October 29, 2020

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: October 29, 2020

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

I look forward to a time when I can more consistently use my introduction to share and celebrate the many good things happening in the Milton Public Schools. While these good things continue to take place in our schools, and we do share them below, for now, the business of our COVID-19 reality continues to dominate my communications to you.

It’s crucial that all stakeholders fully understand our current challenges, policies, and situation. Earlier this week I sent a short video to all MPS families and staff, sharing updates on our current COVID situation. I invite you to watch it here.

At this time, with cases in Massachusetts rising significantly, the plan is to remain in the Hybrid/Remote Choice Model until there is a significant reduction in positive cases AND the Governor of Massachusetts or the Commissioner of Education determine that we no longer need to provide social distancing. The Milton Public Schools had an enrollment challenge and space issue prior to the pandemic that is only exaggerated by the restrictions. We do not have the ability to bring all students in full time under the current circumstances.

I understand that this model does not replicate the “normal year” experience and poses many challenges, especially for our students with special needs, English Language Learners (ELL), and families with younger children. In our model, all hybrid choice students get to see their teachers in person every other day and connect with MPS teachers virtually every day. Many of our students in special education have more in person time as well. The MPS faculty and staff are committed to doing our very best for all of our students within the Hybrid/Remote Choice Model.

CDC guidelines about close contacts have recently changed to include “someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated”. The Milton Public Schools has been following these updated guidelines for several weeks. The full guidelines can be found here.

On Monday of this week, Milton High School moved to a Remote Model for two weeks. We plan to resume the in person Hybrid Model at MHS on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. Please see Principal Cahill’s letter to MHS families from earlier this week here.

Pierce Middle School is back in an in person Hybrid Model after two weeks of a full Remote Model.

Both schools moved to a Remote Model due to positive cases of COVID-19, the subsequent quarantine requirements of close contacts, and the lack of the necessary staffing to safely keep the building open.

Our four elementary schools have experienced positive cases of COVID-19 and the subsequent quarantines, but due to the elementary model of one teacher with a small group of in person students, these cases have not forced the school into a full Remote Model.

We are able to keep the district open in the Hybrid/Remote Choice Model because we are enforcing the following:

  • Mask wearing
  • Social Distancing
  • Hand washing
  • Not serving food during the school day (All students are offered free meals each day at dismissal)
  • Providing adequate time for our custodial staff to complete a thorough cleaning each day
  • Keeping in person class sizes low for social distancing
  • Minimal sharing of items (sharing only happens when absolutely necessary)
  • Continuous education on COVID health and safety measures for our students and parents/guardians
  • Daily Pre-Screening for Symptoms and encouraging students and staff to stay home if sick
  • Encouraging our close contacts to quarantine and get tested.

As our understanding of COVID-19 continues to grow, our MPS policies continue to evolve. Our COVID-19 webpage is updated regularly; please refer to it often.

As effective contact tracing is very time sensitive, I ask that you please confirm that your contact information is up to date. Please email the administrative assistant at your child’s school if your contact information has changed and needs to be updated.

If you question what to do if someone in your circle tests positive or what to do if you are a close contact of someone who is awaiting test results, please review our FAQs here and our Close Contact flow chart here.

To ensure expedient contact tracing and help to stop the spread in our schools, please contact your school nurse immediately if someone in your household tests positive. This information allows us to act quickly to identify and isolate your student’s potential close contacts (while we await your student’s test results) and hopefully limit any school wide moves to a fully remote model.

Our Milton Public Schools COVID-19 Positive Case and Close Contact Determination Process, MPS Health Prescreening Checklist, and MPS Face Covering Policy are among the items that all MPS families should be familiar with.

I would also like to share that MHS Principal Karen Cahill and I are hearing talk of Halloween student gatherings this weekend.

I am pleading with families to have a direct conversation with your student to deter them from attending any large gatherings this weekend. Some local districts have been forced to a remote model for these types of gatherings, and we do not want to face that decision at Milton High School. Everyone – students, families, and staff – MUST adhere to best practices to ensure the possibility of staying in the hybrid model. Please help us as we Protect the Paw and work together to keep our students attending school in person in the Hybrid/Remote Choice Model.

MPS GOOD NEWS

Each of our schools has completed their Open House in the last few weeks and we received many positive reviews. Although we are all aware of the challenges the hybrid model presents, I am pleased to share these positive comments with you here.

Have an MPS Good News story to share? Please do so here and we will share it in an upcoming communication.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE

I encourage you to regularly watch Milton School Committee meetings. Now that so much of our world takes place virtually, there are even more ways to watch. You can watch live on Milton Access TV online, live on Milton Access cable channels (Comcast 22, RCN 15), via Zoom (link to attend found on the Town of Milton SC page), or on-demand in the days following the meeting.

The business of the Milton Public Schools is conducted transparently and much of it takes place or is reported on in these meetings. We welcome your attendance and input at every meeting. 

The next School Committee meeting will be on November 4, 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.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES

  • Nov 3 Election Day, No School, Staff PD Day
  • Nov 11 Veterans Day, No School
  • Nov 12 Parent/Teacher Conferences, Grades 6-12

The full MPS calendar can be found here.

FOOD SERVICE 

There are two ways to take advantage of the FREE TO ALL to-go breakfasts and lunches this year.

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.

Grab and Go: 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.

Free student meals have been extended through the school year. All details on pick up options can be found in this link.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Per the Commonwealth of Massachusetts guidelines, all students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020 for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided. Elementary and secondary students in districts and schools that are using a remote education model are not exempt.

Please email documentation of your child’s flu vaccination to your child’s school nurse.

HIGH SCHOOL HAPPENINGS 

The MHS string orchestra and chamber ensembles continue to rehearse “live” during our days in school. Below you can hear one of last week’s chamber ensemble rehearsals outside at Milton High School. Students performing movement II of Telemann Viola Concerto are Soloist Dominique Thomas with Sam Higgins, Barron Clancy, Ha-Yen Nguyen, Diana Duran, Hoku Panerio-Langer, Isabel Murley, and Sofia Harris. We will continue to rehearse outside as weather permits!

PIERCE PAGES 

Sixth grade students engaged in a socially distanced Trade Activity in social studies. They were each given a role within society (ex. farmer, baker, merchant) and a list of resources and goods they created, they produced, or would have access to because of where they lived. They then went to the Trading Market to barter with others to increase their abilities to make goods. The students had to negotiate with their classmates and determine if the offer was a good option. The new personal whiteboards came in handy to keep track of the goods and resources and do the math when determining the profits made through trading with their classmates!

INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Mrs. Chen’s Cunningham 5th graders explored shadows by participating in some “Shadow Challenges” at school.  Students tried to separate themselves from their shadows, to make their shadow shake hands with someone else’s shadow, to use their real hands to touch their shadow heads, and more.  At home, students observed how their shadows changed direction and orientation throughout the day.  They also made a shadow clock,  and they used flashlights to see how the shadow clock works.


This past week, Glover School celebrated Unity Day and united in our commitment to kindness, inclusion, and acceptance. Here at Glover, we stand committed as one Glover community to ensure every child, staff member, and family member feels welcome, included, celebrated, important, and valued. Last week, every student created a sneaker with a powerful friendship message, reminding us to “walk the walk and talk the talk,” emphatically saying NO and stamping out bullying and uniting to be kind, inclusive, and accepting. Our hallways are adorned with bright orange sneakers reminding us how we can be a good friend. If you follow us on Twitter (@GloverSchool), you’ll see some great pictures of our “orange-out” here at Glover! Please enjoy this video and learn more about how Glover School stomps out bullying and promotes kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. Thank you to Ms. Melissa Craven for putting this video together and Mrs. MacNeil for spearheading this Unity Day celebration each year at Glover.


This week Tucker celebrated Spirit Week with Tucker pride day, crazy/hat hair day, cancer awareness day, book character day, and pajama day. As part of our Spirit Week, we also held a virtual Community Circle on Wednesday, using google live stream. Community Circle is a monthly school wide assembly that brings our whole school together to celebrate the achievements of our students. We love this time to come together as a community and are so glad we found a way to continue the tradition this year. Wednesday’s Community circle included celebrations of some student work. Tucker fifth grader Gio Jimenez was so inspired on our Tucker Pride day that he wrote a poem sharing his feelings and he read the poem aloud during our celebration. We also enjoyed a performance by a Brazilian drumming group, Grooversity. Their name comes from combining the words groove and diversity and their music got our students up out of their seats and inspired them to use household objects to drum and dance along. We loved the opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate music and culture!


During October, Collicot celebrated Emotional Wellness Month. Our 4th and 5th graders were surveyed to share strategies for staying emotionally well and showing gratitude for what they have and these ideas were shared daily on the Collicot Morning Announcements website.

In addition, Collicot adjustment counselor, Mrs. Caruso, held virtual social emotional lessons with students in all grade levels throughout the month. Teachers have continued to focus on strategies to help students feel comfortable and ready to learn at school, including the use of the Calm Classroom and Second Step Social-Emotional Curriculum.

In the video above, kindergarten students work on writing and drawing while listening to calm music to focus attention and do their best work.

COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

ASE Virtual Enrichment Fun! Sign up for the Fall/Winter session here: Registration and see all of our offerings here: Brochure

SPECIAL EDUCATION

As part of the Tiered Focus Monitoring System we complete every few years for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Milton Public Schools has updated its policy, procedures, and guidelines regarding crisis interventions. Please find the revised policy here and the handbook here. Please email Administrator for Pupil Personnel Services, Sue Maselli with any questions.

We also want to share information about a series of upcoming webinars offered by Schools for Children entitled Take the Next Step: Conversations About Transition. These webinars beginning Tuesday, November 17, will discuss the path to college, work, and more for high school students with Learning and Other Challenges. All information and links can be found here.

Please also see these resources from the Asperger/Autism Professional Coaching Association for professional opportunities.

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.

COUNSELOR’S CORNER

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

We are facing an unprecedented amount of stress in our lives these days and no one is immune from the effects of stress on our physical and mental health, when left unchecked. We might not all be fighting the same battles, but we are all affected by multiple stressors, many of which are not going to magically disappear right away. A global pandemic, socio-political circumstances, racism, food insecurity – the list seems never ending.

When faced with these adverse experiences, we have to be more deliberate in making sure we counter those stressors with actions that increase our resilience, physically and mentally. With the example of the pandemic, we have certainly taken steps in the Milton Public Schools to increase our safety, through our mask wearing, hygiene practices, and sanitization protocols. However, children, families, and teachers still feel the stressful effects of changes to their routines and anxiety about potential health risks to themselves and loved ones, so we all need to consider ways to address the effects of those stressors in our lives.

There is no “one size fits all” approach to managing stress, but the good news is that there are many effective ways to do so and most people can find a coping strategy that works for them. This is not an exhaustive list of coping strategies, but just a few common ones that immediately come to mind:

Get outside! Research has shown that physical exercise and activity offers both physical and mental health benefits, especially when that activity occurs out in nature. Hiking is one of the things that I do on a weekly basis to manage my own stress and I’ve run into many Milton families doing the same in the nearby Blue Hills. My family also regularly walks around Turner’s Pond and we get to experience the therapeutic effects of a beautiful outdoor space like that together as a family group. This time of year is perfect for such activities, because of the cooler temperatures and fewer insects.

Have faith! Another effective way to manage stress is through faith and spirituality. The American Psychological Association recently published an article that focused on the benefits of faith during the pandemic and they concluded that religious belief helps people to cope with trauma and distress in their lives and leads to reduced feelings of anxiety and depression.

Talk about it! Therapy is another positive way to cope with stress. It’s a different experience than talking to a friend or loved one, but sometimes that’s exactly what we need in our lives. A good therapist is non-judgmental in practice, allowing you to share your thoughts and feelings freely as you work together to address the stressors in your life. If you are interested in this option, the Town of Milton subscribes to a therapy referral service called Interface to help match families with a therapist.

In conclusion, do something! Managing stress requires action, it is not something we can do passively. Whatever coping strategy works best for you, do your best to dedicate time to that activity and regularly invest in your wellness!

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)

PTO UPDATES

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.

Signs will be available for purchase at our schools that host voting locations – Cunningham, Tucker and MHS – on Election Day.

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

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!

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.

FAMILY RESOURCES

There is a series of upcoming webinars offered by Schools for Children entitled Take the Next Step: Conversations About Transition. These webinars beginning Tuesday, November 17, will discuss the path to college, work, and more for high school students with Learning and Other Challenges. All information and links can be found here.

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 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.

MILTON FOUNDATION FOR EDUCATION

Congratulations to Glover 5th grader, Sophie Middleton, winner of the Monster Dash art contest. Sophie’s happy and masked monster beat out hundreds of other creations from all four elementary schools!

Look for Sophie’s monster on the Monster Dash 2020 (the year without a dash!) t-shirts.  Milton students can win the Monster Dash T-shirts by submitting a picture in their Halloween costume. There will be a winner chosen in EVERY grade from EVERY school. 

Pictures are due by Election day, November 3rd so that we choose the winners. Email your picture to MiltonMonsterDash@gmail.com and please include name, school, grade and teacher.  See the link for rules. 


There is only one day left to apply for an MFE COVID-19 grant. The MFE has created a new innovative grant process to help relieve the pandemic’s impact on MPS students and families. This year, grant ideas may be submitted by MPS teachers and programs and 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.

ATHLETICS

Please see the update below from MPS Athletic Director Ryan Madden.

As we look to wrap up our Fall Season in the next two weeks, please be on the lookout for Winter Sports updates. The EEA and MIAA will be making recommendations to the Winter Season, and the Bay State Conference will make any modifications necessary to hold any sports allowed in the Winter Season.

Registration will likely open around November 9th, with tryouts starting no earlier than December 7th. 

Congratulations to the Golf Team for finishing their season 5-4-1, while the JV Team finished 5-0! So happy to have successfully completed a season!

Big thanks to the COVID Return to School Athletics Task Force and all our coaches and student-athletes for their work to make sports happen!

COMMUNITY NEWS 

The Milton Public Library has some terrific programs for students of all ages. Check out next week’s activities here. 


 Join the Eustis Estate for our annual celebration of fall with a special day for families. Our Fall Family Day: Fairies in the Foliage will take place in Saturday, November 7, 11am – 4pm (Rain Date Nov 8) at the Eustis Estate, 1424 Canton Avenue, Milton.   This year’s exploration of the landscape will have a magical twist, with a fairy house scavenger hunt, crafts, and activities that will guide you around the property. Special thanks to the Amateur Gardeners of Milton.   All activities are designed to maximize social distancing and will take place outdoors. All guests must wear a mask. Advanced tickets required. Note that this ticket does not include the inside of the museum. If you wish to also visit the mansion, please purchase your house tour reservations here.  Please call 617-994-6600 for more information.  


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 Milton Early Childhood Alliance’s second workshop to assist families with at home learning will be held on November 17th at 7:30 PM. The topic will be Creating a Supportive at Home Learning Environment and is for families with children 2.9 to 10 years old. To register for this program and receive the Zoom meeting link and password, please use this link.

SUPERINTENDENT SHOUTOUT 

Congratulations to MHS senior Franklin Ollivierre who was accepted into the competitive Young Scholars Program (STEM) this past summer at Northeastern University. Despite the program change to remote, it was a worthwhile and inspirational experience for him.

After completing his research project this summer, Franklin and his partner were asked to join the professor’s research lab for the upcoming school year and despite his busy MHS schedule, Franklin has attended several sessions. Franklin, his partner, the lab professor, and Northeastern students are collaborating and preparing the research project for publication in a scientific journal. Hopefully, it’s published by the end of the year. You can view the powerpoint presentation of Franklin’s summer research project here.

We are so proud of Franklin, who continues to take advantage of these opportunities, even in this uncertain time. We look forward to watching Franklin’s next steps as he graduates from MHS next spring. The future is bright for this motivated and smart young man!

Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Kim Coughlin, Debra Miller, Janice Mazzola, Ellen Lohan, Jackie Morgan, Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Brian Powers, Christie Chiappetta, Laurel Bernini, Kristin Driscoll, Rina Chen, Nicole Davis, and Karen McDavitt.

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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