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Grab and go lunch and breakfast meals pickup at GMHS hours changed.

Beginning on Monday April 6th, breakfast and lunch can be picked up on Mondays and Wednesdays for the week. We will still provide five days of meals but pick up will be on this reduced schedule from 10 am -11 am. The primary reason for this change is to lessen the exposure of our staff and to limit the amount of days families have to leave their homes to pick up meals, especially as this situation is expected to escalate in the next few weeks. Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to continuing to provide this important service.

COVID 19 Update #9

COVID Update #9   April 1, 2020

Hello Georgetown Community!

Happy April Fool’s Day! Today is a special day for me as it is my oldest son’s birthday but it is bittersweet because our celebration will have to wait until we can be together. I am sure that all of you have stories about how this virus is impacting your lives and I am hoping and praying that you are all staying well!  As we continue in the third week of learning at home, we realize this is not easy and we want you to know that we are here to help you!  Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us.  I want to thank all of you for abiding by the state and local recommendations for safety because we all want to get back into a “normal routine” as soon as possible.  As I listen to the scientists, it seems that the key to mitigating and slowing the contagion of this virus IS isolating and staying home as much as possible.  Personally, I am finding this very hard but, like you, I am finding ways to stay connected to my family, colleagues and friends although it certainly a different way of life!

Covid 19 resource page & digital learning resources for students and parents.

Georgetown Public Schools
Covid 19 Resource Page

 

Page of digital learning resources for students and parents.

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 ?

 

 

 

Georgetown Public Schools to close through at least March 27.

I am sending you the contents of a letter that was written today from the North Shore districts stating that we are going to cancel schools for the next two weeks. This is against the recommendation of the Governor, the Commissioner of Education and the Department of Public Health but due to the conflicting information we are receiving from other experts that says that this virus is very serious and schools should be closed. As educational leaders we are in a difficult spot because of the lack of clear and consistent guidance and the responsibility to make decisions that are not within our area of expertise. We are joining forces in this area and hopefully two weeks will buy us time to learn more and further reduce the spread of this virus. Here is the letter. North Shore Schools to Close Starting Monday Schools to Close through at Least March 27 As superintendents of schools await further guidance from state and federal public health officials, a group of North Shore superintendents have collaborated to make a timely and unified decision about school closure that they feel is in the best interests of their faculty, staff, students and families, given the lack of clear guidance from state and federal agencies due to the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 crisis, which the World Health Organization has this week labeled a global pandemic.

 

The following districts have mutually decided to close schools through at least March 27: Amesbury Public Schools Beverly Public Schools Danvers Public Schools Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School Georgetown Public Schools Hamilton Wenham Regional School District Ipswich Public Schools Lynnfield Public Schools Manchester Essex Regional School District Masconomet Regional School District (Middle/High Schools of Boxford, Middleton, Topsfield) Pentucket Regional School District (Groveland, West Newbury, Merrimac) Swampscott Public Schools Triton Regional School District (Newbury, Rowley, Salisbury,) Tri-Town School Union (Elementary schools of Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield) Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School

 

Leadership for all 13 school districts have decided to close their school facilities beginning on Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27. School district leadership will continue to re-evaluate the situation on a day-by-day basis.   The school leaders held a conference call today after a lengthy call with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. During that call, no determination was made by the state on widespread school closure. The superintendents in this region have consulted with health experts and their own municipal public health agents in reaching a decision that, while difficult, is in the interests of the safety and wellbeing of their communities, which is paramount at all times.   The decision to collectively close schools on the North Shore has been made after significant consideration and in an effort to proactively address the evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.   The Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE) is advising districts throughout the state this morning to cancel or reschedule gatherings of 250 people or more, and to limit instances where students, faculty and staff are closer than 6 feet away from each other. While DESE is not explicitly advising districts close at this time, due to the concerns regarding the spread of this virus among crowds, area superintendents feel it is prudent to close their facilities temporarily.   Massachusetts school districts have been informed that no district will have to go past June 30 and that school districts will not have to go beyond their planned 185th day of school, regardless of the coronavirus situation.   Each district will provide students with resources to continue the learning process while school facilities are closed, and information will be provided to families and students directly from their school districts. Each district will additionally provide update information through their websites and individual communication channels to their communities as more information becomes available.

 

The following is a statement from the superintendents in the six districts:   “The health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff is of the utmost importance to us all on the North Shore, and as a result, we’ve collectively decided to close our school facilities for the next two weeks. This is being done in an effort to proactively address the evolving COVID-19 situation. We have each been in close communication for months now with our local and state health officials to ensure we’re following their recommendations for preventing the spread of this virus. We believe by closing our facilities for this period of time, we will have a positive impact on preventing the spread of this virus and promoting public health and safety by creating a united response to this situation.”  

 

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and can appear between two and 14 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Anyone who experiences symptoms and believes they may have the virus is advised to contact their health care provider. For more information from the CDC for those who may have the virus, click here.

 

The North Shore superintendents also wish to encourage students and staff to follow recommended preventative steps from the DPH: Practice good hand hygiene! Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds including under your fingernails. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content) can be used when soap and water are not available. Keep your hands away from your face. Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing with a tissue and discard it immediately. Cough into the sleeve over your elbow instead of your hand. Wash your hands often when coughing and sneezing. Stay away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.

 

For more information, visit the DPH website by clicking here and the CDC’s website Let me know if you have any questions.

Carol Jacobs

Superintendent