Superintendent Gormley releases updates for the week of March 16

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Superintendent Gormley releases updates for the week of March 16

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

The past two weeks have been stressful and unsettling for all of us. As we settle into this new normal, I am sure your mind is swirling with questions like:

  • How long will this last?
  • Will my family stay healthy?
  • Is remote learning going to work for my child?
  • I am not a teacher, how can I do this?
  • How much is too much screen time?
  • How do I access this learning resource or that one?
  • How can I do my own job through all this?

The list is endless and ever changing. I say to you what I often say to myself and the staff here at Central Office  – let’s take a collective breath and pause for a moment. This national emergency is not going to just last several days. We need to prepare for these weeks of learning and social isolation in as methodical and manageable a way as possible. There will be missteps, triumphs, laughter, a few tears, and hopefully some fun and new connections as we navigate this time together. The Milton Public Schools is your ongoing partner in your child’s learning, and we are here for you and your family.

I want to share a letter I received from Maria Trozzi. For over twenty-five years, Maria Trozzi has been a source of expertise, strength and comfort for our school district as a whole and for me personally. Maria shares her thoughts on taking care of our own and our children’s mental health during this uncertain time. When you have a quiet moment in the coming days, I encourage you to read her valuable words here. 

Central Office is staffed every day (we are practicing safe social distancing) and you can reach me any time via phone at 617-686-4808 or via email.

We have compiled a comprehensive and ever changing list of Frequently Asked Questions linked here. It will be linked on the front of our website and shared in each blog post. Please refer back to it often.

To the entire MPS staff  – Central Office, Principals, Administrators, Teachers, Administrative Assistants, Custodians, Paraprofessionals, Lunch and Recess Aides, Food Services Professionals, Support Staff and our HRS Staff – thank for your tireless work with our students last week and in preparing for the weeks ahead. We appreciate your work under these difficult circumstances.

I will communicate with you each Thursday in this space or more often if needed. Your principals will communicate with you every Monday and your teachers will be in regular communication about learning opportunities.

My niece Julia works for Harvard University and has been sharing some of their communications with me. In an email yesterday, Harvard President Larry Bacow wrote the paragraph below and I share it with you here. We are all struggling with this new reality and words like these below give me a sense of purpose as this situation unfolds.

“The Talmud says that to save one life is equivalent to saving the entire world. When the situation we find ourselves in has passed, there will be no way to calculate the number of lives your actions have saved. It was the thought of that unknowable figure—undoubtedly growing greater by the day—that gave me reason to keep moving forward this morning. May it quicken all our steps in the weeks and months to come.”

A NOTE FROM THE NURSE 

Director of Nursing Kim Coughlin has asked me to share this Social Distancing Video with you. As I shared with you Monday, I implore you to take “Social Distancing” as seriously as the experts tell us we should.

This school closure is not a vacation. It is an extreme measure to allow for social distancing so the virus is not spread. Not being exposed to the virus is the best way not to get sick.

Families should be in their home or yard, with only the immediate family with whom they live. Take a walk, hike or bike ride – with your immediate family only – and stay more than 6 feet away from anyone you see. Per Governor Baker, people should take only necessary trips to stores and workplaces when needed. Your children, our students, should not be socializing with anyone outside of their immediate family during this school closure. Continue best hygiene practices throughout this time. These actions are our best chance to slow the spread of this virus and not further overwhelm the medical system.

***

You can pick up your child’s essential medication (if needed during the closure) by contacting  Director of Nursing, Kim Coughlin at [email protected] As the schools are now closed, we are encouraging all parents/guardians to make arrangements for medication pick up by Friday, March 20, 2020.

ROCK YOUR SOCKS 

This Friday, March 20th, is Rock Your Socks Day at MPS!

We had a great time doing this last year, and just because we are not physically together this year, we are still going to have a great time celebrating our differences in honor of World Down Syndrome Day! Wear your craziest socks on Friday, March 20th to show awareness and acceptance for people with Down Syndrome.

Get ready to show us how you Rock Your Socks on Friday! Email your pictures to  [email protected] or post them on the MPS Facebook page.

MPS SHOUT OUT! 

Yesterday, MPS Director of Food Services Jackie Morgan and her team made and packed dozens of to-go bags of breakfasts and lunches for ANY student who needs one. They will continue to do this every Monday, Wednesday and Friday while school is closed.

43 students enjoyed a healthy breakfast and lunch and we expect even more of our students to benefit in days to come.

You can pick up your to-go bags at MHS or Tucker every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7-8am or 5-6pm. Each bag contains 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches.

We are so grateful to Ms. Morgan and her team for their dedication to our students! Thank you to Ms. Morgan’s daughter (and MHS teacher) Caroline Morgan, Maryellen Comer Barbara Doherty, Maureen Ford, Sarah Lacombe, Mercedes Gonzalvaz, Maria O’Donell, Bernard Jette, Gladys Volmar and Nalio Fraga for their dedication to our students. We also could not to this without the assistance of the MHS custodians. They all have my deepest appreciation.

These “to-go” meals are available to anyone who would like them, regardless of your free and reduced status. Meals are available rain or shine! 

If you have a hardship and are in need of more convenient hours for pick up, please contact Food Service Director Jackie Morgan via email at [email protected] or phone at 617-898-1051.

FOOD SERVICE

In addition to our to-go meals above, we wanted to share the following.

DESE has  been in discussions with the Department of Transitional Assistance, Project Bread, and the regional Food Bank system about ancillary services during this effort. We will keep you informed.

Counselors at Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 are available to connect you to food resources in your community as well as provide you with information about elder meals programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. The Hotline will continue to operate Monday-Friday, 8am-7pm and Saturdays 10am-2pm, and can provide information in 160 languages through our Language Line.

FAMILY OUTREACH LIAISON 

As we all navigate this unfamiliar territory we want families to know that we are committed to being a resource for you. Whether you are unsure of 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 [email protected] All calls and emails are confidential.

Community news: The Milton Community Food Pantry is changing their days of operation. They will now be open on the first and third Saturdays of the month. They will be open this weekend, 3/21 and then their next open date will be 4/4. Families can pick up food between 9:15-11:15am. The pantry is located in the basement of the Parkway Methodist Church, 158 Blue Hills Parkway.

HEALTH AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION 

Director, Health and Physical Education Noel Vigue writes the following: I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but this new normal of “living in isolation” has been challenging to say the least. I think of Newton’s Laws… paraphrasing here, a body at rest tends to stay at rest…well that certainly has been the battle, to stay active and resist eating everything in the house. Here’s some motivation for you and your family:

Just because we’re stuck at home doesn’t mean we can pause our health.Life doesn’t have a pause button! You can read all of Mr. Vigue’s tips and resources to stay active and healthy here.

FROM OUR LIBRARIANS

While schools and libraries are closed in the following weeks there are plenty of resources available remotely. The MPS librarians have compiled a list of links to access streaming of books, movies, music and more that you can find here! Thank you to Elementary librarian Josh Coben; Pierce librarian Jess Royster  and MHS librarian J Troy for the many resources found here. Please  reach out to our librarians if you have any questions about these resources.

TECHNOLOGY 

Milton Public Schools seeks to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all students. MPS deployed a Children’s Internet Protection Act compliant content filtering tool called Securly on school-owned devices to ensure online safety while they are in school and out of school.  This service provides an extra layer of content filtering, and also picks up on certain keywords entered in a Google search that may indicate a student is in some kind of distress or leaning towards self-harm.  These ‘self-harm’ alerts are emailed to all MPS Principals and Assistant Principals in real-time. If you have any questions regarding this extra layer of content filtering please email MPS IT Director, Bob Pattison.

COUNSELING CORNER 

MHS Adjustment Counselor Ms. Beliveau wants you to know that we are not alone.

These last few days have been very difficult for many families as we adjust to our new normal. We have all had our daily routines and lives flipped around and are finding ways of coping. After a conference call that I had with a high school student today, we found comfort in the idea that although we are social distancing, we are not alone. The same emotions that this student is experiencing are being felt by our entire community. We are all learning to cope with this new normal and it is during this time that its most important we stay connected. We actually now have an opportunity to become even more connected. More connected with ourselves through journaling, meditation and daily mindfulness. More connected with our families through enhanced conversations, meals together, and family activities. More connected with our community by reaching out to neighbors to provide and receive support and by communicating through the many forms of online communication.

Although we are social distancing, we don’t want anyone to feel alone. We are all in this together!

SPECIAL EDUCATION

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

I would like to thank all the parents who have been reaching out to show their  appreciation for the work staff have been rushing to put together for our children with special  needs. We appreciate your support and patience and recognize that how we support students with special needs will evolve and change as we respond to the changing conditions in our community and world.

The Office of Pupil Personnel Services has been working in partnership with district leadership and  The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish engaging and structured activities for our students in special education during this unprecedented school closure.  As I mentioned earlier this week I will continue to provide updates to families as we work with DESE on special education topics.

You can read Ms. Maselli’s full letter here.

MILTON FOUNDATION FOR EDUCATION

As with most events, our 2020 Celebration for Education has been cancelled. Traditionally, this event funds a significant portion of the Foundation’s work. There are two ways that you can help ensure that the MFE can fund teacher grants going forward, despite the cancellation of our event.

First, tickets are still available for the jeep raffle. Only 500 tickets will be sold and the drawing will take place on April 4th and the winner has their choice of a Jeep Wrangler or $25,000. To purchase a ticket, please contact Liddie Sutter at [email protected]

Second, please consider making a donation to the Milton Foundation for Education. You can make a donation at this link. Thank you so much for your continued support.

ART AND MUSIC 

Elementary music students study Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. This is a particularly good performance: Sergei Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf – Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

ATHLETICS

As you know, the spring sports season was to commence on Monday, March 16, 2020.  Given the challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the closing of Milton Public Schools for the time being, the beginning of spring sports has been postponed until our anticipated return to school date of Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at the earliest. The MIAA has postponed the start of the Spring season until April 27, 2020. This is also subject to change. For your information, linked here are some answers to some frequently asked questions from the MIAA.

With this in mind, registration on FamilyID has been reopened for those of you still wanting to participate in tryouts and have not registered as of yet.  It will remain open for two weeks.

In the meantime: MIAA rules and guidelines must be followed until April 27, 2020.

  • Out of season coaching is not allowed. This is in effect until April 27th, though that date may change. That being said, you can reach out to the coaches and they will gladly give you ideas and workouts that you may do during this time to help you prepare for when we do get back to sports. See link to coaches’ emails here.
  • There will be no organized team workouts consisting of strength and conditioning, “captains” practices or pre-season gatherings to prepare for tryouts and the season.  You will have to consider training methods in preparation for tryouts and the season on an individual basis.
  • There should be no activity on campus athletic fields and venues, regardless of the sport.  No fields or courts will be accessible for use during this time.
  • Please fill out this parent/guardian feedback survey regarding our Winter coaches. Linked here.
  • Please have students complete their student-athlete feedback survey. This is mandatory for all winter student-athletes. Linked here.

We appreciate your patience and for respecting our requests as Milton Public Schools, Milton Athletics, inclusive of the entire Commonwealth and Nation, embrace the challenges that have been presented while attempting to provide a safe and healthy environment for our community.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Ryan Madden, Director of Athletics, via email, at [email protected].

Do your part and we will be back in school and playing sports!

IMPORTANT MPS CONTACTS

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