In a letter to the school community, Supt. Anna Nolin gave voice to what the winter-weary and pandemic-tired populace are feeling—COVID fatigue is a thing. The results of an impatience to be done already with the highly contagious respiratory illness have been predictable: contact tracing has found that, as the pandemic stretches into 2021, Natick residents are adhering less to safety protocols such as social distancing.
“Cases this week stemmed from families holding larger gatherings or students being on upwards of three teams or more within the community,” Nolin said in the update.
Many families apparently are simply moving between too many pods—the friend pod, the school pod, the sports pod, the cousin pod. Contact tracing suggests that moving between so many pods has increased community spread, leading to an uptick in infections, and a need for quarantines. More on community metrics here.
Math and writing scores a concern
The challenges of remote and hybrid learning over the past year have begun to take their toll on students all over the country. In Natick, benchmark data suggests that math skills, especially across grades 5 – 8, must be addressed, as well as high school writing skills in grades 9 – 10. The downward trend has been concerning enough for educators to put together a new program with the goal of stemming further learning loss.
Select students will be invited to participate in the Natick Recover Learning Program. The intervention program will take place outside of regular school hours and target instruction to help students meet grade level and course requirements in order to reverse the trend of learning loss.
Funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, learning camps and workshops will be tied directly to school curriculum. The goal is to help those students struggling the most with daily coursework. Students must be referred by a teacher to participate.
The program will take place during February vacation week; on Saturdays; and during April vacation week.
Fun is still a thing
What about those things that make school fun, like school pictures, and Valentines Day? They’re still happening, but with the kind of twists necessary during such times.
At the elementary level, students will have the opportunity to smile pretty for the camera in February. School portrait sessions will be a strictly contact-less affair, with the photographer masked up, of course. Subjects will take off their masks only when they are at the photography station. Unfortunately, whole-class photos are out for this year, so those memories of everybody looking gangly and toothless together will have to be made during better times.
Showing the love
It’s not often that the Board of Health involves itself in Valentine’s Day, but this year nothing escapes their notice. The BOH and the Superintendent’s office has given the thumbs up for elementary classrooms to go forward with their traditional Valentine’s Day card exchanges, with just a couple of simple rules. Students may bring in cards only (no conversation hearts or any other food items), and the cards must be brought into school where they will sit for two days before students handle them.
Hey, you can’t hurry love.