September 17, 2020

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: September 17, 2020

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

This week we welcomed our Milton Public Schools students back in our buildings and to our virtual classrooms for the start of the 2020-21 school year. How best to describe these first two days? Successful, to start. But also exciting, stressful, fun, exhausting, frustrating, joyful – the list of possible adjectives is endless. What I do know, is that all of our Milton Public Schools students and staff engaged in making connections and setting the stage for a year of learning together in the months to come.

I would ask that we all take a breath right now and have confidence that the glitches  – in schedules, communication, technology – will be worked out in the coming days. Remember that the beginning of the school year can be stressful in a normal year, and this year is far from normal. Our administrators, teachers, and staff are working feverishly to make adjustments, both for your individual student and to our practices as a whole if we see room for improvement. This school year, and really all school years, are a marathon, not a sprint.  If we can give each other grace, now and throughout the year, we will all be setting a positive example for your children, our students, in this tumultuous time.

I would also like to thank the Milton Community for their outpouring of support after my communication to you last Friday. Rest assured that this situation is behind me and I am ready and excited to move forward with a focus on an outstanding year for the Milton Public Schools.

We captured many happy faces and moments this week and I invite you to take a minute to relish the joy of being back to school in the video below.

RETURN TO SCHOOL –  HEALTH AND SAFETY 

As we continue to Protect the Paw, I want to call your attention to the following important safety items.

Milton Public Schools COVID-19 Positive Case Process

As living in a Covid-19 world is our current reality, we recognize that our schools do not exist in sealed bubbles, and we will likely experience positive cases in the Milton Public Schools. Our active safety protocols – mandated mask wearing for anyone who enters our schools, social distancing throughout all buildings, daily at home prescreening for all students and staff, increased cleaning and sanitizing, increased ventilation, half of the school population for in-person learning, vigilant hand hygiene and more – are designed specifically to decrease the chance of the spread of the virus inside our schools.

When there is a positive case in MPS, communication will be a key component. We have developed a Milton Public Schools COVID-19 Positive Case Process and I invite you to read it here.  Knowing when and why you will be contacted, and by whom, will be important as we safely navigate this school year together.

A key component of a safe return to school is a daily health screening, every day, for all students and staff.

Everyone in the Milton Public Schools will wear a mask. 

  • Please see the Face Covering Policy for all details. We encourage every student to wear one mask to school and to also pack a back up if at all possible. Each classroom will have a box of 3-ply disposable masks to be used when needed.

In order to continue to #protectthepaw, we all must adhere to CDC guidance outside of school as well. Students should be wearing masks and maintaining some distance as they walk home with friends and as they safely socialize outside of school.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE

The next School Committee meeting will be on September 23, 2020, at 7pm and all School Committee meetings can be watched on Milton Access TV.  In the days leading up to each meeting, call in/login information is available on the Town of Milton website.

The Milton School Committee last week presented a quarterly update to the MPS Strategic Plan. You can view the presentation here. The updated Strategic Plan Can be found here. We will write more about the updated Strategic Plan in the coming weeks.

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On August 26, the Milton School Committee voted to approve four policies. Each of these policies is important and I encourage you to take the time to read through them.Face Covering PolicyRemote Learning Policy; Immunization Policy; Covid Policy

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES

September 17/18: Kindergarten and Preschool Orientations
September 21: 1st Day of School for Kindergarten and Preschool
September 28: No School, Yom Kippur

The full MPS calendar can be found here.

FOOD SERVICE 

We hope you and your student will take advantage of our food service options this fall!

All details can be found in this link.

Students will have two options  – grab and go (several breakfasts and lunches) as they leave school on their in-person days or once a week pick up (at MHS near the field house doors behind the school) of multiple breakfasts and lunches on Wednesday.

Due to an extension by the USDA, all meals will be free to all students through December 2020. If a USDA waiver is not extended in December students’ accounts will then be charged accordingly. Meals will remain free for our free and reduced students. All meals will be eaten at home.

Additional food resources can be found here. MPS families in need of support at any time are encouraged to email MPS Family Outreach Liaison Marti O’Keefe McKenna via email at or by phone at 617-980-7343.

TECHNOLOGY 

There are many Technology resources available to families and students. Please see below for support.

Family Technology Support Help Center website:  This site was created after hearing the feedback MPS families provided.  The site provides information on PlusPortal, Google: Clever: Guardian Monitoring, and Who to Contact.

Student Technology Boot Camp: This student boot camp was created to help prepare students for remote learning. Students should go through all of the modules to become more comfortable with all of the platforms/applications that will be used throughout the 2020-21 school year. Each module will include important topics your student will be expected to use.

MPS Family Tech Support Group: A technology minded group of MPS parents and guardians invite you to join the private MPS Family Tech Support Group Facebook group. See their note below:

  • We’ve created this group as an unofficial resource for families looking for answers to technology questions during this school year.
  • We encourage you to visit the Family Technology Support site provided by the district as a first step. We hope that families can be a resource for other families as we all endure this most unprecedented of school years.
  • Let’s all be nice to each other. This group will be moderated and there will be no second chances. This is a place to help solve problems, not create new ones. This should be a place to find answers, not lob criticism at each other or the Milton public schools in general.
  • We will not tolerate any posts that are contrary to the spirit of this group.

TRANSPORTATION 

Please see below for an update from our Transportation Department. All updates can be found on the Milton Public Schools Transportation webpage.

No student will be allowed to board a bus in the morning or at dismissal without a hard copy of their bus pass in their possession.  Students MUST wear a mask at all times on the bus, may ONLY ride on their assigned bus, and MUST sit in their assigned seat as printed on their pass. Students should not share or use each other’s personal items on the bus.

Bus routes and schedules are posted on the Milton Public Schools website, but are rough estimates at this time due to the significantly changed ridership and changing of school schedules.  Please plan to be 15 minutes early to the stop in the morning until the schedule settles in, at which time we will work to update the website.  In the afternoons, please plan to be at your child’s stop approximately 5 minutes after school dismisses until we establish afternoon timing.

All remaining bus passes for registered elementary students were delivered to school on Wednesday morning for distribution in backpacks.  If your child received a pass and you no longer wish to have your child ride the bus, please email bus@miltonps.org to withdraw from the bus.  It is critical that we know how many seats are open this year.

Bus passes for 6th graders living more than two miles from school who registered for the bus were delivered to Pierce for distribution as well, please email bus@miltonps.org of you received a pass and do not plan to have your student ride.

We have begun processing registrations for students in grades 6-12 who are not guaranteed ridership and will be assigned seats until they reach the capacity set by the state and DESE for Covid safety, prioritizing students who live more than 2 miles from school.  We will be unable to accommodate all registered riders. Notifications will go out by early next week if your registered student has a seat on the bus.

Please forward transportation questions to Rachel Schewe at bus@miltonps.org.

SCHOOL SPECIFIC INFORMATION 

A great way to stay abreast of what is happening at your child’s school is through the school’s webpage. These sites are linked on the MPS homepage and can be found at these links.

Social media is also a good way to stay in the loop while getting a peek into your child’s day. Be sure to follow your school’s accounts.

A Note from the Milton PTOs

The 6 Milton PTOs have asked me to share this with you. I hesitated to share this but I do want to acknowledge and thank them for their support.

It is our pleasure to congratulate James Jette on his appointment as interim Superintendent of Milton Public Schools. His choice to step into this role during such a stressful and unprecedented time, speaks to his dedication and commitment to our community. In addition to his many accomplishments and various roles within the Milton Public Schools, it is his positive attitude, thoughtful approach to situations, and tireless work ethic that gives us complete confidence in his ability to lead our district. We support Superintendent Jette and look forward to working with him this year and hopefully for many years to come.

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Our MPS staff was welcomed back by the PTOs and families last week with coffee, treats, and kind messages.

COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted us to rethink how we can deliver the engaging programming, new learning opportunities, and supportive relationships that our families count on. To that end, MCS is launching a virtual enrichment program that will be offered to students K- 5th grades, with a variety of fun and interactive 45 minute sessions taught by our After School Enrichment (ASE) Specialists.

We are excited to share these offerings with you and encourage you to read through these exciting course offerings! 

SPECIAL EDUCATION 

Administrator for Pupil Personnel Services, Sue Maselli shares the following information.

Welcome back! All families with a student in Special Education should have received the following information from The Office of Pupil Personnel Services. If you have not, please email me at smaselli@miltonps.org.

  • Courier mail copy of Parent Safeguards.
  • This recently published letter from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
  • Our first official Special Education newsletter of the year. Please note information regarding the reopening of school, what to expect for IEP services and who is your building contact. Chairs and Liaisons are reaching out to parents directly to talk about individual student needs. We ask for patience while they contact each family. This process has been dependent on building schedules, staffing, and individual building needs based on student and staff selections, and has taken longer than anticipated, so we appreciate your patience.

A Parent Outreach Opportunity:  You are invited to participate in a parent series that will focus on how parents can support their children as they navigate through their Hybrid/Remote learning schedule. This series will focus on identifying strategies on how parents can set up their home working environment to support at home learning, how to support your child planning and organizing their workload, behavioral strategies to increase independence with remote learning, and strategies to monitor your child’s social and emotional well being. Tuesday, Oct 15th at 630 with BCBA, Caroline  Mannion. Please register at this link. 

We are looking forward to a great year!

ANTI-RACISM ACTION TEAM 

The Milton Public Schools invites parents, guardians, and staff to apply for positions on the new Anti-Racism Action Team. This group will be charged with drafting an Anti-Racism Action Plan to guide the district’s work moving forward in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, with a particular focus on anti-racism. After the Action Plan is reviewed by our staff and community, the Action Team will present to the School Committee. The Action Team will continue to play an important role in supporting implementation, as well as monitoring and reporting quarterly to the School Committee.

The staff application for the Action Team can be found here and the parent/guardian application is found here. The deadline to apply is September 21, 2020.

 SOCIAL EMOTIONAL HEALTH

As I shared last week, the social-emotional health of our students will be paramount as we reopen our schools. I have asked our district wide team of Adjustment Counselors to share resources with you in the coming weeks. This installment is from Pierce Adjustment  Counselor Kelly Dearing.

The start of this unconventional school year brings with it the need to develop new routines and establish effective coping strategies that will give your student the emotional support they need to be healthy, happy, and engaged in learning.

  • As parents and guardians, communicate clear expectations and keep firm boundaries. This is an essential step to establishing a positive school routine and giving children the structure they need to be successful.
  • Collaborate with your student to develop a daily time management plan. What works for us as adults is not always what works best for children and adolescents. Encourage them to talk to you about how you can best support them with their learning.
  • Schedule plenty of self-care activities along with the academic part of the day. Fresh air, physical activity, safely maintaining social relationships and a regular sleep schedule will go a long way toward emotional well-being and engagement in school work.
  • Practice mindfulness. It really works! Long, slow deep breaths send messages to our brain that allow us to feel more relaxed. Reminding ourselves throughout the day of the things in our lives that we are grateful for helps us shift and reframe our negative thoughts into manageable, positive ones.

Ask for help if you need it. You are not in this alone! Please remember that we are here and excited to support you and your student in the year ahead.

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Our Adjustment Counselors are available as resources for your family. Please reach out to your principal or Adjustment Counselor for support at any time.

MPS School Adjustment Counselors:  Jennie BeliveauMary Bianca MattocksKenneth Adelmann (Milton High School); Myriam FrancoeurKara Sheridan, Kelly Dearing(Pierce); Heather Kantrowitz (Cunningham) Elizabeth Caruso (Collicot) ; Ramsay Cadet (Tucker) Brian Powers, Christine Howley (Glover)

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All updates on Family Resources – food, health insurance, financial assistance, contacts – can be found at this link.

ART AND MUSIC 

The Milton Applied Instrumental Lesson Program is currently registering new students! If your student is in 4th grade or above and would like to begin learning an instrument, please fill out the form found here: Beginner Registration Form The deadline for filling out the form has been extended to Friday,  September 25th. Once you fill out the form, a lesson teacher will be in touch with you.

Continuing students should contact their lesson teacher directly to set up your lesson time.

Not sure which instrument to play? Take a look at these instrument demonstration videos provided by one of our vendors, Needham Music: Instrumental Demos- Needham Music

More information about the lesson program  including rates and instrument rentals can be found here: ALP Beginner Information

If you have any questions, please email Rebecca Damiani at rdamiani@miltonps.org.

ATHLETICS 

Please see the following from MPS Athletic Director Ryan Madden.

New Athletic Seasonal Structure: The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) worked with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to develop a new athletic structure, with some changes to Fall sports, as well as to include a new 4th/floating season, for the 2020-21 academic year, which can be found here.

Football, (Fall) Cheer, and Volleyball have been moved to the new floating season, detailed in the link found here. All other fall sports (B/G Soccer, B/G Cross Country, Field Hockey, Swim and Golf) will start tryouts on Monday, September 21st.  Tryout schedules will be available on the MHS Athletics Website at a later date.

High School Registration: Registration is OPEN! Please visit the Athletics Website for information on how to register for fall sports, or click here.  All student-athletes must pass in a hard-copy of a current valid physical (completed within the last 13 months, no exceptions) during the registration period to the Athletic Director. Emailed and scanned copies sent over the summer will not be accepted.  Physicals should be dropped in the Athletic Director’s mailbox in the MHS front office by the student, or mailed to the school at 25 Gile Road, Milton, MA 02186, Attn: Athletic Director.  *No student-athlete may participate in tryouts without a valid physical handed into the Athletic Director, per MA State Law.*

4-Season Student-Athletes: The MIAA voted to allow student-athletes to participate in all four sport seasons during the 2020-2021 academic year.** Students who intended to sign up for Football, Volleyball, or Cheer may also play a different fall sport, with Athletic Director’s approval, without losing eligibility for Football, Volleyball or Cheer in the floating season. In other words, students may play 4 sports this academic year.

**Students who intend to play 4 sports must have a conversation with the Athletic Director prior to the start of tryouts. Approval will be granted on a case-by-case basis. The intention of this rule is to allow students an opportunity to play another sport if they choose, without displacing students on current teams. Depending on numbers, this opportunity may only be available for non-cut sports.

Schedules: Schedules will not be released until the end of the week. The Bay State Conference is working to create schedules within a smaller geographical regionagainst fewer opponentsto limit exposure across school districts.

Middle School: There will be no interscholastic competitions at the Middle School this year. There may be pass classes, and intramural sports depending on how the start of the academic year goes and gym space and availability. Information will follow when plans are confirmed.

Google Form FAQ: There were several great questions asked on the Google Form back in June regarding High School Athletics. Please visit the FAQ, linked here, for many questions and answers.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any further questions by contacting Ryan Madden, Director of Athletics, at rmadden@miltonps.org.

COMMUNITY NEWS 

Thank you to MPS parent Andrew Russell for sharing this resource with the MPS community.

The Museum of Science is partnering with WGBH and Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge to host a town hall on Children’s Mental Health in the time of COVID. The event is free and open to the public and timed well with the start of school. Representative Decker is the House Chair on Mental Health and Substance Use and she has compiled an excellent panel for this event.

Details are in this flyer and the registration link can be found here. 

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Join the Milton Art Center  for a wonderful nature-inspired virtual open house filled with artwork, activities, and fun for all ages on Saturday, October 3 from 10-11am

Teacher Camille DeMarco will walk students through how to create an environmental art piece inspired by artist Andy Goldsworthy’s work. This is the perfect activity to get outside and enjoy this beautiful fall weather and create art! Drop into Zoom for an exciting free virtual experience filled with creative family fun!

The event is free. Please register here by Oct. 1 for the zoom link.

The Milton Art Center is offering in person classes through the end of October and Zoom online art classes, to view: Milton Art Center children’s classes.

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Please see below from Kevin J Cook, USN (Ret.), Director of Veterans Services for Milton and Randolph.

The Veterans Services offices in Randolph & Milton announces Operation CarePax. We will be organizing an effort to send care packages to our troops in Afghanistan.  I have been provided the mailing addresses of two units deployed to Afghanistan until FEB 2021 and we would like to make sure they get support during their deployment. We would like to ask the residents of our communities to assist with donations.    There are 80 soldiers (60 males and 20 females)  combined in the two units.

We will have collection dates for each community at the Veterans Services offices at the end of the month. Our goal is to send one group of care packages each month (SEPT, OCT & NOV) with the NOV packages arriving just in time for the Holidays. I will be outside our offices on the scheduled collection dates & times to accept donations. Please follow all appropriate COVID-19 guidelines when dropping off donations for the troops.

We are asking for donations of new, sealed items to keep our troops safe.  Please no homemade treats as troops can only accept items that we can be sure are safe.  Donations to help with the cost of postage are requested also as each USPS military box costs $19.60 to ship (flat rate for boxes going overseas)

Homemade cards and notes are great and we want to include them in all boxes. The troops appreciate cards and personal notes. All details can be found here.

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The Milton Public Library offers many children’s programs virtually every week.  See all the fun offerings here.

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Brookwood Community Farm is continuing to accept folks joining our 2020 CSA using SNAP benefits at a rate of $40/month.  This $40 is added back to their account immediately through HIP.  If forms are filed quickly, the member will receive a share every other week from now through the week before Thanksgiving.  Pick up at the farm is preferred but if transportation is a barrier, Brookwood will find a partner to deliver the share. Please print out the form and call or email to alert us that it is coming.  Farm phone 339-502-0826.  Email president@brookwoodcommunityfarm.org.  The form can be found at the bottom of this page.

AMBASSADORS

As part of our blog, we highlight students, teachers, or members of the community whose hard work deserves recognition.  Please read about some of their accomplishments below. 

I want to take this space to say thank you to all stakeholders in the Milton Public Schools. 

The partnership of MPS staff, the Milton School Committee, many Town of Milton departments, parents/guardians, students, and the Milton community as a whole has been crucial in reopening our schools. If any one of these stakeholder groups had not been “all in” in this endeavor, we would not be in the position we are now. With all hands on deck, we have begun the school year poised for a safe and enriching school year for all of our Milton Public Schools students. On behalf of our students, thank you for all of your efforts on their behalf.

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.

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