COVID-19 Community Update #1 – March 12, 2020

The Pittsfield School District leadership team has been monitoring the rapidly changing pandemic status regularly since we’ve returned to school from our February break.  Our priority at this time is focused on the safety and well-being of our students and staff.  We are communicating with you at this time to advise you of actions that we have taken and are planning to take in response to COVID-19.

1 – Actions Taken.  Since we’ve returned from February break, we have communicated CDC recommendations to Pittsfield families, have held two meetings of our standing Emergency Management Team to review protocols and needs, held conversations with other school leaders in our area, and participated in weekly phone consultations conducted by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, among others.

2 – Cleaning.  We have altered our nightly cleaning in the schools to include additional sanitizing, prioritizing frequently touched surfaces.

3 – Communications.  We are planning to issue communications to our community twice each week, on Monday’s and Thursday’s, beginning today.  We ask that you let us know of your concerns and suggestions as we move forward.

4 – Criteria for Large Group Gatherings.  Effective at the end of the school day tomorrow, Friday, March 13, we will terminate:

  • All gatherings within the schools that involve members of the public;
  • All hosted events within the schools;
  • All gatherings of more than 100 individuals;
  • All field trips.

5 – Food Service.  Café Services has initiated new protocols for serving and sanitizing to ensure the safest possible dining environment.

6 – Free / Reduced Price Meals.  We are exploring the possibility of continuing to provide free and reduced price meals to qualifying students in the event of a school closing; we expect to have more information soon.

7 – Home Instruction Plans.  We are working with our teachers to prepare home instruction plans in the event of a school closing.  The guidelines for these plans include:

  • No new content;
  • Opportunities for skill-building and practice;
  • Plans will not replace instruction.

We will not be using “blizzard bags” to substitute for school closing days.  The state’s criteria for these bags include the requirements that “academic work must be equivalent in effort and rigor to typical classroom work” and that “at least 80 percent of students and teachers must participate for the day to count as a school day.”  We don’t believe that we can meet these (and other) requirements.

Teachers will be preparing materials for students, which may be available either electronically or via pick-up at the schools.  More detailed information will, of course, be provided if we need to exercise this option.

8 – Term of This Plan.  This plan may be modified at any time, but otherwise will be in effect from the close of school tomorrow, Friday, March 13, through the close of school on Friday, April 3.

9 – Work Plans.  School offices – both administrators and office staff – will be working during any closing; other personnel will either be working on alternative schedules or will not be working in the schools at all.

Next Steps.  In addition to the actions noted above:

  • Daily bus service to the CRTC will continue unless action is taken to curtail programs by the Concord School District;
  • We will be conducting a survey of families to determine the level of internet service / device availability that exists at home for our students;
  • Our Emergency Management Team met again today and will continue to meet regularly to monitor our planning, response, infection control, and continuation of education;
  • We will be reaching out to our Pittsfield Homeland Security Director to collaborate where this may be advisable;
  • We are reaching out to special services directors in the state to determine potential actions to support special needs students during a school closing;
  • You are encouraged to consult with the CDC website for additional guidance.

We thank you for your understanding and support during the pandemic; we wish you the best for good health and safety.