February 24, 2021
Dear RPS Staff & Families,
As we return from the vacation break and transition into the final third of the school year, I wanted to inform staff and families that we have reconvened the RPS District Reopening Steering Committee. This leadership group consists of administrators, Rockland Education Association educators, members of the School Committee, the Rockland Town Manager, and the Town Health Agent. The goal of gathering this group together is to design and implement a safe plan to return students to full-time, in-person learning during the 2020-2021 school year.
The town of Rockland has experienced its fourth consecutive week of a decline in the number of positive cases. We are hopeful that we are moving in the right direction with a reduction in case activity, continued vaccine distribution, and warmer weather. Our current mitigation measures and district COVID testing program have effectively limited in-school transmission of the virus.
Three weeks ago, I asked staff and families for feedback on how they felt with the present safety protocols and whether they would feel safe if the physical distancing guidelines were reduced to three feet or less than three feet (see attached survey results). Two weeks ago, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published updated guidance entitled Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation. Yesterday, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced his goal to have more students return in-person learning in the coming months.
The RPS District Reopening Steering Committee met yesterday to refine its purpose, review district-wide and town positivity rates, review staff and family survey results, and discuss the pros and cons of a full-in person reopening of school this academic year. This committee will continue meeting over the next several weeks to discuss the feasibility of reopening schools across all grade levels. The committee will review the new guidance from the CDC, updated recommendations from the DESE, town-wide and district COVID data, and the district survey results to decide whether a full-in person reopening can be done safely.
Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey. I have attached a copy of the survey findings for your review. We will keep you updated on the progress of this committee’s work, and we encourage you to reach out with any questions or concerns. As we move forward we remind everyone to please continue to adhere to our mitigation strategies, including physical distancing, handwashing correctly, wearing masks, and staying home if you or someone in your household is not feeling well.
Alan H. Cron, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
34 MacKinlay Way
Rockland, Massachusetts 02370