Good afternoon,

I apologize for sending the update a day later than usual. In this update, we have updates about:

  • Returning to 4 days

  • Critical COVID-19 rules

  • Sports update

  • Vaccines

  • Budget update

  • Free meals for all students

RETURN TO 4 DAYS

First, we will return students to a 4-day-per-week schedule on January 25, 2021. Wednesdays will continue to be a remote day for all students. This return to a 4-day-per-week schedule is for students who have been attending two days-per-week since our return from Winter Break. If your child has been a remote learner, they can continue as a remote learner.

If you plan to move your child from distance to in-school learning, the school requires at least three days notice to arrange for their return. And, as always, please remember that the instructional format (full remote/hybrid etc…) can change with little notice based on rates of infection in the schools or community, staffing, or directives from the Governor or Departments of Health or Education.

CRITICAL RULES REGARDING COVID-19

We have had 4 positive cases since the last Parent Update. Most of those who tested positive had already been quarantining, so we were fortunate to have had few close contacts identified in these cases. Please remember, if you or your child is identified as a close contact as defined by DPH, you will receive a personal phone call from us.

As we return to 4 days per week in school, it is more critical than ever that families and staff follow the established mitigation strategies. DPH has emphasized that all of us need to “double down” on mask-wearing due to the overall rates of infection and the addition of the new strain of COVID-19. The goal is for our students to remain at 4 days per week; however we must follow a few critical rules:

  • All students and staff must wear cloth face coverings that are over both nose and mouth at all times – this includes when being transported by buses

  • All staff and students who are waiting for test results must remain at home until they receive a negative PCR test result. A positive rapid test can be used to identify COVID-19, but a negative result must be from a PCR test, as recommended by DPH.

  • All students and staff who receive a positive test result – regardless of the type of test – must remain at home

  • All students and staff who are identified as close contacts or who travel to any state listed on the Connecticut Travel Advisory must quarantine for 14 days.  As previously stated, East Windsor is maintaining the 14 day quarantine at this point. This decision was made in conjunction with the health district and in an abundance of caution for the health and safety of students and staff.

  • All students and staff who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must remain at home and all are asked to inform the school nurse. Please try to provide accurate dates of symptom onset or testing as those help us determine who may be a close contact.

I realize that following these rules is getting harder to do the longer the pandemic goes on, however, we cannot let our guards down and risk increased exposure in school. The East Windsor School community has been working hard and doing a great job, we can keep doing it!

Please contact your school nurse if you have any questions.

SPORTS UPDATE

The CIAC sent guidelines for districts regarding winter sports last week. East Windsor High School and East Windsor Middle School will begin on Monday, January 25. This date is for indoor track at EWHS and both boys and girls basketball for EWHS and EWMS. Any students who are interested must sign up on Family ID at https://www.familyid.com/east-windor-high-school-athletics.  Additional information about practice times and schedules will be on the EWHS Athletics page of our website.

Students must attend school in-person to participate in sports. Last week’s update included additional information about why that decision was made.

As we did in the fall, we will not host spectators at either EWHS or EWMS. We do not have the physical space to have spectators and players in the bleachers to maintain the spacing mandated by CIAC. We are also following CIAC’s position that fans should not be allowed for contests or practices.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. We are working on ways to share access to the competitions and I will provide additional information if that becomes available.

Please contact Steve Burndrett, our Athletic Facilitator at sburndrett@ewct.orf with any questions.

VACCINES

We have been informed that vaccination clinics for school staff have been moved to a later time period within the current round of vaccinations. The focus is currently on those age 75 or older.

That said, we are still coordinating the plan for vaccinating school staff so that we are ready when it is time. The vaccination roll-out may require one or two days of remote learning so please continue to have a back up plan should that occur. My goal is to provide as much notice as possible when the vaccinations will be available for school staff, but I’d like to give you a “heads up” now for planning purposes.  We do not yet have a date.

BUDGET UPDATE

This is the time of year when the first version of the budget is created. At this point, it is referred to as the Superintendent’s Budget because it is created by the Superintendent and building administrators, identifying what staff, materials, and programs we believe should be included for next year.

Some of the things that we consider are:

    • numbers of teachers needed based on student needs, which can also include extra help (such as math or reading intervention)

  • class size

  • new classes required by the Department of Education

  • replacing old materials

  • what materials/supplies are needed to keep our buildings clean and safe, and what supplies our nurses need to meet the health and wellness needs of our students

We also have to review our technology. This includes our physical computers for sure, but also the software we use, the licensing for programs that allow us to keep track of state and federally required student data, create student schedules, allow online payment for meals, and keep our computer systems and networks running well and secured. And these are only some of the items.

We also consider the special education needs of our students. The need to provide these services is based in federal law and are mandated. This can include special books, computer-based programs, special equipment to help students function in the building. It may also include additional staff, or all the way to tuition at schools designed to meet highly specialized needs. Some of these items cost very little (such as books). Others can cost more than $100,000 if we are paying tuition for required services.

We also look at what programs and classes our students and families value and enjoy. This includes our athletic program, afterschool clubs, certain elective courses such as Baking and Automotive, or higher level classes at EWMS such as Math O and Performance Lit.

Just like in your homes, we also have to budget for utilities, insurance, transportation, and paper goods like paper towels. Some of the items we have to include are determined from contracts, such as the cost of our busing and snow plowing, as well as salaries for our staff.

Once all of those factors are determined, the Superintendent’s budget will be presented at a Public Hearing on February 2, along with the First Selectman’s budget. The Superintendent’s budget represents the plan that administrators believe is needed for our district to run and for us to meet the needs of our students. The Public Hearing will give community members and other stakeholders information to use so you can make suggestions to the Board of Education about the budget. A calendar of public hearings and workshops, when the BOE hears specific needs from each department, will be posted on the EWPS website.

I will continue to provide information about the budget process in each of the Parent Updates, so please feel free to email me questions.

FREE MEALS

Just a reminder that East Windsor Public Schools provides free breakfast and lunch to all of our students – even those doing remote learning!  Please encourage your child to get a free meal and to try something new from the menu.  We also have meals available for those who are on remote learning days. They are available each morning at the schools – parents with students at more than one building can pick up at one school. Please contact Greg Powers, Food Service Director at gpowers@ewct.org with any questions.

All the best,

Christine