40 samoset rd, winchester, ma 01890

8/20/21 WPS Update

Dear Winchester Parents, Students, Faculty, and Staff,

The beginning of the 2021-2022 school year is nearly upon us!  It has been a summer filled with programs for students, professional development for teachers, bringing on new hires, and getting our schools and classrooms ready for students.  Our first day of school for students is Wednesday, September 1st, and we are opening with all reasonable precautions in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among our students, staff, and families. We are looking forward to welcoming our students, staff, and families back to our schools!  The Winchester School Community will undoubtedly embrace the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead, bolstered by what we have learned and stronger because of the resiliency that brought us through a challenging 2020-2021 school year.  

I am sure we all share the goal of a productive, healthy, and uninterrupted school year!  Keeping our adults and children healthy and in school will ensure that our students receive the academic, social-emotional, and well-rounded educational experience they need and deserve.  With that in mind, and as recommended by the CDC and other health organizations, the Winchester Public Schools (WPS) will begin the 2021-2022 school year utilizing multiple prevention strategies, including the following (not an exhaustive list): 

 
  • Universal indoor masking regardless of vaccination status for all students and employees PreK-12 as voted by the Winchester School Committee on August 10, 2021.  

    • Masks are not required while outdoors;

    • By federal public health order, masks are required on school buses;

  • Encouraging students to stay home and get tested when sick (a daily symptom checker will be provided);

  • Maximizing physical distancing for students and staff to the extent possible;* 

  • Supplementing our regular cleaning efforts with increased custodial staffing;

  • Identifying and notifying those who are a close contact to a COVID-19 positive case (within six feet for more than 15 minutes); 

  • Participation in the Massachusetts COVID-19 Testing Program, including implementation of the “Test and Stay” protocol that allows individuals who are identified as a close contact to a positive COVID-19 individual to remain in school if they test negative for five (5) consecutive days after exposure.  

 

* Teachers may return to pre-COVID-19 instructional practices in their classrooms, such as group work, materials sharing, and student movement. 

Updates from various organizations are coming at a brisk pace, including a press release issued earlier today from Education Commissioner Riley stating his intention to request authority from the Massachusetts Board of Education to mandate masking for the start of the school year.  We are closely monitoring all health and safety guidelines, as well as local transmission and vaccination data. Thank you for your patience as final determinations are made regarding the protocols and measures that will be in place for the start of school.  Please keep an eye out for additional communications from us over the next several days, including messages sent by school principals.