Superintendent's Update: September 10, 2021
The communication below provides important information from the Public Schools of Brookline. Translated versions are available at the following links:
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Greetings PSB Families and Staff,
I’m excited to present to you this week’s update! I also want to wish the Jewish families and staff in our community “g’mar chatima tovah” for Yom Kippur next week.
In today’s Community Update, you will learn more about our new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff, our Spotlight on Excellence, and some important updates from PSB departments.
Finally, in light of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks tomorrow, I want to encourage you to reach out and check in on your neighbors and community members. The effects of the tragedy that day extend beyond the lives we lost; increased security measures at airports, ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, and discrimination towards the Muslim community remind us that the consequences of September 11 persist today.
I will reiterate again that the work we do is not easy. Yet I have seen many great things done when our community is united. Just as all of us came to heal together twenty years ago, so too must we come together to heal now and to treat our community more compassionately and gently in these difficult times. It is only by increasing our understanding and respect for one another that we can create a safe, healthy, and culturally responsive environment for our students, staff, and community.
I wish all of you a wonderful weekend,
COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies Update
- Vaccine Mandate for Staff: Yesterday, the Brookline School Committee made significant strides towards implementing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff. In consultation with the Brookline Educators Union (BEU) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), this policy will require all PSB staff to present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and maintain full vaccination as a condition of employment. In addition, any PSB staff who are not vaccinated due to a documented medical or religious exemption must provide continuing proof of three weekly negative COVID-19 viral test results to the School Health Services every school week as a condition of employment.
PSB School Health Services and Human Resources will provide more information over the next few weeks. Please note that PSB staff who do not have an approved medical or religious exemption must demonstrate that they are fully vaccinated by November 1, 2021. Staff who cannot demonstrate full vaccination by the date of implementation of this policy must submit the first of three weekly COVID-19 viral test results by September 20, 2021, and must submit COVID-19 viral test results in accordance with this policy every school week thereafter. Any information or updates regarding this matter will be published on the PSB website. You can review the School Committee’s statement from last night here.
- Reporting Positive Cases and Close Contacts: Last week, PSB reported 4 positive COVID-19 cases and 11 close contacts in our schools. It is imperative that everyone in our community takes good care of themselves and their families to keep our schools safe and healthy. The Student Health Services Team wants to highlight three personal habits you and your students should continue to practice:
- Wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status, especially if you are with others.
- Complete the health attestation/testing consent form (one-time submission).
- Stay home if you or your family are sick/exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
Welcome, New Staff and Educators!
For the 2021-22 school year, PSB welcomed over 140 new educators to our community. We are incredibly proud of the dedication, thoughtfulness, and excitement our new educators bring to the upcoming school year. At the School Committee Meeting yesterday, PSB also announced a number of new school-based and central office administrators to the PSB team and others who will be stepping into new leadership roles for the 2021-22 school year. Learn more about our new staff here!
Spotlight on Excellence
I am very pleased to be starting a new tradition at School Committee meetings for the 2021-22 school year: The Spotlight on Excellence. The Spotlight on Excellence will shine a light on just some of the many academic, athletic, and cultural achievements of our students and staff. We will honor students and/or staff with the Spotlight on Excellence award at every meeting as a way to showcase amazing student and staff achievements across the school district.
This week’s spotlight featured five Brookline High School seniors who have been named Semifinalists in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Competition. The National Merit Scholarship Program is a rigorous national program that recognizes students with outstanding scores on the SAT qualifying test. Only 1/3 of the 50,000 highest-scoring students who take the qualifying test are selected as semifinalists, and they are among the highest-scoring students in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We extend our best wishes to Jade Blais-Ellis, Lilia Burtonpatel, Marlyn Li, Dhruva Schlondorff, and Thomasin Schmults for their wonderful achievements. Congratulations!
PSB Department Updates
- Office of Teaching and Learning: Per the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), MCAS results will be made publicly available on Tuesday, September 21, with parent/guardian reports delivered directly to districts shortly after. We anticipate that individual student MCAS reports will be physically mailed to you from PSB beginning in October.
- Office of Strategy and Performance: Please take a moment to review all of the information contained in the Back to School Packet, including the contact and consent information process. Accurate information helps us communicate with you about school information, progress reports, and when necessary, in emergency situations. If you have any updates or changes, including your consent with regards to shared information with non-PSB organizations such as the Brookline Town Library, school Parent/Teacher Organizations, and the Brookline Education Foundation, please complete them through the Parent Portal by tonight if possible.
- Office of Educational Equity: We are excited to unveil our new PSB Educational Equity Website which can also be found as a section in the PSB Homepage under the "District" tab. The website will continue to expand over time including three additional sections later this month ( Diversity Hiring, Social Justice, and LGBTQIA+). This website is a school and community resource which you will find stacked with materials and information parents/guardians, students, and educators can use for personal study and in your learning with one another. Please feel free to reach out to Jenee Uttaro, Senior Director of Equity, if you have recommendations or questions.