March 4, 2020

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: March 4, 2021

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

As I shared on Monday of this week, we are working towards a full in person model beginning April 5 for all grades, while also maintaining a full remote model through the end of the school year. As the Superintendent of the Milton Public Schools, I make decisions and implement policy on behalf of 4400 students, 2800 families, and 660 staff members. There is rarely a decision made that all stakeholders fully agree with and the MPS learning model through COVID – remote, hybrid, full in person – is an important decision that thoughtful, smart people can have divergent opinions about. 

I want to thank our MPS parents, guardians, and staff for their patience, flexibility, and understanding during what has arguably been the most difficult time in education in our lifetimes. We look forward to your continued involvement and support as we move forward with our school year. 

I have received several questions this week that I think many may be asking and I want to address them in the space below. 

What has changed that is prompting the change to a full in person return to school on April 5? 

  • There are multiple factors that have contributed to making this next step possible. After a months long surge, our community and state wide COVID positive numbers are declining; there are now 3 vaccines available which increases supply; DESE has stated support for more in-person learning (especially at the elementary level) and the New England spring weather will begin to allow us to regularly use outside spaces. This change is not a result of parents/guardians pushing for a full return to school. We have been considering this for some time, as  the ultimate goal for all districts was to plan a full return to school. Our continuing collaboration with MPS teachers, staff, and families combined with the above factors, makes this shift to full in person learning possible.  

Will teachers and staff be vaccinated before April 5? 

  • With President Biden’s announcement this week prioritizing educators for vaccination and efforts at the district and state level, we are hopeful that many of our MPS teachers and staff will be vaccinated in the next several weeks. Some of our staff has already received either 1 or 2 doses. Director of Nurses Kim Coughlin is working to bring the vaccine to more educators every day, and our staff is also navigating the state vaccination process. 

What does this change mean for full remote students? 

  • MPS will continue to offer a full remote model through the end of the school year. There may be changes in the daily schedule which will be communicated by your teacher and principal. We will make every effort to keep current remote classes with their current MPS teacher but there may be instances where this is not possible due to student movement between models. We will update remote families of any staffing changes as we become aware of them. 

Can my child switch learning models before April 5? 

  • Yes. For planning purposes, we are assuming that hybrid students will remain in person and move to a full in person model on April 5 and full remote students will stay in a full remote model. If you would like your child to switch learning models, please email your principal as soon as possible, and no later than March 12. Every effort will be made to honor requests, however, enrollment and space considerations may prevent a model switch in certain situations. 

Is MPS behind in “Student Learning Time” per DESE? 

  • No. MPS has complied with all expectations and requirements set forth by DESE. DESE has also been notified of our decision to move forward with full in person learning on April 5. 

What will my child’s school day look like? Will elementary students have recess? How about lunch? 

  • The logistics of the school day will look and feel slightly different at each school. We are planning for all in person students to eat lunch in school and all elementary students will have recess. Your child’s principal and teachers are working through those details now and will communicate specifics with you the week of March 28.

What will the school day hours be? 

  • We anticipate that schools will revert to their pre-covid hours, but there may be tweaks of a few minutes needed as we redo our transportation plans. We will update the exact times during the week of March 28. 

Abbe and Mr. Jette give a big thumbs up to the 100th day of school!

This week I enjoyed meeting with Cunningham parents and guardians on Tuesday night and will be meeting with the Collicot community tonight. We’ll allow time for a live Q&A or if you would like to submit questions in advance, please do so here.  I also met with MPS staff this week and I will meet with Pierce and MHS parents and guardians on March 10. (Glover and Tucker meetings were held the week of February 22).  Links to attend the conversation hours can be found on our website. Thank you for the thoughtful conversations and for sharing your ideas and questions, and thank you to the PTOs for hosting me for these conversation hours.

I received the picture at right with an email stating the following.  “The decision to bring Milton students back full time brought a smile to my daughter’s face that I haven’t seen in a year. This has been a tremendously challenging year and she is thrilled at the opportunity to return full time to the school that she loves so much. Thank you.” Thank you for sharing your daughter’s joy with us.

As we move towards this next phase of full in person learning with a remote option, now is not the time to let our guards down in regards to COVID safety. It is imperative that community spread remain low so that we are able to Protect the Paw and keep our students and staff safe in school. Please continue to follow all CDC and MA Department of Public Health guidance on mask wearing, distance, hand hygiene, and social gatherings.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE 

The School Committee FY 22 budget meeting for the MPS community has been postponed. When rescheduled, the link to attend will be posted on the Town of Milton website.

The next regularly scheduled School Committee meeting will be on March 17, 2021, at 7pm. You can watch School Committee meetings live on Milton Access TV online, live on Milton Access cable channels (Comcast 22, RCN 15), attend via Zoom (link to attend found on the Town of Milton SC page), or watch on-demand in the days following the meeting.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES

  • Mar 9 1st Grade Information Night
  • Mar 17 Milton School Committee
  • Mar 22 MPS Rock Your Socks

The full MPS calendar can be found here.

1st Grade Information Night: On March 9 at 6:30 PM the Milton Public Schools will hold 1st Grade Information Night. Parents and guardians of current MPS kindergarten students are invited to learn about our two first grade programs: The English Innovation Pathway (with STEM & Spanish) and French Immersion. We will present information on each program as well as the assignment plan, lottery (if needed), and timeline. This presentation is being held virtually. A link will be posted on the MPS website and sent through school based communications prior to that evening.

March 19: The Full Day Professional Day for MPS Staff on Friday, March 19 has been canceled and will now be a regular school day for all MPS students. Students should follow their regular hybrid/remote schedule. It is a Day 1 for Pierce/MHS students.

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day and we will be celebrating at MPS on Monday, March 22 with our annual Rock Your Socks competition. Wear your craziest socks to show awareness and acceptance for people with Down Syndrome!

HEALTH AND SAFETY

A reminder from our school nurses: Parents are encouraged to send a labeled water bottle with their student each day.

COVID REPORTING: Each week, school districts report the number of positive cases in the Hybrid Model only to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). For the weeks of February 25 – March 3, MPS reported: 1 staff positive and 2 students positive.

Please continue to refer to our COVID-19 page for all health and safety policies and updates. 

HIGH SCHOOL HAPPENINGS

Yesterday was  Spread The Word Day at MHS! MHS Best Buddies encouraged the MHS community to support inclusion by promoting the acceptance and connection of people with and without intellectual disabilities by wearing Milton gear. Best Buddies also suggests that everyone make a new connection with someone from the Milton community this week!

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Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy’s documentary Rivers and Tides students in 3D Studio Art took advantage of the snow and ice to create art outdoors. You can see their creations here.

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The Paws-Abili-Treats Team has worked hard over the past few weeks to fulfill orders for our supportive MHS staff. The students in the Launch Program have made over 700 dog treats and are ready to take orders for our four legged furry friends in the Milton community. Each bag contains 6 treats ($2.00 per bag). Please click here to order your treats. If you have any questions, please email the team at pawsabilitreats@miltonps.org. Below you can see some of the Paws-Abili-Treats Team hard at work!

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Students in the Make Music and MusicLab classes at Milton High recently wrapped up their final projects by composing original songs using the skills they learned throughout the first semester. Students wrote lyrics and composed music in Song Form (Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus) using the online music creation program Soundtrap. Check out these awesome examples of student work!

PIERCE PAGES

The Pierce Culture Club hosted a Black History Month Door Decoration contest in February.  There were many great entries submitted but a winner had to be chosen.

Congrats to Mr. Smith’s and Mrs. Sykes’ Connection Time classes on their winning doors below!

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14 Pierce students participated virtually in the Climate Summit Model United Nations Conference last week. Robert Beato, Sydney Burns, Kate Connor, El Craghead-Goldman, Colin Glazer, John Griffin, Charlotte Hegarty, Patrick Kelly, Jack Lydon, James Malec, Will Malec, Katie Scott, Chisom Unamka and Leo Waldbaum worked with peers from various schools all over Massachusetts, the nation, and even the world. Students worked to  discuss and propose solutions for reducing global food waste and food loss, as well as ways to best implement educational systems in recycling and reusing. Congratulations to all who participated and to El Craghead-Goldman who received an award for best public speaker.

INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Our elementary students at Tucker, Glover, Collicot, and Cunningham celebrated a big milestone this week – the 100th day of school! The day was focused on the number 100 – counting, drawing, writing, building and generally having fun with the number 100!

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Ms. Windwer & Ms. Schramm’s Cunningham 3rd graders have been learning all about equivalent fractions.  Students used their fraction circles to help create and find equivalent fractions and then labeled each flower petal with a fraction. You can see their Fraction Flowers below which helped them to master equivalent fractions.

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Ms. Bernini’s 5th graders recently completed a collage project focusing on artist Kimmy Cantrell, a self-taught ceramicist who creates clay vases, bowls and dynamic asymmetrical faces.  Students found a light-weight cardboard box to use as the foundation for their collage and drafted a design in their sketchbook before cutting into their box to make an irregular shaped head. Students used oil pastels to add color and added enlarged facial features and shapes to create eyes, nose, lips, eyelashes, freckles and other details to create their Kimmy Cantrell inspired faces.  The finished art is stunning!

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This week Ms. Alrdich’s Cunningham 2nd graders brought their favorite book characters to life in celebration of  Read Across America Day. All week,  students have been dressing up as book characters and reading their favorite books to their classmates.  Students identified different story elements and wrote about why the book they chose is a favorite of theirs.

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Throughout March, Collicot students are focusing on literacy, kindness, and Women’s History Month. This week students in grades K-5 are enjoying their time on Lexia and Lailo while earning rewards and we are happy to see increased use of these important literacy platforms.

In honor of Women’s History Month,  Collicot students are competing in a weekly trivia contest as part of morning announcements. Each day students and staff receive a new clue about an important person. So far we know that this week’s mystery person is remembered as the founder of modern nursing and her nickname is the lady with the lamp. Can you guess our mystery woman? This 1st grader at right used the clues from the announcements to identify her in an independent reading book. 

SPECIAL EDUCATION

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

688 referrals are an essential component to your child’s continued special education services as he or she approaches adulthood and graduation/high school completion. If you have a student approaching 18 and may require adult services, it is never too early to begin this process. This informative brochure has information you may find helpful. 

We will welcome Tucker School parents of students in special education to our next coffee. We will meet virtually on March 10 at 7pm. The link to join can be found here. 

If you would like to stay informed about SEPAC meetings and local events relevant to the special needs community, please email miltonsepac@gmail.com  to have your contact information added to our database.  We look forward to hearing from you!

FOOD SERVICE 

MPS Food Service is hiring!  We have several open positions, including for a cook at MHS, and cafeteria helpers and cashiers at Pierce, Cunningham, and Collicot. The hourly wage is $15.89 for these school day positions. Please email Jackie Morgan at jmorgan@miltonps.org to explore joining the MPS Food Service team.

Weekly Wednesday lunch pick up continues at MHS (with Farmers to Families Boxes!) and students can also pick up grab and go options each day as they leave school.

FAMILY RESOURCES

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.

Milton is a participating community in The William James INTERFACE Referral Service. Interface is a mental health and wellness referral Helpline available Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm, at 888-244-6843. This is a free, confidential referral service for residents of Milton and other participating communities. Callers from these participating communities are matched with licensed mental health providers from our extensive database, on average, within 2 weeks of their call to INTERFACE. Each referral best meets the location, insurance, and specialty needs of the caller. 

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

ART AND MUSIC

Happy Music In Our Schools Month! The MHS Music department has an incredible group of outstanding senior musicians. Each week in March we will be featuring a group of Music Senior Spotlights to celebrate MIOSM and all of their accomplishments and contributions to the Milton music community.  You can read about this week’s seniors (listed below) in detail here. 

ATHLETICS

Please see the following from AD Ryan Madden

As we start our newly formed “Floating Season”,  I would like to thank all coaches, student-athletes, and parents/guardians for their help in making the Winter Season happen. As with the Fall Season, without total buy-in and with everyone following social distancing and mask-wearing protocols, we would not have been able to complete the season. Winter All-Stars and All-Scholastics will be released soon.

Floating Season schedules can be found hereUpdated Spectator Guidance for Floating Sports can be found here. There are NO spectators allowed at the Football Scrimmage on Saturday, March 6.

The Spring Season is set to start on Monday, April 26, but there are tentative plans to start as early as April 12, pending MIAA Guidelines. Students should be prepared to practice over April Vacation. While there will be no penalties for missing practices over the break, families will still be required to follow MA Travel Guidelines when returning. With games likely to start as early as Tuesday, April 27, please plan accordingly.

As always, parents/guardians are encouraged to complete the Feedback Survey for Winter Sports found here. 

The MHS Girls Ice Hockey Team will be hosting Cans for Cats on Saturday, March 6 from 9am to noon at Milton High School. Thank you for supporting our student athletes and recycling your cans and bottles at MHS on Saturday. 

COMMUNITY NEWS 

We recommend checking with the local organizations below for any changes to the following events.

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

SUPERINTENDENT SHOUTOUT

Thank you to Art Space Milton for their generous donation to the Tucker PTO! Art Space Milton donated the remaining funds from their organization to the PTO in support of Tucker’s annual Artist in Residence program. Tucker is brainstorming ideas and will possibly use the $2500 towards a mural to commemorate the unity of the community through this year. Thank you to ArtSpace Milton, and we look forward to seeing the exciting ideas that come from your donation.

BLOG SUBSCRIPTION: If you do not receive the Superintendent’s Weekly Update and would like to, please enter your email here to subscribe to this one weekly email.

Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Kim Coughlin, Susan Maselli, Jackie Morgan, Janice Mazzolla, Karen McDavitt, Laurel Bernini, Kassandra Aloe, Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Colleen Martin, Rebecca Damiani, Nicole Aldrich, Taylor Windwer, Ellen Lohan, Bernadette Butler and Julia Hanna.

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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