Category Archives: Carol’s Corner

COVID 19 Update

Good morning Georgetown Community. I posted this information on my blog last night but ,as is the case with this whole situation, there are already changes to what I posted. Please keep watching the blog but I will also be sending emails via AP Notifier as well since I know the message goes to all families. As we watch the news, we see that more and more things are shutting down as this virus continues to spread. Restaurants and bars are closed or only allowed to do take out. Gyms and stores are closing and people are not supposed to gather in groups larger than 10 people. Parents are being told to avoid taking children to playgrounds, libraries and on play dates to avoid close proximity. I know it is extremely difficult for your children and for you and hopefully these precautions will help to flatten the curve and affect the community spread. These are strange and extraordinary times in which we find ourselves but if we are learning anything from the experience of other countries, we have to take this seriously.

We have been very busy in the schools putting together a plan to help ease some of the concerns from students and parents while our schools are shut down for at least the next three weeks. It is sounding more and more likely that this closure may be extended based on the predicted escalation and timeframe of this virus which may not subside until the summer. There are many questions being raised ,some of which we do not have answers for right now which I know adds to the anxiety but I want you to know that they are being discussed. Here are a few updates but the situation is fluid so keep looking for more information that will be posted in the next day or so.

1. Breakfast and Lunch Grab and Go Available Next Week
We recognize that there are families for whom the school lunch program is a critical part of the day so we are working on the logistics to offer pre-made grab and go breakfast and lunch meals for any student who needs them at no cost. Our hope is to provide well-balanced meals while keeping sanitation and food safety as a top priority, hence the decision to offer the packaged foods opposed to making meals from scratch in our school kitchens. The offerings will all be in accordance with federal and state regulations for healthy eating, calorie intake and component balance. Meals will include a main component (sandwich or cereal) a fruit or veggie, water or milk and a bag of chips or cookies. We will do our best to accommodate and dietary restrictions or allergies if requested. Families are asked to email Food Services Director Sean Riley at rileys@georgetown.k12.ma.us by tomorrow (Wednesday March 18th) before 12 PM to sign up for the program so enough food can be ordered. Originally we asked people to call Sean’s office but we think e-mail is more reliable at this point so please e-mail him and let him know how many meals you will need. This is not just open to students who receive free and reduced lunch but will be provided to any student who needs a lunch. There is a change in the location and time of pick up. Meal can be picked up in the lobby of the Middle High School between 10:00 and 11:00 Monday- Friday beginning Monday, March 23rd. Students will pick up lunch and the next day’s breakfast at the same time.

2. Medication Pick Up
You already received an e-mail from your building Principal but I want to remind parents that medications for your child can be picked up at the schools from 9-10 am on Tuesday March 17 and Wednesday March 18. No one will be able to enter the building after Wednesday as deep cleaning will begin and once that process begins, the school will be closed until we are authorized to reopen. Please don’t miss this opportunity to pick up medication if this pertains to you.

3. Enrichment Activities Available
I have received a number of inquiries about whether work will be sent home to families during the shutdown and the answer to that question is yes. As educators, we know that three weeks is a long time to spend without providing learning opportunities so our professional staff will be providing a range of learning opportunities and activities from which our students can choose. We have been working with staff to collect these resources so we can make them available but this will be an ongoing process. Some teachers have already sent information to their classes and others are contributing links and other resources that will be available on line. Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Collin MacDonald has been working on this process and more information about where these resources can be found and how to access them will be coming out soon. These resources will include suggested sites provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) public television and submissions from teachers. I have noticed that some parents are posting some great ideas on as well. I just want to remind you that these are enrichment activities and not assignments that will be collected and graded. The state is considering these days like snow days but they will not all be made up. The goal is to keep students motivated and engaged in the learning process. We encourage students to read daily and use these resources as an extension of their learning. Just practicing simple things like practicing basic skills, keeping a journal, doing some cooking, discussing fire safety ( from Fire Chief Mitchell) , making a video, facetiming with friends or using google hang out, getting some physical exercise and the list goes on. Special education teachers will work with classroom teachers to ensure that there are a range of activities to support student’s learning styles, abilities etc. The state department has told schools that special education services will not be provided while the schools are closed and when schools reopen, the impacts of this time away will be assessed by the team. During this time, we feel confident that there will be a full complement of resources to meet the needs of our students with special needs. If this is not the case, please let me know and I will see what can be added to the list of resources.

I hope you can appreciate that this is taking a few days to coordinate but I really want really want to thank our staff for their dedication to making this process work and contributing some really great resources. Everyone is really stepping up to make this challenging situation better for our students and families and I really appreciate all the offers to help in any way that is needed! I am also hoping that parents can set up a place to share resources that other families might find helpful. I would be happy to share that is something is developed and again I want to thank the many parents who are offering to help to make this easier on everyone. What a wonderful community we have here in Georgetown! Right now the best thing you can do is stay home and enjoy your families and keep everyone safe as we ride out this public health emergency.

New Information Hot Off the Press
While most of the resources are available on line, we realize not all of our families have access to a printer at home. The elementary teachers in grades K-4 have made copies that can be picked up for families who need or prefer a print copy for the child to complete.

K,1,3,4– You have already received the work on line but if you need copies you can pick them up at the Middle High School Lobby on Monday March 23rd from 10-11. They will be on a table in the lobby clearly marked.

For 2nd grade parents, you should pick up the packet for all children in this grade on Monday March 23rd from 10-11. This packet is in hard copy only and was not sent on line.

4. Adjustments to Calendar
For the first time in my experience and maybe ever, DESE and the Commissioner will be waiving the requirement for students to attend school for 180 days. The last day of school in any district can’t be later than the 185th day scheduled when the calendar was approved. In Georgetown that means the last day of school right now will be June 25th. We have been told that cancelling April vacation is not recommended but like everything else that can change. I would not plan on it however but I will let you know when a final decision is made.

DESE has told us that there will be adjustments to the MCAS schedule and, depending on how long this closure lasts, legislators might vote to forgo administering the test this spring. We already know that the 10th grade ELA and the grade 3-8 MCAS will need to be rescheduled and we are waiting to hear more about the schedule for the Advanced Placement tests. SAT tests have been postponed as of yesterday. I know there are many questions from seniors regarding end of the year activities, graduation, last day of school etc. but until we get a handle on the length of this closure, we don’t have concrete answers. I promise as soon as we can give these answers I will let you know and I regret that students have to have this angst in their senior year. If I could change it I would.

I will continue to update you and if you have any specific questions, concerns, ideas or comments for me, please email me at jacobsc@georgetown.K12.ma.us. You can try calling my office at 978-353-5777 ext.140 but with staff working from home, I may not get the call right away. I am trying to have calls forwarded to my home but e-mail would probably be best.
I wish all of you a Happy Saint Patty’s Day and stay well and in good spirits.
Carol

Governor Increases Time Out of School

Good evening Georgetown community. Tonight we got an update from Governor Charlie Baker that the COVID 19 virus is escalating and all Massachusetts schools will be closed for the next three weeks returning on Tuesday April 7. To those of us who have been following this virus almost nonstop, the medical information is compelling and an aggressive and comprehensive plan must be enacted. Things have been moving so quickly and I have been engaged in conversations with medical experts, my colleagues at many levels, my administrative team  , the School Committee, teacher’s union leadership and many town departments heads and the local Board of Health. Since the decision to close happened quickly on Friday I am still working with groups and individuals to discuss the logistics of keeping education at the forefront of children’s lives. I have received a lot of inquiries about if and when we intend to provide opportunities for students to learn remotely and to provide meals to students who qualify. I apologize for not having all of these answers this evening but I expect to have more information as I complete my discussions with key staff and local leaders in the next couple of days. I know we are all anxious. Watching the news can be overwhelming but I appreciate that you follow me to make sure you have the most up to date information about how the schools are handling this crisis . That is critical so we can all be on the same page but you don’t have to wait for my posts. You should always feel free to contact me at jacobsc@georgetown.K12.ma..us and I will respond as soon as possible. Right now it is hard to imagine but this virus will eventually run its course and more quickly if we all do our part to follow the recommendations . We are not out of the woods but we will get through this together. I will do my best to communicate with you and lead us through this crisis with everyone’s help. Our first priority right now is to stay healthy and to take one step at a time together. I will have more information later tomorrow and I wish you all a relaxing and pleasant evening ?

 

 

 

GMHS Drama Club Places First at “Dramafest”

Congratulations to the high school drama club for earning a spot in the semifinals of the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild’s annual competition. The preliminary round was held at Chelmsford High School on Saturday, and Georgetown, Chelmsford, and Beverly will move on to the semifinals. Their play Our Place was rated for excellence in acting and technical production by two judges. The judges selected several members of the drama club to be part of the All Star Cast. Helena LaCortiglia, Paige Lichty, and Catie Vasilenko received awards for acting and Noah Sarge and Riley Soucy received an award for excellence in lighting. The coveted Stage Manager’s award was given to Georgetown’s stage manager, Anna Shilhan. The Semifinal round’s date, time and place are TBA. Click here for more info.

I had the pleasure of watching this performance in Chelmsford and I was very impressed. The play was intense yet had several comedic elements and every one of our actors made their character come to life. The crew was amazing setting up and taking down the scenery! It was a true team effort and the competition was very stiff.

Yeah ! The GYCC is Open and Ready for Our Youth!

I have great news to share! The Georgetown Youth Community Center ( GYCC) officially opened its doors today for students. This project has been a long time coming but the youth of Georgetown finally have a place to call their own.  The originally hope was to open the center in the late fall but due to some logistical challenges that took some time to resolve, that timeline was delayed.  No worries though because the logistics are all set and the GYCC will be open every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon from 2:30-6:00.  They are also planning 2 Friday night events each month to give youth a fun and safe place to be on Friday nights. Students in grades 6-10 are welcome to drop by the center to hang out, play games, shoot a game of pool or have a ping-pong or an air hockey game with friends, be creative using a variety of art materials , do homework or just have fun with friends. I am pleased to say that a great staff have been hired led by lead Project Coordinator Trevor Souther who also works in Newburyport in their Rec Center part-time. Trevor and the staff are very excited to get started and to have the chance to work with our youth to make this center a place where everyone wants to spend their time. I want to thank the Parks and Rec and the Friends of the GYCC for their dedication, tenacity and commitment to making sure that this day would come for our youth. Positive youth development is our goal and it couldn’t happen without our partners! The old saying “it takes a village” is certainly true in this case and I am so happy to be part of the “village” of Georgetown that cares so much about doing right by its youth in town. My heart is full and I could not be more excited!

Changing the World One Student At A Time

Middle High School Art teacher Debbie Gray recently shared with me a response she received from Ryan Egan who is the Portrait Program Coordinator for the Memory Project.  This project  invited students across the United States to create portraits of young people in Pakistan to spread international friendship through the arts. We had two students , Lily Anderson and Alaya Shah, participate this year and I could not be more proud of their participation in this wonderful project.  Mr. Egan wrote,” I’m so pleased to let you know that the portraits you created were delivered to the children in Pakistan, and they absolutely loved them!  As you will see in the following video, the children were so excited to receive your artwork and very touched by your efforts.  They fully understood that creating the portraits was a way to show them how much you care about their well-being and their future.

Your students may be interested to know that they were joined in this effort by over three thousand young artists.  Therefore, rather than focusing on any portraits individually, the purpose of this video is to share the collective joy and excitement of all the children together.  We hope you enjoy it!

https://vimeo.com/memoryproject/pakistan2020

Thank you for helping us build international friendship through the arts.  It is our true privilege to do this work with you, and we very much hope to have that privilege again.

In our mission we strive to help our students become global citizens by building awareness of different cultures and this project is a wonderful way to celebrate connection through the arts which is an international language of friendship. Thank you to Debbie, Lily and Alaya for participating in this wonderful global project!  Check out the video. It is very powerful!

Coronavirus Update

With all of the information published on the news about the potential for the Coronavirs to potentially become a global pandemic, I expect that you might have some questions about how we are preparing for this in the schools.  The Board of Health has been actively involved in communication with the CDC and other local agencies to ensure that there are plans and procedures for the potential dispensing of vaccines and providing a space to shelter if needed in  the schools. I know that the Board of Health Agent Deb Rogers has been working for some time with the state to be sure that all aspects of a response plan are approved and ready in case it is necessary.  Deb will be my contact and we have already discussed our current preparedness protocols including our existing sickness protocols and plans for emergency shelters and distribution sites and we will be monitoring documented cases of the flu (and other viruses should they arise), and school attendance as needed.  At this time, we are ready and waiting to see if further action is needed but I want to assure you that the town departments and the Board of Health are on top of this situation should action be required.

As you may recall, many years ago we all dealt with the H1N1 and Noro viruses in a similar situation and the same protocols used in that case are ready at hand.  We will continue review any new recommendations and I will be updating parents via this email blog Carol’s Corner.   We are operating under the advise of the state’s DPH and following recommendations from both MDPH and the CDC and will continue to do so.  All local health departments in the region will continue to monitor the situation and take part in weekly conference calls. The state and local health departments have the legal authority to quarantine, if and when necessary. The schools were disinfected over the break and will continue to be cleaned thoroughly during this flu season to assist with the spread of germs.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has shared guidance for school administrators and school health personnel regarding the new Coronavirus, known as COVID-19. As of this writing, Massachusetts has one confirmed case of COVID-19 and the risk to our residents remains low. In the US, there are only 53 cases confirmed.  Only one of these cases was confirmed to be passed through human contact (husband to wife).  At the same time, the risk for the influenza virus is very high. It is important to note that residents are much more likely to become sick with a cold or the flu than to be exposed to COVID-19. The guidance letter sent to all schools is available at the DPH website at: www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.  Here is a useful fact sheet in many languages to assist you in learning about this virus:  https://www.mass.gov/guides/information-on-the-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19#-printable-fact-sheets-

Trends with the Coronavirus currently indicate that the primary group hit hardest by the virus are males 50+ with existing chronic conditions.  We remind you that washing of hands is the best defense so you should wash your hands regularly for the length of time that it takes to sing the alphabet twice.  Please remember to cover your mouth if you cough and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose with your hands.  Families, please keep your children out of school if they are sick and they should be fever free for 24 hours prior to coming back to school.  We will help all students make up missed work and instruction.

Reminders
For up-to-date information regarding the 2019 novel Coronavirus, please visit the DPH COVID-19 web site at www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus More detailed information and additional guidance is available from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov  For questions, contact the DPH Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences at (617) 983-6800