Bulletin Archive

Volume 7 | March 12, 2021

SPESO Bulletin Volume 7

March 12, 2021

In this issue:

  • RSVP: Reopening Rally 3/13/2021 (TOMORROW!!!)

  • Recap of 3/8 School Committee Meeting

  • Healey is back!

  • DESE Votes to return all elementary to full time in-person

  • Action item: New bill could override DESE's vote! Write your state reps!

  • Other upcoming events: SC Special Mtg 3/12, Regular SC Mtg 3/22

  • The latest trends in re-opening schools

RSVP: Reopening Rally 3/13/2021

March 13th marks the 1 year anniversary of school closure in Somerville. Join us for a masked, distanced rally to celebrate our successful advocacy to this point, and keep the pressure on to bring all Somerville Public School students safely back to their classrooms. Bring signs, and wear red for re-opening.

Speakers will include the parent of a student with special needs, a high school student, and a member of the Latino community. We will also be offering free student and family portraits in a safe, distanced, outdoor environment.

All are welcome, including children. We hope to provide translation into Spanish and Portuguese. For those unable to attend, the event will be broadcasted on Facebook Live.

Click here to RSVP (optional)

Recap of 3/8 School Committee Meeting.

  • Reopening Update - Rich Raiche, Director of Infrastructure & Asset Management, did not share slides. He stated that the current plan and schedule are consistent with those presented at the previous meeting (see image below). Rich described that the delays we have seen over the past year were largely due to deferred maintenance of the schools' ventilation systems.

  • Hybrid Planning - agreements with the SEU are tentative and going through ratification. Phase 2A (selected populations of highest needs children) transitioned to in-person learning successfully. Dismissal for all days/all grades is currently 1:45pm to allow for teachers' contractual prep time. SPS is trying to get as much in-person time for Seniors as possible (not traditional class time) and exploring ways of bringing them back into the building for learning labs, guidance access, etc.

  • Public Comment: Many parents spoke out in support of DESE's mandate for a full time return and urged the district to refrain from applying for a waiver. In addition, a heart-wrenching testimony from a 9th grade student suffering from isolation and yearning for a return to in-person school was shared.

  • Sports: High School sports kicked off earlier this month and have gone smoothly. Asymptomatic testing of all participating athletes has revealed a handful of positive cases. Michelle Kelly, SPS Athletic Trainer, described these as cases that would have otherwise gone unnoticed in the community, and therefore utilizing the testing plan is helping to keep the community safer.

Healey is back!

On Wednesday March 9th, Healey families received the good news that students and staff will be able to return the Healey School as Somerville transitions students back to in-person learning (vs. a temporary relocation to the Argenziano & high school). Contractors made significant enough progress on the building to allow it to be used beginning March 18th, with the help of some portable HEPA filter units which will be installed in the classrooms.

DESE Votes to return all elementary to full time in-person

On Friday, March 5th at the DESE board meeting, The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education met and voted to authorize Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to put a timeline on ending remote and hybrid learning.

On Wednesday, March 10th DESE provided detailed guidance to school districts including timelines for a full time in-person return:

"Elementary school phase (grades K-5): Districts and schools are required to shift their learning model for elementary school grade levels to full-time, in-person instruction five days per week effective Monday, April 5, 2021.

Middle school phase (grades 6-8): Districts and schools will be required to shift their learning model for middle school grade levels to full-time, in-person instruction five days per week, effective Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Districts may choose to ask students who have traveled to a state on the restricted list to learn remotely for the week of April 26, 2021 (the week after April vacation).

High school phase (grades 9-12): We will announce the details and timing of the high school phase of the plan in April. Districts will be provided with at least two weeks advance notice of the specific date requirement for high school students but should start making such plans now."

Districts can apply for waivers to delay the start date of full-time return. At Monday's school committee meeting, the Superintendent described her intent to apply for a waiver.

Action item: New bill could override DESE's vote! Contact your state reps!

As of Thursday March 11th, many MA state representatives had co-sponsored an emergency bill to diminish DESE’s power - if this passes then the timelines described above by DESE will not be upheld and there will be further delays of a return to in-person.

We urge you all to contact Erika Uyterhoeven and Mike Connolly, and remind them that they were elected to represent their constituents and that the science and data supports immediate and full opening of public schools for elementary-aged children.

Erika Uyterhoeven

Democrat Rep - 27th Middlesex


Phone: (617) 722-2800 x7314

Mike Connolly

Democrat Rep - 26th Middlesex


Phone: (617) 722-2060

Upcoming Events

1. Special School Committee Meeting

What: "Special Meeting of the Whole; Ratification of Memorandum of Agreement between the Somerville Educators Union Units A and C and the Somerville School Committee for In-Person Instruction Work Responsibilities during 2020-2021 School Year"

When: Friday, March 12th at 5 pm

Where: Go-To meeting link will be posted here

2. Next Regular School Committee Meeting

What: Reopening updates, public comment, and other items will be shared at this meeting. Your attendance at this virtual meeting is encouraged. Join by 7 PM (as early as 6:45) to sign up for public comment (2-3 min) by inputting your name and street address in the question box.

When: Monday, March 22nd at 7 PM

Where: Go-To meeting link will be posted here

Latest Trends in Re-Opening Schools

DSA in Office: Interview with Erika Uyterhoeven

"Their work is essential, but there’s also this push in a neoliberal society to ensure, over and above the well-being of educators, that our kids are getting a competitive education compared to other suburban schools; we obsess over this absurd competition at the expense of the well-being of our community.

That’s just one example. We can see similarities with Amazon workers, meatpacking workers...." (this line was since removed from the web article, after much scrutiny from parents)

Mass. education commissioner announces timeline for returning students to classrooms

"Riley announced that hybrid and remote learning models for elementary schools (K-5) would no longer count toward meeting the required student learning time hours effective Monday, April 5."

Effectiveness of three versus six feet of physical distancing

"Conclusions: Lower physical distancing policies can be adopted in school settings with masking mandates without negatively impacting student or staff safety.”"

All the best to you and your family,

~ The SPESO team

Want to be heard?

Click here to launch an email to a comprehensive list of city, school, and union reps


Website: speso.org

Twitter: @SomervilleSPESO

Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/speso/

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/SomervilleSPESO

Email: somervillespeso@gmail.com

¿Qué es SPESO?


WhatsApp: bit.ly/3c944Jc (Padres Latinos de SPS)

Volume 6 | February 24, 2021

SPESO Bulletin Volume 6

February 24, 2021

In this issue:

  • Recap of 2/22 School Committee Meeting

  • Simultaneous Translation & WhatsApp Group

  • Recap of 2/23 Brown School Town Hall

  • DESE Calls for a return to full-time in-person for elementary students

  • Save The Date: Reopening Rally 3/13/2021

  • Upcoming Events: Mayor mid-term address 3/1, SC Meeting 3/8

  • The latest trends in re-opening schools

Recap of 2/22 School Committee Meeting

  • Materials presented at the 2/22 School Committee Meeting can be found here. The 4+ hour long meeting covered a variety of topics. Highlights below.

  • Reopening Update - see slide presentation for details, including schedule of phased return for SPED, ELL, & PK-8 (image below). No plans shared for return to in-person for High Schoolers.

  • Details of hybrid learning/remote day schedules (synchronous? asynchronous?) still under discussion - remote Wednesdays for all.

  • Cohorts: Community Schools programming days to switch, to align with Cohort Assignments (which may be subject to change in order to balance in-person classroom sizes). The switch will begin March 22. Cohort A will begin attending Monday/Tuesday on March 22, and Cohort B will begin attending Thursday/Friday on March 25.

  • Unidos Program Enrollment Proposal , describing significant changes that would create a 2-bucket lottery system: 1⁄3 Native English speakers, 2⁄3 Native Spanish speakers. Vote will occur at the 3/8 SC meeting.

  • Sports: After hearing public comment from several High School athletes there was an Athletics Update & quick "Yes" vote to approve in-person Spring Sports / Procedures for high school

  • Testing: Students in Phase 2A (SPED & ELL) must participate in baseline COVID-19 testing this Thursday 2/25 or Friday 2/26 in order to return to school buildings on Thursday 3/4. Testing schedule for Phase 2A by school: https://bit.ly/2NWgrjn

Simultaneous Translation & WhatsApp Group

Simultaneous Language Interpretation

For the first time, thanks in part to SPESO parent advocacy, the School Committee offered simultaneous interpretation during its live meeting.

Interpretation was made available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole. A unique Zoom link was shared for each language to increase accessibility of meeting discussion to Somerville's diverse population. SPESO is thrilled with this improvement and hopes it continues to be offered for future meetings, and that materials can also be shared in these languages to maximize access.

WhatsApp Group

Are you a Latino or Spanish-speaking parent or know of one interested in joining EL grupo de Padres Latinos de las escuelas Públicas de Somerville? If interested, join us! Our goal is to make sure that School representatives hear our voices, Latino voices!

Queremos que nos escuchen! Queremos que la información a los padres Latinos este disponible en Español!

Click here to join the WhatsApp Chat Group: Padres Latinos de SPS

Recap of 2/23 Brown School Town Hall

HVAC: The Benjamin Brown School has been out of scope for any improvements during this pandemic. The Brown has no central HVAC system and therefore could not be updated to meet the Covid ventilation and filtration standards set forth by the City.

Building Assessment: The City recently announced that a comprehensive assessment of the building's condition would occur, by an architecture firm from NYC that was contracted by Somerville's Department of Infrastructure and Asset Management.

Moving to the Mods: The City described that in the short-term all Brown students returning to in-person learning will be re-located to the modular buildings that currently sit on the High School property. The City's goal is to have all Brown students back at the Brown School building for the start of Fall 2021, however that will depend on the state of the virus, efficacy of the vaccine, and then-current air standards. The modular buildings at the high school will be "Plan B" if students are unable to occupy the Brown due to the virus, or due to future renovations, although the City is exploring the cost of moving the mods to be geographically closer to the Brown School in case they are needed beyond this Spring.

Schoolyard Renovation: The playground renovation project for the Brown schoolyard has been placed on hold, and will remain that way until it can be incorporated into the future renovations planned to last through at least 2025 (see timeline image below).

DESE Calls for in-person 5 days for Elementary Students

On February 14, 2021 a large group of infectious disease physicians, pediatricians, and public health experts (a total of 69, including many from SPESO) wrote to urge DESE to continue to adopt policies and regulations consistent with an approach that is likely to lead to return of children to school this spring and fall. Read the letter here.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23rd during the Board Meeting of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Commissioner Jeffrey Riley described that he plans to ask for the authority to begin the process of reversing education system changes that were implemented in response to the coronavirus.

"Riley said he will ask during March for the authority to determine when hybrid or remote learning hours will no longer count toward the mandated education time for schools."

"Riley said he plans to implement a phased approach to bringing children back to school full-time, starting with elementary students in April. He outlined the option for parents to pick remote learning through the end of the year and suggested that districts could also apply for waivers if they need to take a "more incremental approach.""

Read more here.

SPESO's Leah Bloom was interviewed about DESE's proposal. Click here for the NBC Boston news clip featuring Leah.

Save The Date: Reopening Rally!

On March 13th, we invite you and your children to join us for a Reopening Rally.

March 13th marks the 1 year anniversary of school closure in Somerville. Let's come together (masked and distanced) to celebrate our students, our educators, and our efforts over the past year.

There's still a long way to go to get all kids back full-time in September. Let's share our advocacy with the community and acknowledge the need for change. More details forthcoming.

Upcoming Events

1. Mayor Curtatone's Mid-Term Address

What: "In Somerville, mayors give a midterm address every other year to update residents on work done over the past year and outline goals and priorities for the coming year."

When: Monday, March 1st 2021 at 2 p.m.

Where: Visit Somerville CityTV’s website, www.somervillema.gov/citycable, and click on the “Watch Live Stream”

2. Next Regular School Committee Meeting

What: Reopening updates, public comment, and other items will be shared at this meeting. Your attendance at this virtual meeting is encouraged. Join by 7 PM (as early as 6:45) to sign up for public comment (2-3 min) by inputting your name and street address in the question box.

When: Monday, March 8th at 7:00 PM

Where: Go-To meeting link will be posted here

Latest Trends in Re-Opening Schools

Somerville schools go for 'Plan B' as new problems emerge and parent anger grows

"Somerville parents’ fury over the city’s long-delayed school reopening plans boiled over at the Somerville School Committee’s contentious Feb. 8 meeting even as school officials confirmed they will deploy portable air filters to return students to classrooms sometime in the coming months."

Somerville schools respond to concerns about equitable language, transportation access

"“The issue of language is grave,” said Gómez. “At the last town hall, someone had a question in Spanish and the translator fell offline, and [the presenters] were all looking at each other. If 50% of your student body is Latinos – with many first time immigrants – you should have a two prong approach.”"

3 Feet of distance minimum goal for bringing kids back to school

"“Our guidance says three to six feet, so we’ve always said from the beginning that we’re recommending three feet and if you can do more, you should do so,” Riley said. “I would just remind people that in Europe and Asia, and in fact in many states in this country, people are at three feet or less.”"

Here's why some high needs students are already in Somerville classrooms

"“What surprised me were two things: I couldn’t find anything about it online, and we were told to pack a sweatshirt because the window would be open,” said Toof. “That threw me for a loop, because we’ve spent months hearing about the HVAC being updated. The building is from 2003, the HVAC shouldn’t be in that bad shape…and couldn’t windows have been opened back in August? Couldn’t they have been in-person all along?”"

All the best to you and your family,

~ The SPESO team

Want to be heard?

Click here to launch an email to a comprehensive list of city, school, and union reps


Website: speso.org

Twitter: @SomervilleSPESO

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/speso/

Email: somervillespeso@gmail.com

Volume 5 | February 10, 2021

SPESO Bulletin Volume 5

February 10, 2021

In this issue:

  • Recap of 2/8 School Committee Meeting

  • SPESO's Updated Charter

  • SEU Proposed agreement

  • Action items: Review materials & Write to your representatives

  • Upcoming Events: Winter Hill, Brown School, & next SC meeting

  • The latest trends in re-opening schools

Recap of 2/8 School Committee Meeting

  • Announcement regarding preliminary agreement between the school district and the Somerville Educator's Union (SEU) for return to in-person learning in early March - details not shared, SEU members still need to vote. Agreement describes metrics and thresholds. Agreement may be limited to only Phase 1 & 2 students (those with special needs and English Language Learners)

  • Maintenance work on HVAC systems continues. Hundreds of issues identified and being remediated by the vendor. Unlikely to open Winter Hill school before summer break. Portable air filtration units to be deployed to prevent additional delays of phased re-opening.

  • Powerful and moving public comment included a series of 14 statements from LatinX families that were gathered, read in Spanish, and then translated - all by members of SPESO. All of these statements described support for re-opening.

  • The 21-22 school year calendar is being reviewed to possibly shift the start date of PK/K away from the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashanah

  • The updated SPS Covid Dashboard was presented. Updates will be made to the dashboard on Thursdays

  • SPS is working on a program to be offered this summer - will be more extensive than typical years. Scope, eligibility, and details TBD.


In the last bulletin we asked for volunteers to help develop and formalize what SPESO is. An impressive response resulted in a collaborative establishment of the SPESO group charter:


We are Somerville parents, teachers, health care providers, scientists, essential workers, and residents.

Guided by the best available science and data, and considering the extensive safety measures being put in place in Somerville Public Schools, we believe SPS can re-open safely, and that our most vulnerable students and younger learners should be back in the classroom NOW, with the rest of our students returning as soon as is supported by science.

Guided by scientific consensus, we affirm that:

  • Children have a fundamental right to education.

  • There are accumulating consequences to children with the absence of in-person learning, including depression, anxiety, obesity, suicidality, eating disorders, underreporting of child abuse and neglect, regression that may be irreversible or permanent.

  • The health and wellbeing of educators and staff is critical to quality education, and they deserve robust, evidence-based health and safety protections.

  • A return to in-person learning that includes masking, ventilation, physical distancing, universal testing, and contact tracing (all of which are elements of SPS’s safety plan) prevents in-school transmission, and protects students, educators, and staff, and by extension, their families.


  1. Immediate return to full time, in-person learning, prioritizing Somerville’s high needs students (Special Ed, ELL) followed by our youngest learners (PK-5)

  2. Prioritization of vaccination for all early childhood educators and SPS teachers and staff, especially those providing in-person education

  3. Guaranteed return to full time, in-person learning for all high-needs (Special Ed, ELL) and PK-5 students at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, followed immediately by grades 6-12 (barring major shift in scientific consensus regarding older students)

  4. Immediately following return of PK-5, staggered return to full time, in-person learning for grades 6-12 (barring major shift in scientific consensus)

  5. An ongoing, high-quality remote learning option through at least the end of the 2021-22 school year

  6. A district campaign to educate SPS families on the safety of in-person school with the mitigations that have been put in place, and frequent communication with all SPS families (not just those able to attend formal city and School Committee meetings via Zoom), using clear, culturally and linguistically appropriate language

SEU Proposed Agreement

SPESO received some documentation, including a meeting PowerPoint and Phased return plan, authored by the SEU. These documents - provided by educators who agree Somerville is doing irreversible harm to our students - outlines a disappointing proposal that the SEU will be voting on related to in-person return. In summary:

  • Group 1 (the highest special needs) is likely to include less than 100 students, and half of them partially went back in the volunteer program a week ago.

  • The proposal does not define when Group 2 (ECIP, Pre-K, and K are late in Group 2) will come back.

  • Opening/closing thresholds are based on community spread (public health experts say that isn't what should determine in-person availability)

  • A return to remote for the district would occur if two “unexplained cases of in-school transmission” were found (example: a pair of teachers forgetting they had lunch together)

  • High Schoolers are not addressed. This agreement only goes up to 8th grade.

After a year of remote-only schooling and repeatedly broken promises of return, $7.5m in HVAC work, and a school safety plan that’s in the top 1% in the country, this is where we stand. Please - TAKE ACTION NOW.

Action Items

1. Review and share materials

SPESO's Medical Advisory Team has put together a fantastic summary of "Covid, Children, and Schools in Somerville". This summary paints a simple, scientifically accurate, and clear picture of why we need to get our most vulnerable students back in the classroom NOW. Please review and share this summary (with friends, neighbors, teachers . . .). Click here.

2. Write to your representatives. Click here to email your reps!

Click the link above to launch an email to your representatives. The email list includes all School Committee & City Council members, as well as other city leaders directly involved in Somerville's Covid response.

Not sure what to write? We have templates in English, Spanish, and Portuguese to get you started.

Upcoming Events

1. Winter Hill School Coffee with the Principal

What: "Please join Principal Gosselin and other school staff/teachers to discuss the Somerville Public Schools Town Hall held on January 26th and how it impacts Winter Hill and the return to hybrid."

When: Thursday, February 11th 4:30 PM in English, 5:30 PM in Spanish and Portuguese (same link)

Where: Zoom. Click here to join.

2. Next Regular School Committee Meeting

What: Reopening updates, public comment, and other items will be shared at this meeting. Your attendance at this virtual meeting is encouraged. Join by 7 PM (as early as 6:45) to sign up for public comment (2-3 min) by inputting your name and street address in the question box.

When: Monday, February 22nd at 7:00 PM

Where: Go-To meeting link will be posted here

3. Brown School Town Hall

What: "To discuss relocation, reopening, and building improvement questions that have been raised. Our hope is that we can work together to develop a shared vision for the future of the Brown and to move as quickly as we can on the necessary work to get our Brown School Community back home."

When: Tuesday, February 23rd time TBD

Where: Link TBD

Latest Trends in Re-Opening Schools

America's Mothers Are in Crisis

  • "“Just before the pandemic hit, for the first time ever, for a couple months, we had more women employed than men,” said Michael Madowitz, an economist at the Center for American Progress. “And now we are back to late 1980s levels of women in the labor force.”"

Baker vows teachers will get vaccine after current eligible groups are given shots

  • "“Teachers are in the first group of what I would describe as other employees, essential workers,” Baker said. “Depending on how quickly we can get folks who are 75-plus and 65-plus and the folks with multiple comorbidities through the system, they come right after that,” Baker said."

CDC director says schools can safely reopen without vaccinating teachers

  • "A study from the CDC published late last month found little evidence of the virus spreading at schools in the U.S. and abroad when precautions were taken, such as wearing masks, social distancing and ventilating rooms."

All the best to you and your family,

~ The SPESO team


Website: speso.org

Twitter: @SomervilleSPESO

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/speso/

Email: somervillespeso@gmail.com

Volume 4 | January 27, 2021

SPESO Bulletin Volume 4

January 27

In this issue:

  • Recap of 1/25 School Committee Meeting

  • Recap of 1/26 Town Hall Meeting

  • Sign up to help SPESO's mission

  • Virtual School Open Houses and Registration

  • The latest trends in re-opening schools

Recap of 1/25 School Committee Meeting

  • The most notable update on 1/25 was, once again, a revision to the building re-opening timeline, which illustrated additional delays. (scroll to the bottom of this page to see the images)

Recap of 1/26 Town Hall Meeting

  • Highest special needs students in some programs will begin some in-person services on February 1st. Teacher/staff participation is voluntary, and many eligible teachers have chosen to participate. The in-person sessions will be limited to 2-hour blocks

  • As SPS works to re-open schools, baseline Covid testing for all children and staff participating in in-person programming will occur the week prior to their first in-person day

  • The SPS Covid Dashboard was described

  • Negotiations with the teachers union (SEU) are ongoing

  • Unknowns remain to questions such as "Will middle and high schoolers return in-person this academic year?" and "Will in-person be back to full-time in the Fall?"

  • Projected building assignments will be aligned with current school assignments whenever possible

  • A revision to the 1/25 (previous day) building readiness projections was shared, with pessimistic dates moving further into Spring

  • Scroll to the bottom of this page to see the images

Virtual School Open Houses & Registration

SPS is hosting school-specific (virtual) open houses starting this week. Pre-k and Kindergarten registration is open, with a deadline of March 18, 2021

Sign up to help SPESO achieve its mission!

A little history: the group we now call “SPESO” formed around July 2020. It was initially a group of health professionals and scientists with kids in SPS who were focused on evidence-based reopening.

We have no organizational structure or formal leadership. We have accomplished a great deal in this format -- not least of all mutual support around how hard this time has been for many of our kids and families. We’ve published multiple letters with signatories, given endless testimony at (endless) SC meetings, sent avalanches of emails, written op-eds and op-ed responses. We have a website, a Twitter feed, and these bulletins. We believe that our work is likely to be needed long-term.

Many of us are pessimistic that anyone other than a small number of highest needs children will return this year. Many of us believe that, absent ongoing advocacy, we are unlikely to return full-time in-person in September. Even once we are back, there will be significant issues around trauma, achievement gaps, and inequities, and many of us no longer have faith in the city’s or the district’s ability to prioritize those needs. If we are going to make progress, we need to transition into a group with some organizational structure and identified policies we support.

The current ask is for folks who are willing/interested in taking on leadership roles within SPESO to step forward and volunteer for any (or multiple) of the following areas by filling out this Google form.

The broad areas are:

- policy and platform development/tracking scientific data

- communication/messaging

- community outreach/coalition building, or

- legal strategy

Please note that, while the *specifics* of our policy preferences need to be developed (hence this initiative!), SPESO fundamentally believes that children have a right to education, and that there are risks to children of ongoing school closures. We are dedicated to supporting a science-driven, safe and responsible return to in-person education as rapidly as possible. Folks interested in leadership positions should support this mission, and have the ability to dedicate some amount of time, though it doesn't need to be an enormous amount. The current “admin” folks are probably averaging 1-2 hours a week, with a range of 0-10 (higher end is those on the district committees).

Thank you all for being here, and for putting in all this work for our community’s kids.

Latest Trends in Re-Opening Schools

Teachers are vital public servants

  • "We believe that public school teachers are devoted public servants whose expertise and sacrifice are indispensable to the nation."

Balance of Covid risks around in-person classes, charges of white supremacy stir parent questions

  • "When resource-rich families exit, we are left with families that depend on the district for education. Inequality doesn’t exist only among public school students."

CDC Finds Scant Spread of Coronavirus in Schools with Precautions in Place

  • "The preponderance of available evidence from the Fall school semester has been reassuring."

Surge of Student Suicides Pushes Las Vegas Schools to Reopen

  • "Since schools shut their doors in March, an early-warning system that monitors students’ mental health episodes has sent more than 3,100 alerts to district officials, raising alarms about suicidal thoughts, possible self-harm or cries for care. By December, 18 students had taken their own lives."

All the best to you and your family,

~ The SPESO team


Website: speso.org

Twitter: @SomervilleSPESO

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/speso/

Email: somervillespeso@gmail.com

Volume 3 | January 15, 2021

SPESO Bulletin Volume 3

January 1

In this issue:

  • Recap of 1/6 meeting w/ the experts

  • Communications from SEU & SPESO's response

  • Recap of 1/11 School Committee Meeting

  • SPS Town Hall scheduled for Tuesday, January 19th

  • The latest trends in re-opening schools

Recap of 1/6 Meeting w/ the experts

  • The 1/6 school committee meeting was arranged to solicit outside expertise on the question of COVID school safety and, specifically, whether community metrics (e.g. case rates, percent positives, etc) are valid thresholds for school reopening.

  • Two experts presented: Dr. Andrea Ciaranello (infectious disease specialist from MGH) who was invited by the school committee, and Dr. Justin Feldman (social epidemiologist from Harvard) who was invited by the Somerville Educators’ Union.

  • The experts presented an overview of schools and COVID safety. They were in agreement that Somerville’s plan is exceptional. Dr. Feldman described Somerville’s plan as in the top 1% of safety plans nationwide.

  • Video recording can be found here: https://youtu.be/qsyKaNUcWz0

Communication from SEU & SPESO's response

  • On January 10th, the Somerville Educator's Union (SEU) shared its position via the Somerville Times in a published op-ed. They described that they are in "the type of situation that requires strong union protections". They did not acknowledge the detriments to our children of keeping schools closed. Several comments by frustrated parents are seen below the article.

  • SPESO's rebuttal (not yet been published) can be found here. Excerpt below:

What happens when you are in the top 1% of safety plans and you simply can’t get the school buildings to open? You simply can’t get the educators to feel comfortable going back into the buildings?

The test kits sit on a desk, unused. The air filters are not filtering, the masks are sitting in a box, unopened, and the kids are suffering. This is what is happening in Somerville, Massachusetts. And it is not acceptable.

As of January 15, 2021, it has been 310 days since students have been inside the classroom. It is time to break out of this web of politics and focus on science and safety. It is time to do what we are ready to do: resume in person education in the Somerville Public Schools.

Recap of 1/11 School Committee Meeting

  • The most notable update on 1/11 was a revision to the timeline presented on 12/21 which illustrated additional delays. The first table below is the revised timeline from 1/11, and following that the previous one from 12/21.

Timeline from Jan. 11th meeting (see image below)

Timeline from Dec. 21st meeting (see image below)

Reopening Town Hall scheduled for January 19th

The Somerville Public Schools and the City of Somerville will jointly host their next online Schools Reopening Town Hall on Tuesday, January 19, at 6:30 p.m. The presentation will provide updates on local efforts related to the 2020/2021 school year amid the coronavirus pandemic, including information on building ventilation and COVID-19 testing plans. Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole interpretation will be available.

Participate in the Town Hall online or by phone:

  • The meeting will be hosted on Zoom, and there will also be an option to call into the meeting from a phone.

  • Visit somervillema.gov/virtualtownhall at the start time of the meeting to join live or get call-in / live streaming information.

Latest Trends in Re-Opening Schools

Cambridge School Officials Reverse Course, Plan for Wider Reopening By February

  • "A 6 year old is not equipped to interact with his teachers and peers as two-inch squares on a computer."

Schools and the Path to Zero

  • "We can now recommend that schools be open even at the very high levels of spread we are now seeing, provided that they strictly implement strategies of infection control"

All the best to you and your family,

~ The SPESO team


Website: speso.org

Twitter: @SomervilleSPESO

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/speso/

Email: somervillespeso@gmail.com

Volume 2 | December 23 2020

SPESO Bulletin Volume 2

December 23, 2020

In this issue:

  • SPESO members appointed to SPS Opening Advisory Group

  • Recap of Monday, 12/21 School Committee Meeting

  • 140 signatures - letter sent requesting 5 day a week re-opening

  • The latest trends in re-opening schools

Community members appointed to Somerville’s School Opening Advisory Group

The City of Somerville has formed a School Opening Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will make COVID-19 data-based recommendations to the Mayor and Superintendent on school closures and re-openings.

The Advisory Group, which is a formal extension and expansion of ongoing efforts, is composed of community members and representatives from the Somerville Public Schools (SPS), Somerville School Committee, and the City’s COVID-19 response team. The group plans to meet weekly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are thrilled that two members of the SPESO team have been selected as community members.

Daniele Lantagne, PhD, and Gabrielle Jacquet, MD, MPH will be representing the community on this Advisory Group. Congratulations Daniele and Gabrielle - and THANK YOU!

Recap of Mon., 12/21 School Committee Meeting

Changes since 12/7 meeting

  • On 12/7 we heard from Mayor Joe Curtatone that the acquisition of the Merv 13+ filters required for the ~$7.5 million HVAC upgrade project were backordered until at least March, 2021, therefore delaying further re-opening of schools.

  • Since that meeting, the city was able to locate available filters and reduce that lead time.

  • At Monday's meeting, we heard that the High School could open for high needs students in January.

  • The timeline image below was shared in the meeting slides. However, no opening date was set. The plan continues to illustrate that the vast majority of SPS students will not be returning in-person before March.

Plan B

Signed by 140 parents and residents: 5 days a week school re-opening request

On December 20th, SPESO sent a request to Superintendent Skipper, the School Committee, City Council, and Mayor Curtatone. The letter was a request; asking that schools open for young children, 5 days a week and in-person, as soon as possible, and no later than February 1.

140 parents and residents signed this letter. Letter text can be found here: https://www.speso.org/call-to-action

Latest Trends in Re-Opening Schools

Let public health expertise guide school reopening

  • "Whether individual school buildings — or restaurants, or hotels, or offices, or anything else — are safe enough to open during the pandemic is ultimately a public health question."

Schools and the Path to Zero

  • "We can now recommend that schools be open even at the very high levels of spread we are now seeing, provided that they strictly implement strategies of infection control"

  • "Grocery store workers, teachers, day-care staffers and other people on the front lines of America’s workforce should be next to get coronavirus vaccine, along with adults over 75, a federal advisory panel said Sunday."

Wishing you and yours a safe and healthy Holiday season,

~ The SPESO team


Website: speso.org

Twitter: @SomervilleSPESO

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/speso/

Email: somervillespeso@gmail.com

Volume 1 | December 11, 2020

SPESO Bulletin Volume 1

December 11, 2020

This is the first edition of the SPESO Bulletin. We will use this bulletin to communicate updates related to Somerville Public Schools (SPS) re-opening, as well as advocacy efforts. To unsubscribe, please see link at the bottom of this email. To get involved, please email us.

In this issue:

  • Mission of the Project

  • Recap of Monday, 12/7 School Committee Meeting

  • In the news; Somerville making headlines

  • The latest trends in re-opening schools

Mission of the project:

SPESO aims to amplify the voices of parents, children, and Somerville residents on matters related to education in the setting of the coronavirus pandemic.

We strive to ensure every Somerville child meaningful access to their human and legal right to a quality, compulsory, and free public education.

In doing so we seek to elevate a public health lens in educational policy making. This means 1) being informed by rigorous evidence; 2) including a full consideration of all benefits and risks of educational policy decisions, and 3) centering the needs of the most vulnerable community members.

Recap of Mon., 12/7 School Committee Meeting

Delay of in-person:

    • On Monday night, we heard from Mayor Joe Curtatone that the acquisition of the Merv 13+ filters required for the ~$7.5 million HVAC upgrade project are backordered until at least March, 2021, therefore delaying further re-opening of schools.

    • Given the delays, the city will be exploring alternative filtration. They are working on next steps for acquiring in-room air filters for some schools/classrooms so that the highest needs learners (SPED & ELL) can return to in-person learning ASAP.

    • No date or commitments were given.

High School renovation project:

    • The high school renovation is slated for completion, and scheduled to be turned over to the city the first week of January, 2021.

    • Some Covid signage/measures will need to be installed before it is usable.

    • The school committee continues to consider how to use the space as soon as it becomes available. Who will gain entry for in-person learning and when is TBD.


    • Stanley Vieira, Director of Athletics for SPS, described plans for kicking off Winter sports (Basketball, Swimming, Ice Hockey) in January.

    • The school committee questioned the optics of offering indoor sports, but not in-person learning.

    • President of the City Council, Matt McLaughlin commented that it was more than optics - what is being proposed is a contradiction.

    • Other school committee members questioned the air quality of the athletic facilities and whether it met the standards that SPS has set for indoor learning. And if yes, why isn't in-person learning happening in January?

In the News: Somerville making headlines

On December 8th, the Somerville Journal published an article describing the events leading up to the 12/7 school committee meeting, updates from the meeting, as well as quotes from interviews of several SPESO members:

“For the little ones, there is no other place in the world that I know of that is requiring this level of HVAC. At some point, you have to understand the risks of not going back. Those risks are toughest for the special education students, ELLS, and little ones.” - Danielle Lantagne, Ph.D., P.E.

“The city hasn’t been focused on the harms of not bringing children back to school. People are not talking about the significant long-term harm to children not being in school, such as mental health concerns, eating disorders, anxiety, and physical abuse and neglect.” - Lauren Hanley, M.D.

Latest Trends in Re-Opening Schools

Wishing you and yours a safe and healthy Holiday season,

~ The SPESO team


Website: speso.org

Twitter: @SomervilleSPESO

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/speso/

Email: somervillespeso@gmail.com

Volume 1 | December 11, 2020 - En Español

SPESO Bulletin Volume 1

December 11, 2020

Esta es la primera edición del Boletín SPESO. Usaremos este boletín para comunicar actualizaciones relacionadas con la reapertura de las Escuelas Públicas de Somerville (SPS), así como los esfuerzos de defensa. Para cancelar la suscripción, consulte el enlace al final de este correo electrónico. Para participar, envíenos un correo electrónico.

En este problema:

• Misión del Proyecto

• Resumen de la reunión del comité escolar del lunes 12/7

• En las noticias; Somerville en los titulares

• Las últimas tendencias en reapertura de escuelas

Misión del proyecto:

SPESO tiene como objetivo amplificar las voces de los padres, los niños y los residentes de Somerville sobre asuntos relacionados con la educación en el contexto de la pandemia de coronavirus.

Nos esforzamos por garantizar que todos los niños de Somerville tengan acceso significativo a su derecho humano y legal a una educación pública gratuita, obligatoria y de calidad.

Al hacerlo, buscamos elevar la perspectiva de la salud pública en la formulación de políticas educativas. Esto significa 1) estar informado por pruebas rigurosas; 2) incluir una consideración completa de todos los beneficios y riesgos de las decisiones de política educativa, y 3) centrar las necesidades de los miembros de la comunidad más vulnerables.

Resumen de la reunión del comité escolar del lunes 12/7

Retraso de aprendizaje en persona:

o El lunes por la noche, escuchamos del alcalde Joe Curtatone que la adquisición de los filtros Merv 13+ necesarios para el proyecto de actualización de HVAC de ~ $ 7.5 millones está pendiente hasta al menos marzo de 2021, lo que retrasa la reapertura de las escuelas.

o Dados los retrasos, la ciudad explorará una filtración alternativa. Están trabajando en los próximos pasos para adquirir filtros de aire en las habitaciones de algunas escuelas / aulas, de modo que los estudiantes con mayores necesidades (SPED y ELL) puedan regresar al aprendizaje en persona lo antes posible.

o No se dieron fechas ni compromisos.

Proyecto de renovación de la escuela secundaria:

o La renovación de la escuela secundaria está programada para completarse y se entregará a la ciudad la primera semana de enero de 2021.

o Será necesario instalar algunas señales / medidas de Covid19 antes de que se puedan utilizar.

o El comité escolar continúa considerando cómo usar el espacio tan pronto como esté disponible. Quién obtendrá la entrada para el aprendizaje en persona y cuándo está por determinar.


o Stanley Vieira, Director de Atletismo de SPS, describió los planes para iniciar los deportes de invierno (baloncesto, natación, hockey sobre hielo) en enero.

o El comité escolar cuestionó la óptica de ofrecer deportes de interior, pero no el aprendizaje en persona.

o El presidente del Ayuntamiento, Matt McLaughlin, comentó que era más que óptica, lo que se propone es una contradicción.

o Otros miembros del comité escolar cuestionaron la calidad del aire de las instalaciones deportivas y si cumplían con los estándares que SPS ha establecido para el aprendizaje en interiores. Y si es así, ¿por qué el aprendizaje en persona no se realiza en enero?

En las noticias: Somerville en los titulares

El 8 de diciembre, el Somerville Journal publicó un artículo que describe los eventos previos a la reunión del comité escolar 12/7, actualizaciones de la reunión y citas de entrevistas de varios miembros de SPESO:

“Para los más pequeños, no hay otro lugar en el mundo que yo sepa que requiera este nivel de HVAC. En algún momento, debe comprender los riesgos de no regresar. Esos riesgos son más difíciles para los estudiantes de educación especial, ELLS y los más pequeños ". - Danielle Lantagne, Ph.D., P.E.

“La ciudad no se ha centrado en los daños de no llevar a los niños a la escuela. La gente no habla del daño significativo a largo plazo para los niños que no asisten a la escuela, como problemas de salud mental, trastornos alimentarios, ansiedad y abuso y negligencia físicas ". - Lauren Hanley, M.D.

Últimas tendencias en reapertura de escuelas

Superintendentes y Asociados MA. de los comités escolares envían una carta a Baker

Biden promete reabrir la mayoría de las escuelas dentro de sus primeros 100 días en el cargo

Boston reabrirá 28 escuelas para 1,700 estudiantes más

Cuánta transmisión de Covid-19 hay en las escuelas masivas

Cerrar los sistemas escolares, respuesta incorrecta a Covid-19

Deseándole a usted y a los suyos unas vacaciones seguras y saludables,

~ El equipo SPESO


Sitio web: speso.org

Gorjeo: @SomervilleSPESO

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/speso/

Correo electrónico: somervillespeso@gmail.com

Timeline presented 12/21/20

Timeline presented 1/11/21

Timeline presented 1/25/21

Timeline presented 1/26/21

Building assignments 1/26/21