Our new virtual Zoom culture has left out a crucial voice as we head back to school – that of parents. Zoom information sessions held by the Newton Public Schools have been one directional. We have heard from the administration, but have not been able to actively engage. Only pre-written and pre-screened questions have been permitted. The School Committee no longer has meeting shown on the summer calendar, but even when in session, the School Committee limited questions and comments. The result is a one-directional experience for the parent community.

As we look toward the upcoming school year, NPS will be delivering by August 11th their plans for full in-person reopening, along with already developed plans for full-virtual and hybrid. The window between now and August 11th is a unique opportunity for parents who are interested in full in-person education for their children to have their voices heard.

Some of you were signatories to an April 2020 Change.org open-the-schools petition circulated by David Goldstone, a parent of two Newton South students and a middle school student at The Rashi School. As many of us who have friends and neighbors with children at private schools know, private schools did not miss a beat during the closure, and are planning full in-person reopening in September. Others may know Stefanos Kales, parent of Newton North children, and medical doctor and professor of medicine at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Medicine. Doctor Kales and others at TH Chan have been messaging the need to open schools while communicating relative COVID risk.

On Thursday evening August 6rd, David Goldstone, Dr. Kales, myself, and a few others, will lead a NPS Zoom session where parents who have a desire to see the schools open for in-person instruction can discuss how we provide the encouragement and confidence the elected and appointed Newton officials need to successfully deliver that alternative to our community.

Here’s a recording of the Zoom meeting

and here are two PDF’s of presentations that went along with the meeting:

Parental Expectations for Learning – 2020

Public Health Aspects of Returning to School


Valerie Pontiff has lived in Newton for 18 years and has two children at Newton North. Professionally she is a commercial real estate broker, managing the Boston office of Mohr Partners. She has served as co-president of the Bigelow PTO (2016-2017) and the Newton North PTSO (2017-2020) and is committed to the success of public education.

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