The following is the letter is from the Nursing Protocol Manual
We are currently in red.
If we downgraded to yellow the times would change from 14 days to 10 days.
Letter to Staff and Parent/Guardian of Student for Potential Exposure while District is in the RED ZONE
As the health and safety of our students, staff, and community members is of vital importance, I am reaching out to share with you that [you were] [your student was] identified as recently being in close contact with a student/staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health defines close contact as being less than six feet from a confirmed or clinically diagnosed COVID-19 case for at least 10-15 minutes, while the confirmed case was symptomatic or within the 48 hours before symptom onset. Springfield Public Schools identifies all students in close contact as any student that was within 6 feet for at least 10-15 minutes in a classroom, in other school spaces, on the bus, or at an extracurricular activity. In elementary and other school situations where the students are in self-contained classrooms for an extended period, all students/staff within this “cohort” are considered close contacts, as they may have been within 6 feet of the person with a positive test result.
Due to being in close contact with a student or staff that has tested positive for COVID-19, you need to contact [your] [your student’s] doctor to have [you get] your student tested for COVID-19 no sooner than on_________________ , which is 4-5 days after the last potential exposure. Prior to testing and waiting for the result, [you] [your student] should isolate at home. Please continue to exercise social distancing at home prior to [you] [your student] being tested and while waiting for the test results.
If test is positive: [You] [Your student] is to remain home (except to get medical care). You must monitor [your] [your student’s] symptoms, notify the school, notify personal close contacts, assist the school in contact tracing efforts, and answer the call from local board of health or MA Community Tracing Collaborative. You must inform the schools’ COVID-19 school lead, which is [insert name and contact information] of the positive test result. [You] [The student] will need to stay in self-isolation for at least 10 days and 24 hours have passed with no fever and improvement in other symptoms.
If test is negative: Regardless of negative PCR test results, Springfield Public Schools will be following direction from the Springfield Health and Human Services department, and all close contacts will remain in quarantine for 14 days from the close contact. If during the 14-day period, [you develop] [your student develops] COVID-19 symptoms, you should follow up with [your] [your student’s] health care provider for treatment.
If not tested: If you choose not to [get tested] [have your student tested], [you] [the student] must stay home in self-quarantine for 14 days. Please continue to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for the next several days. If [you] [your student] develops COVID-19 symptoms during the 14 day quarantine period, you should seek medical care for [yourself] [your student]. COVID-19 symptoms include:
o Fever (100.4° Fahrenheit or higher), chills
o Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
o Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
o New loss of taste or smell
o Sore throat
o Headache when in combination with other symptoms
o Muscle or body aches
o Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
o Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
o Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms
Just a reminder that [you] [your student] should avoid close contact with individuals who are at a higher-risk of serious illness if exposed to COVID-19, which can include grandparents and other family members with underlying medical conditions.
To be clear, this communication is to notify you of potential exposure to COVID-19, it is imperative that we all continue to work together to ensure our school community members remain safe and healthy. Please remember your actions can impact the health and safety of another person or loved one. If you have any questions you can call the school’s COVID-19 school lead, [insert name and contact information]
Local 4098 Member of the Month
You will notice that we are honoring our March - July Local 4098 Members of the Month a little early 🙂 The reason is because they are each donating a case of 2,200 disposable children’s face masks to the students at the school where they work and it's important to get the masks to our students now. The masks were produced by the Ford Motor Company and donated by the American Federation of Teachers.
Who are the new honorees? Check out below to find out 😊
Congratulations to all!
Local 4098 Member of the Month
Betty Jack has worked as a Para-educator in the Springfield Public Schools since October 1, 2008. Betty currently works at Alfred M Glickman Elementary School where she serves as the Building Representative. She is also a member of the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals Professional Development team.
Nancy Hand, fellow Para-educator at Glickman writes, “Betty Jack is a devoted Paraprofessional and has a heart for the students to thrive in their learning, as well as a deep concern for their well being. She is always willing and able to lend a helping hand when needed. I am blessed to work alongside of her and call her friend!”
Dr. Elizabeth Bienia, Principal at Glickman writes, "Betty Jack is a model paraprofessional who has garnered the respect of staff and students alike. She consistently goes above and beyond to assist students, even meeting with them on her lunch break to ensure they are successful. Betty communicates with families in a way that is real and honest; often providing a bridge between staff and our Spanish speaking families. She is the epitome of tough love and for that Glickman is ever grateful."
"Betty goes far above and beyond her duties as a paraprofessional. She is extremely dedicated and enjoys building relationships with students. When working in small groups she provides engaging and challenging lessons. She is eager to learn new technology and implement it with students. She signs up for many professional development opportunities to increase her knowledge which helps students to be successful. She initiates conversations with staff when looking for clarification or seeking resources to benefit students. She is extremely organized and willing to step in to communicate with parents to resolve issues a student may be having in the classroom." writes Brenda McDonald, one of Betty's co-operating educators.
Congratulations Betty and thank you for Making A Difference.
Local 4098 Member of the Month
Sonia Watson has been a Para-educator at Freedman Elementary School since August 24, 2014. She currently serves as the Building Representative and is frequently a public speaker advocating for members of the local and para-educators in general.
Medina Ali, Principal, writes , “I cannot say enough about Ms. Sonya Watson. She exemplifies professionalism. She is a team player and not afraid of hard work and learning new skills. Ms. Watson adapts and adjusts to circumstances and does not complain. Above all, she loves the students. Ms. Watson is able to simultaneously be empathetic while holding students accountable to do their best every day. It is my fortune having Ms. Sonia Watson as a valued member of the Frank H. Freedman Elementary School Family.”
Jennifer Tassinari, co-operating teacher, writes "This is FANTASTIC! Ms. Watson is such a deserving candidate! Ms. Watson brings joy and excitement to class each day. Her love for the students and passion for teaching is unmatched. I am so lucky to work with such an inspiring and dedicated educator, and I appreciate her more than words can possibly express! "
Congratulations Sonia and thank you for Making A Difference!
Local 4098 Member of the Month
Liza Ramos has been a para-educator at Washington Elementary School since August 24, 2020. She was nominated by the Building Representative, Danielle Kenniston.
Keith Asher, Principal at Washington writes, "I first interviewed Liza in March of 2020 and knew right away she would be a great fit at Washington. Due to the pandemic and the hiring freeze, Liza was unable to start until the September 2020. She emailed me every other week from April- August asking if the hiring freeze had been lifted and wanted to know when she could begin. I was so impressed with her commitment to Washington prior to ever entering the building.
Since arriving, she has not only worked with our kindergarten PLC students, but she has also helped a first-year pre-k teacher and a kindergarten teacher whose para retired at the end of last year.
Anytime we ask her to pivot to another role to help our students, she always does with a smile and says, “I am glad to help.”
I look forward to working with Liza in person as we approach unchartered territory for all educators."
"Liza Ramos comes to work smiling and happy everyday. Her enthusiasm is reflected in her work ethic and her commitment to the students. She has a passion for her work for going above and beyond. It has been a pleasure to have worked with her this school year!" writes cooperating teacher, Zina Gross.
Congratulations Liza and thank you for Making A Difference!
Local 4098 Member of the Month
Anthony Rowan has been a para-educator at Kensington International School since January 6, 2014.
Margaret Thompson, Principal, writes “So thrilled to recognize an amazing paraprofessional/outstanding person!”
Laurie Butt ,ELA ILS and Paula Macaulay, Math ILS write "We are writing on behalf of Anthony Rowan, a paraprofessional at Kensington International School. Tony is a staff member who is always going above and beyond his duties. Tony has a strong work ethic and is a perfect example of a team player. He consistently volunteers for various community and school activities such as delivering laptops to Springfield students who live outside the district, covering classrooms and lunch duties, and he has even dressed up as Thing 1 for Dr. Seuss’ birthday to emphasize the importance of reading!"
"Tony Rowan goes above and beyond the call of duty. If a child needs help or just someone to talk to Tony is always there, willing and able to lend an ear. He truly enjoys working with the children." writes Brenda Thomas.
Michelle Walker writes "Tony is a wonderful addition to our staff at Kensington. He is extremely dedicated to his work, and makes real world connections with students day in and day out. He is always willing to help teachers and students alike, and goes above and beyond in his daily work. Thank you, Tony, for all that you do!"
Congratulations Anthony and thank you for Making a Difference.
Local 4098 Member of the Month
Ruth Moorhouse has been a Para-educator at Mary Walsh Elementary School since October 10, 2006. She serves as the Building Representative and is our Unofficial Official photographer at every local event. (Hopefully, someday soon, we will be able to meet in-person again and use Ruth's services!)
Vinnie Regan, Principal at Mary Walsh writes, "Ruth Moorhouse is a leader focused on helping and supporting others no matter what. Ruth goes above and beyond for Walsh School in any classroom she supports just like she does for her community. During this pandemic year Ruth has been instrumental in supporting us all, especially me as Principal, and appreciate her positive, leadership, humanity and commitment to the kids and families of Walsh and our city."
Congratulations Ruth and thank you for Making a Difference!
March 21, 2021
Good afternoon everyone:
Please read these documents very carefully. We can negotiate terms but all of this is going to have to be overseen, implemented and enforced at the building level because every school is going to have a different experience based on the number of students and staff returning in person, what populations are in the buildings and the principal's implementation. This is why it is so important to have great building reps and a good union structure in every building.
I wanted to update everyone about the outcome of our mediation session with the Department of Labor Relations regarding our negotiations for a return to in-person learning. We met for four hours with a mediator from the Department of Labor Relations. We were able to win many concessions from the district but as is always true with bargaining or mediation we didn’t win everything.
I think the news that most people are looking for is return dates for staff members. If you look at the chart SPS Return to School Plan Dates and Days per week by Student Sub Groups-all staff who provide educational service to the students returning on April 5th will return to their buildings in person on March 29th (unless they have gotten written notification for a remote position from Human Resources.) All other staff will return in person on April 5th (unless they have gotten written notification for a remote position from Human Resources.)
Our proposal that the Covid-19 Staff Safety Protocol Handbook and the SPS Plan for Return to School Adopted 3-11-21 by the School Committee be added as appendices to our agreement was accepted. That is important because it addresses many of the concerns all of you brought forward regarding the safety measure that must be in place as we return to buildings. The trainings that many of you attended during the March 12 PD were taken directly from that handbook. Here is some of the language we agreed to:
Six feet social distancing to be maintained at all times.
Pool testing of staff and students will take place every week.
Only the nurse can escort students to their office.
Facemasks are mandatory for all students, including PreK-1 students. Gaiters and bandanas are not acceptable as face masks.
Language that states the consequence for a student who refuses to wear a mask consistently. The student will be assigned to remote learning.
Cleaning protocols will be available in every school’s office. The report on building ventilation will be available to all unit A, B, and D members
Educators are not responsible for cleaning but will be given supplies if they wish to clean their own area.
District Provided Materials/Supplies
PPE and hand sanitizer will be provided.
Transparent face masks will be prioritized for staff working with ELL students and students that are hearing impaired. Staff working in Pre-K, K, and 1st grade, will be provided transparent masks upon request. Transparent face masks will be provided to other staff upon request, if appropriate and available.
Clear guidance on what to do when PPE runs out or is not yet available – who is responsible and who to contact to get resupply of materials immediately-but it will be available in the final Memorandum of Agreement/Understanding.
Containers for individual student materials will be provided.
District will provide headphones where appropriate, for circumstances where remote learning from the classroom is taking place.
The district will provide and post signage in mask break areas on how to properly put on and take off mask
Disposable gowns for diapering will be provided based on individual student needs.
Paid time will be given in one-hour increments (up to four hours) to get vaccinated, and it will not be charged against sick time.
All staff working through the 2020-2021 school year who are returning to in-person education who did not use more than 4 sick days prior to April 5th will get the 5 additional sick days this year (normally we have to use no more than 4 days to get the 5 days). This is to help ensure folks who have symptoms stay home and get tested. After April 5th, if you use more than the 4 days, you will still get the 5 days. If you used more than 4 days prior to April 5th because you had Covid-19 you can submit documentation to that effect and still get the 5 days.
On July 1, 2021 all staff working through the 2020-2021 school year who returned to in-person education will be credited 15 disability days for the 2021-2022 school year.
SPS employees who are nursing may request a remote teaching assignment (this language was added to their CDC guideline language.)
SPS employees who cannot medically get the vaccine can apply for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA laws.
Will propose to the School Committee that the Covid-19 Emergency Sick Leave Pay Leave be extended through the end of the school year. We feel confident the School Committee will amend their policy.
District agrees to review SEEDS related issues with the union. For teachers, evaluators shall consider the special circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including, but not limited to, teaching outside one’s area of certification, adjusting to the challenges of remote teaching, larger than usual class size, and extended absences related to the pandemic. Evaluators will continue to do observations remotely.
Observations will continue to be done remotely to minimize people in a given classroom
All meetings will continue to be held remotely whenever possible.
Paraprofessionals who are working as the teacher of record (not day to day subbing duties) shall receive Long Term Sub rate of pay but remain a Unit D member without loss of benefits-For those with a bachelor degrees their rate is :$248.36/day No Bachelor: $235.36/day
When the teacher of record is approved to work remotely and a Paraprofessional is assigned to provide the physical presence in the classroom they will be paid coverage of pay in accordance with the contract between the Springfield School Committee and the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals Article V Working Conditions, D. Substitutes
Volunteers will be the primary source for providing staffing of the Medical Waiting Room. They will be provided with appropriate PPE and training. Unit D members who provide staffing of the Medical Waiting Room will be compensated in accordance with the contract between the Springfield School Committee and the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals Article V Working Conditions, D. Substitutes
Unit A members who are required to cover the room will receive contractual hourly rate only during their preparation period per the contract between the Springfield School Committee and the Springfield Education Association Appendix B 5.
Except for scheduled breaks, lunch, and recess, students will be engaged in synchronous instruction throughout the school day, five days per week regardless of whether they are learning in-person or remotely on a particular day through a combination of whole group, small group, 1:1, and independent learning activities as determined by the educator based on student needs
Special Education, Related Services, and ESL services will continue to be delivered via a “Push-In” model whenever possible in accordance with the student’s IEP to minimize the need for students to transition
Coaches and staff will be compensated for work performed who offer remote extracurricular activities and shall receive the appropriate share of their stipend based on work performed in accordance with the contract between the Springfield Education Association and the Springfield School Committee Appendix B through B-6.
We feel like we have in black and white the safety protocols that must be followed when in buildings. Unfortunately, the one we could not completely win was the return to building dates. We also had the weakest case here because by law the District has the right to say when and where we work. That law was already challenge by the union in Melrose and, in what has now become known as the " Melrose Decision", the Department of Labor Relations sided with management.
We could also not get the District to agree to create a new cohort for students of SPS employees who have children in the SPS schools so that their children could attend 5 days while their parent works 5 days. The management response was that would be “to hard to figure out.”
They rejected our proposal to have Health and Safety Committees in every building, but that does not and will not stop us from having Health and Safety Committees in every building.
While we were not able to do much about the reentry dates, we did gain a lot of very important language that we can use to protect our community. Please remember it is up to each one of us to follow the protocols to protect ourselves, our colleagues, and our students.
A Message from the Superintendent
March 12, 2021
This week marks the one-year anniversary of our school closure. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted our community in a myriad of ways. Through it all, our staff has remained focused and steadfast. Our district attendance rate for remote education is an incredible 92.2 percent. What a testament to your dedication and resilience! The days and weeks ahead will usher in a slow return to the way things used to be, although teaching and learning in-person will be far from the normal we all know and love.
Today, the District is submitting a waiver request to DESE, asking for permission to re-open remotely in a hybrid plan, rather than the five-day per week DESE mandate. We expect an answer on that request in the next five days or so.
Until then, here is what we do know:
Schools will re-open for in-person learning with Phase 1 on April 5th
Phase 2 of in-person learning will begin April 26th
The return date for Phase 3 of in-person learning is TBD
Though there is a phased-in approach to in-person learning, all SPS staff will be expected to report to their work location in-person for work beginning on March 29th.
Regarding uniform requirements for students: students will have the option of wearing their school uniform or other appropriate attire
The attached document entitled “Springfield Public Schools Plan for Returning to Schools for In-Person Learning" contains detailed information about the district's School Committee-approved return to school plan. In addition, I encourage you to take time to watch the following videos, which also provide information about our return to school. The first video (https://youtu.be/exrHowmMYCQ ) outlines the procedures and products the district will enlist for disinfecting and cleaning schools as we re-open and the second (https://youtu.be/CbslH3uqmsk) is an interview between Chief Communications Officer Azell Cavaan and myself.
These are unprecedented times for educators and school staff, filled with everything from fear of the unknown to unbridled excitement about finally see our students in school again. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to register for vaccination. I have heard from some who have successfully completed the process and many others who have expressed frustration with the process. It was far too late coming, but nonetheless, it was great news when the State finally announced its inclusion of educators and school staff on the vaccination priority list, and even better news that they set aside particular vaccination days and a particular location just for us. Still, even this process comes with challenges.
As we enter these next phases, it is important to remember that we have made it this far already. And we must cling to the notion that we will continue to fight through the difficult times as we make our way towards a new normal together.
District Plans for In-Person Learning
February 26, 2021
The School Committee is considering an in-person education plan that would begin on April 5th, with students in grades pre-k through five; the district’s highest need Special Education students; students with limited or interrupted formal education; and vocational students in grades 10 through 12.
Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick said the proposed plan is contingent upon successful negotiations with the district’s unions and that the inclusion of elementary school students by the April 5th date is a direct response to the announcement by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) earlier this week. The department announced that it is seeking to mandate the return of all elementary students to in-person learning five days per week beginning in April. However, the Springfield Public Schools plan proposes a hybrid return model, which would include a mix of in-person and remote learning for students in a single week.
Warwick said the district plans to seek a waiver to allow the hybrid return rather than full-week return based on the City’s current COVID-19 status, which is red. He added that under DESE’s proposed mandate, families still retain the right to choose remote education for the remainder of the year.
The plan, presented to the School Committee during a working session last night, also includes a phased-in return for students in grades six through eight, followed by high school students. The School Committee is expected to vote on the plan in coming weeks at a regularly scheduled meeting.
Warwick added that the district had already been preparing for a hybrid return this spring, but the DESE announcement required adjusting the timing of elementary school students.However, Warwick added that health and safety aspects of the district’s plan were fully complete and remain intact.
Ventilation upgrades have been made in every school building, classroom by classroom, Warwick said. And the district is fully stocked with personal protection equipment.
“We have been working very hard ever since the pandemic first hit, to put measures in place to help ensure a safe return and we are ready to go in that regard,” Warwick said, adding that the district has spent millions of dollars on COVID-related upgrades, equipment, and supplies. “Mayor Sarno and the School Committee made it very clear from the start, that health and safety of students and staff is the highest priority, and, at every turn, they made the funding available to support that.”
Warwick said schools are in the process of reaching out directly to families and providing detailed information about health and safety measures and the protocols, routines and practices of in-person learning.
SPS Chief Communications Officer Azell Cavaan sits down with Supt. Daniel Warwick in another episode of SPS Remote Spotlight. Learn about the potential models Springfield Public Schools is working on with regards to remote an in-person education in the months ahead.
SPS Spotlight - School Cleaning & Disinfecting
In preparation for school doors eventually opening once again for students and staff, Springfield Public Schools has spent the past year entrenched in a process to ensure the ventilation systems in every school building provides high of standards of added protections. To learn more, please view this episode of SPS Spotlight.