Superintendent's Update (4-21-2020)As you may have seen, Governor Baker has extended the closure of all schools through the remainder of the school year. In Grafton, that means we will continue remote learning through June 12. On a health and safety level, this is probably not a great surprise to most. The reality of eight more weeks of remote learning is a challenge for all of us. Our immediate challenge is to further strengthen remote learning for the extension and ensure that we are meeting as many student and parental needs as possible.
The state will be putting out additional guidance for school districts to follow in the next week. We are planning on the need to move forward with new curriculum for all grade levels. We will be working to identify the components of the curriculum that are most critical, and making sure to focus on those standards through the remainder of the school year. New learning will simply be weaved into the remote learning program, there will be no significant changes in how the remote learning program is constituted.
I want to reiterate that remote learning is hard on everyone and is far from perfect. While we are going to do our very best to make remote learning as meaningful as possible, it is not going to replace in-person instruction. There are going to be many ‘off’ days and missteps for all of us. Life is going to get in the way, there are sure to be countless times that parents can’t figure out how to help their children, kids will be kids, and the technology just won’t work, etc. That is all going to happen and it’s okay. Just this morning (as I was drafting this email), my youngest overslept and missed a class. I meant to check to make sure she was up and didn’t… Eventually, we will return to school as we have known it and we will bounce back. When we do return to normal, we will make sure that no one is left behind.
Today’s announcement moves the unknown into mid-June and beyond. We are working through issues such as graduation, summer services, and even the start of the 2020-2021 school year, yet we simply do not know what the status of things will be in June or the following months. We are basically creating numerous plans that can be utilized depending on what the situation looks like once we get to June, July, etc. It is far from ideal, but is the best we can do given the circumstances.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.
-JayGPS Remote Learning Update (3-31-20)A message from Tracey Calo, Assistant Superintendent (3-29-2020)Hello,I hope this message finds you and your family well. I recognize that this experience must be challenging given that many of you are working while facilitating home education. I have been in education for well over two decades and find the experience difficult to manage. All of us at GPS recognize this and appreciate your efforts.As you know, our staff has been working diligently to not only create meaningful learning experiences but to also connect with students regularly. I have been impressed with the myriad, creative ways staff are reaching out to their students, despite their own personal responsibilities. I am also awed by the many resources they have found and shared to support remote learning. You will find many of these resources on the newest choice learning opportunities that may be accessed HERE or on the district website under "Learning Opportunities During Covid19 Closure."This new set of learning experiences is similar to the first set in that they are skill-based and multimodal. However, there is one important distinction: teachers have selected one or two activities that must be completed this week. This selection was purposeful in that these activities will help students prepare for the next phase of remote learning. As you know, school has been closed until May 4th. As a result, on April 6th we will begin assigning work via live and recorded videos, podcasts, readings, and various activities to continue student learning. Teachers will monitor progress, provide support for students with diverse needs, and offer feedback to ensure progress. A more detailed plan with specific guidelines for each grade level is forthcoming.In the meantime, please reach out to teachers or myself with any questions, and take care.Tracey Calo
Superintendent's Update (3-26-2020)
As you most likely are aware, all Massachusetts schools are now closed through May 4, 2020. Earlier this afternoon, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education put out new guidelines to districts to assist in setting up alternative schooling opportunities for students during the closure. I understand that many parents are already thinking of shipping their children to Siberia and at the same time are worried that their children are going to fall behind in terms of their education. In a way, it is a positive that all students in Massachusetts are faced with the same struggle. Together, all districts will work in collaboration to 'catch up' as needed when we do return to school. While difficult, parents have done a great job in focusing on keeping our children happy, healthy, connected, and as engaged as possible in their learning. We will eventually return to normal and the students will get back on track. I think we will be amazed at how quickly students rebound from this unique challenge, student resiliency never ceases to amaze me.
We are currently working on a transition plan that will go into place next week, with more significant changes going into place the following week. As we develop our plans, we will provide updates both through my office and through principals and directors. The most significant changes will revolve around the following:
· Student accountability (participation will be required to pass/receive credits in grades 6-12),
· The creation of a greater definition of expectations and daily schedules
· We will be able to move forward with instruction and student work will be collected (this will be especially true at the secondary level)
The amount of work that goes into making these changes is overwhelming and entirely new. I can assure you that the GPS staff is working tirelessly to provide the very best for our students with the resources available.
Among the many immediate challenges and responsibilities that we face are centered on four central equity issues. We are doing our best to overcome these challenges. These four core challenges are being faced by all districts to different degrees:
1. Access to wi-fi - Some students don't have access to reliable wi-fi. We are working with internet providers to provide services, as you can imagine the companies are struggling to meet demand state-wide.
2. Access to devices - Many students don't have access to reliable devices. While the great majority of families have at least one device, they are often shared among children and there is more demand than ever for parents to be working from home as well. We have distributed over 100 Chromebooks to date and that effort continues to expand.
3. Access to parental supports - Many of our younger students are being watched by other family members while parents work and simply don't have access to consistent educational and/or technical support during the day. As we develop schedules, we will be trying to provide for as much flexibility as possible so that work can be done when the opportunity presents itself on a daily basis.
4. Access to accommodations and modifications - Meeting the needs of all students is critical. Virtually replicating the vast array of supports that we provide to students with individual needs on a daily basis is going to be a significant challenge that we will give our very best effort to overcome. Our special educators and English Language Learning teachers will be working together and with general educators to provide as many ongoing supports as possible.
Next week (the week of 3-30) we will start transitioning to a more instructional model. The new model will go into place the week of April 6th. We will provide additional updates on the topic of instruction as well as additional issues we are dealing with. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions and concerns.
Food Assistance Program
Bagged lunches will continue to be provided to students and adults at the Millbury Street Elementary School every weekday while we are closed. Lunch is offered from 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM. This is a “grab and go” service and people will not need to exit their vehicle. For questions related to our food assistance program, please contact Dan Gale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your child has medicine with the school nurse and you need to get access to that medication, please contact your school principal directly via email. The principal will work with you and the school nurse to arrange for pick up.
GHS - Jim Pignataro: email@example.com
GMS - Roseanne Kurposka: firstname.lastname@example.org
MSES - Joanne Stocklin: email@example.com
NSES - Steve Wiltshire: firstname.lastname@example.org
NGES - Julie Flynn: email@example.com
SGES - Doreen Parker: parkerDJ@grafton.k12.ma.us