March 24, 2020 - Update to Staff and Families


Good evening Northbridge staff and families:

So we have survived our first week of closure, and are now well into our second week.  It has certainly not been an easy challenge to deal with, however, the cooperation and unified response of the entire Northbridge school community, as well as the community at large, has been extraordinary. 

We have staff members and community members delivering meals to families and delivering work to students, as well as offering rides and other services.  In addition, we also have numerous individuals and businesses stocking our food pantries with generous donations every day.  I get multiple daily emails from so many different people and organizations offering to help our students in any way they can.  The generosity and compassion of this community has truly been overwhelming and so very appreciated. 

It is because of the kindness of this community and our families, as well as the dedication of our teachers and every other member of the Northbridge Public Schools staff, that we will push through this crisis together, and come out stronger as an entire community.   

And now, a few updates.

Food Service

As of tomorrow, our free and reduced meal pick-up at Balmer will be going curbside.  Food services will have tables set up outside of the Balmer front doors, so individuals and families can drive up, give their information, and grab their bags.  We will also be allowing individuals to pick up for their neighbors or other folks who are unable to get to the school.  They will just need to provide the names of the students for whom they are picking up meals.  The pick-up times for this week will remain 9:00 – 10:30 from Monday through Friday. 

PLEASE NOTE:  Next week, we will be changing our breakfast/lunch pick-up to two days per week, Monday and Wednesday, and extending the hours to 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.  On Monday, you can pick up two days worth of meals, and on Wednesday, three days worth of meals.  This is being done to limit interactions as much as possible for health and safety purposes.

We will continue to provide families with access to our Food Pantries by calling or emailing us in advance, so we can prepare boxes/bags for your family with specific items that you may need.  We will be limiting this access as well, however, to the same days and times as the free/reduced breakfast and lunch pick-up noted above. 

Again, I want to remind everyone that we can provide delivery to families who cannot make it in for pick-up of breakfast/lunch or Food Pantry orders for any reason.  Please just reach out to us.  For free/reduced meal delivery, please contact Central Office at (508) 234-8156, or send an email to or, and we will make arrangements.  For Food Pantry access or delivery, please contact Balmer (508) 234-8161 or email Mrs. Ross at

Standardized Testing

In an effort to ensure that AP students are still able to take their AP exams and get credit, the College Board has decided to allow students to take an online open-response exam at home.  The exams will be 45 minutes long and will only include questions on information that students would/should have learned in their AP classes by March (prior to school closures.)

For more information, please visit the following website:

Regarding MCAS testing, as you know, President Trump recently announced that there would be no standardized testing requirement for students across the nation.  However, because standardized testing is a federal requirement, Governor Baker did file a bill today which would waive our requirement for MCAS testing this year due to the pandemic.  We are hopeful that this bill will be passed quickly.

Student Learning

Superintendents across the state are anxiously awaiting written guidance from the Commissioner of Education, Jeff Riley, around what the standards should be for educating ALL students during this closure.  We have collectively urged him to provide state-wide directives and guidance on what to do, how to do it, and how often to do it, with regards to student learning experiences, assessments, grading, supports for students with disabilities and English learners, and more.   

We expect to have more specific "state-wide" guidance before the end of the week, and I will share that with staff and families as soon as it is received. 

Until then, please encourage your children to continue to be involved in the learning experiences provided by their teachers, as well as any other learning opportunities available to them.  Also, encourage them to stay connected to their classmates and teachers in some way and be sure to get some outside time to stretch a muscle other than their brains.

Aristotle once said, “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.   We are all certainly facing varying levels of adversity with unforeseen outcomes as a result of this pandemic, but if we continue to make the education of our students and children a priority, the future will be much brighter for everyone.  

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at or at (508) 234-8156, and be sure to check the website frequently for additional updates, resources and information.

Stay healthy and well, everyone.


Amy McKinstry, Superintendent