September 24, 2020

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: September 24, 2020

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

Today was the sixth day of school for Milton Public Schools students and I am happy to say that, overall, they have been a successful six days. Our staff and students continue to make connections, all are getting acclimated to the new routine, and are perfecting health and safety expectations. They have begun the work of teaching and learning, as they do every September. Teachers, administrators, students, and families have been flexible and creative and have made adjustments as needed.  I want to give a heartfelt thank you to our teachers and staff, parents, guardians, and students for their patience and understanding as we all get accustomed to the routines of this new and different school year.

At last night’s School Committee meeting, I addressed several issues.

Some families have requested a switch from full remote to hybrid. When our Return to School plan was finalized, Former Superintendent Gormley and the School Committee made a commitment of social distancing using a calculus of 6 ft between students in a class. Each Principal and his/her team worked out schedules and routines with that calculus in mind. We have made the necessary accommodations and some of our classrooms are filled to capacity. As we stated in August, if a student is currently in the remote model and wishes to switch to hybrid, it will take at least 2-4 weeks to implement any changes. As previously stated, no model changes will be considered prior to October 1. Whether or not we can accommodate a request to switch from remote to hybrid will depend on the space in a particular class, grade, and school.

I also addressed any possible shifts in our model in the future.  The Milton Public Schools submitted three plans (Full In-Person, Hybrid and Full Remote) to the school committee in August. We presented these plans to the public multiple times and the entire 92 page document was submitted to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) as well. That document was also sent to all families via email and remains on the MPS Return to School website. Due to our high enrollment (prior to COVID 19) and challenges with space, we are not able to provide full in-person at this time. At the end of June, we had 4400 students enrolled in the Milton Public Schools. Our enrollment remains steady at 4420 students. We decided on and remain committed to a half-day model due to concerns about the distance needed between students during lunches. Students could not eat in the classrooms as the social distancing requirement exceeded the 6 ft when the masks were off to eat and socialize. This half-day model allows for remote live, synchronous teaching for all students for a part of every school day which is an important factor in our Hybrid Model.

Many people compare other schools and districts when discussing models. Each school and district has individual challenges. Enrollment, space availability, budget, staffing, and more are all considered when developing models.

Milton Public Schools will use several data points to monitor COVID-19 cases within our community. The first data point is cases per 100,000 metric established by DESE and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH). This data is based on the average daily cases per 100,000 residents. Each city or town has been designated as a higher risk (red), moderate risk (yellow), or lower risk (green) community. Communities with fewer than 5 cases are not given a designation. It is important to note that while average daily cases per 100,000 is the metric that determines the color coding for each community, we will monitor this over a period of 2-3 weeks prior to making any recommendations about pivoting to other models. We may have a spike one week and the second and third week, those numbers could be on a decline.

The second data point is the State Positivity Percentage. The guidance calls for schools to go fully remote when the State Positivity Rate hits 5%. The daily rate is found by dividing total tests in a day by positive results. The MA DPH then reports out a weighted 7 day average on a daily basis on their website. The Commissioner has told schools to use a 2-3 week window to monitor these results.

The Milton Public Schools has a COVID Metrics Advisory Team that will be meeting regularly. Tonight is the second official meeting of the team. Members have agreed to look at additional data points which include, but are not limited to:

  • Total positive cases in the community
  • Age of demographic of the positive cases
  • How and where people contracted the virus (for example, were all cases reported at Curry College or Milton Academy, etc.)
  • Hot spots/color code of communities for our faculty and staff
  • Additional information recommended by Caroline Kinsella and our local Board of Health.

There is not a single staff member, myself included, who does not want to see our students in person more. The current reality of Covid 19 prevents this right now and our current model, developed over several months, allows for the best combination of in-person and remote learning for our MPS students and staff. I will continue to update the MPS community at bi-weekly School Committee meetings, in this weekly blog, and via email.

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On behalf of the Milton Public Schools, I want to express my sincerest condolences to the Nohmy family on the tragic murder of Cameron (Cam) Nohmy. Cam, a 2015 MHS graduate, was a personable young man and a valued member of our school community. I am saddened to see another life lost so young. Donations may be made in his memory to the Cameron Nohmy Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Please keep Cam’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE

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

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Please see the following health and safety items  – some Covid -19 related  – posted on the MPS Health Services website. Please email Director of Nursing Kim Coughlin with any questions.

Next week, all families will receive an email asking them to confirm receipt of and affirm their commitment to using the MPS Symptom Pre Screening Checklist each day. Please review the email and submit your confirmation of receipt next week.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish religion, will begin in the evening (sunset) of Sunday, September 27, and ends the evening of Monday, September 28. There will be no school on Monday, September 28 in observance of Yom Kippur.

It is the policy of the Milton Public Schools NOT to assign homework, tests, quizzes, major presentations, Google hangouts or hold events or athletic practice/games during the Jewish Holidays.

Sept 28 Yom Kippur, No School
Oct 1 Glover Open House
Oct 7 School Committee Meeting
Oct 12 Columbus Day, No School
Oct 14 Collicot Open House

The full MPS calendar can be found here.

FOOD SERVICE 

We hope you and your student will take advantage of our lunch and breakfast 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. Please consider trying a grab and go meal on your students in person days or visiting our drive through on Wednesdays. 

TECHNOLOGY 

All elementary, Pierce, and families of students who loan out an MHS Chromebook have the option of purchasing insurance for their student’s Chromebook for the 2020-21 school year.  The optional insurance is thirty dollars and will cover any accidental damages to your student’s Chromebook.  Here is a link with instructions on how to purchase Optional Chromebook Insurance.

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Check out this quick Google meet tip from Glover’s Mrs. MacNeil. Want to see your teacher as the big picture on the screen? Learn how here.

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If I want to purchase my own device, what should I buy? Recommended specs and details can be found here. 

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.

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.

HIGH SCHOOL HAPPENINGS 

Welcome to Milton High School!

Thank you to MHS Student Leader Lindsey Dunn for sharing the following information about last week’s MHS Freshman and New Student Orientation.

On Wednesday, September 14th Milton High School’s Student Leaders hosted Freshmen Orientation on Brooks Field, to welcome all incoming freshmen and new students. Due to COVID-19, the Orientation had to be run a bit differently than in years past. The students were split into two groups by last name, the beginning of the alphabet came from 1:30- 2:30pm, and the end of the alphabet came from 3-4pm

Our new students were welcomed onto the field by the Student Leaders. Students found their assigned group on their assigned yard line and were seated 6 feet away from each other. Each student received a welcome bag, filled with a Wildcat sticker, Milton mask, a schedule, and other supplies they needed for the icebreakers.

Once all the freshmen arrived,  Vice Principal Mackinaw and Principal Cahill said a few words to welcome the new students and to get them excited about their high school career.

After the welcome, we split into two smaller groups, one that started with a socially distanced tour of the building and the other that did socially distanced icebreakers on the field. Halfway through the orientation, the groups switched.

The tour followed a strict route through the building, each student walking 6 feet apart from one another. Socially distanced icebreakers such as Cross the Line, Wa, Inside Circle Outside Circle, and a Q&A were all conducted on the field.

Although this Orientation was different from all previous ones, students were welcomed, well informed, and got a taste of the Wildcat Spirit. We are excited to welcome all incoming freshmen and new students to Milton High School!

PIERCE PAGES 

This week the 7th grade science team kicked off the Astronomy unit on the Pierce Middle School patio. Ms. Mitchell hosted science outside this week as students traced their shadows to track the movement of the sun over time.

Students took a break from drawing in their science notebooks to model rotation vs. revolution. What happens to your shadow as we get closer to noon? Why does the sun appear to move across the sky? How does the movement of the sun change with the seasons? These are all questions our 7th graders are investigating as we start the school year.

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Please see this most recent communication to the Pierce community from Principal Fish to stay up to date on all things Pierce. 

INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

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Kindergarten Days are here! During the week of October 4,  the sponsors listed here will offer free gifts or discounts to children who are entering kindergarten this fall when they visit wearing their bright yellow “I’m Going To Kindergarten!” t-shirt. Participating businesses will display a special sign in their window to remind you to visit them. You don’t need to turn anything in to take advantage of the offers – but your child must be present, entering kindergarten in September, and wearing his or her yellow Kindergarten t-shirt. As you visit our sponsors, please join us in thanking each of them for their support of Milton’s young school children!

 

SPECIAL EDUCATION 

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

Parent Series: All are invited to participate in a parent series for parents/guardians of students in grades 6-12 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.  Please use this link to register. 

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Do you know someone going through an Initial Evaluation? Is your child going through an Initial Evaluation?

If so, please refer them to our parent Outreach Series on Preparing for My Child’s First Team Meeting.

This one hour remote session is designed to help parents and guardians:

  • Understand the Eligibility Process
  • Understand how to interpret Evaluation Reports
  • Prepare to share their ideas at a Team Meeting
  • Learn about programs and services in the district.

To join, please email Susan Maselli, Administrator for Pupil Personnel Services at smaselli@miltonps.org

SEPAC News: Welcome to the 2020-21 school year! Our first Milton SEPAC meeting will be held virtually on Wednesday, October 7 at 7pm.

Our Elections for board positions will take place this fall. There are many anticipated openings and we need your support and your voice to ensure that every child and family voice is heard and supported!

Please mark the monthly meetings on your calendar and plan to attend. Why? There is strength in numbers! Your ideas are needed to help us ensure your children receive the best possible education in Milton. Parents/guardians of children who receive services on an  IEP or  504, and others interested in special education, have first-hand knowledge of what their children need in school. You will be able to make connections with and get support from others who have similar circumstances. SEPAC meetings are the perfect place to talk about the issues and learn what you can do to help your child be successful

Inclusion Task Force (ITF): The inclusion task force is a group of parents, school staff, and community members who meet to ensure that the Milton Public Schools are a welcoming place for students of all abilities. The purpose of the ITF is to foster authentic relationships in schools and the broader community for our students with disabilities and to promote awareness of inclusive opportunities throughout the school district and community.

We will have our first remote meeting of the 2020-2021 school year on October 19 from 4-5pm and we would love to have additional members join us! A link for the meeting will be forthcoming.

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 Kara Sheridan.

“The moment you realize you are not present, you are present. Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it. Another factor has come in, something that is not of the mind: the witnessing presence.” ― Eckhart Tolle

The Milton Public School District has made it a priority this school year to focus on Social Emotional Learning, as well as overall wellness for the students, faculty, and staff.  With everything going on in the world, now more than ever we can easily become overwhelmed and distracted. Especially, when we are out of our typical routines and norms.  An important component of social and emotional learning that we’re teaching our students is Mindfulness.  Mindfulness means being present and focusing on the now. Taking a step back and looking at the world around you. When our students are present and not worrying about the past or future, they are more able to focus and therefore, learn.  What better way to encourage mindfulness than to practice and model this mindset ourselves.

Here are some quick Mindfulness exercises to try throughout your day, and hopefully incorporate into your family and lifestyle.

Mindfulness Activity #1, Mindful Breathing 7/11

  • Breathe in through your nose while you count to 7; breathe out through your mouth while you count to eleven.  While breathing in and out, notice the movements of your body; notice your chest and stomach rising up and down. Notice the air in your nostrils when you breathe in. The counting helps you concentrate on your breath, and in turn, refocuses your attention and makes you feel calm.

Mindfulness Activity #2, Tune into your senses

  • Choose one of the 5 senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing) and become aware of what it brings to you.  Really focus on the sense you chose, observe it, and identify in your mind what you notice. Example: if you chose sight, take a moment and look where you are, focus in on one thing you see, and notice the colors, textures, shapes, and shadows.
  • If you have more time and energy, try to focus on each one of your senses!

Mindfulness Activity #3, Awareness of Posture

  • Instead of awareness of breathing, some people prefer mindfulness of posture- in other words, an awareness of the fact that you are sitting, slouching, standing, walking, running,or lying down. Try awareness of your posture next time you’re in your living room, bedroom, office,  kitchen table, etc, and you will find your concentration improves. Awareness of your posture can also give you a mental space when you’re trying to get some work done. Bringing awareness to your posture takes you out of your racing thoughts, especially in stressful situations.

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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 

Last call for Music Lesson Sign Ups!

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 

The Milton Boosters is offering something new this year. In addition to our year-round online merchandise store and in-person concessions, we are offering 3 seasonal pop-up online stores with limited edition merchandise. Currently, our Fall Pop-Up store is open and can be found at this link. 

This Pop-Up store close October 2nd! Orders typically take 10-14 days to come in and we will e-mail you with a pick-up date, likely mid-October. Let’s support our student athletes. Go Cats!

COMMUNITY NEWS 

It won’t be like the last 3, but the 4th annual Mike’s 5K is still on!  No big gathering this year, but we want to keep the momentum going.  Mike’s 5K to Crush Substance Abuse raises funds to erase stigma, spread awareness, strengthen treatment programs, and demonstrate the power of community and friendship in the battle against substance abuse.  Significant funds support Milton youth prevention programs.  As always, we do this to honor Mike Mulcahy and his family, as well as others who have struggled with addiction or loved someone who has struggled with addiction. 

Team MSAPC will be starting our walk/run as a physically distant- mask wearing group on Saturday, October 17th, at 9am, following the same route that leaves from Cunningham School.  Register here and join Team MSAPC!   Bring your own mask and water.  You can also support Mike’s 5K here.   Or register and walk/run any time before Oct. 24th, your own route and distance.  Thank you for your support!

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International Chess Master David Vigorito has been teaching chess in Milton for over 10 years. He teaches at all 4 elementary schools as well as Milton Academy and St. Agatha’s. Virtual classes begin on September 28th.

There are four different levels to choose from and classes available Mondays through Thursdays. All details and registration info can be found here. Register soon, as some classes are almost full!

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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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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.

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Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Christie Chiappetta, Lindsey Dunn, Liz Spitz, Kim Coughlin, Rebecca Damiani, Susan Maselli, AJ Melanson, Madeline Murphy, Jackie Morgan, Erica Cadigan, Sheri Paquette, Karen McDavitt, Anne Marie Quinn, Sarah Slater, Elaine McNeil-Girmai, Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Jess Gillooly, Eileen Keaney, and Kara Sheridan.

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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