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Update from School Reopening Steering Committee

Dear parents, staff and members of the Newmarket Community-

The School Reopening Steering Committee synthesized the survey information collected from staff, students, and parents. Here is a summary of highpoints and themes from the responses collected. 

We thank those who took the time to complete the surveys - the data is one of many factors that will inform the plan for school this Fall in Newmarket.  A few important points as you review this summary.  The survey is a snapshot based on current conditions - answers will likely change with developments inside and outside our homes.  For example, the status of COVID-19 spread may change, for better or worse, as school approaches.  Reopening plans of other school districts and employers will likely emerge and change over the coming months, which will affect the ways our staff, students and parents can participate in school in Newmarket.  The New Hampshire Department of Education will issue guidelines over the summer as well.  In summary, the survey data is helpful, but please be mindful that there are many dynamic factors that will influence Newmarket’s plan for school - the safety of everyone in our learning community is paramount.

Parent Responses
Parents were asked, “If social distancing and other applicable health and safety measures were implemented, would you feel comfortable sending your child to school - yes/no?  563 responses were received (51% of all students) - 82% said yes, 18% said no.  

Regarding the broader survey, 351 parents responded.  The biggest concerns for parents overall are: 1) family stress; 2) ability to learn online; and 3) emotional health. Most parents were satisfied with communication (84%) and their students’ ability to participate in remote learning (75%). 

Open responses reflected a range of comments (praise, thoughts, and suggestions) regarding the following themes: Communication, Learning/Student Engagement, Social/Emotional Health, Technology, and Student Services.

Staff Responses
A total of 107 responses were received from school staff including teachers (69%), non-certified staff (29%), administration (2%).  As to whether staff felt comfortable returning to school if appropriate safety measures were implemented, 11.2% stated they were not at all comfortable returning, 22.4% were completely comfortable, and all others felt comfortable to some degree. 

Some staff (8%) expressed concern about how plans in other school districts where they live will affect ability to come into work (e.g., if their own district continues with remote learning or some hybrid, how will they support their children at home and teach or provide them with transportation).  Staff expressed concern about staff and students consistently practicing safety measures upon returning to school, but believe it is possible with some “out of the box” thinking.

Staff also said that they enjoyed collaborating with staff members, students, and parents, “seeing” students daily, learning new technological strategies and utilizing new platforms. 

Student Responses
A total of 176 (35%) responses were received from students in grades 6 through 12. Top concerns of students were: 1) people not practicing safety (distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, in and out of school); 2) getting or spreading virus to family members; 3) how to stay safe in halls and classrooms; and 4) fear of not returning to school. 

As to whether students felt stressed about returning to school if appropriate safety measures were implemented, 17.6% stated they were very stressed about returning, 27.8% were not stressed at all, and all others felt fell within these two end points. 

Students also noted that they enjoyed meeting via Google Meets with teachers and peers, having flexible work time schedules, and completing project-based learning assignments. 

Steering Committee
Nicole Benson, Kristina Cochran, David Dalton, Sarah Denham, Jen DeStefano, Susan Givens, Dave Jack, Mike Kenison, Joanne Lazarus, Erica MacNeil, Janna Mellon, Sean Pine, Debbie Roffo, Delaney Rosenberg, Sheana Thorell

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