Winter Hybrid Update #9

Good Morning, Reading Public School Staff and Community,

I hope that you are enjoying your February vacation break.  Here is Winter Hybrid Update #9.

  1. COVID-19 Cases-Here are the latest COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, including this vacation week.
    1. 4 RMHS students tested positive, all students were remote, so there were no close contacts.  None of the students were involved in athletics. 
    2. 1 RMHS staff member, who was remote, tested positive.  No close contacts.
    3. 1 Parker student who was remote, tested positive.  No close contacts.
    4. 3 Wood End staff tested positive.  It is likely that the all three were in school transmission from a student who did not have their mask on.  Six students and six staff were quarantined.
    5. 1 Barrows student tested positive and was in person.  As a result, 10 students and 1 staff member were quarantined.
    6. 1 Eaton student who was remote tested positive.  No close contacts.
    7. 2 district employees tested positive.  2 were quarantined.
  1. RMHS Hybrid Model Changes on Monday-Reading Memorial High School will begin an alpha split hybrid model for Grades 9-12, beginning on Monday.  The schedule for the next two weeks are as follows:
  • Week of February 22-25 – Grades 9-12 with last names A-L will be in person, M-Z will be remote
  • Week of Week of March 1-4 – Grades 9-12 with last names M-Z will be in person, A-L will be remote
  1. High School Fall 2 Season Begins on Monday, February 22ndThe Middlesex League Fall 2 Season will begin on Monday, February 22nd with Football, Cheer, Indoor Track, Volleyball, and Girls Swimming.  All students who participate in Fall 2 sports must be a part of the pooled testing program.  The link for a parent to give consent for their child to participate in pooled testing is located at https://bit.ly/3oXiiSa. In addition, the MIAA has updated their Fall 2 Sports modifications based on the latest state guidelines.  Those can be found at the links below.
  1. Turf Fields and Track-The MIAA made a conscious decision to move Football and Indoor Track to the Fall 2 season which runs from February 22nd to April 18th.  Because of the lack of indoor track facilities in the Middlesex League, indoor track competitions will be held outdoors.  Unfortunately, having those two sports begin in February in New England comes with some challenges, most notably, the accumulation of snow and ice on the track and turf fields.  The decision to open up and remove snow on the High School fields and track is an operations issue and is under the decision of the Superintendent of Schools.  In discussions with the Athletic Department, Facilities Department, DPW, and Town Manager, I have decided that we will not be clearing any snow off of the newly renovated Turf 2 throughout this season because any damage to that field would impact the warranty.  Although it is not advised, we will be looking at ways that we can safely remove the snow from the track and Turf 1.  Here are some of challenges that we face with the stadium track and turf field:
  • Turf 1 and the Track are now approaching 14 years old and are scheduled to be replaced in 2023.  Neither are under warranty.  There is funding in next year’s town capital plan for a track and field design, followed by a replacement track and field the following year.  Any damage done to the track and/or field would result in the shutting down of the track for this spring track season and/or the likelihood that the football field would not be playable for next fall.
  • In order for snow removal to occur on both the track and football field, the snow will need to be removed by a snow blower specifically designed for turf fields and tracks, not plowed.  This process will take much longer and would be more costly.  The approximate cost would be $5,000-10,000 per snow storm for snow blowing alone.  An additional cost would be incurred if the snow would need to be completely removed from the area.
  • During the snow removal process, because of conservation regulations, no snow can be blown near the wetlands located behind the visitors endzone and far sideline.  In addition, snow could not be blown onto the bleachers due to the increased likelihood of the bleachers being damaged due to the weight of the excess snow.  This means that there are limited areas where snow could be removed.
  • Last, and certainly not least, we are concerned about the increased risk of injury on a frozen turf field and less than ideal conditions on the track.  There is an increased chance of concussions and other injuries when the field surface is much harder than normal.

We are currently pursuing snow removal options which will minimize the risk of damage to the field, while maintaining as safe a playing surface as possible.  We will continue to monitor the Turf 1 conditions in the hope of being able to have the field cleared as soon as possible.

  1. Pooled Testing-We will begin our pooled testing program the week of February 22nd with High School Athletics and Extra-curricular and all PreK-12 Staff who have given consent.  During the week of March 1st, we will begin to phase in other students.  We are working closely with CIC Health as to the amount of support we will receive which will determined how we phase in additional students.  We will keep you informed of the process.  In the meantime, if you have not completed a consent form for you (if you are a staff member) or your child (ren), please complete the following link https://bit.ly/3oXiiSa.
  1. SEPAC Update-Please join the SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council) at our next business meeting on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 7:00 PM! New business for this meeting includes an update from our reading/literacy subcommittee and a brief presentation by Alice Gomez, School Psychologist, on community resources, followed by a parent discussion regarding the same. Please join us for this presentation and discussion and feel free to share any additional resources that you think other parents may find helpful.  All are welcome!  This meeting will be held virtually, via Zoom.  Meeting link: Join Zoom Meeting
  1. Food Distribution Resumes Next Week-This is a reminder that food distribution will resume next week under the bridge at Reading Memorial High School (near the field house) for all children.  The times will be on Wednesdays from 2:30-3:30 p.m. and Fridays from 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.  This is open to all families regardless if they are in their remote week or their in person week.  No identification is required.  This program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.

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