Superintendent's Update - November 24, 2020

Superintendent's Update - November 24, 2020
Posted on 11/24/2020
Superintendent's Update - November 24, 2020

Dear Medway families, 

Let me begin by wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for every day that we are able to have our students with us, in school, engaging with our committed educators and paraprofessional staff.  We recognize that the first few months of the 2020-2021 school year have not been normal and our work together to maximize this time while also continuing to plan for the future has been productive.  We are committed to continuing to identify a safe and fuller return for our students.  Please find an overview of our current progress and future planning within our  School Reopening Update and Next Steps Presentation.   

As we enter into the long weekend,  I want to express sincere gratitude to our community for your continued vigilance in adhering to health and safety guidelines, both in and out of school.  We are incredibly thankful that we have been able to maintain an in person model of schooling.  While we are all looking forward to the upcoming holiday, I am concerned about its potential impact on our ability to continue in person learning for students.  I encourage you to review the guidelines that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has shared about modifications to family gatherings for Thanksgiving.  Those guidelines can be found here.  Additionally, the state advisory on travel can be found here

Sincerely,

  

Armand Pires, Ph.D.

Superintendent

Reminder:  Early Release Day on Wednesday, November 25; No School on Thursday-Friday, November 26-27 

This Wednesday, November 25, is an early release day for all schools and students.  There are no remote work expectations for students in the afternoon.  Due to the unique nature of this school year, our early release times may also be slightly different than in prior years.  Early release times for Wednesday, November 25:

  • McGovern Elementary School:  12:00 p.m.
  • Burke-Memorial Elementary School:  11:30 a.m.
  • Medway Middle School:  11:02 a.m.
  • Medway High School:  12:00 p.m. 
  • Virtual School:  12:00 p.m. 

Upcoming Webinar:  Monday, November 30:  COVID-19 Surveillance Testing for Middle and High School Students (Informational)

A reminder of the upcoming webinar on Exploring COVID-19 Testing for Students on Monday, November 30, 2020, at 6:00 p.m.  This webinar will provide more details about a possible testing program for middle and high school students.  Since our last webinar, we have identified a partner in this work, JCM Analytics.  JCM Analytics will begin working with the Medway Schools in mid-December to support staff testing.  Representatives will be on the webinar panel to answer specific questions about the type of test, accuracy of results, process of pool testing, and other questions that you might have.

We encourage families to attend the webinar on Monday, November 30, 2020, at 6:00 p.m.  Pre-registration is required through the following link:  Exploring COVID-19 Testing for Students Webinar.  After registering, participants will receive an email confirmation with their login information.

Finally, please know that we have not made a decision to conduct COVID-19 testing for students.  The purpose of this webinar, which will be followed by a survey, is to gather information about community interest in a regular testing program for middle and high school students.

Upcoming Webinar for Virtual School Families:  Wednesday, December 10, 2020 @ 6:00 p.m.

We will be hosting a webinar for all Virtual School Families on Wednesday December 10, 2020 with the following goals:

  1. Provide families with updates regarding the Virtual School Model
  2. Provide families with updates regarding our in person and hybrid models of learning
  3. Communicate the process for seeking parent commitment regarding their child’s model of learning beginning on February 1, 2021.

All Virtual School families are encouraged to attend.  Families can pre-register for the webinar at the following link: Virtual School Family Meeting Webinar Registration Link.

Updated COVID19 Quarantine Guidelines

On Wednesday, November 17, the district received 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.  

Planning for Inclement Weather and “Snow Days”

We recognize that days when decision making around inclement weather may quickly arrive.  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.

Academic Growth and Student Leadership in Learning Award Recipients 

At recent School Committee meetings, Nicholas Tomasetti and Sreenidhi Ravipati were recognized with the Academic Growth and Student Leadership in Learning Award.  

Nick’s outstanding academic skills are undeniable. Nick also participates in extracurricular activities including Golf, Science Olympiad, and the Math Team.  

Sreenidhi is also a standout in the class of 2021.  Math is her passion.  She loves solving problems. Sreenidhi also finds time to volunteer at many different organizations such as Newton-Wellesley Hospital.  She is also highly involved in her school community.  

Congratulations to Nick and Sreenidhi!

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.  The response indicated 100% compliance with the requirements associated with evaluation timelines. It was noted that not all records were in compliance with the required 45-day timelines 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.

Significant Disproportionality in Special Education

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has reviewed Medway’s Student Information Management System (SIMS) and Student Safety and Discipline Report (SSDR) data from three prior school years, and has not identified significant disproportionality by race or ethnicity in special education identification, placement, or discipline in the Medway Public Schools.  DESE has made it their priority to increase educational access and equity for our most marginalized students, especially students with disabilities. This priority necessitates that the DESE identifies significant disproportionality in special education and responds to it where it exists, including providing evidence of disproportionality to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).  This analysis is conducted pursuant to requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 34 CFR §§ 300.646-300.647

‘SUP Medway T.H.R.I.V.E. Event Resources

‘S.U.P. Medway, a newly formed youth substance use prevention coalition, teamed up with Medway T.H.R.I.V.E. to host a community event: Planning for Prevention on November 18.  During this 30-minute webinar, community members learned from Aubrey Ciol, Prevention Specialist, about how to engage with youth in discussions around substance use.  Attendees also learned about how community coalitions have been shown to decrease youth substance use significantly and how they can join the ‘S.U.P. Coalition.  To access a recording of the webinar, click here, and to sign-up to support the coalition, please complete this form.  To learn more about the resource Aubrey mentioned in the webinar Talk. They Hear You, please click here.  

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.

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.

COVID-19 Compensatory Services for Students with IEPs

The Student Services Office is in the process of scheduling phone conversations/meetings with parents of struggling students in Cohort C, phase 1 (only) to discuss compensatory services which may have been accrued during the time period of March 13 through June 1, 2020.  Compensatory Services are designed to compensate for a denial of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), where the intent is to place the student in the position that the student would be in had the district provided the appropriate services (during the shutdown) in the first place.  

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has requested that districts restrict their initial reach out to Cohort C (ph. 1) students and time frames to that which occurred as a result of Governor Baker’s March 2020 order.  A letter will be sent to students in Cohort C, ph. 1, so that we may set up conversations and/or meetings by December 30, 2020, with parents of the students who most struggled with the spring learning modalities. We will bring data that we have collected from last year and this year to these meetings so that our conversation about substantial regression, recoupment, and progress towards IEP goals is data-based.  All other students with IEPs will be forwarded a similar letter after December 30, 2020.   

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.  

First Six Weeks of School Survey Results Overview 

At the November 19 School Committee, high level results and relative strengths and areas of opportunity were presented.  These surveys, completed by about 30% of PK-12 families, ~40% of grade 5-12 students, and ~50% of PK-12 faculty and staff addressed topics connected with the school return and how the district’s work around designing programming has impacted each constituency group.  Thank you to those who completed these surveys.  We will continue to drill down into the data for additional learning.  A copy of the presentation can be found here. 

Vendor Purchasing Program

With so much technology being purchased in our town and school departments, 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 Public Schools In the News

Press Release: Medway Public Schools Recognizes John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Recipients

Press Release: Michael Bhatia, Alumni Assoc. Recognition

Letter to the Cannabis Control Commission

High School National Letter of Intent 

Upcoming Events

November 25, 2020

Early Release All Schools

McGovern: 12:00 p.m.

Burke-Memorial: 11:30 a.m.

Medway Middle School: 11:02 a.m.

Medway High School: 12:00 p.m.

Virtual School: 12:00 p.m.

November 26-27, 2020

No School: Thanksgiving Recess

November 30, 2020

Community Webinar On COVID Testing, Pre-registration is required here: Exploring COVID-19 Testing for Students Webinar, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

December 1, 2020

Virtual Parent Teacher Conferences, Middle School, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

December 2, 2020

Elementary Early Release: Grades K-4 Only

Virtual Parent Teacher Conferences, Elementary Schools

Meet the Coach Night, High School Virtual, 6:00 p.m.

December 3, 2020

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

December 8, 2020

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

National Honor Society Induction, Medway High School, 7:00 p.m.

MFPA Meeting, 7:00 - 8:00 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 24 - January 4, 2021

No School: Winter Break


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