Superintendent's Update - Dated 12/8/2020

Superintendent's Update - Dated 12/8/2020
Posted on 12/08/2020
Superintendent's Update - Dated 12/8/2020

Dear Medway families, 

I hope you and your families are well.  As we have seen in Medway, Massachusetts and the Nation, the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to rise.  There is no doubt that this rise evokes anxiety and fear in many members of our school community.  The faculty and staff are not immune to that concern and I am humbled by their continued commitment to our students during this extraordinary time.  While there is cause for concern, I believe that there is also cause for hope.  

Our schools continue to be structured in a way that should not create close contacts, in most cases.  We continue to demonstrate strong compliance with all of the health and safety protocols that were established to be protective and mitigate risk.  Our families have continued to take the expectations around keeping children home if not feeling well seriously.  We are moving forward with a weekly staff COVID-19 testing program, and are currently gathering feedback from our middle and high school families about a potential weekly COVID-19 testing program for students.  Finally, the Medway Public Schools were selected as a pilot location for a rapid antigen COVID-19 test (Abbott Labs BinaxNOW)  for students and staff who are showing symptoms when at school.  These strategies, taken together, have been able to effectively mitigate the risk of transmission and allow us to continue to offer an in person learning experience.      

We need to continue to work together, adhere to the established protocols, and ensure that we take these risks seriously.  As a District, we will continue to share information about positive cases within our school communities.  As shared last week, this will be done via a bi-weekly email (Tuesday and Thursday) with updated information about new cases and close contacts, by location. 

 

Sincerely,

  

Armand Pires, Ph.D.

Superintendent

Grade 5-12 Family Response Needed:  COVID-19 Surveillance Testing for Middle and High School Students

On Monday, November 30, Medway Public Schools hosted a webinar for middle and high school families that provided an update on our potential partnership with JCM Analytics to conduct a weekly pool testing program for our middle and high school students starting in January 2021.  The goal of this program would be to understand the impact of the COVI-19 virus on our student population and work to support a more full return for our secondary students based on this knowledge and understanding.  The webinar was attended by just over 200 participants.  A copy of the slides that were shared during the webinar can be found here and a recording of the webinar can be found here.  Additionally, we have created an FAQ document for families based on questions that we have received and questions that were posed during the webinar which can be found here.  

Initiation of Faculty and Staff COVID19 Testing

Earlier today, over 90% of the staff of the Medway Public Schools participated in the first of our weekly COVID-19 PCR pool tests.  A separate communication regarding this testing will be sent to families later this week following receipt of the results.  

Synchronous Engagement Pilot and Next Steps

As we have communicated in recent weeks, our collaborative work with the Medway Federation of Teachers to continue to address and improve upon our areas of instructional improvement in this new teaching and learning space has been incredibly productive.  We have completed a synchronous engagement pilot with representative educators in grades 4-12 where a minimum of 10 minutes of synchronous time with at home learners and in school learners was facilitated.  Over the coming weeks we will be procuring additional technology resources that will support the expansion of synchronous engagement.   The feedback from many of our educators participating in this pilot was productive and we are working to expand this pilot to being fully implemented in all classrooms each period of the day beginning in the new year.  

Class of 2021 Graduation Date

At their meeting on Thursday, December 3, the School Committee voted to approve June 13, 2021 as the graduation date for the class of 2021.

Winter Athletics Update

Jeff Parcells, Athletic Director, and Sean Powers, Athletic Trainer, presented the Winter Athletics Update to the School Committee on Thursday, December 3.  This update included an overview of the upcoming winter season, with particular emphasis on the changes and accommodations that are planned to support safety and wellness in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The presentation can be found here. 

Spring/Fall 2020 Assessment Data Presented to School Committee

As is a typical practice, Gabby Abrams, Assistant Superintendent,  presented student learning information to the School Committee during their December 3 meeting.  This year’s presentation placed an emphasis on understanding the impact that the pandemic has had on student learning and what actions can be taken as a result of this understanding. The full  presentation can be found here. 

Technology Update

We are excited to announce that additional chromebooks have finally arrived and are being prepared to support our PK-4 students.  The deployment plan is as follows:  

  • All students in grades 3 and 4 will be required to return any previously loaned chromebook devices in exchange for a new touch chromebook.   Grade 3 and 4 students who have devices at home should plan to bring these to school on Thursday, December 10 (for all Grade 3 and Grade 4 Cohort B and C students) and on Monday, December 14 (for all Grade 4 Cohort A students).  
  • All students in grades PK-2 will be required to return any previously loaned NON TOUCH devices, effective December 14. Students who were assigned non touch chromebooks will exchange for a touch based unit while those students who previously received a touch based unit will continue to use the existing device.   
  • Students in grades 2-4 will be required to bring their device to and from school on a daily basis.  Please ensure the device is charged nightly and in good working order for in-school activities as there will be limited in-school charging capability.
  • Students in grades PK-1 will have a dedicated device prepared and placed in a classroom based cart for storage and charging nightly. Students will be required to bring the device home on Fridays and bring devices back to school with them on Mondays.  Should the school or district need to transition to a fully remote model of learning, students will be well practiced with the process for preparing devices to go home. 
  • Due to the unpredictability of this transition, parents may be required to pick up a device on a scheduled date after closure. This process will be similar to the spring and fall deployment processes that were in place.
  • Virtual School students without a device currently  may request a device by emailing support@medwayschools.org. Please provide the student name, grade, and cohort and we will make all attempts to prepare a device for your child.
  • ALL FAMILIES who have yet to purchase insurance to cover accidental damage are strongly encouraged to do so. The cost to insure the device is $22 per year, purchased from the Worth Ave Portal.  Repair costs range from keyboards at $25 to system boards and screens at $150. Chargers are not covered under this policy and will be charged at $15 for replacement whether broken or lost. 
  • Please review the acceptable use and responsibilities information found here. 

Webinar for Virtual School Families:  Potential Mid-Year Learning Model Transition  

In anticipation of potential student transitions from our Virtual School to Hybrid or In Person Learning Models, Medway Public Schools will be hosting an informational webinar for Virtual School Families on Thursday, December 10 at 6:00 p.m.  During the webinar, families will learn about a few Virtual School schedule shifts that are the result of our transition to full time learning in grades K-3; an update on our in person/hybrid learning models; and the process by which we will engage in a February 1, 2021 transition for students moving from the Virtual School to the Hybrid or In Person Student Learning Models. Pre-registration for this webinar is required and can be accessed here.

Special Education State Performance Report/Indicator 11 

Medway has received notice from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) that our upload of data for Indicator 11 (Initial Evaluation Timelines), as part of our Program Review, was calculated and indicated as demonstrating 100% compliance with the requirements associated with evaluation timelines. It was noted that not all records were in compliance with the required 45-day timeline due to an issue outside of the district’s control, specifically, parent scheduling needs. Medway is strongly encouraged to identify additional steps that the district may take to ensure that parent scheduling needs do not result in delays in the future.

Updated COVID19 Quarantine Guidelines

On Wednesday, November 17, the district received the updated information from the state regarding quarantine guidelines. The Governor announced these updates at a press conference, to be effective immediately.  These guidelines can be viewed here.  As a reminder, students are required to quarantine if deemed a close contact to an infected individual, which is defined by the MA Department of Public health as: within 6’ of an infected individual for at least 15 consecutive minutes. 

ACTION NEEDED:  Student Information Yearly Parent Review/Updates

We request that all families complete the beginning-of-year packet within Infinite Campus.  While this is called [Online Registration] within the parent portal, it is the same as the annual paper forms that families traditionally fill out about their child.  It is essential that every family complete this process to ensure we have the most up to date contact and health information for you and your child. This process should only take a few minutes as you verify the information on file and have an opportunity to make changes. To access OLR in the portal, login and choose MORE > Online Registration.  Please follow the prompts to complete the process. If you are new to Medway or in need an access code to create an account, please email support@medwayschools.org.

Planning for Inclement Weather and “Snow Days”

Our “snow day” plans will be different this year.  The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, for the 2020-2021 school year only, has granted school districts the ability to choose to conduct learning in a full remote manner on days when decisions to cancel school due to inclement weather are a reality.  Please find below, a breakdown of each decision scenario to support your planning:

  1. Inclement weather is detrimental to safe student travel via busses or parent transport:  As has been our practice, the Superintendent will make an “all call” to families as early as practical, hopefully by 6:00 a.m. of the day in question, to notify families that school will be conducted in a full remote model for all students on that day.  Information about student log-ins for learning sessions, expectations for student work completion, etc. will be sent by building principals and classroom teachers through Clever/SeeSaw/Google Classroom, and/or through email.
  2. Inclement weather is determined to subside in enough time for in person schooling:   In this situation, our full in person, hybrid, and typical Virtual School schedules and learning plans will continue as usual.  

Additionally, in past years, we have been able to offer transportation to “walkers” on inclement weather days, and when the sidewalks are not cleared.  Due to the circumstances surrounding transportation guidance and COVID protections, we will not be able to offer this service.  As has been our practice, the readiness of the sidewalks will not be a factor in the determination of whether we have school in person.  The Town will clear sidewalks as quickly as possible, but in the aftermath of a heavy storm, this may take a few days to complete.  Families are encouraged to develop plans to ensure that their child can safely arrive at school.

Additionally, and in adherence with goals to ensure effective ventilation in our buildings, windows will remain open as much as possible throughout our schools and classrooms.  Please ensure that your children are dressed appropriately.

Flu Shots Required by December 31, 2020

The Commonwealth of MA now requires that all students receive the influenza vaccination. 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. This new flu immunization requirement to enter school in January is in addition to existing vaccine requirements for all students attending school in Massachusetts. Elementary and secondary students in districts and schools that are using a remote education model are not exempt.

Free School Lunch and Breakfast For ALL STUDENTS for the Entire 2020/20201 School Year

The USDA recently announced that school breakfast and lunch would remain free for ALL students for the entirety of the 2020/2021 school year.  We realize that parents and guardians are being asked to do many different things in support of their children this school year.  We are pleased to be able to take one thing off of your plate by providing your student with breakfast and lunch.

Medway THRIVE Launches YouTube Channel

Medway THRIVE's mission is to provide resources to help families and students with today's challenges. To reach families in new ways, Medway THRIVE has partnered with Medway Cable to launch a YouTube channel.  Click SUBSCRIBE for upcoming videos that present ideas to understand and cope with some of the greatest challenges our students and families are facing today:  Medway THRIVE YouTube Channel Trailer

Vendor Purchasing Program

With so much technology being purchased in our town and school department, vendors sometimes extend additional resources and discounts to our entire community. At this time, we would like to extend the Dell Purchasing Program to our community. Black Friday and doorbuster deals are available starting in November and can be accessed via the following site:  www.dell.com/mpp/MedwaySchools.  Please note that this site is available year round and we extend this offer as a resource to our community with no bias, benefit, or preference. 

Medway Athletics Newsletter

The latest edition of the Medway Public Schools’ Athletics Newsletter, Mustang Nation, can be found here.

Medway Public Schools In the News

Press Release: Medway High School Seniors Receive Award Sponsored by New England School Development Council

Press Release: Medway High School Student-Athletes Wrap Up Successful Fall 2020 Seasons

John and Abigail Adams Scholarship

 

Upcoming Events

December 8, 2020

Tri M Induction Cohort A, Medway High School, 1:15 p.m.

National Honor Society Induction, Virtual event, 7:00 p.m.

December 9, 2020

Elementary Early Release - Grades K-4 Only

Virtual Parent Teacher Conferences, Elementary Schools

Tri Board Meeting, School Committee, Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee, 6:00 p.m.

December 10, 2020

Webinar for Virtual School Families; register here, 6:00 p.m.

December 11, 2020

Tri M Induction Cohort B, Medway High School, 1:15 p.m.

December 14, 2020

MFE Board Meeting, 7:00 p.m.

December 24 - January 4, 2021

No School: Winter Break

January 7, 2021

School Committee Meeting, Presentation Room, Medway Middle School, 6:00 p.m.

January 12, 2021

MFPA Meeting, 7:00 p.m.

January 18, 2021

No School: Martin Luther King Jr., Day

January 21, 2021

School Committee Meeting, Presentation Room, Medway Middle School, 6:00 p.m.

January 27, 2021

MSPTO Meeting, 7:00 p.m.


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