September 24, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff Members,
The week of September 27- October 1, 2021, we will be celebrating Start With Hello week as part of our participation in the Sandy Hook Promise. Sandy Hook Promise is a national nonprofit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Based in Newtown, Connecticut, the intent is to honor all victims of violence by turning this tragedy into a moment of transformation. By empowering youth and uniting all people who value the protection of children, we take meaningful actions in schools, homes, and communities to prevent violence and stop the tragic loss of life. One strategy supported by this organization is to reduce social isolation of our youth through a community wide effort. We are pleased to be celebrating Start With Hello week.
Please see a list of district events and themed days below, including Walk to School Day on Wednesday, September 29th and Wear Green Day on Friday September 30th:
Monday, 9/27: Community Welcome Day Tuesday, 9/28: Talk to Someone New Day Wednesday, 9/29: Walk to School Day Thursday, 9/30: Compliment Day Friday, 10/1: Wear Green Day
For more information on how you can participate in Start With Hello week, please visit our district website at http://www.napsk12.org.
We have not had any new positive COVID-19 cases associated with our schools in the past week. We will continue to emphasize our mitigation strategies to effectively limit the spread of the virus in our schools. Mitigation strategies include the following:
Currently, students 12 years old and older can be vaccinated. If the student is under the age of 18, they must have a parent or guardian present to authorize the vaccination. Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can obtain vaccination appointments by calling the office (413-663-8365). Those who are not Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can of course still be vaccinated, these individuals can obtain a vaccination at any of the sites located throughout the state including the CVS pharmacy .
2. COVID Surveillance Testing
North Adams Public Schools has implemented a voluntary free weekly COVID-19 testing program to help keep our staff, students and community safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Regular COVID-19 testing of students and staff will help us lower the risk of the disease in our school by finding and isolating individuals who have COVID-19 quickly, even before, or if , they show symptoms. The weekly COVID-19 testing program is just another way we are striving to keep our school environment safe for everyone. Please provide consent for your child to participate in this valuable program. You need to provide an updated consent for this school year, even if your child participated in the testing program last year.
The consent form is available on the district website at https://www.napsk12.org/page/c....
3. Mask Wearing
Mask-wearing is an important evidence-based practice for reducing the risks of COVID-19 infection associated with the return to socially distanced, in-person learning. Mask-wearing is a critical habit for health as well as a commitment of caring for all school community members. Wearing masks can help minimize the chance that students contract the virus themselves or spread it to fellow students, staff members, and family members. Mask-wearing is one of the most important ways that every member of a school community shares responsibility for everyone’s health, safety, learning, and wellbeing.
4. Air ventilation
North Adams Public Schools has increased the frequency of routine maintenance of filters and completed an independent audit of our air quality systems. In areas where the HVAC system is not able to meet the air exchange rate recommended for the reduction of viral transmission or in classrooms without windows we have supplemented the existing system with portable air filtration units that also disinfect the air reducing the presence of viral particles. As the weather holds we encourage the use of open windows, mask breaks outside, and open windows for buses.
5. Disinfection and Personal hygiene
The district Facilities and Custodial staff have done an outstanding job disinfecting high touch areas and high use areas such as the cafeteria and gymnasium throughout the school day. In addition, the staff continue to use the disinfection technology and solution specific to the COVID-19 virus on a weekly basis. Students and staff are encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water whenever possible and protocols for hand sanitization use have been established at each school and in each classroom.
6. Staying home when sick!
Please keep your child home when they are ill, particularly if they present with COVID-19 symptoms
If you or your child develops any symptoms associated with COVID-19, it is important that you quarantine and schedule a test to confirm your illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills or shaking chills
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
In addition, if a student has any combination of the symptoms below please contact your child’s pediatrician regarding the potential of a COVID-19 infection:
Thank you and we hope each of you and your families remain healthy!
Dr. Barbara Malkas