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District Health Report, Start Strong Clarification, and FAQs, Part 11

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Good Evening Secaucus Families,

 

I hope everyone is doing well and looking forward to the mid-winter break next week! Our district COVID-19 cases have remained very low this week, as the state's positive cases continue to decrease to pre-Thanksgiving levels. 

The number of positive cases in our district is as follows:

 
  • High School:  1 staff member 
  • Middle School:  0 student 
  • Huber Street School: 1 student
  • Clarendon School: 1 staff member, 1 student
  • Millridge School: 0

 

These 4 district cases bring our district total to 371 positive COVID-19 cases for the school year. 

This, in combination with the data from the staff and parent surveys, and the guidance from our health officials, has resulted in our transition to a “mask-optional” stance starting on March 7th. Please review the updated Safe Return Plan on the website for more information. 

 

I would like to clarify some points of confusion about our Start Strong Assessment results that were shown to the public at last night’s board meeting. There has been chatter on social media about how the district is “failing our kids” and how the “mandates” we “choose” to follow are causing our children to do poorly in school. I want to reiterate what was said yesterday about the results of this assessment. The Start Strong Assessment is NOT a summative assessment of student learning following a period of instruction. It is a much shorter test and does not cover the full breadth and depth of the NJSLS; nor does it include all of the same item types as the statewide summative assessment, the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA), which students will be taking in the Spring.  The Start Strong Assessment produces classroom-level information as a standards-based complement to the resources used locally to evaluate the needs of students. Just because the results indicate that some students are in need of additional support in subject areas, does NOT mean that they are failing and the district is not doing its job in educating them. There are many districts facing similar challenges and although that is not an excuse, it is where we currently stand and we will continue to work to improve and research best practices. More information on how the district is specifically addressing our student needs will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

 

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, the Parent Communication Form is open and can be accessed here: https://forms.gle/wFy9mQYpd1HdzRuk7. I, as always, encourage all parents and community members to reach out to us before going to social media for answers that may not always be accurate. Please enjoy the following FAQs, Part 11, based on the questions that are received in this form. 

 

Thank you, enjoy the week off, and stay safe!

 

Dr. Daniela Riser

Acting Superintendent

 

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Frequently Asked Questions, Part 11

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Our Parent Communication Form is still open! If there are any questions you would like to ask the district administration, please visit this link to ask: https://forms.gle/Xcx1QzgPN52JFH6DA

 

Q: I’m very concerned about my child being safe when masks become optional. What can I do to assure that they are safe in school?

 

A: Although our school district is transitioning to a “mask-optional” stance on March 7th, students will still be able to wear their masks to school. If you are concerned about your child not potentially being exposed to COVID while in our school buildings, please speak to them about the proper ways to wear masks, how important it is to you for them to wear a mask, and provide them with an N-95 or KN-95 (or similar) mask for them to wear while in school. We will still be employing the social distancing rules in our classrooms and ensuring that our facilities are cleaned and disinfected as per our extended COVID cleaning schedules that were put in place when school resumed during the pandemic. 

 

Q: How do I update my contact information in the parent  portal?

 

A:  Good question! Please contact your child’s school office to update your parent portal information. They will guide you through it. 

 

Q: I was very upset by my child’s “Start Strong” results. What can I, as a parent, do to help them?

 

A: Please know that we are aware of how concerned parents are with these “Start Strong” scores. These assessments were NOT meant to determine if your child is “failing” in school. They are meant to give parents some information about if their children need additional support this school year. Also, they are informing our district on what areas we will need to assist our students in going forward. Just because a student received a report with “strong support needed” does NOT mean that your child has “failed” the assessment. These tests are not a requirement for students and do not “count” on their transcripts as a standardized assessment. Future programming to support our students is based on many factors, including the results of these reports. Please rest assured that we will make every effort to ensure your child/children are receiving the best possible education and support to succeed. 

 

Q: If masks become optional, what happens if cases in school do rise?

 

A: Although masks will become optional in our district starting on March 7th, we maintain the authority to re-impose that district mandate if cases rise and our local health officials determine that mask wearing should again be mandatory.

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