Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Message to all students (particularly seniors)


Governor Baker announced an extension of the school closure through May 4, 2020, at his press conference this afternoon. I will begin by saying that I have no intention of trying to relieve the real sense of loss this decision and this pandemic is causing.  As I said yesterday in my  blog we are living in a surreal time filled with uncertainty, fear, and our collective well-being is under attack, scared, frustrated, and perhaps even angry over the loss of things big and small. We would all be forgiven for succumbing to hopelessness, but we can’t.  

My heart hurts for all students, but it breaks for the great Class of 2020.  This is not the senior year you envisioned.  You undoubtedly have lots of questions, and we are short answers.  To combat this pandemic requires cooperation across the state, country, and globe, and a bi-product of this collective effort leaves answers outside of our control. 

The Governor and the education commissioner will provide guidance for us to follow.  I know you understand this is primarily out of our hands, but I also know there is no solace in that fact. These last few months of your pk-12 school experience were earmarked for culminating activities and the right of passage celebrations. Closing of school until May, seems unfair, and it hurts, and all the words in the world will not assuage those feelings.  

Although lacking in terms of comfort, I can promise you that someday in the future, we will call your name and I will hand you a diploma, and we will congratulate you on your achievement and applaud your resiliency. As we forge ahead on this uncertain path, we mourn, at the very least, the loss of March and April.  This is unfair, devastating, and unprecedented.  Take the evening to feel the sting of this loss.  Sleep to gather strength for the morning will come.  

Tomorrow, take the time to picture your future self describing this time in our nation’s history to a friend, your children, or grandchildren.  How will you tell them you passed this newfound time?  Did you sleep too much, play video games too much, use your phone too much?  Did you take your anger out on your loved ones?  

Or, did you deal with this hardship with grace and humility?  Did you use this time to sharpen your skills, learn something new, read more, exercise more, leverage the incredible technology in our hands to connect with friends, teachers, and loved ones?  Did you make the best of a bad situation? 

If I possessed a magic wand, I would end this pandemic tomorrow and return to normalcy, but I can’t.  One thing I do know is prior to this pandemic we were all, present company included, over-scheduled.  Change is never easy, and abrupt change even more challenging. Are you up for this challenge?  Will you come out on the other side a better person with a new skill?  Or someone bitter?  Will you describe yourself as someone who used their time to get healthy in both body and mind?  

In the moment, our feelings are rarely aligned with what is best for us.  We too often opt for what feels right now, or what is more comfortable; rather than doing what we know in our hearts will make us ALL the better in the future, and rarely does the term “ALL” encompass all of humanity.  

I listened to a Ted Talks Daily Podcast featuring Bill Gates. The richest man in the world who has dedicated his life since leaving Microsoft to harnessing technology to save lives. He described, in detail, how we missed our chance in February to curb this pandemic. It is not too late, but extreme measures (like closing schools for months on end) are needed to combat this pandemic. 

 Let’s not wait for horrific images on the news to adhere to the advice of health experts. Quarantine, and when this passes, come out the other side a better, more resilient, and more grateful person. I miss you all!

 Your Principal, 

 Michael J. Mastrullo

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Principal's Blog: Radio Show at 10:00 today, Select Choir, Globe All-Scholastic Awards, and a thank you to our medical professionals

To lighten the mood today, we plan to host a radio show at 10:00 on We will welcome calls, play music, answer questions, and keep the broadcast light. News to nobody, but we are living in a surreal time filled with uncertainty, anxiety, and our collective well-being is under attack; worried about our health and the health of the ones we love. Scared, frustrated, and perhaps even angry over the loss of things big and small. We would all be forgiven for succumbing to hopelessness, but we won't. 

Resilience is a word often bantered about, and our present situation will test our resolve like never before. To the best of our ability, let's view this health crisis and all that comes along with it as a challenge. A challenge for our school, the three communities that comprise CCHS, our state, our country, and the planet. Do your best to focus on the things we can control and try not to waste your energy on things you cannot control. Know that your attitude will go a long way in supporting your well-being and the well-being of your loved ones. Laugh when you can and remind yourself that we will get through this.

As bad as things are, remind yourself that things could be worse. The phrase "life is hard" has never been more accurate, but life is good. Use this time to reflect on all the things we take for granted. Appreciate them. 

We are all in this together, and  I urge most earnestly that you will weigh the words of the medical professionals and practice social distancing and refrain from all unnecessary travel to a store or a friend's house. This is all temporary, and the more we work together now, the sooner it will subside. Use your time productively and use technology to stay connected to all those you love.  

I want to thank all the medical professionals and the first responders for their work to date and for their future efforts that will need to be heroic to get us through this pandemic. I want to recognize our students in the national guard, Aaron Tang, and Jonah DeMarco; if not for individuals like them willing to serve in times of crisis, we would all suffer greatly. I am sure there are others committed to serving in the National Guard, and I encourage you to share their names so I can recognize their efforts. Be well.

A few bits of good news to share below.  

Select Choir Recognition

Concord Carlisle HS Select Choir was chosen to perform at the 2020 MMEA (Mass. Music Educators Association) All-State Conference in March. This was the result of an application process in December that included the submission of live performances and recommendation letters. This is a tremendous honor for our Music Program and our communities. 

Only four ensembles of all types (band, orchestra, and chorus) and of all grade levels K-12, were chosen from the Commonwealth.   The performance was held Friday, March 6 at 1:45 pm in the Plaza Ballroom, at the Seaport Hotel in Boston.      

Congratulations to Ms.Deborah Smith and her students who worked hard to achieve this level of excellence!  The Select Choir is listed below.  

Performance Link

Vincent Babu
Samuel Lyczkowski
Ella Baker-Puttini
David Maar
True Becker
Luke McCrory
Margaret Besthoff
Bryce Mottershead
Margaret Bowers
Abigail Mueller
Maya Cunningham
Madeline Mueller
William Delise
Olivia Mueller
Jack Gorewitz
Laurel Sharakan
Piper Harring
Paula Vasiliadis
Julia Hubbard
Samantha Wilder
Lucy Joseph
Honor Williams

Globe All-Scholastic
The following athletes have been selected Globe All-Scholastics for winter.

William Chaffin, boys indoor track
Emma Kerimo, girls indoor track
Ella Nichol, girls nordic skiing
Isabella Synnestvedt, girls nordic skiing
Charles Reichle, boys swimming
Hannah Bruno, girls indoor track coach of the year

Monday, March 16, 2020

Principal's Blog: Three articles worth your time and attention


I hope you and your family are well during this surreal time in modern history that is a stark reminder of how quickly life can change.  Take care of yourself and those you love.  

I share three articles worth your time.  Please read them at your leisure, and take care of yourself.  


Michael J. Mastrullo

Giuseppe Raviola is an assistant professor of psychiatry and of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Psychiatry Quality Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Boston (BCH)

Coronavirus Spread Simulator

Asaf Bitton MD, MPH | Executive Director | Ariadne Labs
Brigham and Women's Hospital | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

By Asaf Bitton
I know there is some confusion about what to do next in the midst of this unprecedented time of a pandemic, school closures, and widespread social disruption. I have been asked by a lot of people for my opinion, and I will provide it below based on the best information available to me today. This is my personal and well-informed opinion, and my take on the necessary steps ahead.

What I can say as a physician and public health leader, is that what we do, or don't do, over the next week will have a massive impact on the local and perhaps national trajectory of coronavirus. We are only about 11 days behind Italy and generally on track to repeat what is unfortunately happening there, as well as much of the rest of Europe very soon. At this point, containment through contact tracing and testing is only part of the necessary strategy. We must move to pandemic mitigation through widespread, uncomfortable, and comprehensive social distancing. That means not only shutting down schools, work (as much as possible), group gatherings, and public events. It also means making daily choices to stay away from each other as much as possible to Flatten The Curve (see below).

Our health system will not be able to cope with the projected numbers of people who will need acute care should we not muster the fortitude and will to socially distance each other starting now. On a regular day, we have about 45k ICU beds nationally, which can be ramped up in a crisis to about 93k. Even moderate projections suggest that if current infectious trends hold, our capacity (locally and nationally) may be overwhelmed as early as mid-late April. Thus, the only set of interlinked strategies that can get us off this concerning trajectory is to work together as a community to maintain public health by staying apart.

So what does this enhanced form of social distancing mean on a daily basis, when schools are cancelled?

I can suggest the following:

1. No playdates, parties, sleepovers, or families visiting each other's houses. This sounds extreme because it is. We are trying to create distance between family units and between individuals across those family units. It is uncomfortable, especially for families with small children or for kids who love to play with their friends. But even if you choose only one friend to have over, you are creating new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that all of our school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent. The symptoms of coronavirus take 4-5 days to manifest themselves. Someone who comes over looking well can transmit the virus. Sharing food is particularly risky - I definitely do not recommend that people do so outside of their family. We have already taken extreme social measures to address this serious disease - let's not actively co-opt our efforts by having high levels of social interaction at people's houses instead of the schools. Again - the wisdom of early and aggressive social distancing is that it can flatten the curve above, give our health system a chance to not be overwhlemed, and eventually may reduce the length and need for longer periods of extreme social distancing later (see what has transpired in Italy and Wuhan). We need to all do our part during these times, even if it means some discomfort.

2. Take walks/runs outside, but maintain distance (ideally 6 feet between people outside your family). Try not to use public facilities like playground structures as coronavirus can live on plastic and metal for up to 3 days, and these structures aren't getting regularly cleaned. Try not to have physical contact with people outside of your family. Going outside will be important during these strange times, and the weather is improving. Go outside every day if you can but stay physically away from others. Try not to have kids play with each other (even outside) if that means direct physical contact. Even basketball or soccer involve direct contact and cannot be recommended. If people wish to go outside and have a picnic with other families, I strongly recommend keeping distance of at least 6 feet, not sharing any food at all, and not having direct physical contact. Invariably, that is hard with kids, so these shared, "distant" picnics may be tricky. Do not visit nursing homes or other areas where large numbers of the elderly reside, as they are at highest risk for complications and mortality from coronavirus. We need to find alternate ways to reduce social isolation in these communities through virtual means instead of physical in-person visits.

3. Reduce the frequency of going to stores/restaurants/coffee shops for the time being. Of course trips to the grocery store will be necessary, but try to limit them and go at times when less busy. Consider wearing gloves (not medical - but perhaps washable) and of course washing hands before and after really well. Leave the medical masks and gloves for the medical professionals - we need them. Maintain social distance from folks. Take-out meals and food are riskier than making food at home given the links between the people who prepare food, transport the food, and you. It is hard to know how much that risk is, but it is is certainly higher than making it at home.

4. If you are sick, definitely stay home and contact a medical professional. If you are sick, you should try isolate yourself from the rest of your family within your house as best as you can. If you have questions about whether you qualify or should get a coronavirus test, you can call you primary care team and/or consider calling the Partners Health Care hotline staffed 8AM-8PM every day - 617 724 7000, or the Massachusettes department of public health at 617 983 6800. Don't just walk in to an ambulatory clinic - call first. Obviously if it is an emergency call 911.

5. We need to push our local, state, and national leaders to close ALL schools, events, gatherings, and public spaces now. A local, town by town response won't have the needed effect. We need a statewide, nationwide approach in these trying times. Contact your representative and the governor to urge them to enact statewide closures. As of today, 6 states had already done so. We should be one of them. Also urge them to fund emergency preparedness and make increasing coronavirus testing capacity an immediate and top priority.

I realize there is a lot built into these suggestions, and that they represent a real burden for many people, businesses, and communities. Social distancing is hard and may negatively impact others, especially those who face vulnerablities in our society. I recognize that there is structural and social inequity built in and around social distancing recommendations. We can and must take steps to bolster our community response to people who face food insecurity, domestic violence, and housing challenges, along with the many other social inequities.

I also realize that not everyone can do everything. But we have to try our absolute best as a community, starting today. It is a public health imperative. If we don't do this now voluntarily, it will become necessary later involuntarily, when the potential benefits will be much less than doing so right now.