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COVID Entry Form for Extended School Year (ESY) Students

posted Jul 6, 2020, 6:23 AM by Dan MacLeod   [ updated Jul 7, 2020, 5:57 AM ]

Please complete this form daily if your child is participating in the Summer 2020  Extended School Year program.

https://forms.gle/ioDrxdD6o3iRZkeJ7

Coronavirus Update #16 - Fall Reopening (June 25, 2020)

posted Jun 27, 2020, 8:18 AM by Dan MacLeod   [ updated Jun 27, 2020, 8:22 AM ]

Dear Holliston Parent/Guardians and Staff:

     Today, Governor Baker’s office and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released their initial guidance about reopening schools this fall.  We applaud the level of thought and care that went into the development of this guidance, and share its goal of the safe return of as many students as possible to in-person school settings in order to best meet students’ academic, social, and emotional needs.

     Over the coming days, we will be reviewing the guidance to begin to understand how it impacts what we can do in Holliston.  We also acknowledge that these initial guidelines do not address every topic and that there will be additional guidance coming throughout the summer.  The full document can be found here, but here are some key components:

  • Current medical research supports a safe in-person return to school - with preventive measures in place - as infection and transmission rates are lower for children than adults.
  • Preventive measures include masks/face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
  • Masks/face coverings will be required for all students in Grade 2 and above and for all adults; they are recommended for students in Grade 1 and below.
  • Based upon current medical research, and in conjunction with other preventive measures, a minimum physical distance of three feet has been established.    

     It is essential to note that this plan acknowledges that districts will require adequate state and local funding in order to be able to safely reopen school in the fall.  Specifically, the plan indicates that we will require, at a minimum, level-funded budgets plus DIRECT state/federal aid to school districts to fund the additional costs that will be required to make it possible to safely reopen.  I am grateful to Commissioner Riley for acknowledging this fiscal reality.

     Districts will need to develop three separate plans - one for return to full in-person instruction with safety requirements, one for full remote learning, and one for hybrid learning that combines in-person and remote learning.  Based upon the current medical situation, the expectation today is that students will return to full in-person instruction when classes resume; however, that is subject to change based upon how the medical situation develops.

     We acknowledge that there are likely to be more questions than answers at this time, and we will continue to communicate with you in the coming weeks and months. 

     Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Respectfully,

 

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Coronavirus Update #15 - Fall 2020 Update

posted Jun 18, 2020, 1:17 PM by Dan MacLeod

Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff:

Today marks the beginning of the final week of school for the 2020-2021 school year, and what a year it has been! This fall, we dealt with our first public health crisis – EEE, that upset our plans for outdoor PE classes, recess, and fall sports. Today, we enter the fourth month of isolation to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has taken the lives of almost 120,000 Americans including two deaths here in Holliston. The disruption of our school year has been unprecedented and significant. Despite Herculean effort on the part of Holliston’s educators, it is undeniable that remote learning has not and cannot replace the in-person education experience.

While some restrictions on our everyday living are slowly being lifted, educational leaders from across Massachusetts are being encouraged to develop alternative plans in the likely event that 100% in-person, in-school instruction will likely not be possible at the beginning of next school year. To assist us in this planning, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is supposed to publish guidelines for school districts to follow when planning for the fall. Initially, we were told that those guidelines were expected to be published today, June 15, but in a conference call late last week, the commissioner said that “preliminary“ guidelines would “hopefully be published next [now, this] week, followed by more detailed guidelines coming in early-to-mid July.“ While this news is frustrating, we all have to recognize that, in Massachusetts, these decisions are being informed by the best scientific and medical minds in our country and that a lot will depend on the exact trajectory the virus is taking when school Is scheduled to reopen in late August.

I know the frustration the families are feeling, facing the idea that next school year may look different than “normal“ but without any idea as to what the exact differences will be. With that in mind, I would like to offer a few concepts that are highly likely to pervade the next school year:

  1. Students and staff will likely be required to wear masks and practice physical distancing throughout the school day. Parents should expect that it will be their responsibility to provide their students with masks.
  2. The availability of morning and afternoon bus transportation may be limited in order to implement physical distancing requirements.Students and staff who are exhibiting any physical symptoms of illness will be expected to stay home.
  3. The practice of giving your child some Tylenol when they wake up with a little fever and sending them off to school will not be tolerated, as it now could have life-threatening consequences to others.
  4. It is virtually certain that there will be some school days when some students will be required to stay at home and actively participate in remote learning. It is likely that some students will experience this more than others, as we accommodate and adjust our programming to meet individual student’s learning needs.
  5. Remote Learning may look quite different next year than it did this year.  For example, in the scenario where some students are in school and some are not, the opportunity exists to live stream lessons as they occur in the classroom, where in today’s model that is not possible.
  6. Schools and districts may have to adjust their instructional model, moving back-and-forth from 100% remote, to hybrid, to 100% in-school, depending on the status of the virus.  For example, if we were to open under a hybrid model (with some students coming to school and some students remaining at home) at the beginning of the school year, we might have to move to a 100% remote model if Massachusetts experiences a second wave of the virus.  Similarly, when a vaccine is available and the danger passes, we could move to the 100% in-school model.

These past months have been difficult for all of us.  What was once easy is now difficult, or still not possible.  This has required us all to demonstrate high levels of patience and understanding as we adjust.  When school opens in the fall, I am confident that we will all need to show the same high levels of patience and understanding as we work to bring as many students back to school as possible.  

As the state publishes clearer information about their plans for the fall, the Holliston Public Schools will communicate those plans to you as soon as possible.  

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Coronavirus Update #14 - Planning for Fall 2020

posted May 18, 2020, 10:29 AM by Dan MacLeod

Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff:

            It has been over two months now since our students and teachers have been face-to-face in their classrooms.  Over that period, our students, parents/guardians, and staff have shown remarkable resilience in the face of constant change and frequent challenges.  We are incredibly proud of the Remote Learning Plan that our educators developed and even prouder of the efforts of our staff to constantly update and adjust that Plan in an effort to meet the ever-changing needs of our students in this remote learning setting.  While it is inarguable that remote learning does not approach the quality of instruction that takes place in our classrooms every day, nonetheless, Holliston’s teachers and staff are working tirelessly to minimize the gap between these two very different models of education.  As they always do, Holliston’s teachers are giving it their all, while juggling the extraordinary demands of working at home during a pandemic, and we are deeply appreciative of their efforts and proud of their results.

            One month from today, June 18th, will be the last day of the 2019-2020 school year.  While we remain committed to adjusting our current practices to ensure the best possible educational outcomes for the remainder of this school year, we are also focusing our attention on planning for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.  Today, the Governor is scheduled to announce his plan for re-opening Massachusetts, but this plan will NOT include much, if any, information about how schools will re-open.  However, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has formed a large 30-person working group that has been tasked with developing a re-opening plan for Massachusetts’ schools.  Unfortunately, this plan is not scheduled to be released until the middle-to-end of June, at the earliest. 

           It would be irresponsible, however, to sit idle and wait for that plan to be announced.  So, the Holliston Public Schools has formed its own team to begin to study the options and develop an understanding of how each of these options would be implemented.  The team will initially consist of: the entire senior leadership team of the Holliston Public Schools (Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Director of Student Services, Business Administrator, Director of Technology, as well as the four building principals); Holliston’s Fire Chief (who also serves as Holliston’s Emergency Management Director); Holliston’s Police Chief and the HPS School Nurse Leader. Initially, we are focusing our planning and brainstorming on the issues related to the four most likely scenarios:

  • Business-As-Usual;

  • Full-Opening with Social Distancing/Safety Protocols and Equipment Required;

  •  Hybrid Model where only 50% (or some portion) of our students could be physically present in our schools at one time and the remainder would be taught remotely; or

  • 100% Remote model, similar to our current situation. 

During Phase I of our planning for the fall, we are brainstorming the implications of each of these models on all aspects of our work, such as:

  • Student and staff schedules;

  • Health and safety protocols; 

  • Technology needed by students and staff;

  • Professional development of our staff;

  • Necessary curriculum, instruction and assessment adaptations; 

  • Student transportation;

  • Medical staffing and equipment;

  • Special education services;

  • Extra-curricular activities;

  • Building cleaning requirements;

  … just to name a few.

            Following our initial brainstorming, our thinking will be shared with our teaching and professional staff in early June for their feedback, discussion and further refinement.  Our goal is to have a draft of this work completed when the state announces its plan in mid-to-late June so that we can make revisions based upon useful guidance from the state.  Additionally, once the draft plan is developed, we will be formally soliciting feedback from parents/guardians in late June or early July and throughout the summer in order to inform further adjustments to the plan.  We then will be ready to spend the remainder of the summer finalizing our preparations for school opening in whatever form it is expected to take. 

            It is highly likely, however, that the plan announced by DESE in late June will still be built upon a number of assumptions regarding the expected status of the virus when school is scheduled to open on September 1st.  As a result, we will likely not know for certain what opening day will look like until mid-to-late August.  In addition, even after we open schools in the fall, we are going to need to be prepared to toggle between the various scenarios in response to potential changes in the virus in the area.

            We recognize that this is not welcome news for either our parent/guardian community or our staff, each of whom needs to be able to develop family plans for the return to school.  If we could make the Holliston Public Schools an island of certainty in the center of all of this uncertainty, we would.  But, that will likely not be possible.  As we draft this letter on Sunday, May 17th, the Governor is slated to share his initial plan for re-opening Massachusetts tomorrow, yet none of us knows with ANY certainty, what that plan will entail.  Whether it’s a state-wide plan to reopen our economy or Holliston’s plan to reopen school in the fall, that plan is driven by the then-current status of the virus. 

            It goes without saying that all of the HPS administrators and staff eagerly anticipate the time when we can safely return to our school buildings and resume face to face instruction with all of our kids. We will continue to prepare for all possible scenarios and share the status of our planning efforts as the end of the school year approaches and over the course of the summer as well.  

Respectfully,

 

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.                                                   Peter J. Botelho, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools                                                    Assistant Superintendent



CoronaVirus Update #13: HPS to Remain in Remote Learning Mode for the Remainder of the 2019-2020 School Year

posted Apr 27, 2020, 1:45 PM by Dan MacLeod   [ updated Apr 27, 2020, 1:47 PM ]

Dear Holliston Parents/Guardians and Staff:

Governor Charlie Baker announced that all Massachusetts school buildings will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.  While many of us expected this announcement, the reality that teachers and students will not physically be returning to their classroom for the remainder of this school year elicits a number of powerful emotions, including anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, sadness and loss.  This is a normal reaction to the loss of normalcy we are all experiencing.

Over the course of the coming weeks, every one of us, parents, staff and students, will feel many if not all of these emotions and probably more.  For this reason alone, it is critical that we continue to focus our efforts on our Remote Learning work to ensure we remain connected with each other and to minimize the impact of this new reality on our students and their growth.  While our school buildings are closed, the 2019-2020 school year is not over!  We will continue to execute and adjust our Remote Learning efforts to meet the needs of our students for the remainder of the school year.  I encourage and expect all students to engage in those activities to the extent they are able. 

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be announcing decisions regarding the status of our traditional end-of-year activities and other important issues that arise as a result of this announcement.  In the meantime, please continue to keep your families safe during this pandemic.

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Coronavirus Update #12 - Staying at Home

posted Apr 27, 2020, 1:41 PM by Dan MacLeod

A Stay-At-Home Advisory from the Holliston School Nurses

As the weather gets nicer and the Stay-At-Home Advisory continues, it is tempting to gather outside, especially on the Rail Trail.  The nurses want to remind everyone that the Stay-At-Home Advisory from Governor Baker states that you should only leave your home to address essential needs.  However, if you do decide to leave your home for some fresh air and exercise, it is important to follow everyday preventative measures and the following physical distancing tips:

  • Do not leave home if you are symptomatic

  • Wear cloth or fabric face coverings in public spaces

  • Only visit parks, trails and recreation areas that are open. 

  • Stay at least six feet from others at all times. 

  • Do not gather in groups

  • Do not go into a crowded area.

  • Avoid gathering with others outside of your household.

  • Do not shake hands or hug

  • Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to use if soap and water are not available.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/parks-rec/visitors.html?deliveryName=USCDC_2067-DM25771

Coronavirus Update #11- April Vacation Changed & The Revised Last Day of School

posted Apr 8, 2020, 3:27 AM by Dan MacLeod   [ updated Apr 10, 2020, 8:45 AM ]

Dear Holliston Parents/Guardians and Staff:

The Holliston School Committee has voted to change the 2019-2020 (current school year) calendar as follows:  April 21, 22, 23 and 24, 2020 are no longer School Vacation Days; they are now designated as Remote Learning Days.  As a result of this change, the last day of school for students in Grades K-11 has changed from Wednesday, June 24, 2020 and will now be Thursday, June 18, 2020.  The last day of school for seniors will remain May 29, 2020.

Since all residents of Holliston (and the Commonwealth) will be under a stay-at-home order during the week when April school vacation was scheduled to be held, I recommended that the Committee make this change.  Most families have built their stay-at-home routines with the time for Remote Learning built in.  Given that there are few, if any, options, for safe ways to travel, visit with friends or connect in person with remote family members, I felt that the time would best be used continuing the momentum we are building with our new Remote Learning Program.  Moreover, the ability to end the school year earlier in June made this choice even more attractive.

Teachers will be issuing complete Remote Learning Plans for the week of April 21-24 and our expectations for student participation will be the same for these days as it is for all Remote Learning Days.

Thank you for your continued understanding and flexibility as we adjust to new issues as they present themselves.

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Coronavirus Update #10- Remote Learning Plans

posted Apr 5, 2020, 12:42 PM by Dan MacLeod

Dear Holliston Parents/Guardians and Staff:

Three weeks ago yesterday, on March 12th, I cancelled school in Holliston for Friday, March 13th and the week of March 16-20th due to growing public health concerns related to the CoronaVirus.  On Sunday, March 15th, Governor Baker cancelled school across Massachusetts through early April. On Monday, March 23rd, we began Week one of our two-week Enhanced Learning Program. This program was designed to meet several objectives:
  • To assess the digital readiness of our staff and families for future remote learning;
  • To re-establish connections between students and their teachers;
  • To assess our students social-emotional wellness; and
  • To offer students high-quality learning activities that were aligned with then-current DESE advisories that assigned work should be limited to preventing academic regression by reviewing previously-taught material and reinforcing skills already taught this school year and applying and deepening those skills.
On Wednesday, March 25th, 8 days ago, Governor Baker announced a further state-wide cancellation of school, this time through Friday, May 1st.  On Thursday, March 26th,  the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) issued their first set of written guidelines regarding Remote Learning.  These guidelines encouraged districts to continue to set the social-emotional wellness of their students as their highest priority, but allowed districts to locally determine the appropriateness of teaching new content moving forward.  

After considerable discussion, we have concluded that Phase 2 of our Remote Learning Plan will allow teachers to add new content to their remote learning instruction beginning Monday, April 6th.  At Placentino and Miller, where skill development in reading, writing and mathematics have always been the core work our teachers do, this focus will continue. At RAMS, teachers will continue to explore curriculum content through the school-wide lens of “Personal, Local, Global” with the emphasis on deeper, applied learning and deep conceptual understanding continuing to drive the work. New content will be introduced judiciously while reinforcing important concepts and skills. 

The changes for Holliston High School students will be much more pronounced:
  • HHS will be moving forward in curriculum content beginning Monday, April 6th.  Teachers have been asked to be alert to the differentiated needs of their class and offer all necessary accommodations;
  • HHS will work on a fixed class schedule beginning at 9:00AM and ending not later than 11:50AM M/T/Th/F where each period will meet twice per week for a class period not to exceed 50 minutes.  On the days when the student is not meeting with their teacher, they will be assigned independent work that should require no more than 50 minutes to complete. With this schedule, each student will meet with their Period A teacher for up to 100 minutes per week and have up to 150 minutes of independent work assigned to them.  
  • Students are expected to complete the work assigned to them and teachers will provide students with feedback on their submitted work.
Additional details can be seen in our comprehensive Remote Learning Plan.  You should expect to hear additional details from your school principal by Saturday, April 4th.

In the past three weeks, we have closed school, developed an initial plan for PreK-12 remote instruction, implemented that plan, modified the plan based on feedback and are now preparing to roll-out that revised plan.  This has been exhausting work that has required administrators and teachers to put in an extraordinary number of hours to develop and execute these plans. In addition, this work has required a level of flexibility and collaboration between administrators and teachers far beyond the already-high levels Holliston typically sees.  Everyone has rolled up their sleeves and pitched in, putting roles and responsibilities to one side, working together to make this happen. I am intensely proud of this work and profoundly proud of the teachers and administrators of the Holliston Public Schools who have worked together to make this happen. I also want to express my personal appreciation to the leadership of the Holliston Federation of Teachers for their flexibility and commitment to ensuring the students of Holliston are well-served through this shutdown.

I thank you for your continued patience and support as the Holliston Public Schools retools and redesigns itself to meet the unique changing needs of our community. 

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Coronavirus Update #9 - Privacy, Nurse & Food Service Info

posted Mar 30, 2020, 12:19 PM by Dan MacLeod

Dear Holliston Parent/Guardians and Staff:

               One week after Governor Charlie Baker closed schools across the state to slow the spread of coronavirus in our communities, Holliston Public Schools rolled out a comprehensive set of Enhanced Learning Opportunities for students to use as a vehicle to get re-connected with their teachers and classmates and re-engage with their academic work.

This past Wednesday, Governor Baker announced that schools would remain closed through Friday, May 1, 2020.  Then, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released a set of guidelines for districts to use as they develop plans for this extended shutdown period.  On Friday, March 27, we wrapped up Week 1 of our Remote Learning Program, with Week 2 beginning today, Monday, March 30th.   This success can only be attributed to the hard work, time, and talent that our district’s entire team has invested in this effort. It is truly a remarkable accomplishment, made even more remarkable when you consider that each of these employees were adapting to their “new normal,” – including working from home, meeting remotely, as well as juggling their responsibilities to care for family and friends, to name a few things.

               During Week 1, many of our teachers reached out to students using the tools available through Google Classroom or commercially-available products such as Zoom or FlipGrid.  Because many families are working in close quarters, we wanted to be explicit about our expectations of students and their families regarding student privacy.  I have attached a document to this email that outlines those expectations with instructions to follow-up, no later than Friday, May 4th if you feel you are unable to meet those expectations.

This week, while staying connected with their students and rolling out Week 2 of our Remote Learning Program, Holliston’s teachers and administrators will be conducting a comprehensive re-assessment of our current program, assessing it against the DESE guidelines and reviewing it for appropriateness knowing that schools will now be closed through at least May 1st.  

At a minimum, we will be looking at the following areas of our current plan and reviewing it against DESE’s new guidelines and our own goals for student learning, including:

·     Providing meaningful and productive learning for approximately half the length of a regular school day;

·     Providing students the opportunity to connect with one or more educators multiple times per week;

·     Provide students with time each day for physical activity based on recommendations from educators;

·     Provide additional time daily for enrichment activities such as the arts;

·     Ensuring teachers are providing valuable feedback on student work completed at home;

·     Reviewing the appropriateness of our current focus on “reinforcing skills already taught and applying and deepening those skills” to minimize the impact that this now-extended closure will have on all of our students, but particularly, on the ability of HHS students to qualify for academic credit for Term 3, Term 4, Semester 2 and courses 3 terms in duration; and

·     Reviewing any proposed revisions that we consider to our current program against the legal and moral imperative that “students have equitable access to learning opportunities during the closure, keeping in mind the variety of technology, health, disability and language challenges” and other unique circumstances facing many of our students during this extraordinary time.

Any changes to our current plan will be shared with parents/guardians at the end of next week with Phase II of our Remote Learning Program going on-line on Monday, April 6.

Holliston Public Schools is not just focused on serving the academic needs of our students during this time. Our talented nurses are working hard to keep Holliston healthy and our incredible School Food Service employees are working hard to feed families-in-need.   Important information from our School Nurses and Food Service staff are attached to this email.

In closing, I want to assure you that the Holliston Public Schools is committed to putting together the most comprehensive, compassionate and flexible plan for remote learning possible to accommodate families during these unprecedented times.  It’s important to acknowledge that Holliston, our Commonwealth, our country and our planet are not experiencing an education crisis - we are experiencing a public health crisis that is impacting our public education system.  Our decisions must be and will be driven by the needs of our students -- all of our students.  We must accept the fact that we will not have the same educational outcomes this June that we have always had.  We must accept the fact that the recovery period from a mandated 2-month school closure will last well into the 2020-2021 school year.  At the same time, we must, and we will, find a way to minimize the impact that this COVID-19 crisis will have on our students’ futures.  We will not, however, achieve this goal by sacrificing those students who are already struggling to catch up to their peers or who are unable to connect with our offerings due to challenges they or their families are facing during this public health crisis.  That is not who we are as a community.

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Holliston Student Privacy Expectations and Consent

Holliston School Nurse COVID-19 Update April 2020

Holliston Food Service April 2020 Newsletter


Coronavirus Update #8 - March 25, 2020

posted Mar 26, 2020, 5:16 PM by Dan MacLeod

Dear Holliston Parents/Guardians and Staff:

At 3:30 this afternoon, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that he was extending his state-wide school closure order through Friday, May 1, 2020.  This means that the Holliston Public Schools will continue to be closed through that date. The earliest date for school reopening is now Monday, May 4, 2020. 

We anticipated that the shutdown period would be extended and the plans we developed to keep our students engaged with learning activities were designed to be expandable to meet the needs of our families and students for a longer shutdown period.  In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that it will be issuing specific guidelines for districts to follow for the remote learning opportunities we provide. Once these guidelines have been shared with us, we will review our current Enhanced Learning Opportunities program and make any adjustments needed to ensure compliance with these new state guidelines.  If modifications to the plan are required, we will share those changes with students and parents as soon as possible.

In the meantime, even though many expected that the school closure period would be extended, it is a hard reality to face.  We recognize that for many staff, parents and students this new reality will only serve to increase anxiety, concern and a yearning for the return to normalcy.  Unfortunately, there is no substitute for the face-to-face, in-person schooling experience and no amount of technology or creativity can ever replace the connections that our students establish when they are physically present in school.  Nonetheless, we will do everything we can to establish and maintain meaningful connections with your children during this extended shutdown period. We can not recreate the school experience that existed in February. We are, however, doing everything we can to adapt that model to meet the unique social, emotional and educational needs of our students while we are unable to be together. 

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as Holliston Public Schools adjusts to these remarkable, unpredictable and unprecedented events.  

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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