At the November 2 School Committee Meeting there was a presentation of Student Excellence awards, a discussion of Police and Needham Public Schools, and a Health & Safety Update.
School Committee updates
Connie Barr provided an update on the Emery Grover project. Design funds have been approved by the Town and planning for the Emery Grover Renovation will move forward. Dr. Barr expressed appreciation to Town Meeting for approving the article, as well as to the many board members and town employees who helped in the process.
Needham High School seniors, Talia Bloom and Santiago Galan, received the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Academic Excellence Award.
Memorandum of Understanding between the Needham Police Department and Needham Public Schools
School Resource Officer R.J. Poirier introduced SC members to Rocket, the police dog, and then Chief John Schlittler joined Dr. Gutekanst to present highlights of the MOA and answer questions. (Presentation Powerpoint can be found on 30-33 of SC November 2 packet)
A revised memorandum of understanding which reflects updated laws was presented at the meeting. The purpose for this memorandum is to clarify the purpose of the partnership and to promote a positive school environment. A lengthy discussion took place regarding the importance of Student Resource Officers and how everyone works together to de-escalate situations and create positive working environments.
In addition, school resource officers present information on armed intruders drills to lessen fears. All of the presentations are age-appropriate.
School Resource Officers participate in all anti-bias, diversity training and restorative justice circles with the Needham Police Department. The police chief expressed his willingness to work with the community for the well-being of students and emphasized that School Resource Officers work to resolve student cases with diversion programs. The purpose is to avoid courts and partner with community service programs and/or restorative justice circles.
Update on Health & Safety
The Joint Committee on Health and Safety continues to meet and maintain data. Over 92 percent of families complete the daily attestation and over 90 percent of staff completed attestation. Dr. Gutekanst encouraged all families to assess their children and then complete the form prior to leaving home.
Beginning November 9th, certain essential visitors (parents, consultants) will be allowed into school during the day after attestation. This is only for critical meetings.
The state mask requirement is extended until January 15th 2022. The Superintendent wishes to move towards a mask-optional/mask-friendly environment as soon as circumstances allow.
Needham will host vaccine clinics for 5-11 year olds.
On November 9th at 5:30pm , a zoom Family Health & Safety Open House is scheduled to discuss Health and Safety Updates.
The next School Committee Meeting is scheduled for November 16, 2021.