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Dodger Update, 6/6 - COVID Updates and Thoughtexchange Invitation
Mark Schwarz
Sunday, June 06, 2021

Madison Public School Community Members,

Nine months ago, we began the 2020-21 school year in one of the most uncertain times. While it may be easy to see clearly in hindsight, many of us doubted the possibility for schools to remain open for in-person learning through Thanksgiving, let alone the entire school year. As we now enter the tenth month of continuous school operations, however, we can fully appreciate the combined efforts from parents, students, faculty, staff, administrators, Board members, community officials, and community members. We accomplished this school year together and we have become a stronger community through the challenges. Thank you for your continued partnership in ensuring the most positive outcomes for our students. 

Please note that while rates are now decisively falling, COVID-related guidance from the state remains unclear and variable. As we continue to process emerging information and adjust accordingly, please continue to monitor district and school communications, including the following important updates:

As COVID rates fall and vaccination rates increase, state guidance for schools remains unclear. 

Although our school district has not experienced any COVID cases for the last three weeks, we are operating under recommendations from the state that have not been updated since March. As we continue to collaborate with our local health department and Board attorneys to interpret the limited information that is available, please note the following updates to school procedures at MPS:

  • All MPS staff and students (vaccinated and unvaccinated) are still required to wear masks while inside school buildings, temperatures permitting (see temperature accommodations below). Students and faculty will no longer be required to wear masks outside on school grounds for the remainder of the school year. Individuals are also no longer required to wear masks upon arrival and dismissal. 

  • While rated at “Low Risk” or Moderate Risk,” quarantine periods for unvaccinated individuals will be 10 days after the period of exposure (previous periods were 14 days; see current NJDOH Guidance for details).

  • All parents are still required to submit the daily health screener for their child. 

  • Unvaccinated individuals are still advised to avoid indoor gatherings where mask wearing, ventilation, and social distancing are not practiced. 

Temperature accommodations will be necessary to protect student and staff safety during hot and humid conditions. 

High temperatures and relative humidity are expected in the coming week, with unusually high temperatures overnight. The combination of direct sun, high humidity, high temperatures, and a reduction in overnight cooling will make mask wearing, teaching, and learning difficult in our unairconditioned classrooms. As MHS and MJS are already operating on early dismissal schedules, further modifications to the in-person day will not be made, however afternoon virtual activities may be modified or cancelled as needed. Our elementary schools, where student dismissal occurs after 2pm, may need to shift to a 1pm dismissal as temperatures are at their most challenging in the afternoons. We will monitor temperatures for the remaining weeks and notify families of any changes. 

Further, after reviewing NJDOH guidelines in consultation with the Madison Health Department, the district has made the determination that to avoid any circumstances in which a student or faculty member may suffer a health-related emergency in hot and humid school conditions, mask wearing must be considered optional in circumstances of high temperature and high humidity. The district administration will monitor classroom temperatures and advise faculty members and students regarding mask wearing as appropriate. 

We want to hear from you - please share your feedback with us.

As MPS prepares for a “new normal” in the post-COVID era, we remain committed to ensuring that the lessons learned this past year are carried forward into 2021-22 and beyond. Accordingly, we now have a unique opportunity to reconceptualize how our schools structure our programs and services for students. We wish to learn from your experiences, insights and ideas through the following information sharing opportunities:

  • Aligning Federal Funding to District Goals Thoughtexchange - Community members are now invited to join the latest Thoughtexchange to share their ideas and opinions regarding how we should use our $445K in federal funds to best support our students. All participation is anonymous. This exchange (linked above) will be open until June 14, 2021. To learn more about the Thoughtexchange platform, please watch this one minute introductory video. To see the outcomes of prior Thoughtexchanges at MPS, please visit our December 15 Facilities Presentation and our March 17 Phase 2 and Phase 3 Presentation.

  • Staff, Student and Parent Surveys to be released next week - The district will be distributing its annual climate and culture surveys for the purpose of identifying areas of strength and areas for improvement within the district. When released, a unique survey link will appear in your email inbox. Your contributions will be confidential. Please complete the survey shortly after you receive it. 

  • Facilities Thoughtexchange coming soon in Fall 2021 - As a follow-up to our facilities planning exercises, the district will provide a status update to the community and open another Thoughtexchange for the purpose of finalizing our Long Range Facilities Plan. More information will be provided in the new school year. In the meantime, you can see the outcomes of the prior facilities presentations on our district website.

Thank you for taking the time to stay informed and to participate in our data collection exercises above. Stay healthy and finish this year Madison Strong. 

Upcoming Events:

  • Tues, June 15 - Board of Education Meeting, 7pm

  • Wed, June 16 - Superintendent Coffee, 7pm

  • Fri, June 18 - Last Day of School / MJS Promotion / MHS Graduation