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Superintendent's Message

Alcott

In the Media, Challenge Success and DESE Letter, 3D Printing

March 30, 2020

Dear Families:

The students of our schools continue to lead by example and are found on social media and in the local press:  A CCHS Social Distancing Birthday Party

The CMS Wind Ensemble made a special recording just as we closed school, not sure when anyone would hear them play:  https://twitter.com/concordbands/status/1244694624406515724

We are a Challenge Success district meaning we belong to an organization of high performing schools that “challenge” the way we measure success in school.  This message from their founder, Denise Pope, highlights what is important during the school closures- it isn’t all about academics.  https://www.challengesuccess.org/blog/a-message-to-our-challenge-success-family-during-covid-19/

Today, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and Commissioner Jeff Riley published the attached letter to parents reflective of the guidance DESE released about remote learning.  As I mentioned last night, we are actively planning and will have more information to share shortly as to what this means to us locally.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Board of Directors met today to update the plans for the high school athletic season.  Their vote sets the season to start no earlier than May 4, 2020, and end (inclusive of the regular season and tournament games) by June 27, 2020.  MIAA updates its web page according to these changes:  http://www.miaa.net/miaa/home?sid=38

If the virus has impacted your family, it is helpful for the school nurses to know that.  If you are willing to communicate with them, it would be greatly appreciated.

Finally, with great thanks to CCHS teacher Elaine Picard, a dozen face shields were dropped off at Emerson today after being made on one of our 3D printers!  A photo is posted on my Twitter feed (@cps_cchs). https://twitter.com/cps_cchs/status/1244758128647946241

Best,

Laurie
File attachments:
2020-0330remote-learning-english.docx

Today’s Updates

March 29, 2020

Dear Families:

I start by sharing two great social media posts featuring students this weekend. They remind us to be grateful for those on the frontline of the medical work and to find ways to connect while we remain apart as a result of social distancing:

CCHS Football Tribute to Those on the Frontline:

https://twitter.com/CoachReed_CCFB/status/1243981938534334467

CMS Student Plays for Her Neighborhood:  https://twitter.com/JMKaplowitz/status/1243687329874706432

Thanks to Stella, Coach Reed, and all of the Members of the CCHS Football Team!

We will be using this week to review our current academic plan and to make decisions about what the plan looks like through the month of April or beyond.  It takes a great deal of discussion among grade levels, departments, and across schools to make these decisions.  Our original plan was meant to last through the first closure date of April 7 which remains our guideline.  The Governor’s office did not give us a preview of the extension so we are reacting to it just as you are.  We appreciate your patience while we make quality, organized, thoughtful plans.  We will share information as soon as it is available as the week goes on.

The Concord Select Board postponed the election scheduled for Tuesday, March 31, 2020, until Thursday, June 11, 2020.  Both Concord and Carlisle are looking to postpone the Annual Town Meetings that were originally scheduled for the week of April 27.  Neither community has set a new date yet.  Both towns have active webpages that provide up to date information:

Concord:  https://www.concordma.gov

Carlisle: https://www.carlislema.gov

Have a great night!

Best,

Laurie

Security of Online Video Tools and More

March 28, 2020

Dear Families:

Yesterday, the Carlisle Board of Health provided guidance as to social distancing which is found here:  Social Distancing Letter (Carlisle Board of Health)

It was great that so many of you could attend the discussion online yesterday afternoon. The recording of the Virtual Coffee is posted here:  https://zoom.us/rec/play/usAvd73-rz03HdfEuQSDVv94W424e6qshiMX8qZeyk6zW3dWMVb0M7ARYs6Nnf1EdOXY8-ravu-UV74?startTime=1585334686000

A good deal of time over the past few days has focused on the security and features of online video platforms.  As could be expected when tools are introduced suddenly and without an ability to plan, we need to learn and revise their use accordingly.  Currently, almost all of the optional Zoom usage is on the free platform.  This week, we will expand the use of the securities within the program but do not feel they are sufficient for the long term.  We are looking at acquiring a paid subscription with stronger safeguards.  We opened Google Hangout today since that does have stronger security but has more limited function.  Both tools allow for recordings to occur.  As a result of these factors, later this week we will provide permission forms for student usage to ensure parents are aware of the factors in this online environment.  The tools are optional for teachers.  Parents can certainly opt students out at any time.  Please let me or the building principals know if you have individual questions.  If we knew this journey was coming, we would have researched, piloted and practiced with the tools as we usually do!

Finally, below you will find information for the next session sponsored by The Center for Parents and Teachers with Dr. Rachel Kramer on April 1, 2020.

Have a great evening!
Best,

Laurie

 

The Center for Parents and Teachers in collaboration with Dr. Rachel Kramer invites parents/grandparents and guardians to join Dr. Kramer for a free parent education webinar:

Coping With Anxiety in Uncertain Times

Wednesday, April 1, 2020, at 10:30 AM

Dr. Kramer will be offering free, weekly webinars throughout the coronavirus crisis.  Please visit her website https://www.drrachelkramer.com to access recordings of past webinars, weekly newsletters for parents, and to sign up for future webinars.  Unable to join in person on a Wednesday morning?  Please feel free to email questions to Dr. Kramer in advance at rkramerphd@gmail.com and every effort will be made to address all questions and concerns during the webinar.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://zoom.us/j/502207096?pwd=cGdiQjQ3cFpOY09KOGVERHFRV2V0dz09

Password: 938799

Or iPhone one-tap :

US: +13126266799,,502207096#  or +19292056099,,502207096#

Or Telephone:

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

US: +1 312 626 6799  or +1 929 205 6099  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833

Webinar ID: 502 207 096

International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/abcoQRGYTP

Updates

March 27, 2020

Dear Families:

Social distancing can be fun!  I wandered down my street tonight to find a sign that said “Bear Hunt”.  A few houses down, the neighbors placed 16 stuff bears scattered everywhere!  The local Facebook page provides the information families need to find the bears throughout the community.  Here’s a quick news story in TIME Magazine explaining this trend and how it works. https://time.com/5809613/bear-hunts-coronavirus/

Today, we cancelled elementary parent conferences that were scheduled for April 1.  These will not be rescheduled because of the closure extending to May 4, 2020.

Yesterday, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education posted guidance for school districts as to approaches to teaching and learning during the extended closure.  We are reviewing the document, our own local needs and goals, and will share further information next week.  It is attached here for your information.

I held a Virtual Coffee this afternoon that was again very well attended.  It will be posted to the web page this weekend.

Please enjoy the beautiful weather!

Best,

Laurie

File attachments:
2020-0326remote-learning.docx

Updates of Several Kinds

March 26, 2020

Dear Families:

This update includes a wide range of information of various kinds.  All of the resources, information, and reminders seemed important to share.

The Concord Board of Health announced yesterday that a resident tested positive for COVID-19.  Additional information is found on the town webpage:  https://concordma.gov/2561/Coronavirus-2019-COVID19

We continue to collect supplies for Emerson.  Yesterday, we dropped off more masks, gloves, etc.  We will soon collect Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, etc. from classrooms that the teachers generously indicated they would be willing to share.  We will soon try to make our first protective equipment with a 3D printer.

Thank you for the charitable donations supporting the food distribution.  Many of these are private donations in addition to a contribution from the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest and a Community Health Needs Assessment Grant. On a daily basis, between 40-60 families benefit from these donations.  If you’d like to donate, please visit:  https://www.concordps.org/food-and-nutrition-services/

As a reminder to socially distance, this couple made the most of it having their wedding while family and friends celebrated from their cars:  https://www.weau.com/content/news/Social-distancing-leads-Wisconsin-couple-to-have-parking-lot-wedding-celebration-568981781.html

The Concord Free Public Library is offering a ConcordReads Reading Program.  More information is found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13giTUtqNsxGyN_kL4kf8pFub22uKDE1TivQjGt5jZTM/edit

I was reminded that in the course of all of this, some groups of people (often of Asian background) are not being treated well because of associations made with the virus.  I encourage you to read this article about racism and coronavirus which includes how to talk to children.  https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/speaking-up-against-racism-around-the-new-coronavirus.  I don’t believe there is a more important time to highlight our efforts on inclusion of all and cultural proficiency.

Tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. is the Virtual Coffee with the Superintendent and team.  The Zoom information is provided below.

Our discussions of teaching and learning during the extended closure are underway.  More to come soon!

Best,

Laurie

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

When: Mar 27, 2020 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Topic: My Webinar

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://zoom.us/j/648763508

Or iPhone one-tap :

US: +13126266799,,648763508#  or +19292056099,,648763508#

Or Telephone:

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

US: +1 312 626 6799  or +1 929 205 6099  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833

Webinar ID: 648 763 508

International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/acaXz5pqM

Virtual Coffee with the Superintendent Friday, March 27 3 pm

March 25, 2020

Good Evening,

I will host another Virtual Coffee with the Superintendent on Friday, March 27 at 3 p.m.  The Zoom login information is provided below.  The session will be recorded and posted.  I hope you can attend!

Best,

Laurie

 

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Mar 27, 2020 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: My Webinar
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Or iPhone one-tap :
    US: +13126266799,,648763508#  or +19292056099,,648763508#
Or Telephone:
    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
        US: +1 312 626 6799  or +1 929 205 6099  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833
    Webinar ID: 648 763 508
    International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/acaXz5pqM

Governor Baker Orders Schools Closed Through May 4

March 25, 2020

Dear Families:

Governor Baker announced an extension of the school closure through May 4, 2020, at his press conference this afternoon.  He and Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley discussed the goal that learning will continue during this time.  I am actively working with the administrators and teachers to craft the plan for what that will look like for all students.  We also expect further guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as to this plan, including special education and English Language Learners.  In the course of this planning, we will account for the challenges we all face in balancing the needs of work, family, isolation and emotional and physical wellbeing.

I am enormously grateful for the strong foundation the faculty built over the past ten days for remote learning during this very difficult time.  Please watch for additional information and specific details over the coming days.

Best,

Laurie

Social Distance Make a Difference and Virtual Learning Reminders

March 24, 2020

Dear Families:

From the New York Times article below:

“Every individual acting preemptively can make a huge difference.”  

You Can Help Break the Chain of Transmission (New York Times)

Thank you to the many of you who are so diligently cooperating.  At the same time, please remember that this means kids should not get together, not play with each other, and not invite others to the house.  You can make a huge difference.

The next Virtual Coffee with the Superintendent will be on Friday at 3 p.m.  Please watch for Zoom login information to come soon.

Thank you for a successful first week of virtual learning activities!   I know there may be questions.  I’m offering additional feedback and reminders that I will then post to the FAQ document.

Can all teachers integrate Zoom or another live virtual opportunity for students?

As outlined in the letter provided on March 15, teachers are providing learning opportunities through various means.  We have not mandated Zoom or other live activities as part of this process.  We believe there are many means to connect with students that does not require live video transmission.  Please contact me or the building principal if you have any questions.

Can my child receive special education services as outlined in the IEP?

Last week, we provided an overview of special education services during the school closure.  Since school is not in session and we are not replicating the school day virtually, we are not offering special education services.  Special education teachers are supporting students.  Please reach out to the building principals or Director of Student Services, Ruth Grube, with questions.

Can we teach new material and provide more rigorous learning opportunities?

In the letter dated March 15, we presented the goals of the educational activities we are providing:

The goal in assigning students thoughtful activities is to give some structure to their days at home and offer continuity and connection for their return to school, not to replicate the learning that happens in a school day.

Through the Governor’s closure of school through April 7, that remains the focus.  Equity and access are issues that must be considered and addressed before we can take on more.  We also must work under the umbrella of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s advisories.  Discussions of possible next steps will begin this week as we await word of plans for after April 7.  We are actively gaining feedback from all stakeholders simultaneously.  Extensive supplemental and enrichment activities are posted on the webpage.

Finally, I want to recognize the many, varied, creative things that are happening at every level.  Virtual art galleries, radio shows, mystery readers, and Boston Celtic messages are a very short list of examples.  My deep gratitude to everyone for the energy and effort to engage students despite the physical distance.

Best,

Laurie

 

Social Distancing Videos, How To Support Kids, School Committee, K Registration

March 23, 2020

Dear Families:

I am sharing video resources tonight about the need for social distancing. They all make the same points in different ways as to why it is so important to stay apart now.  Of course, use discretion in sharing with children as you know what your child is ready for.

From Khan Academy at an adult or high school level:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCa0JXEwDEk

From PBS:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgBla7RepXU

From Brain Pop:  https://www.brainpop.com/health/diseasesinjuriesandconditions/coronavirus/

Maria Trozzi (Author of Talking with Children About Loss, Co-Founder, Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, Program Director, Joanna’s Place, Psychotherapist/Grief and Resilience Specialist) provides a letter in how to support children of all ages during this time of separation from routine and classmates.  Her letter is found here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1muB-D4qxvfV7RHDXEVGjQHkaN40uvgDEcPC_YMeSeEQ/edit?usp=sharing

In business matters…

The Joint Concord and Concord Carlisle Regional School Committees meet virtually tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. The Zoom information and agenda are posted here:  https://www.concordps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Jt.-3.24.20-1.pdf

For anyone with incoming Kindergarten age children, please know we have postponed Kindergarten registration indefinitely at all three elementary schools.  The process was scheduled to begin this week.  Please also share this with families of young children in the community.

I will say that the one thing not on my list tonight is the snow!  It will be a long time before I complain about snow day decisions again!

Best,

Laurie

Masks, Food Distribution/Online Donations, Social Distancing

March 22, 2020

Dear Families:

Tonight, I offer several pieces of information and reminders.

There is a great video clip of burning matches that demonstrates the impact of social distancing if you scroll down this Newsweek article:  https://www.newsweek.com/viral-match-burning-photo-showing-how-social-distancing-can-slow-coronavirus-spread-now-video-1492541

I also include an op-ed from the Presidents of Harvard, MIT and Stanford published in last week’s New York Times discussing why they closed their colleges: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/opinion/corona-harvard-stanford-mit.html

Today, we donated 400 masks to Emerson Hospital with the expectation we have more in the schools.  They are happy to have people begin sewing fabric masks as well.  Please use this information if you are interested in participating:  https://twitter.com/cps_cchs/status/1241700895907352580

We posted all of the supplemental educational resources (with the correct links!) on the web page:  https://www.concordps.org/virtual-school-activities/

Among the many options, there are many opportunities to visit museums, etc. virtually.  My personal favorite is The Cincinnati Zoo’s Home Safari Facebook Live broadcast at 3 pm daily.

It has been our pleasure to provide food to those who need it during these difficult times.  We continue to provide bagged breakfasts and lunches centrally for the community at our Concord-Carlisle High School for PICK-UP ONLY.  This is in service to the community and open to anyone who is need during this closure from 8:30-11 a.m. each weekday morning  We are not able to accept food donations but fiscal donations are welcome.  An electronic link is now available on the food service web site at:  https://www.concordps.org/food-and-nutrition-services/. Please answer this survey so we know how many meals to prepare. We can deliver on a limited basis. Please note, this survey is ANONYMOUS.

https://forms.gle/1XpASLaWurmQUg6x7

 

Please enjoy the cold (a little snow tomorrow!) but bright evening!

Best,

Laurie

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