October 15, 2020

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: October 15, 2020


As of yesterday, with increasing COVID-19 numbers, the Town of Milton is now at high risk (designated as RED) for COVID-19, according to the state guidelines. Twenty-three additional communities have been added to the high-risk category since last week’s report. We are also aware that there has been a shift throughout the State from confirmed cases in long term care facilities at the beginning of the pandemic to now an increase in cases in individuals 16-39 years of age.

For now, this will not change our hybrid school model and we are currently planning for Pierce Middle School to resume in the hybrid model on Monday, October 19.

I know this shift in Milton’s status will generate some questions. Often I am asked: What is the number of positive cases that will make MPS shift to a full remote model? There is no magic number. On the contrary, it will depend on who the positive cases are, where the positive cases are, and the impact on the schools.

Below are a few examples of why there is not a concrete number that will shift our model.

  • If the town has 10 cases but the cases do not involve MPS students or staff, we do not need to close the schools.
  • If we have 8 positive cases (students) at one school and they do not have siblings in other schools, we may have to close that one specific school but not all of the other schools.
  • If we have 8 positive cases (staff) at one school, we may have to shut down that particular school because we may not have the staffing due to “close contact” (i.e the recent closure of Pierce Middle School) but the other schools can remain open.
  • If we have 6 positive cases (staff or students), which we have had already, spread out across the district and contained, then there was no need to shut down any of the schools.

Current State guidance is that all schools will pivot to a full remote model if the State’s positivity percentage hits or exceeds 5%. The daily rate is found by dividing total tests in a day by positive results. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health then reports out a weighted 7 day average on a daily basis on their website.

Over the last week, the Town of Milton has had between 4 and 7 new cases each day. Although the numbers in Milton are increasing, many of these cases are not MPS students or staff. Additionally, these numbers do not take into account the positive COVID cases of MPS faculty and staff who do not live in the Town of Milton. Therefore, we continue to monitor all cases in and outside of the Town of Milton.

I have communicated that we will use several data points to monitor COVID-19 cases within the Town and the MPS community. For example:

  • Positive cases per 100,000 metric established by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 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, districts/schools should also monitor whether cases are increasing or decreasing vs. the prior period. This is the information that propelled Milton into the red.
  • The State positivity percentage – currently the number is 5% to trigger a move to fully remote for schools.
  • Total positive cases in the MPS community.
  • Age of demographic of the positive cases.
  • How and where people contracted the virus.
  • What is the impact on each of the schools individually and as a district?

We are about to embark upon the Holiday season which is typically a social time for many of us. In addition, many of our students’ siblings will be returning home from colleges out of state. Per MA DPH guidelines, these college students will need to quarantine until they receive a negative COVID test. I am also asking each of you to be mindful of your own social gatherings and the need to adhere to the health and safety guidelines set by the CDC and MA DPH. Small gatherings of family and friends have repeatedly been shown to be  super spreader events.

What can we do to keep our numbers low and our community as healthy as possible? The steps are relatively simple, but it is clear that many of us are not acting as safely as we can. Please, reconsider some of your family’s activities and work with us to keep our MPS students in our buildings!

  • Adhere to the mandatory MPS Daily Pre Screening Checklist
  • Stay home when you are sick and notify your School Nurse for return to school guidance.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between non-household members
  • Wear a mask when maintaining distance is not possible
  • Do not gather in groups inside and limit groups outside
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air.
  • As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Be alert for Covid-19 symptoms.

Many answers to questions about COVID-19 as it pertains to the Milton Public Schools can be on the COVID-19 page of the MPS website.

If Milton’s numbers continue to increase, at some point, we will be forced into a full remote model. While we are ready for this potential change, I can assure you that the teachers, staff and administrators of the Milton Public Schools want to continue with in person school for as long as safely possible.

Our ability to continue in person school rests with all of us. Please continue to be vigilant and follow best practices to keep our community safe.

As a reminder, all families and staff in the Milton Public Schools are required to perform the MPS Daily Health Screening every school day. If you have not already done so, please click this link asap and complete the sign off to verify that you have received, read through, and understand the requirements of the MPS Daily Health Screening.


As the election season is fully upon us, I want to share a recent communication I sent to all MPS staff concerning the highly charged political climate in our country that can have a significant impact on our students, our schools, and the educational process. Please read the communication here. 


The next School Committee meeting will be on October 21, 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.


Oct 15 MHS Virtual Open House
Oct 21 School Committee Meeting
Nov 3 Election Day, No School, Staff PD Day
Nov 11 Veterans Day, No School

The full MPS calendar can be found here.


We have good news to share.  Free student meals have been extended through the school year!

Encourage your student to check out our to go lunch and breakfast bags. They (and you!) will not be disappointed. Multiple breakfasts, lunches and snacks are included in each bag. Students can take a grab and go bag with several breakfasts and lunches as they leave school each day.

We are grateful for this recent message from an MPS parent: “Kudos to Milton food services for their efforts to send kids home with nutritious, non perishable meals that kids want to eat on a consistent basis And to remove the stigma by making the meals available for all families. It is REALLY hard to accomplish all of that on a budget. Tonight’s meal – burritos and carrots. I’m so impressed.” Thanks for the kind words and we hope they encourage even more families to try our to go meals!

Also consider trying weekly pick up. Weekly pick up is available at two different times on Wednesdays. Come to MHS 9:30-10:30 or 12:30-1:30 (please don’t arrive before 12:15 to allow for MHS pick up) to pick up 7 days of breakfast and lunches for your child.

We hope you and your student will take advantage of our lunch and breakfast options this fall! All details on pick up options can be found in this link.


We are lucky to still be hearing our talented MHS musicians in the halls of Milton High School! Pictured below  is one of the cohorts of the MHS Concert Band. As we have had to find creative ways to have all of our band members making music during synchronous, in-person learning time, the band has been rehearsing percussion ensemble music. This allows all students, whether they are in the hybrid or remote model, to participate in the music making process in a safe and socially distant way. Be on the lookout for some performance videos in the coming weeks!


Our Woodshop students were hard at work this week in class. Woodshop introduces our students to the designing, planning and manufacturing of wood products. Students work on craftsmanship and safe working habits and procedures in the use of industrial-type machinery and power tools.


We hope all MHS parents and guardians will join us for the MHS Open House tonight. All details can be found here. 


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many of the Pierce staff and students showed off their pink last week. Some shared their personal reasons for wearing pink and supporting breast cancer awareness.

“I am wearing pink for my amazing mother who courageously battled breast cancer for over 20 years and for all of the beautiful and strong men and women who have fought this battle and continue to fight today.”
“I’m wearing pink in memory of all the courageous men and women who have had to suffer from this disease in hopes that there will soon be a cure.”
“I wear pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness.”
“I wear pink for my close friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.”
“I’m wearing pink for my aunt and sister-in-law who lost their battle with breast cancer and for my cousin and my mother who continue to fight!”
“I wear it to make my future and the future of all others, healthier.”
“I wear pink to show support to all the brave men and women fighting this disease, and to honor those who lost their battle.”


Pierce students in all three grades recently completed some ice breaker activities in their Health classes. Pierce is focused on making connections, building relationships, and bolstering SEL skills as we navigate this school year. Students created and presented All About Me slides that included 3 things they wanted us to know about them, including sharing their pronouns if they wished.


Ms. Lennon’s Cunningham 3rd graders are learning to work together – in person and remotely. Students participated in a group read aloud and reviewed the unit reading skill: Plot. Students were paired up in break out rooms to decide what they would both write for the beginning, middle and end on the plot map. It was terrific to see these responsible and respectful 3rd graders navigating their breakout rooms in small groups.


It’s All About Instruments in the Elementary Music Classrooms!

With elementary music being taught virtually currently, the elementary music staff is engaging students with ways in which they can create percussion instruments at home, made from everyday household items. Students are enjoying participating in the process of finding just the right items at home to create the perfect sound for each of their instruments, including drums, shakers and scrapers. The instruments are stored at the students’ home learning spaces and played during the weekly music class to enhance activities in rhythm, tone color, movement and the study of the science of sound. Students in grades 4 and 5 are also learning to identify orchestral instruments by sight and sound and many are beginning and continuing their private instrument lessons through the Applied Lesson Program!


During our Fire Prevention Week, our Tucker preschoolers in Miss Nicole’s class participated in a fire truck project. Students followed step by step directions identifying the different shapes to make their own firetrucks! Our youngest students were very proud of their efforts!


As a part of the Everyday Math Curriculum, Mrs. Curran’s Collicot 5th graders explored finding the volumes of different cylinders. Using individual materials, students constructed cylinders and made estimates of the volume. Next, students used unifix cubes to find the total volume of the different cylinders, Students also learned they can find the volume of a cylinder by multiplying the length, width and height.


The Milton Foundation for Education has supported the mission of the Milton Public Schools for over twenty years. In these challenging times, they have creatively rethought how to support our staff, students, and families and have several current initiatives that I share with you below. 

The MFE’s Monster Dash, held in loving memory of Sam Cichello, is a staple of fall fun in the Town of Milton. Unfortunately, this year, we can’t hold the actual Monster Dash but the MFE has some fun planned for our students. This year, there will be two Monster Dash contests to celebrate the spirit of the Monster Dash.

  • The MFE is pleased to announce a Monster Dash Costume Contest! They want to see you in your most creative, scary, or kooky costume ever.
  • The annual Artwork Contest in on as usual!  Students can submit their drawings to be on our official Monster Dash T-shirts.

All information on both contests can be found in this link. Join us as we celebrate the spirit of the Monster Dash!

In addition,  the MFE has created a new innovative grant process to help relieve the impact of the pandemic on MPS students and families. This year, grant ideas may be submitted not only by MPS teachers and programs, but also by students, parents, and other community members. The MFE is committed to helping Milton families through these unprecedented challenges in new and unique ways.

Applications are due October 30 at 5PM. Please find more information including the grant guidelines and application here.


Please see this latest update from Administrator for Pupil Personnel Services, Sue Maselli.


I have asked our district wide team of Adjustment Counselors to share mental health resources with you regularly. This installment is from MHS Adjustment Counselor Jennie Beliveau.

I cannot believe that a month of school has elapsed! I continue to be amazed by the resiliency of the students, families, and staff as we all continue to adjust to this school year. One conversation that has continually come up with many of the high school students that I work with is about creating a good schedule and consistent, positive habits. There is much more unstructured time available to them now and some are having a difficult time with time management. Here are a few tips that I have found to be helpful for them.
Create a schedule Write it down and follow it. Add everything to your schedule including wake times, meals, school work, exercise/sports/activities, and breaks.
Set a timer Sometimes sitting down for over an hour to get work done can be too much for students. Set a timer for 30 minutes, so when the timer goes off you allow yourself a 5 minute break and then go back to work for another 30 minutes.
Stack your habits When we are trying to create new healthy habits, it can be helpful to stack the habit on top of one you already do. For example, I brush my teeth every day. I have been wanting to write in my gratitude journal more often but never found the time to do it. So I stacked writing on top of brushing my teeth. Every morning it is now a habit and routine for me to brush my teeth and write in my gratitude journal to start my day.
Do you have any good tips that have helped your family adjust to this new schedule? Reach out to your school adjustment counselor to share!

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 SheridanKelly Dearing(Pierce); Heather Kantrowitz (Cunningham) Elizabeth Caruso (Collicot); Lisa Stahl (Tucker) Brian PowersChristine Howley (Glover)


The Milton Public Schools is committed to being a resource for you. Whether you are unsure of 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 mmckenna@miltonps.org. All calls and emails are confidential.

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


As we monitor Milton’s COVID numbers, be assured that I am in ongoing conversations with MPS Athletic Director Ryan Madden concerning our athletics program. Our goal is to continue athletics for as long as safely possible.

All athletic schedules and updates can be found on the athletics website linked here.

A great way to support our student-athletes is by playing in the Boosters’ upcoming golf tournament on October 19 at Granite Links. Click here to REGISTER for the 2020 MHS Boosters Swing For Sports!


Rx Drug Take Back Day is October 24 from 10am-2pm. Misuse of drugs often starts with medication taken from homes. Keep your families and friends safe. Bring your unused or out-of-date prescription medications to the Milton Police Station to disposed of safely. Drive through, contactless drop off available on Saturday, October 24 from 10am – 2pm.

Rx Drug Take Back Day is sponsored by the Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and the Milton Police Department.


Milton Early Childhood Alliance invites you to a parenting workshop series: Helping Families with Learning at Home (for families with children 2.9 to 10 years old). 

Join us for four virtual parenting workshops to help families with at home learning this school year. Tips to Helps Manage Anxiety & Engage and Motivate Your Child will be held on Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 PM. Create a Supportive At Home Learning Environment will be held on Tuesday, November 17 at 7:30 PM. Two additional workshops will be held on January 26 and March 16. All four workshops will be held virtually, via Zoom, from the comfort of your home. Registration is required. Please register here  to receive the Zoom link and password. Our program facilitator will be Beth Greenawalt, Parent Coach and founder of www.Parent-Solutions.com. Many thanks to the generous support of the Milton Junior Woman’s Club for their support of this programming.


Celebrate Halloween at Forbes House Museum, Saturday, October 24 , 5:30-7:00 pm

Calling all kids in grades K-5: You’re invited to wear your costumes and join the Halloween party at the Forbes House Museum! There will be ghost stories in the backyard and tricks and treats throughout the property.

New this year: Bring a Jack-O-Lantern to enter in our pumpkin carving contest. People’s-choice prizes will be awarded for the scariest, funniest and most creative pumpkins in categories separated by age. All ages are welcome to enter and participating in the contest only is free. Winners need not be present to claim their prize. Jack-O Lanterns may be picked up at the end of the evening or retrieved the next day.

Please visit this link for more information and to register for the event. All visitors to the property must wear masks and socially distance. Attendance is limited and advance registration is required. $10/child; $20/family max


Mike’s 5k is going VIRTUAL! So gather your friends and family and get out there to walk or run to crush substance abuse. Run a 5k anywhere you’d like anytime from October 17 to October 25, 2020. Wear your mask and socially distance! After you register, we will send you a link to record your time. 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!


The Cardinal Cushing 5K RUN/WALK (formerly the Best Buddies 5k) has gone virtual!

  • The where and what  are up to you!
  • Complete your miles from November 18-21 then upload your results.
  • Create a personal or team page then train and ask your friends and family to donate.
  • Share photos  and videos on our Facebook event page.
  • Register here.

Thanks for participating and supporting our very important cause!


The Pierce, Collicot, Cunningham, Glover and Tucker PTOs and the MHS PTSFO work continuously on behalf of our students and staff throughout every school year. We are so grateful for their ongoing efforts to enhance the school experience for the MPS community.

This year our 6 PTOs are collaborating on the MPS Apple Project & Protect the Paw Project in support of our students, teachers and staff.

Funds raised from the sale of these Rustic Marlin signs will be divided equally among the PTOs of ALL SIX schools, to enhance and elevate the opportunities and experiences of the MPS community during this unprecedented school year.

All are invited to purchase a sign (or two!) at this link and display it to show your support of our MPS community. These signs would be an excellent gift for friends and family, a nice remembrance for a special teacher or staff member, and are an easy way to show support for our schools and our MPS community.

Thank you to our PTOs for spearheading this project!

Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Kim Coughlin, Courtney Lennon, Nicole Davis,  Ellen Lohan, Jackie Morgan, Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Megan Pallai, Jennie Beliveau, April Allegrezza, Colleen Martin, Bernadette McEvoy, Janice Mazzola, Rebecca Damiani, and Erin Jaquette.

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.

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