Latest Edition of Pathways Newsletter Now Available

The latest edition of the Pathways Newsletter is now available.  In this newsletter, there is an article from Dr. David Walsh on how to help your child with perfectionism, an article from Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post about what we do not know about teachers, and photos from the Project Lead the Way Conference last week.

Pathways NewsletterV1N7

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It is flu season! Facts and Information

The following information has been shared with school districts about the enterovirus, flu season, and Ebola virus from the United States Department of Education.  If you have any questions, please contact the your child’s school nurse or the Reading Public School’s Director of Nurses Lynn Dunn at lynn.dunn@reading.k12.ma.us.

Enterovirus

Every year, millions of children in the United States get enterovirus infections that can cause coughing, sneezing, and fever. This year, children throughout the country have gotten sick with respiratory illnesses caused by enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68). EV-D68 is one of many enteroviruses that often spread in the summer and fall. It’s not a new virus, but it hasn’t been very common in the past. However, this year, EV-D68 is the most common enterovirus that’s going around.

Since you may not have heard of EV-D68 before, better understanding of how to prevent the virus and the symptoms that this virus can cause can help you protect your children.

What are the signs and symptoms of EV-D68?

Most children who get infected with EV-D68 may have cold-like symptoms, like fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body and muscle aches. More severe symptoms include wheezing and difficulty breathing. Children with asthma are at risk for severe symptoms from EV-D68.

How can I protect my children?

You can help protect yourself and others from respiratory illnesses, including EV-D68, by following these steps:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils, with people who are sick, or when you are sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
  • Stay home when you are sick and keep sick children home from school

Could my child get EV-D68?

EV-D68 spreads when people infected with the virus cough, sneeze, or touch surfaces that are then touched by others.  In general, infants, children, and teenagers are at higher risk than adults for getting infected and sick with enteroviruses like EV-D68. That’s because they have not been exposed to these types of viruses before, and they do not yet have immunity (protection) built up to fight the disease. If your child has asthma, he or she may be at greater risk for severe respiratory illness from EV-D68.

If your child has asthma, CDC recommends you do the following to help maintain control of your child’s asthma during this time:

  • Discuss and update your child’s asthma action plan with your child’s doctor (usually pulmonologist or pediatrician).
  • Make sure your child takes prescribed asthma medications as directed, especially long term control medication(s).
  • Make sure your child knows to keep asthma reliever medication with him or her or has access to it at all times.
  • Get your child a flu vaccine, since flu can trigger an asthma attack.
  • If your child develops new or worsening asthma symptoms, follow the steps in his or her asthma action plan. If your symptoms do not go away, call your child’s doctor right away.
  • Make sure caregiver(s) and/or teacher(s) are aware of the child’s condition, and that they know how to help if the he or she experiences any symptoms related to asthma.
  • Call your child’s doctor if he or she is having difficulty breathing, if you feel you are unable to control symptoms, or if symptoms are getting worse.

Summary

There is no specific treatment for EV-D68. Talk to your child’s doctor about the best way to control his or her symptoms.

Remember, that while this has been a big year for EV-D68 infections, CDC expects the number of cases to taper off by late fall. But even after cases of EV-D68 begin to decrease, parents and children should continue to follow basic steps to stay healthy, such as frequent hand washing and avoiding touching their faces with unwashed hands. To help your family stay healthy this fall and winter, CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine.

For more information on:

EV-D68 in the U.S., visit http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/outbreaks/EV-D68-outbreaks.html

Flu Season is Upon Us

Remember too, as enterovirus season is expected to taper off, flu activity usually begins to increase in October.  While there is not a vaccine to prevent illness from enteroviruses,  the single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.  Many resources for parents and others can be found on the CDC flu web site.  CDC recommends that ALL children 6 months old or older get a flu vaccine.

Ebola Virus

Finally, we know your communities may also have questions about what schools can do to keep students and adults safe from the Ebola virus.   The CDC is continually updating its information on Ebola, information that can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html.

The Office of Safe and Healthy Students has a number of materials available regarding Readiness and Emergency Management of Schools in crisis situations, and those materials can be found here: http://rems.ed.gov/.  One resource at this web link is steps the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) has taken to keep parents and community partners continually updated on the Ebola situation there, including establishing a web site: http://www.dallasisd.org/healthupdates.

Additional materials developed by the DISD Communications Team included there are:

Parent Letter — English

Parent Letter — Spanish

Ebola FAQ

Talking with Children about Ebola

Recognizing and Reducing Signs of Anxiety in Times of Crisis

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Upcoming School Committee Meeting Agenda Items

Good Afternoon,

The following is a list of tentative agenda items that the School Committee will be discussing over the next few months at their School Committee and Subcommittee meetings.  Please note that these agenda items are tentative and may change based on need and circumstances.  A complete agenda is posted at least 48 hours in advance (minus weekends) before a School Committee meeting on the Town of Reading and the Reading Public School website and the full School Committee packet is available on the Friday before a Monday School Committee meeting on our Reading Public Schools website.

All meetings start at 7:00 p.m. at the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices unless otherwise noted.

Date

Topics

10/13 (6:30 p.m.)

  • Naming Subcommittee Meeting

10/22 (6:30 p.m.)

  • Early Childhood Space Needs Working Group

10/20

  • Coordinated Program Review Presentation
  • School Presentation
  • Full Day Kindergarten Discussion
  • Field Trip Policy-2nd Reading
  • Bullying Policy-2nd Reading

10/29 (7:30 p.m.)

Senior Center

  • Financial Forum
  • FY16 Budget Discussion (Projected Revenues and Expenses)

11/1 (Retreat)

8:00-11:00 a.m.

  • FY16 Budget Planning and Goal Setting

11/3

  • MCAS Presentation
  • Naming Policy Subcommittee Update

11/24

  • Overview of Federal Grants Received
  • Overview of Health Curriculum
  • School Presentation
  • Naming Policy-1st Reading (if necessary)

12/1

  • Discussion on Fees
  • 2015-16 Calendar Discussion
  • Naming Policy-2nd Reading (if necessary)

12/15

  • School Presentation
  • Vote on 2015-16 School Calendar
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Level 3 Sex Offender Notification from North Reading Police Department

The North Reading Police Department has released information under M.G.L. c. 6, §§ 178C-178Q, that a Level 3 Sex Offender has recently moved into their Town.    We have attached the notification flier for your information.  Please note that this person is not living in Reading, but lives in proximity to the Reading/North Reading town line.

The individual who appears on this notification has been designated as a Level 3 Sex Offender by the Sex Offender Registry Board. The Board has determined that this individual is at a high risk to reoffend and that the degree of dangerousness posed to the public is such that a substantial public safety interest is served by active community notification.  The individual is currently not wanted by the police.

If you have any concerns about this individual, please contact the Reading Police Department immediately at 781-944-1212.  Do not contact this person directly.

This is a good opportunity to have conversations with your child about what to do when confronted by a stranger.  Here are some suggestions for discussion:

  • Encourage your children to travel with other trustworthy children. Make a point to get to know who your children are with. Write down their names, addresses and phone numbers, and familiarize yourself with their parents whenever possible. If you allow your children to visit a friend’s home, meet the family first to make sure you are comfortable with the supervision and the environment.
  • Make sure your children know what to do if they are confronted by a stranger. Children should keep their distance from strangers and not allow strangers to get close enough to grab them. Generally speaking, children should be taught to say no to a stranger’s request or advance. Children should quickly get away from the stranger, and should tell a responsible adult what happened.
  • Take an interest in your children’s daily travels and activities. Map out safe, well-traveled routes for your children to follow. Don’t allow children to take short cuts or make unnecessary stops along the way.
  • Teach children how to anticipate and avoid potential hazards and dangers. Prevention is always the first and most important element of personal safety and self-defense. This is especially true for children because most children are too small to physically overpower an adult or older teenager.
  • Teach your children to obey all traffic safety rules and regulations. Make sure you set a good example for them.
  • Teach your children the tricks that strangers may use to get them into cars or follow them to other areas. These tricks may include offers of candy or money, asking for help in finding a lost pet, asking for directions and then pulling them into a car, or saying they were sent by a parent to pick them up. Parents and children should agree on a secret password in case parents have to send someone else to pick them up.

Sex Offender Registry Board

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Pathways Newsletter for Week of 10/12/2014

Below is the latest edition of the Pathways Newsletter.  This week’s edition has a post on the October 14 Inservice Day, two articles on testing and assessment, and photos from Coolidge, Barrows, and RMHS.

Pathways Newsletter V1N6

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So, What is Really Happening on October 14th?

On many occasions we are asked questions about the value of professional development days when the students are not in school.  Some of the questions that we are asked include:  What are staff doing on those days? Why are these so valuable?  Can’t we eliminate the day so that we can have a shorter school year?

As we continue to transition to the higher expectations of the new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, providing professional learning time for staff is critical to the success of our school district.  Staff will need opportunities to work together by team, department, and grade level to fully understand the frameworks, how to best teach those frameworks, how to assess how students are doing, and how to address students who are struggling with the concepts and expectations of the learning standards.  Throughout our district, our teachers are focused on four critical questions:

  1. What is it we want our students to learn? What knowledge, skills, and dispositions do we expect them to acquire as a result of this course, this grade level, and this unit of instruction?
  2. How will we know if each student is learning each of the skills, concepts, and dispositions we have deemed most essential?
  3. How will we respond when some of our students do not learn? What process will we put in place to ensure students receive additional time and support for learning in a way that is timely, precise, diagnostic, directive, and systemic?
  4. How will we enrich and extend the learning for students who are already proficient?

The opportunities to answer these questions are provided in a variety of ways including after school meetings, early release days, and full inservice days.  This Tuesday, October 14th, the Reading Public Schools will be using their full inservice day professional development time to continue working on answering the above questions.

At the Elementary level, teachers will be reviewing the new first quarter report card reporting and conference format, identifying the key data that will be reported on the new conference report form, and developing a process where all subject areas have the opportunity to give feedback on student progress.  Some elementary staff will be visiting other schools to observe math lessons from the new Math in Focus program.  In addition, each school will be working on building specific initiatives, such as MCAS data analysis, that are focused on school and team goals to improve student learning and success.

At the middle school level, our math teachers will be attending a day-long training with the new Pearson curriculum material that we received through a grant this year.  Other grade level departments from both Parker and Coolidge will be meeting together in professional learning communities to answer the important questions above on student learning.

At the High School, staff will also be working in a professional learning community format on creating and reviewing common assessments (also known as District Determined Measures) which will be administered across a grade level subject area to all students.  These assessments will help teachers assess how students are learning and what areas need to be reinforced and strengthened.  In addition, Math teachers will be receiving training on the new Pearson curriculum material that was received through a grant.

Special education teachers, specialists, school psychologists/behavioral staff, and therapists will be meeting in their PreK-12 groups in order to improve transitions between levels, coordinate curriculum, and share ideas.

In addition, art, music, health-wellness, library media, and technology will be meeting with their colleagues at the elementary and high school level to discuss how to better align their curriculum standards and skills to promote student success.

Our paraeducators and secretaries will also be involved in training opportunities with our paraeducators attending sessions on topics such as de-escalation techniques, behavioral intervention tools, anti-bullying, CPR, and strategies to address substance abuse and our secretaries learning receiving training on our financial management software system called MUNIS.

We appreciate the support that we receive from our community to give staff the time during the school year to work together as professional colleagues in doing what is best for the children of Reading.  It is these opportunities that will continue to make our district stronger and more prepared to address the educational challenges that our students face today and help prepare them for their futures.

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Latest Edition Of Pathways Newsletter

Below is a link to the latest edition of the Pathways Newsletter.  This week’s edition features a story on bullying prevention from the eyes of students, Ted Talk videos from Harvard Professors on education, and pictures from the Barrows 50th Anniversary Tree Dedication Ceremony.

Pathways NewsletterV1N5

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Latest Edition of Pathways Newsletter

Below is the latest edition of the Pathways Newsletter.  This week, this is information regarding the grants that we recently received, as well as, photos from the Parker Project Adventure Trip.

Pathways Newsletter V1N4

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Reading Receives Three Grants Totaling 1.975 Million Dollars

The Town of Reading and the Reading Public Schools is pleased to announce that they have received three Federal grants totaling $1,975,000 to address the health, wellness, and social emotional well-being of our students.

The first grant is a Drug Free Communities Grant which is a five year grant at $125,000 per year.  This grant was awarded to the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse (RCASA).  The goals and strategies of this grant are as follows:

  • Reduce barriers for underrepresented individuals to participate in the coalition.
  • Train Leaders in the Strategic Prevention Framework and Environmental Strategies.
  • Provide opportunities for Leaders to apply skills learned at training.
  • Enhance staff and Board’s capacity to build the coalition’s financial infrastructure.
  • Increase access to culturally and therapeutically diverse pain management sites.
  • Provide an easy access point for residents to turn in unwanted medications 24/7.
  • Increase skill-building opportunities for students in grades 6-12 on prescription drug and underage drinking prevention.
  • Improve local medication safety and prescription drug based monitoring practices
  • Improve Educators, School Specialists, Clergy and Youth Workers ability to address youth that are in crisis and/or under the influence of prescription drugs
  • Reduce youth access to alcohol through enhanced Alcohol Compliance Program.
  • Enhance parental monitoring of adolescents in grades 6-12
  • Provide disincentives to use alcohol on Reading Memorial High School grounds.

The second grant is awarded to the Reading Public Schools and is a two year, $50,000 per year grant to provide mental health first aid training to staff.  This grant will allow the Reading Public Schools to train eight instructors that will certify 584 school educators, school support staff, first responders, youth workers, and faith leaders in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) in Reading, where the prevalence of untreated mental health and substance abuse is significant.   Data gathered through the 2013 Reading Youth Risk Behavior Survey (grades 6-8) indicated high rates of prevalence involving self-injury, bullying, binge drinking and prescription drug misuse. High school (grades 9-12) rates for underage drinking, illegal drug use and eating disorders were 2-6% higher than state and national averages. About 23% reported bullying at school, much higher than the state rate (18%) and U.S. rate (20%) and students were 4% more likely to experience cyber-bullying than the state average. Twenty-one percent reported self-injury higher than the state rate of 18% (U.S. rate not available). Thirteen percent reported suicide attempts, much higher than the state rate (7%) and U.S. rate (8%), of which 45 students attempted suicide two or more times.  Behavioral health community forums conducted in 2012 involved residents who expressed concern about teens dealing with “stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, drug-related violence, untreated mental illness”.  In the past two years, the district has experienced a sharp increase in students hospitalized for mood disorders, personality disorders, self-injury, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, and substance abuse.  At the high school, since September of 2012, there have been 40 psychiatric hospitalizations recorded by administrators.  The proposed YMHFA and MHFA training will greatly improve early identification of mental health needs and increase referrals to local community agencies.   A part-time paid grant coordinator will organize training, monitor certification, enhance pathways to mental health referral, and support recommended mental health assessment and/or treatment.

The third and final grant is also awarded to the Reading Public Schools and is a School Climate Transformation grant.  This grant is for $250,000 per year for five years.  The purpose of this grant is to implement a full service, high quality, multi-tiered system of supports for all PreK-12 students.  The following are the goals or projected outcomes for this project:

Goal 1: Build capacity for supporting the sustained and broad-scale implementation of a multi-tiered behavioral framework (MTSS) in each school across the district through the successful creation of district, building leadership and collaborative teams.

Goal 2: Enhance sustainability of continued data-driven decision making and communication through the successful alignment and implementation of a school wide information system, Baseline Edge, in every school district-wide.

Goal 3: Enhance each school’s ability to offer comprehensive behavioral health supports through the creation of a high-quality, full service multi-tiered system of supports, consisting of extensive offerings of supports and interventions at every level and school.

Goal 4: Build continued capacity of school-based staff through the successful integration of an aggressive professional development and coaching program focused on building teachers’ skills and competencies in the use of a multi-tiered system of supports and behavioral health topics.

Goal 5: Evaluate the effectiveness of project activities at the school and district level in meeting the needs of students and in improving outcomes for students using quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods.

Reading was only one of 72 school districts in the country, and only three in Massachusetts, to receive this grant.  In addition, we were only one of 22 school districts in the country to receive both the Mental Health First Aid and School Transformation grants.

For further information, please go to the U.S. Department of Education Link.  Congratulations to RCASA Executive Director Erica McNamara and Administrator for Student Support Services Sara Burd for their efforts in applying for these grants.

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Latest Edition of Pathways Newsletter

The latest edition of the Pathways Newsletter can be accessed at the link below.  This week’s newsletter contains articles about student motivation, photos from the Grade 5 Camp Bournedale trip, and upcoming school and district events.

Pathways NewsletterV1N3

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