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School Opening and Social and Emotional Learning

Dear parents, guardians, and members of the Newmarket community,

We hope that you have enjoyed your hiatus from the structure and hustle and bustle of school routines and are looking forward to having your children return to school.

Much planning and preparation has gone into making this a fantastic school year and we thought we would mention a few of these exciting things on the eve of school opening. As promised, I will also share the status of COVID transmission and the implications for protocols in our schools around indoor mask wearing.

Although supply chain issues have slowed down a few of our plans, we were still able to make progress on our lighting project at the JSHS and the classroom floor replacement project at the elementary school. We were also able to acquire and set up all staff and student technology devices. All 5th graders and 9th graders will receive a new Chromebook during the first week of school. In addition, we will roll out our new mobile laptop lab at the JSHS. These high-powered laptops will be used to support our new STEAM curriculum at the Middle school. 

Though the COVID pandemic continues to present challenges, the educational plan and related programming for the year is very different. Gone are the days of students and staff confined to one room for the day, temperature checks at the door, plexiglass between desks, mandatory masks outdoors, and limited co-curricular opportunities. To help support student wellness and mental health, we have designed our schedules to include a later start time, student advisories (9-12), dedicated SEL time (Prek-8), and soft starts to the school day at the elementary school. Our new schedules will allow us to implement tier one systems of support for all students.  All of these changes will create a more welcoming and supportive environment within our schools and classrooms this year.

At the town hall style parent meeting on Monday, some parents asked what curricular resources we use for Social Emotional Learning and Advisory. Here are some of the resources our district has used in recent years

          Choose Love   – Elementary/Middle school

          LEAD (Law Enforcement Against Drugs and Violence)
                                  Elementary - Too Good For Drugs
                                   Middle School – Social Perspectives

          Naviance – High School

Social Emotional learning programs help students develop the skills necessary to manage emotions in a healthy, productive manner, manage stress, establish and achieve goals, maintain positive relationships, and navigate challenges that students face both in and outside of school. These skills are essential for students to acquire as part of their learning experience in school.

Last, but not least, our school opening plan calls for optional mask wearing when COVID transmission is low to moderate for 14 days, positivity rates are under 10% or the percentage vaccinated is over 80% locally (Newmarket and Seacoast). At this time, transmission is high locally so universal mask wearing indoors will be required when we open school next week and will remain in place until conditions change in a favorable manner.  

We are ready to welcome students back to school and are looking forward to a great school year ahead.

Susan K. Givens, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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