To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT
This week we held our final two school based Conversation Hours with parents and guardians from Pierce and Milton High School. Thank you to all who attended over the last 3 weeks,, and thank you to the Principals who contributed to the conversation. Since the first evening on February 23, much has changed for the Milton Public Schools and I have tried to be transparent and open about the changes and decisions we are making at this time. Last night I shared a possible change in the full in person start date to April 12 for Pierce and MHS. I am confirming that start date here. Elementary will begin full in person days on April 5, Pierce and MHS will begin full in person days on April 12. A full remote model remains in all grades through the end of this school year.
We are adjusting the Pierce and MHS date to April 12 for two reasons.
- The 3rd Quarter ends on April 9, and this allows all students to finish Q3 with their current teacher and class. With many students changing models, there is a possibility of teacher changes for some students (just as there was at any time throughout this year as students moved between the in person and remote models). Beginning our new full in person model on April 12 allows for the 4th quarter to begin with classes fully formed.
- An April 12 start for Pierce and MHS gives us 5 school days to focus on the daily logistics of the 4 elementary schools during the week of April 5 before Pierce and MHS begin their new full in person model.
As we continue with our planning to return to full in person learning, please note the following: If you would like your child to switch learning models (In person to Remote or Remote to In Person), please email your child’s principal as soon as possible, and no later than this Friday, March 12.
MPS will continue to offer a full remote model through the end of the school year. There may be changes in the daily schedule which will be communicated by your teacher and/or principal. We will make every effort to keep current remote classes with their current MPS teacher, but there may be instances where this is not possible due to student movement between models. We will update remote families of any staffing changes as we become aware of them. While there was potentially confusing guidance from DESE this week, I want to confirm that Full Remote learning in our new model does count towards Student Learning Time (SLT).
Due to lunch and space constraints in our full in person model, MPS will be a peanut free district for the duration of this school year. All snacks and lunches that are brought to school after must be peanut free.
As many details of this model change are school based, your principal will be sending updated information to all families in the week before the model change takes place. I will continue to update the MPS community in this space and in additional emails as needed.
Please continue to follow all CDC and MA Department of Public Health guidance on mask wearing, distance, hand hygiene, and social gatherings so we can all Protect the Paw and keep our students and staff safe in school.
The School Committee FY 22 budget meeting for the MPS community has rescheduled for Thursday, March 18 at 7pm. The link to attend will be posted on the Town of Milton website.
The next regularly scheduled School Committee meeting will be on March 17, 2021, at 7pm. You can watch School Committee meetings live on Milton Access TV online, live on Milton Access cable channels (Comcast 22, RCN 15), attend via Zoom (link to attend found on the Town of Milton SC page), or watch on-demand in the days following the meeting.
IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES
- Mar 17 Milton School Committee
- Mar 18 Milton School Committee FY 22 Budget Meeting
- Mar 22 MPS Rock Your Socks
- Mar 31 Milton School Committee
- Apr 1 Early Release Grades K-5 (PD Day)
- Apr 2 No School – Good Friday
- Apr 5 K-5 Full In Person Model Change
- Apr 12 6-12 Full In Person Model Change
The full MPS calendar can be found here.
March 19: The Full Day Professional Day for MPS Staff on Friday, March 19 has been canceled and will now be a regular school day for all MPS students. Students should follow their regular hybrid/remote schedule. It is a Day 1 for Pierce/MHS students.
March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day and we will be celebrating at MPS on Monday, March 22 with our annual Rock Your Socks competition. Wear your craziest socks to show awareness and acceptance for people with Down Syndrome!
HEALTH AND SAFETY
COVID REPORTING: Each week, school districts report the number of positive cases in the Hybrid Model only to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). For the weeks of March 4 – March 10, MPS reported: 2 staff positive and 2 students positive.
As we prepare to return to school full time in April, the nursing department would like to send along some important health reminders.
- All students should bring a reusable, labeled water bottle to school each day
- If your student has an EpiPen or inhaler that you would like to drop at school, designated times for each school will be sent from your building principal in the next few weeks. Medication forms can be found on the MPS website under the Health Services tab.
SEASONAL ALLERGIES and COVID-19:
Students with seasonal allergies may have symptoms that can be confused with COVID-19. To prevent any unnecessary COVID testing or quarantine, we encourage you to speak with your pediatrician now and consider beginning seasonal allergy medication. Allergy symptoms range from mild to severe and can occur seasonally or be present year-long. In patients with asthma, allergies can cause a cough, wheeze, and shortness of breath.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a viral illness spread through droplets via coughing, sneezing, and close personal contact. Symptoms typically start between 2-14 days after exposure and will typically resolve within ~14 days after onset, whether the symptoms are mild, moderate or severe. It is important to note that if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, it is still possible you can get COVID-19. If you are vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19, your symptoms are expected to be milder.
KEY POINTS TO DETERMINE ALLERGIES OR COVID-19 INFECTION
- Timeline and past history
- .Often people with allergies have a history of seasonal allergies.
- Allergy symptoms tend to be more long-lasting than viral symptoms.
- Allergy symptoms often respond to allergy medications.
- Allergies typically make people itchy. Itchiness is not a symptom of a viral illness.
- Patients with allergies do not develop a fever. Often people with COVID-19 do.
- Patients with allergies may also have asthma, which can cause coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing. COVID-19 typically does not cause wheezing
Please continue to refer to our COVID-19 page for all health and safety policies and updates.
Somaly Prak-Martins, Senior Director of Education Equity, shares the following. Please see her full March 2021 newsletter here.
The fight for women’s rights in America is also woven into the fabric of American History. Did you know that Women’s History Month started off as a day, turned into a week, and then the month of March? More resources are available here.
Through the Lens of Equity: We must continually examine what it means to equitably serve ALL learners. We must also recognize that being equitable is a process that may yield different actions depending on the needs of who we are serving. However, the outcome we aim to achieve is to provide ALL learners (student and staff) a fair chance to thrive in our district. Please see an update on our efforts in the newsletter.
The Quality Review Survey is a project commissioned by MPS leadership and facilitated by Cambridge Education. As part of this effort, we invite all community members to participate in an online survey and/or focus groups to share their experiences. A survey link was sent directly to the email address we have on file. If you do not have an email address and would like to fill in the survey and/or participate in the focus group please reach out to the Senior Director of Education Equity at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HIGH SCHOOL HAPPENINGS
Please see below from the MHS National Honor Society.
The National Honor Society is selling flowers this week that students can gift to their classmates, friends, teachers, and staff. Families can also gift a flower to their student or a staff member. It’s just $2 for a flower and note and all proceeds will be donated to charities supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Those who receive flowers will be notified via email by Tuesday, March 16, and flowers can be picked up at the side entrance by the math and science hallway on the first floor on Wednesday, March 17, or Thursday, March 18 starting at 12 pm. Any students who are fully remote may stop by the high school to pick up their flowers during that time, or if unable, the flowers may be delivered to them. The link to order flowers can be found here. All orders must be placed by Monday, March 15.
Just some of the Pierce GSA team who prepared and presented to staff.
In their continuous efforts to make Pierce Middle School an inclusive environment to all, the Pierce GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) saw a need for education and staff discussion on name and pronoun usage in the classroom. Our students created a slideshow on pronoun usage in the classroom, made posters with many of the different pronouns so students and staff can have visuals throughout the building, and then presented to all Pierce staff at the Principal’s meeting last week. You can view their Powerpoint here. By all accounts, they did an outstanding job. These students are strong and creative advocates, and the presentation was welcomed by Pierce staff.
Pierce GSA advisors Kelli Prodnas and Erin Jaquette shared that they have never had a group of middle school students present to the entire staff, and we are so proud of them for their hard and thoughtful work.
Pierce 7th Grade Debate Class welcomed a special guest speaker this week – Milton High School junior Jonathan Waldmann. Jonathan has been interested in politics his entire life, but his involvement peaked following the 2016 election and the devastating school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February of 2018. Since then, Jonathon has worked as a teen leader on the Warren Campaign for President, as a fellow on the Ed Markey campaign for United States Senate, and is a member of Sunrise Boston. He is also along with student government, Model United Nations, and his school’s Debate Team. He also began Milton’s chapter of MAHSD in the fall of 2019 and has served as chair since then. Outside of politics, he enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, and playing baseball.
Pierce students were able to ask Jonathan questions about his motivations for getting involved with student leadership, preparation strategies used in debate, the MHS Debate team, how to develop a great relationship with school administrators in order to accomplish school based goals, and what it means to represent your community in outside organizations.
As Jonathan is someone who has already accomplished what they are learning to become great at, this was a unique opportunity for our students, and they enjoyed and benefitted from their time with Jonathon.
Thank you to Jonathon Waldmann for his time with our students and thank you to debate teacher Jason Green, Pierce Principal Bill Fish and MHS Debate Advisor Kathleen Kelley for their partnership in making this event happen for our students.
Congratulations to this year’s Pierce STEM Fair winners!1st Place – Isabelle Lee – Covid & Motivation2nd Place – Chloe Bergeron – Hydroponics3rd Place – Madyn Dwyer – Neuroplasticity
8th Grade Health & Wellness Classes had the unique opportunity to participate in virtual workshops run by Fontbonne students & staff during the school’s annual Love Your Body Week event. Students were able to participate in engaging Nutrition, Sleep, & Yoga Workshops thanks to the collaborative efforts of Fontbonne Health Educator & Wellness Director Keri McPhillips, her impressive 11th grade students, and Pierce Health & Wellness Teachers, Mrs. McEvoy, Mr. Bonn, Mr. O’Leary, and Ms. Queally. This community collaboration with the goal of promoting healthy decision-making in teens was a big success!
INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
Thank you to all who attended 1st Grade Information Night on March 9. The Powerpoint presentation about our two first grade programs, The English Innovation Pathway (with STEM & Spanish) and French Immersion, can be found here. Please contact your child’s principal with questions.
Learning and fun are staples in our Cunningham Preschool classes. Dinosaur Week in preschool meant dinos in all preschool centers. Students made their own dinosaurs out of shapes, built them out of pattern blocks, buried them in sensory bins, practiced math by giving their dinos extra spikes with clip cards, and more!
Students enjoyed the large group activity, Mat Man from “Learning Without Tears”. The class used letter pieces to create a person. This is a fun large or small group activity and helps the children get the idea of drawing and creating all the parts of the person through the manipulative pieces.
Dental health and learning their letters collided as children matched letters by “cleaning” the letter. This center activity was done as part of learning about dental health.
Ms. Elovich’s Glover Kindergarten class is highlighting strong, amazing women this month for Women’s History Month. Last week, students researched Eugenie Clark, also known as The Shark Lady. Through video and nonfiction texts, the class learned about her research on marine life and animal behavior. Did you know she once rode on the back of a shark during a deep dive for research? We enjoyed doing a guided drawing of her using marker and crayon and talked about the many ways in which we can be brave like Eugenie Clark!
Mme. Vendette’s remote 3rd graders from Collicot, Cunningham, Glover, and Tucker just completed a bonus final project at the end of their Geometry unit. This project based learning activity, Geometrocity, really helps students see how we use geometry in the real world by building their own city. This was a fun group project for this remote classroom, as each student completed a square, and when all the squares are connected, it creates the students’ collective dream city.
The week, Glover welcomed award-winning author Christina Soontornvat for a virtual visit with all students. Christina Soontornvat’s picture books include The Ramble Shamble Children, illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Lauren Castillo, and Simon at the Art Museum, illustrated by Christine Davenier. She is the author of the beloved Diary of an Ice Princess chapter book series. Her recent works include the middle-grade fantasy, A Wish in the Dark, which was named a 2021 Newbery Honor Book and was chosen as Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post and School Library Journal, and All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, which has received numerous nonfiction awards and was also named a 2021 Newbery Honor Book.
Glover students loved the virtual visit and asked thoughtful and interesting questions during their time with Ms. Soontornvat.
More than 75 Collicot students participated in the recent Collicot virtual science fair. Students explored testable questions including “Why do we have bones?”, “Is slime a conductor?” , “Why Do Stars Come Out at Night?” Visit the Science Fair Padlet to see photos and videos of their projects. Thank you to MHS Robotics Club students Lok Ye Young, Jayme Lo, Gus Greene, Shivani Kaura, Alexander Tran, Alix Benoit, and Joshua Lam for attending and providing feedback to elementary students on their projects.
Some of our proud Collicot Science Fair participants.
Collicot continues to celebrate and encourage literacy in the month of March. Congratulations to Mrs. Fitzsimmon’s and Mme Kramer’s classes for winning our school wide Lexia and Lailo contest last week. This week students recorded Flip Grid videos sharing their favorite books. If you are looking for a great book, check out these links with recommendations from Collicot students for students in K-2 and 3-5.
On February 25, families and staff from across the district enjoyed an evening with author Dr. Soo Hong. Dr. Hong is the author of Natural Allies-Hope and Possibilities in Teacher-Family Partnerships. Her talk was the perfect kick off to our Tucker Talks series this year and an opportunity for our district families to come together to create lasting and collaborative relationships between home and school. Dr. Hong spoke first about her experiences in fostering collaborative relationships. The second half of the talk was a discussion with family and staff members on ways to improve these partnerships in our schools going forward. This year has been pivotal in seeing how important the relationship is between schools and families. This was a wonderful opportunity for us to come together as a community and brainstorm ways to keep families and schools connected. We look forward to more Tucker Talks to come!
Administrator for Pupil Personnel Services, Sue Maselli shares the following. Did you know MPS has two full time Inclusion Specialists?
- Maureen Butler is our K-5 Inclusion Specialist and can be reached at email@example.com (preferred) or (617) 696-4288 x4115.
- Caroline Mannion is our 6-12+ Inclusion Specialist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
These staff members play a valuable role in our community. It’s a good time of year to reintroduce them to you as you may find their support helpful for your student as we move into the next phase of the school year and a return to full in person learning for many of our students. Please click the graphics below for a closer look at their roles.
MPS Food Service is hiring! We have several open positions, including for a cook at MHS, and cafeteria helpers and cashiers at Pierce, Cunningham, and Collicot. The hourly wage is $15.89 for these school day (between the hours of 9:30-1:30) positions. Please email Jackie Morgan at email@example.com to explore joining the MPS Food Service team.
Weekly Wednesday lunch pick up continues at MHS (with Farmers to Families Boxes!) and students can also pick up grab and go options each day as they leave school.
The Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition shares the following.
Prevention starts early and it starts at home. See below for 2 valuable parent tips. For lots of tips and resources for parents and guardians about steps to take to help prevent teen use of drugs and alcohol, please visit our website and follow us on Facebook.
The Milton Public Schools is committed to being a resource for you. Whether you are unsure how to connect with school staff or directly need a referral for services or supplies, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Marti O’Keefe McKenna, MPS Family Outreach Liaison, at 617-980-7343 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All calls and emails are confidential.
Milton is a participating community in The William James INTERFACE Referral Service. Interface is a mental health and wellness referral Helpline available Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm, at 888-244-6843. This is a free, confidential referral service for residents of Milton and other participating communities. Callers from these participating communities are matched with licensed mental health providers from our extensive database, on average, within 2 weeks of their call to INTERFACE. Each referral best meets the location, insurance, and specialty needs of the caller.
All updates on Family Resources – food, heating assistance, health insurance, financial assistance, contacts – can be found at this link.
ART AND MUSIC
Happy Music In Our Schools Month! The MHS Music department has an incredible group of outstanding senior musicians. Each week in March we will be featuring a group of Music Senior Spotlights to celebrate MIOSM and all of their accomplishments and contributions to the Milton music community. You can read about this week’s seniors (listed below) in detail here.
Please see the following from AD Ryan Madden.
Please join me in congratulating our Winter All-Stars!
- Boys Basketball – Andrew Lynch & Lateef Patrick
- Girls Basketball – Annie Ferrara
- Girls Ice Hockey – Christina Sweeney & Lila Chamoun
- Alpine Skiing – Ben Catudal
- Boys Ice Hockey – Coming soon!
See attached for the Bay State Conference School Specific COVID Policies. Please adhere to the opposing team’s policies. Not all schools allow visiting fans.
MHS Floating Season Spectator Policy
- Football/Track/Cheer: No Students or General Admission; 2 parents/guardians/ chaperones and siblings per student-athlete
- Volleyball: No spectators allowed.
Games will continue to be live streamed via YouTube. Search Milton Access TV on YouTube to find live streams and recordings of all events. (Freshman Volleyball may not be live streamed each game. The coach will communicate what games will be live streamed).
Spring sports will officially start on Monday, April 12. We recognize that this is earlier than what the MIAA previously released, they have just recently revised the dates. Students are expected to attend all sessions starting on April 12. There will be no games over April Vacation, students should make every effort to attend all practices. While there will be no penalties for missing practices over the break, families will be required to follow MA Travel Guidelines when returning.
Registration for spring sports will open Monday, March 15.
We recommend checking with the local organizations below for any changes to the following events.
Join MECA for a free virtual parent workshop: Helping Your Child Re-adjust to In-school Learning. This session is for families with children 2.9 to 10 years old and will take place on Tuesday, March 16, at 7:30 pm. Registration is required here to receive Zoom link. We will be discussing: Helping your child re-engage and succeed; Finding a new normal as a family; Supporting your child’s feelings; Adjusting to new routines. Many thanks to the Milton Junior Woman’s Club for their support of this programming.
The Milton Public Library has some terrific programs for students of all ages. Check out next week’s activitieshere.
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Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Kim Coughlin, Susan Maselli, Jackie Morgan, Janice Mazzolla, Sara Macneil, Kate Elovich, Rebecca Damiani, Ellen Lohan, Jon Redden, Kristen Driscoll, Erin Jaquette, Ryan Madden, Somaly Prak-Martins, Veronique Vendette and Maragaret Carels.
The Milton Public School system does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, gender transitioning, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its programs, activities or operations. These include, but are not limited to, admissions, equal access to programs and activities, employment, provision of and access to programs and services, as well as a selection of volunteers, vendors, and employers recruiting at the Milton Public Schools. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, students, volunteers, subcontractors, and vendors. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum & Human Resources, Dr. Karen Spaulding, (617) 696-5040 ext. 5582.
This press release was produced by Milton Public Schools. The views expressed are the author’s own.