Joint Message from Area Superintendents

Student Learning During School/District Closure

A Joint Statement on Shared Beliefs/Goals from the following districts:

Arlington Public Schools

Bedford Public Schools

Belmont Public Schools

Burlington Public Schools Lexington Public Schools

Melrose Public Schools

Reading Public Schools

Stoneham Public Schools

Wakefield Public Schools

Watertown Public Schools

Winchester Public Schools

Woburn Public Schools

As the Chief Child Advocates in our respective communities, we are coming together to focus on what is best for students in the coming months. We all believe that the initial three-week school closure will be extended.  While this probable extension is creating many conversations about what learning should look like during this time away from the classroom, this vision of education will be best coming from those of us who work with children. Our shared belief is that, in future years when children reflect on this time in their lives, what they will remember most are the positive connections they felt at an uncertain time.

School is a special place – a sacred place. All of our communities stress that learning has its foundation in the relationships developed between learners and teachers, whether adults or children. There is no way to replicate this environment in a digital format in the middle of a pandemic over a week/month or two. We are deeply concerned about the physical and emotional health of everyone in our school communities. As such, we commit to planning and supporting learning that lessens stress and anxiety.

Part of this commitment means developing the skills and tools necessary to evolve and prioritize these relationships over the coming months. We are asking all of our educators to check in with their students. Many are already going far beyond connecting. They are doing incredible work untethered by current educational policy to ensure that students feel safe and remain connected to their learning. In our commitment to these relationships, new content and grades are not a priority at this time.

We recognize that there are countless challenges for identified learners who need specialized instruction and know that we will not be able to solve all of these challenges in the short term. As such, we will continue to focus on safety and connection while providing students with learning opportunities. Our biggest challenge in this effort is meeting the needs of our youngest students. The plan for these age groups is to focus on process skills, like observation and description, and to provide practice in key skill areas, like reading, to mitigate regression.  These skills are an important objective of our content delivery with classroom instruction when school is in session. Much of our secondary curricular structure is already in place through a learning management system. Middle school and high school teachers will use this familiar tool to encourage critical and creative thinking skills.

Our school communities will continue to make connections, value relationships, develop learning skills, understand service and community, maintain health and well being, and focus on a greater good. In remaining focused on the social and emotional needs of our students and offering learning experiences that support those needs, we believe that our students, your children, will be well served during this school closing.

A Message from the SEPAC Board

Dear SEPAC Community & Friends:

Intro

We hope you and your families are healthy and coping well during this difficult and unprecedented time.  Like you, the SEPAC Board members have been struggling to adjust to the new “normal,”  but we want to dedicate a moment to offering the following information to support our members.

 

District Contact with SEPAC Board

Dr. Jennifer Stys and Allison Wright, the Director and Assistant Director of Student Services respectively, have been in contact with the Board to offer support and help to address any questions from families.  If you have not yet heard from your assigned IEP Team Chair, please email them and copy Dr. Stys and Ms. Wright.

Parent/Caregiver Group Video Conference Call

Please respond via return email if you would be interested in participating in a SEPAC-board-faciliated parent/caregiver support group video call via Zoom.  Feel free to propose preferred dates/times.  The calls would be limited to social and/or emotional support.  No official SEPAC business would be discussed or votes taken during these calls.

Curated List of Sources of Information concerning Special Education and COVID-19

District Information

The most up to date information from the District can be found at the first two links below and includes information concerning a timeline for the District’s plans to connect teachers and students, as well as, information about special education services.

https://readingsuperintendent.wordpress.com/2020/03/22/3706/  (published March 22nd)

https://readingsuperintendent.wordpress.com/2020/03/19/a-message-from-the-reading-public-schools-administrative-team/ (published March 19th)

https://www.reading.k12.ma.us/covid-19-information/ (“Frequently Asked Questions” last updated March 17th).

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/covid19.html

U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights

https://www2.ed.gov/aboutoffices/list/ocr/frontpagefaq/rr/policyguidance/Supple%20Fact%20Sheet%203.21.20%20FINAL.pdf  (March 21, 2020 Supplemental Fact Sheet)

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/ocr-coronavirus-fact-sheet.pdf

(March 16, 2020 Fact Sheet)

Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) Information

https://fcsn.org/fcsns-frequently-asked-questions-page/

FCSN remains open and is staffed remotely.  You may contact FCSN via phone, email or through the online intake form (located on the main page of the website) to ask any questions or let FCSN know your concerns.  FCSN encourages families to follow it on Facebook at @fcsnfb and watch its daily Livestream.  You also can access the video recordings from FCSN’s Linked Over Lunch series and the 2020 Visions of Community Conference via the website and/or Facbook page.

We hope this is helpful.

Thank you,

SEPAC BOARD

SEPAC WEBPAGE

Reading Public Schools COVID-19 Briefing #7

Reading Public Schools COVID-19 Briefing #7

Good Afternoon, Reading Public School Families,

I hope that you are doing well and your family members are safe and healthy.  We understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our families and our staff as we are all adjusting to this new way of working, learning, and communicating.  Our technology and curriculum staff have been working diligently behind the scenes to develop an online structure, identifying resources and planning a routine that will support our students.  You will receive further information in the next couple of days. In addition, we have been collaborating with the Reading Teachers Association (RTA) as we transition to a more online environment with students during this time of uncertainty.  We also understand that we are all in uncharted waters where we will be making changes along the way. In addition, all of us have other personal and family responsibilities throughout the day. Our main goal during this school closure is to maintain communication and connection with our students and families in as consistent a structure as possible, until “normal” operations can resume.

Below are some updates for you as we enter week 2 of our school closure:

  • As mentioned above, over the next couple of days, you will receive information on our plans for connecting with students in an online environment.  We will be working on creating systems or building upon the ones that exist currently so that we can provide regular personal and educational connectivity that is so important right now.  Until then, continue to access resources that can be found here.
  • We continue to provide meals for those Reading Public School Students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.  If your child qualifies and your child needs meals, please contact Director of School Nutrition Danielle Collins at Danielle.Collins@reading.k12.ma.us
  • We also want to make you aware that the Reading Food Pantry has options for families who need meals.  You can contact them via Facebook at 

https://www.facebook.com/ReadingFoodPantry/

  • Below are some health resources for parents regarding COVID-19.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Director of Nurses Mary Giuliana at Mary.Giuliana@reading.k12.ma.us
    • For the most up to date information in Massachusetts, go to the Mass.gov site below.

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/frequently-asked-questions-about-covid-19

  • Call MA211 for questions and referrals regarding Covid-19
  • Here is some guidance about talking to kids about the pandemic.

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/coronavirus-how-talk-child.html?WT.ac=p-ra

  • What to do if your child is sick

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/coronavirus-child-is-sick.html?WT.ac=p-ra

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or your building principal.

Thank you, please take care of yourself, and be safe.

A Message from the Board of Health

Order Pertaining to Personal Care Services and Recommendation for Non-Essential Retail Establishments

(Reading, MA – March 21, 2020) – Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, per order of the Town of Reading Board of Health, all services offered to the public which cannot be provided by keeping a distance of at least six (6) feet between individuals are hereby ordered to close until April 6, 2020.

The prohibition in this order includes but is not limited to: hairdressers, barbers and salons, nail salons, massage services, tanning, laser hair removal, body art, body work, piercing, personal training, fitness centers, and all other business and commercial activities involving the touching of another person.  This order shall apply to all such activities whether comprising all or only a portion of a particular business.  This order does NOT apply to services provided by a licensed health-care provider such as, but not limited to, doctors, dentists, urgent care facilities, physical therapy, speech therapy, or occupational therapy.

Additionally, the Board of Health is encouraging all retail establishments that do not sell essential commodities such as food, medicine, or cleaning supplies to consider voluntarily closing until April 6, 2020.  The Board of Health is also recommending that all retail establishments that do stay open should only do so if they can assure that customers and employees will be able to maintain social distancing practices consistent with CDC guidelines of six feet of personal separation.

A Message from the Reading Public Schools Administrative Team

Dear Members of Reading Public Schools Community,

We know these days of uncertainty are having a profound impact on your daily life. We hope you and your loved ones are comforting each other and being kind to one another, as this is a time when we need to rely on each other more than ever.  We do not know what the hours, days and weeks ahead may look like and it is the unknown that feels hard on all of us. As adults, we are called upon to be the leaders and guiding through this requires us to show compassion, strength, and dignity. It also requires us to be even more vigilant in supporting our children. Please realize that the children around us are feeling unsettled and have many questions.  In times like these, it is important to focus on what our children can developmentally absorb as well as to focus on the positive. We are part of a wonderful community that cares deeply for its people. It is time to reassure and remain positive. Continue limiting children’s exposure to the media and be sure to spend time noticing the things that give them joy. Embrace the world through their inquisitive eyes! More than ever, it is a time to come together as families and take the small moments of time as a gift to reconnect. This is the time to show that we care about the people around us.

Today is only our fourth day of being away from our school communities. We are still reeling from the ever-changing landscape and plans that have evolved since our time together.  We have heard from some a desire to establish a regular schedule for our children. We have quickly worked as a team to cull through the many, many resources that are out there and provide these to families in order to keep students engaged. We want our decisions to be thoughtful and impactful on our students, drawing upon inquiry skills, previous learning, and reflection. Determining what is best for our students takes time and energy, which we know is hard to hear when we are all seeking answers. You can expect an update from us next week with our plans to connect teachers and students. Until then, continue to access resources that can be found here.

Additionally, feel empowered to work together to create a schedule that may work for your child.  This may include some of life’s learning skills: baking, household chores, safe and supervised experiments, sewing, or getting some fresh air. Remember to breathe and practice mindfulness. Work to keep your emotional, intellectual, and physical health strong. There are just so many ways to learn together.  Most importantly, please practice social distancing.  Humans like to be around humans so we realize that your child or children may be really looking to socialize.  In the days and weeks ahead, we may never know precisely how much distancing will help us through this pandemic, but it is important that we heed the advice of the medical experts.

You may have heard that some school systems around us have been assigning online tasks and attempting to replicate the school day.  We have intentionally not done this in Reading. Instead, at this point, we are choosing to provide optional ongoing experiences for our children that engage the whole child. In hearing from medical experts and if the news that we have is correct, we may be out of school for more than three weeks. Our current structure is based on providing ideas and enrichment.  We are looking forward and planning next steps should this window be extended. Our educators will focus on equity, access, prioritizing our student needs in the development of any future plans.

We recognize that this period of school closure is difficult for parents, caregivers and staff. While these are not considered school days and thus IEP services are not being provided, the Reading Special Education Department understands that communication with families is important in supporting students, families and staff.  We know that some of our families may need guidance on how to structure their child’s day or how to access resources. Team chairpersons have reached out to all families of students with an IEP to provide enrichment based educational opportunities. Families should expect continued communication from Team Chairs throughout the closure. For families that have support from a BCBA or AT Specialist, you should also expect outreach from them.  If you require additional support please reach out to your Team Chairperson. If your child’s IEP expires during this closure, services will ‘stay put’, meaning they will remain in place until the Team can convene. If your child’s IEP meeting was scheduled during this period of school closure, the meetings will be rescheduled upon our return to school or in the near future. If needed, we will explore alternative ways to hold meetings, should this period of school closure be extended.  The Special Education administration will continue to work with the The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide parents, caregivers and staff the most up to date information.

Again, we ask you to join us in supporting one another during this time. Let us choose to use this time to think about how we may positively impact the people and the community around us. As a way to help us join around a common message of solidarity, we were sent this video entitled, “Rooted in Love” that you may wish to watch as it is so very powerful.  As Mike Smith says in the video “Our classrooms are about to change.  Let us show that we care about the people around us.” We fully recognize the challenges we are all facing. As we work to determine what this means for us, please know we are diligently collaborating on our “next steps.” We thank you for your patience and support as we move forward.

Thank you for your patience.

The Reading Public Schools Building and Central Office Administrative Teams.

Information from Town of Reading Board of Health

Good Morning, Reading Public School Community,

Late last evening, the Town of Reading Board of Health announced that the Town of Reading has one presumptive positive case of COVID-19.  The community member is a parent of students at Coolidge Middle School and Reading Memorial High School.  All teachers working directly with the students, as well as other close contacts in the schools, have been or are in the process of being notified.  The students were asymptomatic last week and developed mild symptoms over the weekend. All members of the family are currently self-quarantining.  Our thoughts go out to that family for a healthy recovery.

We anticipate cases such as this will increase over the next days and weeks, but wanted you to know as this is one of the first cases in Reading.  So you are aware, symptoms typically begin within 5 days of exposure, but can develop up to 14 days from contact.

If you develop symptoms, specifically fever, cough, body aches, or sore throat, please call your physician for guidance. In addition, please see https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 for more information and be aware there is also a MA 211 referral information hotline available.

If you have any further questions, please reach out to Mary Giuliana, RMHS school nurse at mary.giuliana@reading.k12.ma.us.

John F. Doherty

Superintendent

Reading Public Schools

82 Oakland Road

Reading, MA 01876

School Committee Meetings Cancelled for March 19 and 26

Good Afternoon,  Reading Public Schools Community,

The School Committee meetings for Thursday, March 19th and 26th have been cancelled.  The agenda items for these meetings will be rescheduled for a future date.

If you have any questions, please contact the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices at 781-944-5800.

School Committee Meetings Cancelled for March 19 and 26

Good Afternoon,  Reading Public Schools Community,

The School Committee meetings for Thursday, March 19th and 26th have been cancelled.  The agenda items for these meetings will be rescheduled for a future date.

If you have any questions, please contact the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices at 781-944-5800.

COVID-19 Update #6-Frequently Asked Questions for Reading Public Schools

Good Evening, Reading Public School Community,

We appreciate your support and patience during a very uncertain and unprecedented time.  Over the last few days, we have been putting together a document of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on different areas of our school district.  Below is the first edition of this document.  We will continue to update this document and send you the updated versions, when applicable.

If you have any questions, please contact Superintendent of Schools John Doherty at john.doherty@reading.k12.ma.us.

Be safe and please take care of yourself.

Reading FAQs COVID-19-For Community March 17 2020

Reading Public Schools Closed for Students Until April 7th

Good Evening, Reading Public School Community,

Earlier this evening, Governor Baker ordered that all public schools will be closed, effective through Tuesday, April 7th.  Therefore, based on the information we have available at this time, the Reading Public Schools will be closed until Tuesday, April 7th.

A few updates for families:

  1. We are in the process of developing a Frequently Asked Questions document and will send that out once it is completed.
  2. If students need to pick up essential medications that they left at school, they are to contact our Director of Nurses Mary Giuliana at Mary.Giuliana@reading.k12.ma.us and she will schedule a time on Monday for medication pickup at that school.  This will be the last opportunity for students to access the buildings until reopening because we will be doing extensive cleaning of each building.
  3. If your child has left an essential item at the school (i.e. computer, books or musical instrument), please contact the school on Monday and you may pick it up from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Monday.  Please note that we are only allowing one member of each family to come in to pick up your child’s possessions.  This will be the last opportunity for students to access the buildings until reopening because we will be doing extensive cleaning of each building.
  4. As mentioned in a previous email.  We want to make you aware that we will be offering grab and go meals for those Reading Public School Students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.  The meals will be available at the Reading Memorial High School Cafeteria from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, beginning on Monday, March 16th.

If you would like to participate, please sign up ahead of time by completing the link below.

https://forms.gle/pzyL2aQgUmfQ1RHs8

If you have any questions, please contact Director of School Nutrition Danielle Collins at Danielle.Collins@reading.k12.ma.us

Please take care of yourself and be safe.