
 
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
Brien McMahon High School Student Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist

Congratulations to Brien McMahon High School Senior Paul Buellesbach, who was named a National Merit Scholarship Corporation Semifinalist! Buellesbach is one of approximately 16,000 semifinalists included in the prestigious 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Of these academically talented high school seniors, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, which will be announced in February.
 
According to School Counselor Marcy Sansolo,  Paul is an outstanding scholar who has excelled at rigorous course work throughout his high school career, including college classes at Norwalk Community College and University of Massachusetts. Within the Brien McMahon High School community, he is a dynamic member of the golf team, marching band, and Math and Drama clubs. Outside of school, Paul is a longtime Boy Scout, on the path to Eagle Scout. He is an active member of the Metropolitan Golf Association and is genuine in wanting to help others through his volunteer work at Person-to-Person and the Maritime Aquarium.
 
Merit Scholar designees are selected based on their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.
 
School Governance Council Elections

All schools will be planning for and holding annual School Governance Council elections during the month of September. The School Governance Council (SGC) is the primary, local school decision-making body of a school devoted to achieving its mission and vision. The role of SGCs is to guide the schools’ development. To learn more about school governance councils please refer to the District’s policy.
 
All members are required to participate in initial and annual training sessions during their term of service. SGCs are comprised of 7 parents, 5 teachers, 2 community leaders and the principal (non-voting). High school SGCs also have 2 students who serve as (non-voting members). Voting members have a two-year term and no one member can serve more than two terms on a council. There are generally open SGC seats needing to be filled during each election cycle. Please inquire with your school about running for an open SGC seat!  
Norwalk & Brien McMahon High Schools Receive National Recognition From Special Olympics For Commitment to Inclusion
 
Congrats to Norwalk and Brien McMahon High Schools on receiving national banner recognition from Special Olympics Connecticut for efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities!
 
As Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools, Norwalk High School and Brien McMahon High School promote meaningful social inclusion to create accepting school environments. To receive national banner recognition, schools must meet 10 national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.
 
Norwalk High and Brien McMahon hold a variety of sporting events and activities for athletes with and without intellectual disabilities for training and competition, building friendships along the way. A popular annual event, the Unified Basketball rivalry game between schools brings communities together.

Custodial & Maintenance Staff Recognized For Outstanding Contributions In Preparing For School Reopening

The Norwalk Board of Education recognized the district custodial and maintenance staff during Tuesday evening’s meeting for supporting our students, educators and schools with unwaveringly commitment leading up to the new school year. These dedicated workers enabled a safe return to school, and continue to ensure that students can learn each day in a beneficial and healthy environment.
 
For the full spotlight write-up click here. Also, watch a video recognizing custodial and maintenance staff members. We thank them for all that they have done and will continue to do for Norwalk Public Schools! 
No School On September 18 & 28

Wishing those who celebrate Rosh Hashana a sweet new year. In observance of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, schools will be closed on Friday, September 18 and Monday, September 28.
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.

Friday, September 18, Rosh Hashana (No School)

Wednesday, September 23, Facilities Committee, 6pm

Monday, September 28, Yom Kippur (No School)

Tuesday, October 6, Policy Committee, 5:45pm

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.