Superintendent’s Update – January 15, 2021

Dear Malden Public Schools Families,

We are excited to update you on our plans to begin in-person instruction in Malden Public Schools once again.

On Tuesday, January 19 at 6:00 PM, MPS will host a community forum to discuss the timeline and details of reopening our schools for in-person teaching and learning. We invite you to participate in this virtual event:

Zoom Meeting Link
Enter Passcode: 286750
Join by Phone (audio only):
Webinar ID: 988 4732 4731

Also on January 19, a MPS Reopening Survey will be sent to all MPS families. We encourage you to share your thoughts with the district through this survey.

At this time, the district plans to welcome our high-needs students for in-person instruction on Tuesday. On Monday, January 25, our grades PreK-2 staff will return to our buildings, with PreK-2 students beginning a hybrid learning model Monday, February 1.

The health and safety of our students, staff, and families remains our top priority. We are following sound protocols aligned with expert health guidance. A summary of Frequently Asked Questions is available on the MPS website at

We recognize that this return to learning comes on the heels of historic and troubling events within our nation. The violence in the U.S. Capitol building last week occured at a time when our students, staff, and families are already shouldering the educational, economic, and health impacts of COVID-19. This global pandemic has separated us from one another at a time when we desperately need to come together and when our students especially need to feel safe.

Despite these challenges, we continue to address the academic, social, and emotional learning needs of all Malden students. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for every student we serve is unwavering.

To support these efforts, we would like to share a few resources:
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) – Talking To Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
Annenberg Classroom – Understanding Democracy: A Hip Pocket Guide
PBS NewsHour Extra – Facing History and Ourselves
University of Michigan – Guidelines for Discussing Difficult or High-Stakes Topics

I ask for your continued support as we work to create safe and inclusive spaces for children to ask questions, demonstrate empathy in their interactions with others, and develop a variety of opinions and perspectives. Likewise, your support for our collaborative efforts—such as the Massachusetts Partnership for Diversity in Education—to increase diversity in our schools is much appreciated.

On Monday, January 18, there will be no school as we commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in our community and across the country. More than just a day off, MLK Day is the only federal holiday officially designated as a “day of service” for Americans. To that end, MPS encourages our students and families to find opportunities to volunteer and make an impact in the community on Monday.

While the COVID-19 pandemic limits the number of in-person activities in which we can engage, there are still ways you can make a difference. Consider the following:

Make a donation to or serve at a local food bank.
Donate blood, which is much needed during the pandemic.
Serve as a virtual tutor to other students nationwide.
Order or donate to a local business that may be struggling due to COVID-19.
Check out volunteer opportunities available through the United Way or by visiting

These are just a few ideas for your day of service. While MLK Day is a great chance to get started with your volunteering efforts, it can also be a springboard that leads to regular community service throughout the year!

Please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s school or contact me directly with any questions or concerns. We also encourage you to visit the MPS Reopening Schools web page, at, for more information.

Thank you for your continued support of our students and teachers during these challenging times.



John Oteri

Mental Well-Being Letter

Dear MPS Parents & Caregivers,

Teenage years can be marked by a roller-coaster ride of emotions – rewarding and challenging for our students, their parents & guardians, and educators. It can be easy to misread mental health issues as typical adolescent turmoil. Depression and anxiety (among the most common
of mental illnesses) appears to be occurring at earlier ages, and can significantly decrease your student’s ability to problem solve and maintain healthy relationships, which may lead to self-injury and/or substance abuse.

Due to the current global pandemic and our remote learning status, there may be an increase in mental health struggles among students, as noted recently by the MA Commissioner of Education, Jeff Reilly, in a memo to the Board of Education. The holiday season, while joyful for many, may cause feelings of loneliness or sadness for others. Consider taking the time to discuss the importance of mental health with your student(s), and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to your student’s school counselors, principals and social workers during the school day. It can be difficult to have these tough conversations, but they are important.

If you are concerned in any way about your student and their possible risk for depression, anxiety or self-injury, we encourage you to speak with your child, and follow up with a mental health professional for a complete evaluation. Linked in this letter, you will find a list of greater community resources specializing in helping people of all ages surrounding mental health, as well as other potential emergency need topics. Likewise, you may visit our MPS Family Resources hub for academic, technology or social/emotional support resources at any time, as well as the MA state website for maintaining emotional well-being during these unusual times.

We wish you all a happy and safe winter break.

John Oteri, Superintendent of Schools

Return to School Timeline

Dear Malden Public Schools Families,

I hope this communication finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe.  I am writing today to share some important news.  The following return to school timeline was proposed by the School Committee and agreed upon by the Joint Labor Management Committee.  This is an important step in our safe return to school.

For now, it is essential that you have the following dates so that you can plan accordingly. Before January 15, we will send out a more detailed communication, including scheduling and logistics, to help provide you with all the information you need to decide what is best for your student and family.

Dates Actions
January 4 -January 15 Remote instruction weeks for all high needs students and staff who are currently engaged in in-person learning.
January 19 High needs staff and students return to in-person learning
January 25 PreK through Grade 2 staff, and staff who service PreK through Grade 2 students return to buildings in-person to prepare for hybrid in-person learning.
February 1 Optional (families choose) hybrid in-person learning begins for students in PreK through grade 2

We are grateful for your patience, cooperation, and partnership.  We hope that you have a healthy, restful holiday season and break, and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

John Oteri


Superintendent’s Message to Families: Tech and Packet Update

Week 2 Packet Update

Dear PreK-4 Malden Public School Families,

The good news is that our technology is starting to come in! We have received enough
Chromebooks to distribute to the ELC and Grade 4 – and we are working on completing
additional grade levels as devices arrive. The tech department is working non-stop to get
devices out as fast as possible, but in the meantime, we do have a need to distribute paper packets for the week of September 28th – October 2nd.

For this round, we have created packets for PreK through Grade 4. Having all of these grades will help as we transition to devices grade by grade throughout the week.

All PreK – Grade 4 families will be able to pick up paper packets on Friday, September 25. In addition, ELC and Grade 4 students will be able to pick up devices on Friday. Using
the packets as we make the transition will help teachers as they assist families who are
accessing the technology for the first time. In other words, students in PreK and Grade 4 will be logging on, but they will also have the necessary hard copy materials to refer to as well. We understand that families may struggle with getting the technology running for the first time; we anticipate a busy family help desk on Monday morning. We’ve all been there, and your patience is even more appreciated during this transition.

For those who prefer to access materials online, we will post links to the PreK-4 packets on our website on Monday morning ( ). You can also access our Family Help Desk on our website.

New for this Round
We had a bit more lead time and we were able to incorporate your feedback into the creation of packets this week. There is one packet for each grade level. For Grades 1-4, the pages are numbered, and a cover sheet separates one section from the next so that you may be able to quickly find the material you need.

We look forward to updating you about progress on our Chromebook distribution and will be in touch as soon as we have additional information to share.

Superintendent’s Letter to Families

Greetings Malden Public School Families,

We hope that this letter finds you well and ready to begin the school year. We begin our classes remotely, tomorrow, in all our schools. We want to update and remind you of a number of items for the upcoming school year.

School Calendar:
We have a new school calendar (HERE 2020-21 School Calendar) for this year. Classes for students begin on September 16. Since Commissioner Riley reduced the number of school days to 170, we will end the year on June 16 (the 170th day of school), barring any days that school is cancelled. There are four professional Development Days during the school year where there is no school. Those days are: November 3, February 12, March 12 and June 17.

Remote Learning:
As we announced last night at the School Committee meeting, we have an agreement in place with the Malden Education Association and we will begin with highest needs students attending school in-person on October 13. Teachers will begin remote teaching on September 16. All of our students in grades 5-12 have been issued a Chromebook and will be able to join their classes online tomorrow.

For our students in grades Pre K through 4, we are awaiting the delivery of our Chromebooks. Once we have the devices, we will set up a deployment plan to get them to you as soon as possible. This delay was out of our control and we are working diligently to secure Chromebooks as fast as we can.

In place of computers for Pre K-4, we have had paper packets printed that will be available for pick up at any K-8 school and at the ELC. You can pick up the packet beginning tomorrow at your own school or at the school closest to where you live. Teachers in grades PreK through 4 will be setting up meetings with your families both online and by phone. We will use the paper packet as the guide while we await our computer delivery. Families will also be able to access the packet materials on our website starting on Wednesday.

For our Pre K-4 families, we know that this is a particularly confusing and stressful time. Our teachers have been provided time to reach out to families over the past ten days to introduce themselves and welcome you to their class. Tomorrow, teachers will be asked to follow their building-based schedule. They will set up Google meets that can be accessed through a device or through a call-in feature. Teachers and building teams will follow up with families who are unable to connect by device or phone call-in feature. Our goal for tomorrow is to ensure that we connect with every family.

K-4 Curriculum Packet:
The K-4 Curriculum Packet is a large packet that has the following parts:
ESL – These are short activities that can be used for our English Language Learners in addition to the content areas.
Exploratory – These are art activities that can be enjoyed by all learners.
Science – The science pages are organized/labeled by grade level, starting with Kindergarten.
Social Studies – The social studies pages are organized/labeled by grade level, starting with Kindergarten.
Math – The math pages are organized/labeled by grade level, starting with Kindergarten.
Social Emotional Activities (SEL) – These are activities for all learners.
Physical Education – These are activities that are good for all ages.
Literacy – Literacy is a separate handout.

ALL K-5 activities are included in this packet. If you need a little practice, you can use the grade level below. If you need a challenge, you can use materials for the grade level above. Your teacher will help you work with the right materials.

Here are two ways you can organize yourself:
1. Pull the packet apart; separate each subject area so that you have one group for math, one for social studies, etc. You can then select the materials that belong to your grade level.
2. If you don’t want to separate the sections of your packet, use a sticky note / post-it to mark where your grade level subjects begin.

Your teacher will talk to you more about your packet of materials when you talk to them this

Breakfast and Lunch:
Starting on Wednesday, September 16, free breakfast and lunch for ALL students will be available for pick-up from 10:30 am – 1:00 pm at Forestdale, Beebe, Ferryway, Salemwood, Malden High School and Linden STEAM Academy. Students and families can pick up their food at any of these locations which is most convenient for them. We hope this will ease the burden of providing meals for families while students are in the remote learning mode. We encourage any and all families to pick a free breakfast and lunch.

Multilingual Help Desk:
We have set up an external Multilingual Help Desk support team to help families with tech questions. You will notice on all of our school websites there will be a phone number and a live chat box that families can use to connect with tech support. The chat box will only show up on the website if there is a live agent available to connect with them. The agent will be “live” on Wednesday, September 16, 7AM-7PM and available Monday through Friday.

This service is exclusively for families for Chromebook support. Translation services are available as a part of the program. This is specifically for families to help with their remote learning. The Helpdesk will assist parents navigate resources and navigate issues with WiFi or chromebooks. If the helpdesk cannot assist, the parents will then be connected with our school based tech team. We are very excited about this feature to help our families with technology. Malden Public School families can call 781-709-8080 for support.

Going Forward:
We are excited about the new school year. Surely, we know it will be different and it will be challenging. Our educators are more than up for the challenge–the challenge and the passion to work with our students in whichever way inspires and supports them are the reasons they became educators. With the newness of remote learning and the potential changes regarding transitioning to the next stage of learning, we understand the need to keep you informed. We will do so frequently during the school year as often as is necessary. Thank you for your patience and continued support. We look forward to partnering with you, even if we begin apart this year. Please stay well and be safe.

John Oteri

Important Update for Families – What a Remote School Day Could Look Like

I hope that this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy during these difficult times. When we closed school buildings in March, we had all hoped that we would be in a place where we could welcome back students and families in person in the fall. Despite the decision not to return to a full in-person model, we are committed to making the coming year one filled with meaningful learning for all students. We appreciate your patience as we work through negotiations with the Malden Education Association to ultimately bring our students the educational experiences they deserve. We are grateful for the messages of support, the grace and patience with which you have partnered with us in your children’s education, and your willingness to adapt to the many challenges you have faced while juggling health and safety, work, family, and school. We also acknowledge the feedback that, for many families, the crisis learning of the spring fell short of expectations; we know that we can and must do better as we head into the 2020-2021 school year.

Requirements and guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education details a learning experience that includes, but is not limited to, the following:

❏ A school calendar that includes 170 student days (with 850 hours of time-on-learning for elementary and 935 hours for secondary schools)
❏ Daily attendance
❏ Remote learning programs that include regular, two-way communication among students, educators, and families to ensure meaningful opportunities to connect regularly with staff
❏ Grades and assessment of students based on the district’s and educator’s performance criteria for students
❏ Access to grade-level instruction in all content areas included in the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks
❏ A plan to deliver services for special education services and English Learner Education

So how do we deliver all of the above in a remote setting? Our approach is to start with what we know – the structure of a school day – and use that structure to inform the creation of learning experiences that all students can access.

We understand that six straight hours of screen time for students is neither healthy nor engaging for our learners, especially our youngest students. But we also know that predictable schedules and routines, along with a balance of live meetings and independent work, create a structure that provides stability for students and the framework needed for families to fully support their child’s learning.

What might a class look like in the world of remote learning? We believe that connection to caring adults is essential for students’ social-emotional health and that it is important for our learners to be able to interact with their teacher and peers throughout the day in various ways. One example of how this could look is to think of a class from the perspective of Launch – Explore – Land:

❏ Launch – The whole class signs onto the platform to be greeted by the teacher and have face-time with peers. During this portion of the class,
the teacher might read a story, ask a probing question to activate students’ thinking about a topic, or teach a new concept.
❏ Explore – During this stage, students step away from the screen (or log off completely) to practice on their own. Or, they might work with a peer
through a set of questions or a mini-project. During this time, the teacher might pull a student or two together for some extra support and guidance. Or, they might use this time to connect with a family using google meet (or an old fashioned phone call) to see how remote learning is going.
❏ Land – In this phase, students will come together at the end of the class to share their experiences.

In another example, students may be engaged in an exploratory class, such as physical education. In this scenario, the teacher might log on for attendance with the larger group, then offer some suggested physical activities that the student could do inside or outside of the home. Again, at the end of class, students might come together to wrap up the lesson and think about how they can stay physically active throughout the day.

Of course, we know that these are just a couple of samples out of many that illustrate how online learning experiences can look. We understand that learners at different stages have a variety of needs that affect the choices we need to make about time on-screen and types of activities. This is a starting point. We know that remote learning is far from perfect and communication between home and school will be critical in the coming weeks as we enter the new school year. We still have some work to do to get this right, but we believe that providing a predictable structure that allows for regular, two-way communication between home and school; a mix of academics and exploratory activities (i.e. music, physical education, art); and a balance of on-screen and off-screen time, will serve as the building blocks for a successful learning experience in the coming weeks.

We also recognize that families need some help being the best educational partners they can be. To that end, we are making efforts to provide dedicated family help-desk assistance (in multiple languages) to assist with technology issues. We are also working tirelessly to build an online hub of resources for families and to develop training sessions on a variety of topics – from how to use Google to tips on staying emotionally healthy during these challenging times. We can’t promise perfection, but we do promise that we will do our very best to serve Malden’s families on every level. We thank you for your continued patience and support as we embark on the next stage of education in Malden for the 2020-21 school year.


John Oteri

Superintendent’s Letter to Families

To the Malden Public School Community:

Believe it or not, it’s just about back-to-school time for our students and educators! Although it might not feel like the traditional return, we are nonetheless excited to welcome back our school community.  Our first day for staff will be Monday, August 31st. After 10 days of professional development around safety training, curriculum and instruction, remote learning, social emotional learning, trauma sensitive practices, technology and more, the first day for our students will be on Wednesday, September 16th.

A lot of things feel fluid right now, and it’s hard for us as a community to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. The School Committee is working as quickly as possible in partnership with the School Department to finalize negotiations with the Malden Education Association (MEA) so that we can return to learning in the district. That process may seem long, but we appreciate the partnership of our educators in the district and know that we’re working toward a safe and productive re-entry for our students and staff.

Here are a few important updates from the district:

The Early Learning Center

In May, the School Committee made the decision to support keeping the Early Learning Center open and fully functional while we waited for what the future held. As the situation progressed and our re-entry plans were finalized, the picture became clearer. As we begin the 2020-2021 school year, we are committed to providing our students and families at the ELC remote services that they can engage with from home. We also realize the expectation for a preschooler to be at a computer screen for extended periods of time is unrealistic, and the day/activities will be modified accordingly. During this remote period, we would not expect any family to pay tuition to the ELC. If and when we are able to transition to a hybrid model, the number of students in the building will also be far smaller and require  less staffing.

The decision to have programming be tuition-free at the ELC creates a 1.2 million dollar budget deficit for the district. The School Committee decided that in order to save costs for our ELC families, and to avoid making any budget cuts we will be transferring 7 teachers, and 17 paraprofessionals from the ELC into open positions in our K-8 schools for a one year period. This was an incredibly difficult decision, however we are committed to keeping those staff members from the ELC employed in the Malden Public Schools, and are fortunate to be able to provide a temporary, cost-neutral option for what would have created a very large deficit for the district to handle.

We will continue to connect and communicate with our ELC families over the coming weeks as we welcome a new Principal to the ELC community and plan for our remote fall together. Currently, here’s what we know:

● If you are a general education student in the ELC who has already paid a deposit, you will receive a refund
● Since the School Committee voted to begin the year remotely for all students, until they vote to transition the district into a hybrid model for all students, general education students at the ELC will be able to participate in some remote activities which we are currently developing.
● To reiterate, programming for those general education PreK students will be tuition free
● We are still working to provide in-person services for our highest-need Special Education students, if families decide to choice into that option
● We anticipate more information coming within the following week for our ELC families about what to expect for a remote option – please stay tuned!

Our Highest Needs Learners

As we have stated since our decision to begin the year remotely, the School Committee is committed to providing the option of in-person instruction to our highest needs learners. Our students in substantially separate settings truly benefit from in-person educators who can work with the unique needs of their students and provide the therapeutic services they require. Of course, families will still be able to have their students participate remotely if they choose to do so.

With the full student body starting in a remote model, it will be much easier to take appropriate safety precautions and socially distance with our high-needs students onsite. We are currently in the process of negotiating that return with the MEA, but are hopeful that in early October we will be able to begin welcoming these students back in a hybrid model.

The staff who are present will have full access to personal protection equipment (PPE) like smocks, gloves, gowns, masks, and face shields – to name a few. There are many more precautions that will be taking place and while we are planning we appreciate the advocacy of both our School Committee members and partners in the MEA to keep safety a top priority.

Routine and Rigor

We have heard loudly and clearly from our families that with the new year beginning remotely, having structured routines and some added rigor for our students was a high priority. Our Assistant Superintendent Kelly Chase has been working hard with the curriculum directors and principals to make sure that the school day that students experience when they return on September 16th resembles as close to a “normal” school day structure as possible. There will be synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (independent) learning activities every day, and the curriculum will be matched to our state frameworks and aligned grade-level to grade-level. The expectation will be that students use Google Classroom as the main platform for learning, and Google Meet will be utilized as the district preferred communication method (the upcoming updates to the platform itself look very promising and helpful to our students and staff). There will be time built in for educators to check in with students and families, and communication will be prioritized at both the classroom and school level.

Free Breakfast and Lunch

As we outlined in our most recent School Committee meeting, free breakfast and lunch pickup will continue through Friday, September 11th in its current form. Thanks to the leadership of Business Manager Toni Mertz and Food Services Director Omar Hernandez, breakfast and lunch pickup will resume on Monday, September 14th; however, more announcements about the specifics around this essential community service will be forthcoming. We are excited that this program will continue for our Malden families into the school year.


We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating – every student in the Malden Public Schools will have access to both a device and internet for the upcoming school year. Thanks to the leadership of Business Manager Toni Mertz and Director of Instructional Technology Natalia Brennan, no student will be without technology access this fall. As opposed to the spring where devices were given out primarily per family, we will have a touch-screen device for all students in PreK through Grade 1, and a chromebook for all students in Grades 2 – 12. If you do not have internet access, will be able to provide you with a hotspot for internet access. The orders for these devices were made as early as possible, and while we await deliveries of devices, know that we will keep you apprised of developments within the next week. We recognize that families have varying levels of experience with technology devices and the platforms used on them. To that end, we are planning ways to provide families with easily accessible tech support and assistance in understanding and using tools and platforms that will help them work with their students to access their learning – more details are forthcoming!

What the Future Holds

The uncertainty of the future is challenging. We know that there are many families who are feeling an additional strain right now, and want to make sure we partner with you as effectively as we can to make sure we make this year as productive as it can be for our students. Our goal has been and will continue to be the safety of our students and staff. We want to return to school – in a safe and healthy manner. Throughout our negotiations process, we have consistently emphasized that principle and will continue to do so. Currently, we are putting in the work of independently auditing our HVAC systems in our buildings, as well as ordering necessary safety supplies and supports for a potential return. Of course, any return to our physical buildings will be reliant upon health and safety metrics provided by the city and the state, our percent positivity rate as a community, successful consultation with our Board of Health, and other additional considerations that all will ultimately guide our decision to potentially transition from a remote phase to a hybrid phase. As we move forward together, please know that any official plans and communications will come from our department, the Malden Public Schools, and we will strive to be as communicative as possible as we navigate this uncharted territory together. We anticipate the release of another update within the next week.

As we get ready to begin the year together, we look forward to partnering with you to create the best experience we can for our learners.

Stay safe,
John Oteri

Superintendent’s Letter to Families

To the Malden Public School Community,

At the outset, I want to start this letter the way that I ended my last community update – thanking you for your partnership, continued patience, and understanding as we do our best to work through this unprecedented challenge. As we continue to develop our remote learning plan and negotiate and finalize the details with the Malden Education Association, we again maintain that our first priority is and always will be the safety of our community. To that end, the Malden School Committee recently voted to begin the school year with remote learning. As we begin our school year remotely, we will continue to monitor local, state, and national data and research as we plan what our stages of returning to learning will look like during the upcoming school year. At this time, we know that there are still many questions, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share some of our thinking around meeting the needs of our student population.

Health and Safety (Physical, Social, and Emotional)

The district continues to actively prepare for a safe return to learning. We are guided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and our Board of Health on the steps needed to ensure the health and safety of all students, staff, and families. We have ordered all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff – from gowns and gloves to masks and face shields, we have a full complement of PPE supplies at the ready. In addition, the district has secured cleaning and sanitizing supplies from hand sanitizers to cleaning solvents for the building. Our custodians have been working since the initial shutdown on March 13th, sanitizing every building including every classroom, every work space, every bathroom, and every common area. Their work continues today and will not stop.

Commitment to ALL Learners

For our students that will be beginning the year remotely, we are working hard as a district to ensure that the structure and feeling of the remote school day is as rigorous and interactive as an in-person school day. Through this district-designed and district-run program, students engage in synchronous and asynchronous learning daily under the supervision of a highly qualified Malden Public Schools teacher(s). The curriculum and lessons are aligned to grade-level state learning frameworks. Students will be provided with a Chromebook and Internet access, as needed.

Learning in this format, as in the other models, will be aligned to grade-level instruction in all
content areas included in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. In this fully remote model, Google Classroom will continue to be utilized as the main platform for learning and grading and the remote learning format will mirror the existing grading policies and procedures of the district. Educators will use the time reserved for asynchronous activities to check in with families, individual students, and/or small groups. In addition, at the beginning of the school year, building principals will inform families of the communication structures within their schools that will serve to ensure regular, two-way communication. District communication will be included on the website (with the ability to translate into languages other than English), social media, and automated calls home.

Also, as Malden returns to school in a remote learning mode it is critical to remember our commitment to our most high-needs students. As outlined in the School Committee meeting on August 6, we will prioritize the option of an in-person return of our substantially separate students to receive the services that are needed for their education. However, the option to remain remote will still exist for any of these families who choose to participate remotely.

Our high needs students can truly benefit from in-person skilled educators who are aware of the unique needs of their students. Allowing them the opportunity to take part in onsite learning can allow additional growth and success for those students who thrive in a learning environment with repetitive instruction in multiple modalities.

Our parents have been patient, supportive and innovative with their students throughout the spring. However, parents, although great educators, can’t be expected to keep up that rigor with the multiple responsibilities of a parent (work, home, and family.) It’s not reasonable to expect them to not at least have the option for in-person services and learning. Given the decision of the Malden School Committee to have most of our students remote, makes this the right time to bring our high needs students back. They will be in their own classrooms of less than eight to nine students and have ample room to be six feet apart. They will have the use of the entire school to stay physically distanced, be provided access to good air flow and have movement throughout their day. Less students will mean they will have less exposure to other air borne illnesses than if the school were filled. Staff will have an easier time getting them from their buses and family transportation. And, they will have access to facilities without concern that other students happen to be in the bathrooms.

Our staff will have access to a full complement of personal protection equipment (PPE). We have smocks, gowns, gloves, masks, and shields already on site. We can order desktop barriers that can be on site before school. With a nurse on site and only a small group of children on site, we can have expedient response time should a child or staff member become ill.

There are many more details that need to be worked out, but in the meantime, at least offering these
services we believe is the right thing to do for our more high-need learners.

As always, we are proud to consider our families partners in this process and look forward to working with you to make sure the experience for our students is the best that it can be.

Stay safe,
John Oteri

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Superintendent’s Letter to Families

Dear Malden Public School Families,

On Thursday, August 6, the Malden School Committee unanimously voted to begin the 2020-2021 school year in a remote manner. We appreciate all of the thoughts, feelings, and feedback that we have received from our families. Much has happened over the last few months, and I am writing to provide some context and share with you the details of the work that continues to happen over the summer weeks.

As we began to plan for all possible scenarios for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, we sought out input from families and commissioned a re-entry task force with a cross section of key stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, representatives from the facilities department, and city health and safety officials. Understanding that the pandemic has affected our diverse learning community in so many ways, we wanted to hear firsthand from the many stakeholders who experienced teaching and learning during this challenging time. To gain a sense of needs that would inform our work, we launched a survey that generated 3,615 responses from families. More recently, we organized three listening forums where participants offered comments about the fears, challenges, and even successes that have emerged during this period. Whether through comments in the survey or statements made at a listening forum, one theme emerged time and time again: the importance of SAFETY; specifically, the safety of our children during this pandemic. As superintendent, and in collaboration with the Malden School Committee, we have been guided by a firm commitment to the health and safety of both our Malden Public Schools families and staff. Malden and neighboring communities are witnessing an uptick in COVID-19 cases and rising key metrics. Wisely, our School Committee voted to begin the year remotely.

What will this mean for families in September? The official start to the school year will now be Wednesday, September 16. For incoming kindergarten students, screenings will take place on Thursday and Friday, September 17 and 18; over the next few weeks, we will continue to consider ways to accomplish this task in light of the remote start to the year. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has reduced the number of required school days from 180 to 170 and has designated the first ten days of the school calendar for staff professional development.

In order to guarantee that our families are able to access the remote learning, we are taking steps to ensure that every student, PreK-12 will have a Chromebook or device to use. In addition, we are making plans to offer training and assistance in using those devices. Knowing that internet access is also essential, we will be providing a hotspot to families in need of one. We will begin a distribution program before school starts.

This spring we were all thrown together into a period of “crisis learning,” while we reacted to the pandemic and the changes it brought to our community. Our amazing staff, families, and students came together to make the most of that situation in many creative and beneficial ways. Now, we are confident that as we start the 2020-2021 school year in a more thoughtful and proactive manner, our remote learning will be very robust and will more closely resemble the full day of school our students and families are used to. There will be a combination of synchronous (real time) and asynchronous (independent) learning along with the needed supports for all of our students.

As we continue to develop our remote learning plan and negotiate and finalize the details with the Malden Education Association, we continue to maintain that our first priority is and always will be the safety of our community. We will also be aiming to provide services in-person for our highest needs students, in a safe and productive manner.

We appreciate your partnership, continued patience and understanding as we do our best to work through this unprecedented challenge. Expect to see regular updates from the district over the next few weeks, including but not limited to the new academic calendar, technology updates, food service updates, and other relevant information for our families. We look forward to partnering with you throughout this process and making sure the experience for our students is the best that it can be.


Stay safe,
John Oteri