From: Mary C. Gormley
To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: April 13, 2020
FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT
I am writing to you on a Monday to share several important updates that I did not want to leave until my weekly Thursday blog post. Please see below for information about:
- Video Conferencing – Zoom/Google Hangouts
- MCAS Testing
- Plus Portals Live Tutorials
- Chrombook Pickups
- Food Service
Understanding that the impact of COVID-19 is constantly evolving, we have consistently sought up to date information and reflected on our work in light of it. Further, we continue to greatly appreciate your partnership with us and the risk-taking and innovation of our teachers. In particular, it is inspiring to see how many teachers are offering students live remote learning opportunities, and we thank you for your patience as we smooth out the wrinkles that can happen in such virtual environments. As you know, many of these learning opportunities have been done through Zoom. You may have noticed in recent news that security concerns have been raised about the use of Zoom as a video conferencing tool with students. Given these concerns and after consultation with other districts and the attorneys with whom we work, we have decided that as a district we will transition away from using Zoom with students and instead use Google Hangout Meet exclusively. Unlike Zoom, the Milton Public Schools has full control over settings in Google Hangout Meet. Teachers will be transitioning away from Zoom and moving to Google Hangout Meet this week. Please know that our technology team is here to support them and you in this transition.
If you would like to read more about some of the Zoom security and privacy concerns that have been published, please follow the links below. Again, from the district’s perspective, a primary point in this decision-making process is the degree of control we as a district can exert and thus the degree of safety precautions we can confidently say are in place for all teachers and all students.
- Security & Privacy Implications with Zoom
- FBI Warns of Teleconferencing and Online Classroom Hijacking During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Schools in New York City are moving away from using the video conference app Zoom after a review of security concerns. Here is the Article.
- GMA Zoom Warning
- Article on Boston.com
For those who are new to Google Hangout Meet, here are support links to Google’s Join a Google Hangout Meet support, Troubleshooting Google Hangout Meet, Requirements for Google Hangout Meet. If you cannot access Google Hangout Meet from your computer (i.e. it is blocked on a work computer) you can use your phone or iPad or any phone to call into the session without video.
As always, the safety of our students and staff is our priority. We hope you understand our need to shift our approach in response to this recent information regarding Zoom. If you have additional questions or technology needs, please reach out to AJ Melanson, Director of Educational Technology at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be well and again please let us know what you need.
Mary C. Gormley, Superintendent
A.J. Melanson, Director for Educational Technology
Dr. Karen Spaulding, Assistant Superintendent
Dr. Glenn Pavlicek, Assistant Superintendent
Late last week, Governor Baker signed legislation that addresses many concerns municipalities and school districts might have because of the state of emergency related to COVID-19, including this year’s MCAS testing.
The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education previously requested and received a waiver from the federal requirement for annual statewide student assessment. Now, with the state legislation enacted, the MCAS testing requirement is waived for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
As a result of these federal and state actions and in light of the on-going health crisis, Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley is cancelling this spring’s regular administration of grade-level MCAS tests for students in grades 3-10.
In addition, the legislation allows the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon Mr. Riely’s recommendation, to modify or waive the requirements of the competency determination for high school graduation in order to address disruptions caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 or the state of emergency. Further guidance to districts will be forthcoming.
PLUS PORTALS: On Wednesday, April 15th, Educational Technology Director AJ Melanson, is holding “Navigating the Portal” sessions for each school. These sessions will be for parents/guardians. Mr. Melanson will spend 10-15 minutes going over the Portal and then have a 10-15 minute Q&A.
Principals will co-facilitate and manage questions that come in through the chat. Below are the times for Wednesday, April 15th along with the video conference link and phone number with the pin in case Google is blocked on a work device. Please join your school’s session if you have questions about Navigating Plus Portals.
- Collicot 1-1:30 pm – https://meet.google.com/yki-wzzr-fvn
Join by phone +1 919-525-2089 PIN: 520 782 350#
- Cunningham 1:45-2:15 pm – https://meet.google.com/xjb-oyat-tah
Join by phone +1 218-301-2519 PIN: 479 572 822#
- Glover 2:30-3pm – https://meet.google.com/ahz-pabu-eej
Join by phone +1 352-720-0025 PIN: 280 315 294#
- MHS 3:15-3:45 pm – https://meet.google.com/qmz-spsf-tij
Join by phone +1 304-968-9335 PIN: 171 219 711#
- Pierce 4-4:30 pm – https://meet.google.com/cny-fdfi-fkh
Join by phone +1 650-466-0823 PIN: 288 419 634#
- Tucker 4:45-5:15 pm – https://meet.google.com/kys-ydtq-gsi
Join by phone +1 319-332-7357 PIN: 317 362 207#
CHROME BOOK DISTRIBUTION: Families in need of an additional device should email email@example.com. Please include the following in the email.
- Student’s name
- Grade level
Arrangement for pick up will be made with Mr. Melanson. Please contact your child’s principal if you have any issues receiving a Chromebook.
The MPS Food Service effort continues this week with Wednesday pick up of weekly to-go bags of breakfasts and lunches for any Milton student. Weekly to-go bags with 7 breakfasts and 7 lunches are available for pick up every Wednesday from 8-9am and 5-6pm at MHS and Tucker.
These FREE 7 day to-go bags contain low sugar cereal, shelf stable milk, sunbutter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and snack bags. ANY Milton family is welcome to pick up a weekly to-go bag as the goal is to support any food insecure student.
This FREE service will be available throughout the school closure, including during school vacation week on Wednesday April 22nd.
If you would like to apply for Free and Reduced meals, for once school is back in session please see this link for the application and more information. These weekly to-go bags of breakfasts and lunches are available to ALL Milton students during the school closing.
If you have a hardship and are in need of more convenient hours for pick up, please contact Food Service Director Jackie Morgan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 617-898-1051. MPS families in need of support during this time are also encouraged to email MPS Family Outreach Liaison Marti O’Keefe McKenna at email@example.com or by phone at 617-980-7343.
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 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.