August 27, 2021 Update
Hello GPS Families,
Last school year, Gloucester came together and stuck together in countless ways to ensure that our schools had a remarkable year. It wasn’t without struggle, but it showed that when we support each other, work together, and appreciate the hard work of our fellow community members, Gloucester accomplishes remarkable things.
Next week our schools will open and our educators, staff, and school leaders will welcome more than 2,800 students back into Gloucester’s school buildings and St. Ann’s School. We are very excited to get going again next week. The start of the school year is always a big deal!
Our goal this year is a return to as regular a school day as possible each day, each week, and all year for our students, our families, and staff.
Unfortunately, with the rise of the COVID Delta variant, the pandemic continues to be with us and affect families, children, and our community. I know that after a year and a half that we are tired of the COVID safety protocols. It’s been hard for all of us, and I’m sure everyone wishes it would all go away.
However the pandemic is still here, and we will have to continue some very important health and safety protocols for the time being. First, all students, staff, and visitors will have to wear masks and face coverings whenever they are inside a school building or on a bus. On Wednesday night, the School Committee approved a policy that is aligned with the statewide mandate to wear masks in schools.
Please read the more complete update on face masks as well as a summary of our safety protocols by scrolling down or clicking on these links: .
Please know that students and staff very successfully used these protocols and more all last year. To have regular school days every week and all year long, we need your help in following our safety protocols. If everyone follows this small number of safety steps, we will hopefully keep the spread of COVID very low and stay in school every day.
More detailed information and answers to frequently asked questions about health and safety will be added to our new Every Day Matters GPS website as it is updated over the weekend.
We are looking forward to welcoming back students and families to our schools. Come Tuesday, our schools will be filled with energy, excitement, new faces, old friends, and a lot of learning. Our educators, staff and school leaders will do what they always do – connect with students, work together to support our students, and show up every day ready to teach and prepare Gloucester’s children and teenagers so they can achieve their dreams.
To have regular school days, every week and all year long we need your help in following these protocols:
Masks and Face Coverings – The Massachusetts Department of Education declared that all students and staff in Massachusetts public schools will have to wear masks or face coverings until at least October 1, 2021. The Gloucester School Committee unanimously approved a revised mask policy on Wednesday night that requires masks for all students, staff, and visitors when they are in our school buildings.. It is widely accepted in the medical and scientific community that wearing masks is one of the most effective ways to minimize the spread of COVID indoors. By wearing masks our staff and students will be protecting each other and our families from spreading the virus. All students will have mask breaks every day they are in school. Masks do not need to be worn when students or staff are outdoors. Masks must be worn on all school transportation.
Staying Home When Not Feeling Well or Having Any COVID Symptoms – Families of students and our staff did a fantastic job last year staying home when they were not well. Keeping all kinds of illness including COVID out of our schools helps protect the entire community. Please continue to check your student every morning for any COVID symptoms and report these to your school nurse.
COVID Vaccinations - Just like last spring, we will host in-school COVID vaccination Clinics for students at O’Maley and Gloucester High School. These clinics will take place on September 10 and October 1. Each school will send out complete information about these clinics next week. Getting the free vaccination is the single most important prevention measure for not getting COVID and reducing its severity. We urge all eligible community members to get vaccinated. You can find many places to get vaccinated at the Massachusetts VaxFinder
Hand Hygiene – We will continue to have hand sanitizing stations throughout our schools and will remind students and staff to wash or sanitize their hands regularly.
Distancing – while we are not required to have stricti distancing rules, teachers, staff, and schools will do their best to keep kids apart when in class while still allowing normal class activities to proceed.
Close Contacts and Quarantining - This year the statewide protocols for being a close contact are quite different and will force many fewer people to quarantine and miss school. There are different rules to follow depending on whether a close contact has symptoms or doesn’t have symptoms. Our school nurses will continue to work with the Gloucester Department of Health contact tracing team to identify all close contacts and help them follow the proper guidelines. You can find detailed explanations of our Close Contact protocols on our Every Day Matters website.
COVID Testing in School - This year we will have much more testing available in our schools for students and staff who are asymptomatic and who have symptoms. Our Test and Stay Program will allow students and staff who are close contacts but have no symptoms to continue coming to school each day as long as they test daily at the school and are negative for COVID. Students will only be tested with permission from a parent or guardian.
Staff and Volunteer Vaccinations - As an additional measure to keep our school community safe, by October 2nd, all staff and volunteers working in the Gloucester Public Schools will be fully vaccinated against COVID. As of now, more than 90% of our staff is fully vaccinated.
Go Yellow to Go Green - We are urging parents to take the bus as much as possible this year to conserve energy and to reduce the amount of cars traveling around Gloucester. Did you know that one full yellow school bus gets more than 30 cars off of our city streets. If you want to try the bus, please complete our Transportation Registration Form. Masks will be required at all times for all students when they are on the bus.
Breakfast and Lunch are Free for All Students - We will serve hot and cold lunches again. All meals are free for all students again this year. Masks will not be worn at lunch when students are eating. Each school is working to ensure that students are distanced as far as possible when masks are off during lunch. Each school will approach lunch a little bit differently depending on the facility, the grade span, class size, and the number of lunches served. You can see the current menus by going to our Mealviewer.com site. Because of supply shortages and some difficulty getting ingredients, the menu may change without notice.