Updated Proposal for Reopening Schools: August 4, 2020

Updated Proposal for Reopening Schools: August 4, 2020
Posted on 08/04/2020

Read translated versions of message: Amharic | Spanish

Dear CPS Community -

I am writing to provide an update on my proposal for reopening schools this fall. Here is a brief summary of my updated proposal, which the School Committee will discuss tonight (Tuesday) at 5PM and consider for approval on Thursday at 5PM.

  • CPS would run a remote learning model for Grades 4-12.
  • CPS would provide an in-person school option as a choice for some families of our youngest learners, who are at lower risk of infection of COVID-19 (preschool to 3rd grade). At grades 2 and 3, this option will have limited in-person capacity.
  • CPS would provide an in-person school option as a choice for families whose students have specialized needs, including students in substantially separate special education and sheltered English immersion programs (preschool-grade 12).
  • CPS would open in stages to provide more time for educator planning and training, to provide time for students and families to practice new routines, and to focus first on relationships and student well-being. Students will begin school with half days on September 16 and transition to full days on October 5.
  • CPS has put in place significant precautions to keep students, staff, and families safe and healthy, including preparing facilities, improving air quality, providing personal protective equipment, and employing hygiene practices to minimize transmissions.

There is no perfect plan to reopen schools this fall. Every approach will leave some families and staff dissatisfied and concerned. My revised proposal attempts to reflect feedback from the community while providing some families with safe in-person learning opportunities for students with specialized needs.

This is an important decision for our community and I know that we will come together to support students, families, and staff this school year. Please see the upcoming list of community meetings and a more detailed proposal below.


Kenneth N. Salim, Ed.D.

Upcoming Community Meetings:

  • August 4 | School Committee meeting (Live-streamed at www.cpsd.us and broadcast on Cambridge Educational Access TV (CEATV) Channel 98/99)
  • August 5 | 2PM: School Committee Sub-Committee: Special Education and Students Supports
  • August 10 | 4PM: Town Hall: CRLS Families (Tentative)
  • August 11 | 11AM: CPS Staff Q&A Session
  • August 11 | 3PM: Town Hall with Special Education Families, Office of Student Services
  • August 11 | 5:30PM: Joint City Council and School Committee Roundtable
  • August 12 | 4:30PM: Town Hall: Spanish-speaking families
  • August 12 | 5:30PM: Town Hall: Haitian Creole speaking families 
  • August 13 | 4:30PM: Town Hall: Bengali speaking families
  • August 13 | 5:30PM: Town Hall: Amharic speaking families

Proposal Details:
Feedback from community on previous proposals:

  • Acknowledge that students, families, and staff of color are at increased risk of COVID-19
  • Address the potentially higher transmission rate for older students, ages 10 - 17
  • Define metrics to determine if CPS schools will open partially or completely
    Start fully remote with exceptions for students with increased needs
  • The previously proposed model that had students rotating in some time in school with some time at home during the week potentially created increased exposure, was difficult for educators to plan for, and could leave students insufficiently supported on remote days.
  • Bringing some students into school means there would be different expectations for some staff.
  • A more equity driven approach would provide some students with the greatest needs fully in-person learning instead of providing all students with some in-person learning.

Detailed proposal

  • Remote learning (at home) will be the default option for all families.
  • Some families will have the choice to “opt-in” to in-person learning at school four times per week. We are prioritizing students who are at lower risk of transmitting COVID-19 risk and students who have specialized needs:
    • All students in preschool and JK - 1
    • All students in substantially separate special education programs (preschool, grades JK-12)
    • All students in Sheltered English Immersion programs (grades JK-12)
  • Every elementary school building will open up to two classrooms for Grade 2 and Grade 3. Seats will be prioritized for students experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities, English language learners, and former English language learners. If additional seats remain, schools will identify students most in need of in-person instructional opportunities based on district criteria.
  • All students ages 10+ (grades 4 - 12) will engage in remote learning at home. 

Staged approach:

  • Stage 1, Planning (Sept 1 - 11): Staff planning and training
  • Stage 2, Planning & Family Conferences (September 14 - 18): Beginning September 16, students begin at-home / online learning experiences in the afternoon.
  • Stage 3, Half Days (September 21 - October 2): Focus on well-being, building relationships and SEL skills, practicing safety routines. For those students in-person, grab & go lunch
  • Stage 4, Full Days, with Wednesday Half Days (October 5)
  • Stage 5, Reflection & Future Plans (Mid-late October)

Safety Precautions:

School/Classroom Setup

  • Desks & tables spaced 6 feet apart
  • Sinks in every classroom, additional sanitizer in the rooms
  • Virus shields placed in some high traffic areas
  • Quarantine rooms in every building
  • 10 -12 people in typical classroom (depends on the size of the room)

Air Quality

  • Most buildings have up-to-date HVAC systems
  • CO2 meters for all buildings to check air quality
  • 200 HEPA Air scrubbers to clean air
  • Engineering firm advising on HVAC practices
  • Window box fans to circulate fresh air
  • Each classroom at least one easily operable window


  • Additional custodial staff being for daily cleaning & sanitizing
  • Purchased electrostatic sprayers to disinfect buildings
  • Removed things that are difficult to clean or disinfect
  • Cleaning & disinfectant supplies for every classroom

Masks, Face Shields, Gloves

  • CPS has ordered 230,000 masks; 5,000 child-size face shields; and 1,000,000 pairs of gloves.


  • Working with city health department to provide testing for all staff before school starts
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