News & Announcements

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  • Superintendent

Office of the Superintendent

January 21, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

Today, I am mindful of the numerous and lengthy communications you are all receiving from the school district. Therefore, I will be very succinct, as I, too, am suffering from COVID exhaustion, and it has been quite a busy few weeks since our return to school on January 3, 2022. Given recent updates that you will see on our dashboard this week that was updated on Wednesday and again today, I am optimistic that we are at a turning point, but it is far too early to let down our guard with our mitigation measures both in and out of school

COVID-19 Updates

Last week we ended the week with 137 new cases and this week we added considerably less at 77. However, the town’s data which comes from the state update through 1/13/22 shows Holliston percent positivity rate from last week at about 19% and continuing to climb in the red metric, as noted on our HPS COVID Dashboard. Surrounding towns have noted similar increases, but this should also show improvement when updated from this week.

Next week, we will be reaching out to high school students and staff to share information about a plan to begin pooled testing for the foreseeable future beginning the week of January 31st. We will also be reaching out to all staff and families about opting-in to receive home test kits from DESE and the CIC to distribute at school. Stay tuned!

Testing:

As you may know, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain a COVID test.  For those with symptoms or exposure, Milford Regional has opened a drive through testing site.  Please see the link below for further information on registration, etc.

https://www.milfordregional.org/

COVID Clinic Appointments:

Please see the flier from the Holliston Board of Health with information and a link to register for a COVID Clinic on February 5, 2022 from 9:00-11:00am at Town Hall.

Holliston Schools Good News

We would like you to join together and participate in the Great Kindness Challenge during the week of Jan. 24-28, 2022. The Great Kindness Challenge is a nationwide initiative to spread kindness in schools and our community. You will hear about various activities throughout the district and schools, but this is something we can all take part in outside of school as well. Kindness goes a long way, particularly with the ongoing impact we continue to manage during this pandemic.

With kindness,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

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  • School Committee

This Holliston School Committee Newsletter includes updates on strategic planning, student testing, collective bargaining, mask requirements, and the 2022-2023 budget timeline.

Strategic Planning Update

Holliston is engaged in developing a comprehensive five-year strategic plan of objectives and initiatives to improve education for all here in town. The Strategic Planning Committee is comprised of teachers, administrators, School Committee members, students, parents, and other stakeholders in town, and we began meeting in October of 2021. The Committee met twice this month to go over the results from the survey data we collected in the fall. Over 1200 parents, students, teachers, and other community members responded to the survey, so thank you! We examined the quantitative data and comments from this, as well as data from the community forums that were held, the Metro West Health Survey, the most recent NEASC report, and the Culture and Climate Surveys that were given out at RAMS. All of this data suggests overarching goals for the district in conjunction with many specific strategic initiatives that will support these goals. Our steps for the coming weeks and months are to flush out these ideas and share them with the community. We hope to have a draft available this spring for implementation in 2022-2027.

 

Student Testing Data Update

At our December 9th meeting, Assistant Superintendent Joanne Menard shared some information about Star Assessment and MCAS Data with the community. Reviewing and analyzing this kind of data helps us identify trends over time, compare our areas of strength and growth with other districts, and ensure we’re meeting the needs of all students. A great strength of the Holliston Public Schools is our teachers’ willingness and ability to provide rich, varied, innovative learning opportunities, as opposed to “teaching to the test.” Data analysis helps enhance and improve these opportunities. One interesting finding from the MCAS data was that in all grade levels, Holliston did better relative to state averages during the pandemic, showing that all of the hard work by the teachers and administrators to keep schools open last year paid off! While Covid has certainly had a negative impact on our students in many ways, test scores included, Holliston is fortunate to have sustained less of an impact than we saw with the state. Holliston has also begun giving the Star Math and Reading assessment three times a year to help identify areas of strength and needs for individual students. This will help inform instruction and plan interventions that may have increased due to the impact of COVID on our instructional models. We are fortunate to have so many tools at hand to help our students!

 

Collective Bargaining Agreement Status Update

As reported in fall of 2021, the Holliston School Committee reached a one-year retroactive agreement with the Holliston Federation of Teachers for 2020-2021 providing for a 2% cost of living adjustment paid retroactively for the 2020-2021 school year. The Holliston School Committee continues to work to reach an agreement for a successor, multi-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. Our mission is to promote the highest quality education for all students. 

A fact-finding session occurred on October 12, 2021. A non-binding decision from the fact-finder is now expected in February/March 2022. 

 

Holliston Public School Mask Requirement

Pursuant to an Emergency Order of the Holliston Board of Health, there is an indoor mask mandate for all indoor Holliston buildings, including businesses, municipals buildings, etc., effective January 6, 2022. This includes the schools. In addition, the School Committee’s mask mandate remains in effect until and unless it is rescinded by the committee or superseded by state mandate. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s   mask requirement remains in effect until February 28, 2022. The School Committee will revisit the Holliston Public School’s face covering policy at our February 17th  meeting. 

 

Budget Update

The Superintendent will provide the Holliston School Committee a recommended budget in February 2022. The Holliston School Committee will meet with the Holliston Finance Committee on March 22, 2022 to discuss the budget. A public hearing on the budget will occur on April 7, 2022. The FY22-23 budget will be voted on at town meeting which is scheduled for May 9, 2022.  

Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic on 2/5/22 from 9:00 - 11:00 a.m. at the Holliston Town Hall

The Holliston Board of Health has scheduled a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic for Ages 5 to 11 year olds (first or second shot) as well as boosters for 12+ on Saturday, February 5, 2022 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the Holliston Town Hall, 703 Washington Street

You must Preregister at https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/transformativehealth?calendar=e710308b-6c6f-41a8-9d2a-a894e0b46b64&fbclid=IwAR3SUhWb4E4_BwjPjCsKk45QenyfbEJDxxsOxWQ4ifVE02Hf-ZusFo_dnug

Event Sponsored by the Holliston Board of Health, Questions: call 508-429-0605

 

School Committee Members

 

Cynthia Listewnik, Chair                             ListewnikC@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Dawn Neborsky, Vice Chair                        NeborskyD@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Stacey Raffi                                              RaffiS@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Lisa Kocian                                                  KocianL@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Catherine Savard                                        SavardMC@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Minnie Gupta                                               GuptaM@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Amanda Bigelow                                          BigelowA@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

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  • Health

1.     When do the updated DPH/DESE Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios go into effect?

The updated DPH/DESE Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios were released on December 30, 2021 and were effective immediately. The protocols can be applied retroactively for people currently in isolation or quarantine. So, if an individual tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the date the updated guidance was released, they should now use the 5-day isolation or quarantine period and return to school once they have met certain conditions as outlined in the protocols.

 

2.     Can individuals returning from quarantine and isolation remove their masks to eat meals?

Per the updated protocols, individuals returning from a 5-day isolation and quarantine must mask for an additional 5 days when around others. Like individuals participating in Test & Stay, during meals, masks should only be removed when individuals are actively eating. Additionally, DESE recommends a physical distance of at least 3 feet while eating, as feasible. This means masks must be worn when individuals are waiting for meals or sitting at lunch tables after meals are finished.

 

3.     What is the definition of fully vaccinated as it relates to the eligibility for the updated isolation and quarantine guidance?

At this time, and as provided in the updated DPH/DESE Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios, fully vaccinated is still defined as two-weeks following the completion of the Pfizer or Moderna series or two-weeks following a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

 

Amendment to the Test & Stay Protocol

 

The Test and Stay duration has been amended from 7 days from the date of exposure to 5 days from the date of exposure. Close contacts can remain in school and do not have to quarantine, as long as they:

  • Are asymptomatic

  • Wear masks in school at all times, other than when eating or drinking. When these individuals cannot be masked (i.e., when eating or drinking) they should maintain 3 feet of distance from other individuals to the extent feasible.

  • Take a rapid antigen test (e.g., BinaxNOW) on each school day and receive a negative result. When the 5 days from date of exposure includes weekends or holidays, individuals should quarantine on weekends, and if they remain
    asymptomatic, upon return to school to school be tested immediately. If the
    individual remains negative, they can stay in school.

 

Testing Reminders

 

We've received a large number of questions regarding post-holiday testing and we would like to remind everyone of the approved testing protocols for the program:

  • Symptomatic Testing: for when individuals present symptoms while at school; (individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home)

  • Test and Stay: for asymptomatic in-school close contacts of individuals with confirmed COVID-19

  • Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing:  If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing with a second sample collection occurs at the school with BinaxNOW 

  • Routine COVID Pooled Testing and Lab-Based Follow-Up Testing: If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing occurs at the lab, without a second sample collection.  (Veritas or Broad Double Swab testing)

BinaxNOW tests may only be used for Test and Stay, Symptomatic Testing, and reflex tests after a positive pool. They are not approved for surveillance testing.

 

Co-ops and Internships

  • A student may attend their co-op or internship if they are a close contact and they are participating in Test and Stay. 

  • A student may NOT attend their co-op or internship if they are a close contact if they are NOT participating in Test and Stay.  Rather, they must quarantine.

  • If a student is participating in Test and Stay and cannot get tested at school, they can be provided an e-med test so that they can test prior to attending their co-op or internship. District should determine to whom the student should provide results.

  • Each school/district should establish disclosure protocols based on feedback with their legal team as the agreements between schools and co-op and internship programs may have specific requirements.  And, when in doubt, medical information should not be shared with a co-op. 

 

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns by reaching out to support@cic-health.com.