Superintendent’s Update from Sept. 3

It has been a wonderful start to the new school year!  I have been able to visit every school–many on the first day students returned–and have seen so much excitement and energy.  On Thursday we finally had all students back in our halls when the preschool and Kindergarten students arrived for their first day.  We love the beginning of every new school year, but it is extra special for all of us this year, of course. 

An extremely important discussion that is taking place this year is the potential for Amherst sixth grade students to move from the elementary schools to Amherst Regional Middle School. Last year, the Amherst School Committee voted to explore the option, and on August 31, the Committee had a formal, public discussion that was informed by the presentation available here: Sixth Grade Potential Move to Middle School.  We are dedicated to gathering stakeholder feedback and input as this potential move is considered.  To that end, after viewing the presentation, please complete the survey available here to share your thoughts and ideas.
Reminder:  No Unscheduled Visitors in the Buildings
One of the safety protocols in place this year to help reduce the risk of COVID spread is a “no visitors” practice in all school buildings.  Other than students and staff, no one will be buzzed into the buildings unless they have a pre-arranged meeting scheduled that cannot be done remotely or outdoors. If you need to drop something off for your student or need to speak with someone in your school or Central Office, you will be asked to wait at the door until a staff member can meet you outside.  Details about this practice, along with the other safety protocols in place this school year, can be found in the Fall Health and Safety Protocols document that was emailed to all families prior to the start of school.
Bus and Van Drivers Needed!
This year there is a state-wide shortage of van and bus drivers, and our district is in dire need of additional drivers. If you are interested in applying, or know someone who is, please email  Those with experience are encouraged to apply, but the district will provide training and support to obtain the required licenses for those who would be new to the positions.

Important COVID Information 

Notifying the School about Positive COVID Testing or Close Contact
The state has issued a helpful flowchart illustrating the steps to take in case of a positive COVID diagnosis or close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID.  If anyone in your household is diagnosed with COVID, or your child has been a close contact with someone else diagnosed with COVID, please notify your school nurse or your school Principal ASAP.  ARHS School nurses can be reached at the following numbers: Robbin Suprenant 362-1743 Mary O’Brien 362-1744.
Positive COVID Cases Dashboard
The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to publish a dashboard of all positive cases of COVID in schools this year.  We will share the link to that site as soon as it is up and running and will rely on it to share our data with the community.  Until that time, the district has developed our own COVID Dashboard where you can check on a daily basis to see if there have been any confirmed COVID cases in our district.  
Unacceptable Types of Masks
Please remember that there are three types of masks that are not acceptable in the ARPS schools:  bandannas, gaiters, and any type of mask with a valve.  
COVID Testing 
Testing for COVID is an important part of reducing its spread. We are working with the state to set-up a testing program in the schools and expect to have more information next week.  In the meantime, UMass Amherst provides free COVID testing for community members who do not have symptoms of COVID and are aged 4 and over. People can visit the Public Health Promotion Center for walk-in testing or to pick up a testing kit and drop it off in a campus kiosk. The Public Health Promotion Center is on the first floor of the Campus Center of UMass Amherst. Take the elevator or escalator to the first floor and follow the signs. Walk-in hours are Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Fridays 9:00 a.m. to noon.  More information about the COVID testing program at UMass Amherst is available at and a campus map can be found at
2021-2022  Community Building Award Recipients
At our convocation for all staff last Friday, the names of this year’s Community Building Awards recipients were announced.   We are so proud to share that the recipients this year are Lani Blechman, Fort River librarian; Michael Gallo-O’Connell, Food Services Director; and Violeta Hernandez-Duran, ARHS paraeducator and interpreter.  The Community Building Award qualifications state “The ARPS Community-Building Award will recognize employees of the Amherst, Pelham and Regional Public Schools who have helped to foster a sense of belonging among students and who have helped to build bridges of understanding and acceptance among them.  These individuals make a difference for students by countering prejudice and isolation, supporting community and promoting inclusion.”  Nominated by their peers, students or ARPS families, these recipients embody those qualities in the work they do on behalf of our students.  
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