Update from Stamford Public School Superintendent, Dr. Tamu Lucero
While COVID-19 pandemic information remains the focus of our weekly communications, we think it is important to acknowledge that to support continuous improvement and long-term planning, there are other areas that also need our focus. Highlights this week include next steps for Teaching and Learning as well as Long-Term Facilities Planning.
We continue to complete risk assessments and contact tracing, as soon as families or health care providers inform us that a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. We work closely with the Stamford Department of Health, our school nurses, principals and staff to identify anyone who is determined to be a close contact. Rest assured, if you or your child are identified as a close contact, which means you may have been exposed, you will be notified directly and be required to self-quarantine for up to 14 days. We will continue to update the SPS COVID-19 Dashboard that reflects both the number of new, as well as cumulative, positive COVID-19 cases, individuals quarantined, and schools impacted weekly.
Thank you for helping to keep us all healthy by completing a self-assessment prior to coming to school each day. As the cold, flu and allergy season is upon us, it is important to reiterate what you should do if you or your child has only one of the key COVID-19 symptoms, such as a cough. Please contact your primary care doctor to determine if the symptom can be attributed to an alternate diagnosis, such as a common cold or allergies. Your doctor will determine the appropriate care and whether it is appropriate to attend school. The medical provider should document the alternative diagnosis with a note that can be provided to the school nurse. However, remember, if a member of staff or a child has been exposed to, or diagnosed with COVID-19, please report this to your school nurse.
Teaching and Learning
Given our smaller class sizes, due to the Hybrid Model, a number of teachers have shared that they are able to cover more material in a shorter amount of time, which is really good news. However, we continue to work with our staff to ensure all classes and courses are on track to complete the full curriculum for the first semester. Now that most of the technology has been distributed, teachers will be able to increase the use of technology and Google Classroom to provide instruction to students during at-home learning days. Each building principal is monitoring our progress toward this goal and will provide updates at the building level so families know what to expect in their child’s classroom.
Long-Term Facilities Planning
Addressing the aging conditions of our school buildings is an ongoing challenge, resulting in immediate and long-term concerns. At Westover, after nearly two years, the City has addressed many, but not all, of the moisture issues that led to the mold and required relocation to Elmcroft. In other buildings, we have also addressed some of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and air quality issues, which are common in older buildings; a long-term plan is necessary. We have created a long-term facilities planning committee that includes all the city boards—the Planning board, Board of Representatives, Board of Finance and the Operations Committee of the BOE to determine the next steps in creating a long-term facilities plan for all of our buildings, including the 5 buildings initially identified as well as ANCHOR our alternative education program. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled for later this month.
School Visitors Policy
Finally, although disappointing and challenging, we understand and support the Stamford Department of Health’s guidance, released late last week, regarding prohibiting fans/spectators at athletic events and continuing to limit the number of extracurricular activities. As always, we will continue to monitor closely any changes and will continue to have ongoing two-way communication with our health professionals regarding guidance on all health areas. The health and safety of our school community as a whole must come first when we make these difficult decisions.
Stay Safe and Healthy!
Dr. Tamu Lucero
Superintendent of Schools