Tuesday, 1/19/2021 - SAU29 COVID-19 Update

Good Afternoon,

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, 1967

As we start the shortened week I thought I would share a quote from Dr. King that holds so much value with a lot of things we are all faced with today. From injustices, racism and discrimination, to the pandemic and lives being turned upside down, things are really hard right now. They are hard for you, for me, for everyone that we know. It is not an easy time and we could all benefit from pausing to recognize that.  What is hard for one may not be as hard for another, but what is hard for them, may not be hard for the first. It just is.

One thing that is clear is that blaming and shaming others does not make anything easier or better for everyone.  This was in large part what led to the shutting down of the SAU29 Learns Remotely Facebook group toward the end of last week. It is no secret that any decision will not fully satisfy everyone and yet through it all, we can not stand still. We must collectively move forward, even when it is hard individually.  That is how we will get through the difficulties we are faced with today. 

On Thursday, I announced that we would continue in the remote learning model until the end of the month.  This was a difficult decision that was not made lightly or in a vacuum. It involved multiple dialogues with district leaders in all of our districts before landing on this extension of remote learning.  

The discussion began with a simple look at when marking periods were ending. The intent was based on avoiding another transition before closing out a marking period/term. It was strictly an instructional consideration and not a COVID consideration as returning onsite and reimplementing safety procedures while closing an academic marking period would have lessened instructional time and been more disruptive for students. With different end dates of marking periods, the consensus was to extend remote learning until the end of January when all schools will begin the transition back to onsite teaching and learning. In short, we collectively decided to maintain the educational consistency to close out the marking periods and return all of our schools at the same time on February 1st.

I also mentioned in that Thursday update that it will give us additional time to further prepare for the return to onsite teaching and learning, which is true. Procedures that we used prior to Thanksgiving will need to be reimplemented when we return and, in some cases, tightened up for the overall safety of all of our students and staff. Which we will do.

We will continue to evaluate the return to onsite learning and teaching as we move forward. In the meantime, here’s how each of us can help us all do so as safely as possible. Continue to practice the Big Four.

  1. Wear a Face Covering - when you are with those outside of your household.  This includes the people that we know.  
  2. Maintain Distance - particularly with those that are not wearing facing coverings.
  3. Maintain Hand Hygeine - soap and water continue to be the best, but sanitizer works when that is not possible.
  4. Complete Screening Assessment - although we’re not in the buildings, information collected is reviewed by our Nurses and Principals with regard to the overall well-being of their building. 

All of that aside, there also appears to be some confusion on the metrics that we are following in relation to the pandemic and our schools.  Let me be as clear as I can with this so we are all operating with the same understanding.  There is no single measurement that determines what model we are using.  We use an overlay of two measurements.

  1. The Level of Community Transmission


Level of Community Transmission




Number of new infections per 100,000 population over prior 14 days




Number of new hospitalizations per 100,000 people over the prior 14 days




COVID-19 PCR test positivity as a 7 day average




  1. Level of School Impact 


Level of School Impact




Transmission within the school facility

Zero or sporadic cases with no evidence of transmission within the school setting

One cluster* in the school 

Two or more unrelated clusters* in the school with onset (based on source case symptom onset dates) within 14 days of each other

Student absenteeism due to illness




Staff capacity to conduct classes and school operations †




* A cluster is defined as 3 or more individuals confirmed with COVID-19 who are part of a related group of individuals (e.g., classroom) who had the potential to transmit infection to each other through close contact. 

† This subjective assessment should factor in a school’s ability to maintain adequate staff for facility operations, transportation, teaching, and administrative functions. 

In both determinations, we take the HIGHEST of the three criteria to assess a risk.  We then couple those two factors together to determine where we fall on the following:


Level of Community Transmission




Level of School Impact













As an example, when the Community Transmission is substantial and the School Impact is low, we should be in the Hybrid model. Likewise, if the Community Transmission is moderate and the School Impact is high, we should be in the Remote model.

The criteria for the level of Community Transmission are all absolute measurements.  That by far is the easiest to determine. Two of the criteria for School Impact are also absolutes that are easy to determine.  The difficulty is when we get to the “Staff capacity to conduct classes and school operations” that makes it confusing for many as it is not an absolute measurement. Absenteeism by position, availability of substitutes and duration are all considerations that go into that one criteria making it truly a subjective measure.  This one criteria could fluidly move from normal to critical back to normal in a matter of moments.  Which really is another example of the amazing people we have working in all of our buildings as they continually work to meet the needs of our students!

While the decision to continue remote was an instructional decision based on the timing of the marking periods ending, our return to onsite learning will be based on the metrics that were outlined above and incorporated into our plan in September.  We will continue to prioritize the overall safety and well-being of our students and staff, AND maximizing the onsite learning opportunities for ALL of our students.  Because, as Dr. King reminded us, “you have to keep moving forward.”

Be Well, 


Everyone Challenge:  Now that 2020 has ended and we’re up and running with 2021, please join me in recognizing and celebrating teachers and staff members for all of the hard work they do on behalf of our children each and every day!


If there is a teacher, bus driver, school counselor, school secretary, administrator or other staff member you'd like to recognize, please email feedback@sau29.org by January 29, 2021. Tell us why you're giving a shout out to them - you may even have a little story you’d like to share. We will share your comments anonymously.


Our staff have been doing such an awesome job during this difficult year, and your support and words of encouragement really matter!


Keeping these short videos in the update until next week for those that may have missed them previously.  Enjoy!

What I Look Forward to in 2021 (Part 1)

What I Look Forward to in 2021 (Part 2)

What I Look Forward to in 2021 (Part 3)

What I Learned in 2020 - Part 1

What I Learned in 2020 - Part 2

COVID-19 Data:  Providing all of the COVID-19 data that we have been tracking since the onset of the pandemic back in March, 2020.

2021 Data

  1. NH COVID-19 2021
  2. Cheshire County COVID-19 2021
  3. SAU 29 Towns Cumulative COVID-19 2021
  4. SAU 29 Towns Current COVID-19 Positives 2021
  5. Community Transmission Slides

2020 Data

  1. NH COVID-19 2020
  2. Cheshire County COVID-19 2020
  3. SAU29 Towns Cumulative COVID-19 Data 2020
  4. SAU29 Towns Current COVID-19 Positives 2020
  5. Community Transmission Slides
  6.  COVID Trends Slides

E-Flyer Distribution Program:  As a reminder, there are many flyers that our schools are asked to send home throughout the school year.  We also post these flyers on our website and it can be found by going to this E-Flyer Distribution Program embedded link.

Mental Health & Cultural AwarenessBelow are some resources that may be helpful. 


Reporting AbuseIf you see something, please say something.  You can find guidance on the NH Department of Health and Human Services website.  

Additional Resources:

Meals:   Free Meal Distribution:  Every student in SAU 29 and all children 18 and under are eligible for free meals through June 2021. While SAU 29 districts are fully remote there are two pick-up days each week representing 7 days’ worth of meals. Pick up will be on Tuesday (3 days worth of meals) and Friday (4 days’ worth of meals). 


The order form is now open to sign up for meal pick-up for Tuesday, January 26th and Friday, January 29th.  Please see the link below.

Order forms needed to be completed no later than 7:00 AM, Friday, January 22, 2021. Families have 10 locations to choose from with a variety of times covering most of the day. You will receive an email confirmation after placing your order.  

Click here for the LINK for Remote Meals Order Form


Please mark your calendars to remember to pick up your meals on Tuesday and Friday. Please contact Keene Food Services with any questions. 603-357-9011

Screening Assessment:  We are requesting that the screening assessment continue to be submitted during this extension of remote learning through January 29th.  It will allow our school nurses to continue to monitor and provide support with regard to the health of the school community.  Please note that we are not requesting that this be done on the weekends, holidays or breaks, only on days that school would typically be in session.

COVID19 Daily self screening Convenient MD : You can find the links to your students schools here along with videos to help walk you through using the page.

Special Education: Special Education continues to work very closely with building leaders to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are met.  As always, please reach out to your child’s special education teacher or building principal with questions.  You can also contact the Student Services Offices at 357-9001 extension 230 or email rmatte@sau29.org if you have any questions.  Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  We want to hear from you, Thank you!   

Stay At Home:  Here is the updated Stay-At-Home guidance in alignment with health official guidance.


Stay-At-Home Until

Have symptoms of COVID-19 (New or Unexplained)

  • Fever (temperature of 100.4 or higher) or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  1. You can provide written documentation of negative PCR or antigen test result (in accordance with NH DPHS guidance) AND 
    1. You have been  fever-free, without fever-reducing medication, for at least 24 hours AND 
    2. All other symptoms have improved 



  1. 10 consecutive days have passed if symptoms are new and testing is not conducted (treat the individual as a suspected COVID-19 infection) AND 
    1. All symptoms have improved AND 
    2. You have been fever-free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication.

Close contact with a person confirmed with COVID-19 (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes)

  • 10 consecutive days have passed AFTER close contact.

Recommended to 

  • Seek a PCR-based COVID-19 test 5-7 days from last exposure date (sooner if symptoms develop) 
  • Self-quarantine at home
  • keep others safe by wearing a face covering.

Travel outside of New England within the last 14 days.

  • 10 consecutive days have passed AFTER travel.

Additional Recommendations

  • If symptoms develop, seek a PCR-based COVID-19 test. 
  • Self-quarantine at home. *Can be reduced from 10 to 7 days, IF a negative PCR-based test has been received on days 6-7 AFTER travel.
  • Keep others safe by wearing a face covering.

Test Positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms.

  • 10 consecutive days have passed since symptoms first appeared, AND
  • You have been  fever-free, without fever-reducing medication, for at least 24 hours AND 
  • All other symptoms have improved

Additional Recommendations

  • Self-isolate in home
  • Self-quarantine at home
  • Keep others safe by wearing a face covering.

Test Positive for COVID-19 and DO NOT have symptoms.

  • 10 consecutive days have passed since the date of your positive COVID-19 diagnostic test.

Additional Recommendations

  • Self-isolate in home
  • Self-quarantine at home
  • Keep others safe by wearing a face covering.

**If symptoms develop, please refer to guidance above.**

Self-Isolation:  You must stay at your home and avoid other people, including those you live with. You may not go out in public places - not even to the grocery store or to run errands. You may not visit with other people outside of your home, and you may not invite others into your house to visit.  See Public Health Self-Isolation Guidance for additional information.  Please note that the quarantine guidance on this document issued on 11/12/2020 was updated on 12/3/2020 and reflected in the linked document below.

Self-Quarantine:  You must stay at your home and avoid other people for 10 days after you were last exposed to a person with COVID-19. You may not go out in public places - not even to the grocery store or to run errands. Do not visit with other people outside of your home, and do not invite others into your house to visit. If you must have visitors, tell them that you are under quarantine.  See Public Health Self-Quarantine Guidance for additional information.  

Contact Information: Dr. Rick Matte is the lead contact person for all COVID-19 inquiries and concerns at all SAU 29 schools and districts.  He can be reached at rmatte@sau29.org

Governor Sununu has also activated a 24-hour COVID-19 hotline for all related needs and supports. The hotline can be reached by dialing 211.

Technology: Keene Middle School parents

Wednesday Jan. 20th we will have someone at the gym door of the Middle school for pick up of your student's 1:1 Chromebook. We will be there from 8 am to 4 am. If you have a school issued chromebook that you received over 4 weeks ago, you will want to bring that with you to swap out.

Please be aware of unsolicited email and advertisements. There are a lot of scams going on right now and it is important to be aware of email phishing efforts. Things to look out for are: 

  • Emails from unknown senders. 
  • Emails that look like it is someone you know but the address is not the correct address. 
  • Ad links in social media advertisements that ask to send cookies. 

All of the listed above are common email scams. To better protect your school email it is also recommended not to use your school email for online shopping or social media. 

Teachers, we have installed some software for remote teaching. Currently we have Kami which integrates with Google classroom. Screencastify will let you record your computer screen to share with the class. You can also have your image in the corner of the screen as you record the lesson. EquatIO  Easily add equations, formulas, graphs  to G Suite for Education. It has a scientific calculator, and periodic table charts.

Parents and Students, Chromebooks should be used for your school work only. Please do not eat while using your school issued Chromebook. We are experiencing high volumes of damaged Chromebooks due to spills.  Please make sure you fill in the online registration for your students. It is important to have all the correct information in place.

Technology support during COVID19: Please see the update.


Power School update:

Power school online registration help can be found here

Please remember to fill out the youtube permission form. For KHS and KMS 

Help desk number: (603) 352-0640 ext. 3871. For help with the Home user and remote learning click here