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COVID Tracking matrix for Georgetown provided by the Mass. Dept. of Health

click here for the matrix

COVID 19 Update – January 20, 2021 (cancellation of the remainder of the boys & girls basketball seasons).

Hello Georgetown Community,

  1. Today we embark on a new chapter in our country with the inauguration of a new President. Regardless of where each of us stands in terms of our political affiliations, we are all Americans and tomorrow is a time to come together to recommit to our democratic values and principles. Our schools will acknowledge the historical significance of this day and carry on with the curriculum. However, some classes may watch the ceremony as it represents the peaceful transition of power and it is the chance to see the democratic process in action. Every four years, there is a sense of optimism and hope for peace and prosperity and a commitment to country regardless of party. I am hoping that tomorrow will be a day of peace and unity and the country can put divisiveness aside and find some common ground even if just for this day. I wish President Trump the best in the future and Joe Biden the wisdom and courage to lead this country through this tumultuous time not as individual parties but as one United States of America.

 

  1. Canceling Basketball for the Rest of the Season I am sorry to announce that we are canceling the girls and boys varsity basketball program for the remainder of the season. About a month ago, after a lengthy discussion with our medical team, the School Committee, the Board of Health and our administrators we decided to go forward offering the basketball season with significant modifications. We reduced the number of players in the program by only offering varsity teams, Implemented safety measures and game modifications and limited the amount of exposure by eliminating spectators and ensuring there was social distancing in the stands.   Despite our best efforts, there has been a significant number of positive cases over the past week and a half on the coaching staff and players on both teams. Currently the entire boys and girls teams are quarantined for two weeks since all are considered close contacts because they were within 6 feet of each other for more than 15 minutes. Players are being tested and contact tracing has been done for each player. If more students test positive, this process will continue. When we agreed to move forward with the season, I said that if we saw an outbreak we would shut the program down. With three of four coaches testing positive and 8 out of 24 students testing positive this past week with numerous others with symptoms and awaiting test results, it is just not safe to continue with the program.   As you know, our priority is to keep our students in school and protect the health and well-being of our staff and students.

 

We have had no spread within the schools until this situation and we don’t want it to continue.   I know how much sports means to our athletes and how disappointing this news will be but the safety precautions have not gone far enough to keep the spread out of our school. Information about user fees will be forthcoming. This decision is effective immediately. Have a great night and let me know if you have any questions or comments at jacobsc@Georgetown.k12.ma.us

 

Stay safe everyone!

 

Carol

COVID Update – January 15, 2021

Hello Georgetown Community,

  1. Update on COVID Cases

I hope you have had a good week! I am writing to provide you with an update on COVID 19. We learned yesterday that there is a positive case on our girls’ varsity basketball team. As a result, all coaches and players are being tested and quarantined in accordance with the regulations. Any positive cases will be contact traced to ensure no spread in the school. Since we opened our schools in a hybrid on October 1, 2020, we have had 16 positive cases (13 students and 3 staff) at Penn Brook with no spread in the school and at the MHS; we have had 29 cases (22 students and 7 staff members) again with no spread in the schools. Any close contacts have been notified and quarantined. We have seen some increase in the number of cases since the holidays but remote learning last week proved to be helpful. Every day we are in school, we continue to be vigilant about masking up, social distancing and hand sanitizing so that we can continue to be able to learn safely in school. I again ask everyone to be vigilant at home as well. I am looking forward to educators being eligible to receive the vaccine next month and we are looking into a testing option that the state is offering to test and track staff and students on a weekly basis beginning in February.   The Georgetown School Committee voted last night to sign onto this program with the state and more information will be coming out soon. This is optional but everyone is looking for additional reassurance and protection and these programs would help with that.

 

  1. Reminder Monday is Martin Luther King Day and schools will be closed. Enjoy the long weekend!

 

  1. Flu Vaccination Requirement Lifted

Today we were notified that the mandate for all students to receive the flu shot or risk being excluded from school has been lifted and is no longer required. The reasons given were the low incidence of flu and the wearing of masks has helped to contain the spread. They also credit the significant number of people who received the flu shot as a significant reason why the flu was not as bad this year.

 

  1. Final Calendar Adjustments for Parents

We have reviewed the school calendar for the end of the year and I want to notify you of the final adjustments that will be made. Here is the summary of the changes for the remainder of the year.   Monday, March 15-   Hybrid School day for the Monday/Friday Cohort in school (Tuesday/ Thursday remote). This was previously scheduled as a typical Monday with a half day of classes and asynchronous work in the afternoon Thursday, March 18- Elementary Parent Conferences are moved to Monday March 29th in the afternoon.   Students will follow the typical Monday schedule with class in the morning and asynchronous work in the afternoon.  Elementary parents and teachers will conduct conferences in the afternoon.   On Thursday March 18th since this will no longer be a parent conference half day, it will be a full day of school in person for Tuesday/Thursday cohort. Thank you for your understanding and flexibility making adjustments to the schedule this year. I know it has not been easy and having a predictable schedule makes things easier. Considering safety first, we are going to do our best to remain in school and, with your help, ensure that we keep COVID out of our schools. If you have any questions, please let me know.

 

  1. Difficult Times Require Working Together

These are frankly scary and uncertain times with what is happening in our country. We are all on edge and have a heightened sense of concern for what is happening now and may happen in the future. Many of our students are feeling concerned and conflicted also. As you know there are many opinions, perceptions, beliefs and assumptions that are heightened by strong emotions that make it so difficult to dial down the rhetoric and find common ground for the good of the country. As parents, we have a very difficult job helping our children make sense of what is happening and this is certainly true for our teachers. One of the hardest jobs in education at this time is to be a history, social studies or civics teacher. It is not easy to discuss controversial and difficult topics especially with so much division and negative emotion surrounding all of us but I hope we can all agree that as a public school we have a responsibility to expose our students to facts and a historical context so they can make connections. Our classrooms must provide students with the place and space to explore different perspectives, wrestle with ideas, think critically and form their own opinions with supported facts. In this process, there may be times that discussions raise ideas that challenge previous or currently held beliefs, which may raise concerns however; it is an important part of the process.    In speaking with the history and social studies teachers, they want you to know that they welcome anyone who has questions or may be concerned about something they may be teaching to reach out to them personally. We want to reassure you that our goal is not to tell students what to think but to help them think for themselves within a historical context. We are all in this together and all of us have a very challenging job trying to help our children navigate this period in our country’s history. I am confident that there is more that we agree upon than we disagree upon in terms of the role our public schools should play in dealing with controversial topics. I am very proud of our teachers and have a lot of respect for the professional way they do their job and I respect and appreciate the challenging role that parents have trying to raise their children particularly in these tumultuous times. There is no playbook for any of this and we value your partnership very much. We thank you for trusting us and/or for bringing any issues directly to our attention so we can address them together. We appreciate it and I hope you have a wonderful long weekend!

Carol

 

COVID Update – January 11, 2021

COVID Update   Monday, January 11, 2021

 

Happy New Year everyone!

We will be so happy to see our students and teachers back in the classroom this week working together. After what I hope was a relaxing winter break, we are excited to be back at it in person and resuming our hybrid schedule. The main purpose for my message today is to update everyone on an issue that was brought to our attention concerning this week’s Professional Development Day on Friday, January 15th. After speaking with the people responsible for planning and carrying out the program for that day, we have decided that it is too late to move the program since it has been planned for some time and we are using consultants who have already booked the time with us. If this were not the case, it would be easier to move things around but we have already committed financial resources and consultant’s time for Friday. Having said this, we all agree and understand that the Wednesday/ Friday Cohort has missed a disproportionate amount of in person time in school due to the impact of half day Wednesdays for holidays and conferences, the Friday before Christmas and now this Friday on the PD Day.

 

While we are not able to fully adjust for this time, we are going to make Monday, March 15, 2021 an additional hybrid in person day for the Wednesday /Friday cohort which means those students will come to into school and the Tuesday/Thursday cohort will be remote. We will not follow the typical Monday schedule and that week the Monday/Wednesday cohort will attend school in person on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   The school calendar was developed last spring before we knew exactly what COVID was going to do. We all hoped that by now this virus would be in the past but probably knew it was not going to be that easy.   The schedule worked for most of the fall but, with schedule changes around the holidays, it created an issue for the Wednesday /Friday students in person school time. While students were still being provided with instruction remotely each day, we know a consistent schedule makes things easier and everyone looks forward to these in school days.

 

I expect there to be consistency as the year moves along unless we are unable to keep COVID from coming into our schools and transmitting to staff and students. I want you to know that the school calendar follows a very similar pattern each year and we have often scheduled the professional development days on Friday before a long weekend for families to enjoy. Teachers however do not get the day off because they are required to attend all training sessions but it does allow them to end their week learning with their peers on topics that are important and useful to them. This was the case when we originally made January 15th a training day for teachers and a no school day for students.

 

Many of the emails I received have urged us to schedule all training and conferences etc. on Monday since that is a remote day for everyone. While that seems like an easy fix, our Mondays are planned to support the models (hybrid and remote) we are using in this unprecedented year. As we planned the transition from full remote hybrid, discussions with our staff helped us realize that teachers needed and deserved some portion of Monday as designated time to prepare lessons and materials for the week and meet with colleagues to plan for students with individualized educational plans. Time is also used to collaborate with colleagues on curriculum, unit planning and coordination of services. With this in mind, we developed a Memorandum of Understanding with our teacher’s union to have them teach students in the morning and provide asynchronous lessons for students to work on while the teacher’s use this needed time to ensure that the hybrid and remote teaching can work as well as they do.   There is almost nothing that is the same for teachers this year and I appreciate the fact that our teachers will be forgoing that coveted and valued time on March 15th to offer another day of in person learning for the Monday/Friday students and a full day of instruction for the remote students.

 

I hope this provides you with the information and time you need to make the necessary arrangements for this schedule change and if you have any additional questions or comments, please contact me at jacobsc@georgetown.k12.ma.us Have a great night and I will be in touch soon! Stay safe and well! Carol

 

COVID 19 Update – December 30, 2020

Hello family and friends! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and your children are  enjoying  their school vacation week. Even though COVID made us alter our plans to gather with friends and families, I hope you enjoyed a peaceful and happy time with those in your bubble. 

 

As mentioned in my recent message, I said I would be in touch about the plans to reopen the schools on January 4, 2021. In the last couple of days , I have been in touch with the School Committee members, district and school administrators and the members of our medical advisory team. We looked closely at the positivity rate in town, the metrics that were developed by the medical team, and the current conditions with virus in our town and in the region. The number of positive cases continues to remain high and over the past five weeks in a row , the town has been in the red zone. Members of the medical team report that the hospitalizations are are critical levels and there is a surge on top of the surge from Thanksgiving that is expected as a result of Christmas and New Years. Our school nurses feel that even though we did not see a spread in the schools after Thanksgiving, we were lucky since a significantly higher number of the positive cases in town involved parents and their children. 

 

I want to be sure that you know the School Committee is calling a special meeting tomorrow Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 2:00 PM. At this meeting, we will be discussing delaying the reopening of in person hybrid for one week until the  week of January 11, 2021 to get past the projected surge and ensure we can continue our record of no cases in our schools. We will be discussing the recommendation from our medical advisory team who are dealing with this virus everyday and can help us determine if a delay is recommended from a medical perspective . The main issue is to decide whether staying remote for one more week and keeping students home can help minimize the effects of the spread over the holidays and keep everyone safer. The effect will be an additional two days of remote learning for each cohort of students and hopefully this will be the last time that this will be necessary as the holidays are over and hopefully the numbers will moderate and decline. We remain firmly committed to the benefits of in person learning and are proud of the fact that we began the hybrid at the end of September and have maintained it with the exception of 3.5  days before the holidays for all students and 2.5 days at the middle high school in the fall just before Thanksgiving. When many other district switched to remote , we stayed in hybrid and many districts started the hybrid must later than us. 

 

While we know that if we remain remote for an additional week it will pose additional challenges for everyone but we want and need to keep our staff students and families as safe and healthy as possible.  I know this is inconvenient and I am hoping that we can come together to deal with what I hope is going to be the beginning of the end of COVID with the vaccine coming to educators in February and to the general population as early as April. We have made it through 10 months without transmission in the schools and we can all be so proud of that. We just need to hang on in the months ahead to get through this strange and crazy year with our students in school as much as safely possible. Hopefully after this spike from the holidays, we will be able to resume and remain in the hybrid model until it is safe to return full time.

 

If we decide to delay the hybrid for one week, we will still plan to bring the high needs special education students that attended in person at the start of the school year back to school on Tuesday January 5, 2021. The schools will be open for teachers and other staff to teach remotely next week if we stay remote. 

 

If you are not able to attend the zoom meeting, it will be recorded and available on Georgetown Cable Television. 

 

Happy New Year to all and here’s to returning to a sense of normalcy in 2021 and to bringing our students back into school full time with their teachers and friends where they belong. Better times are ahead and please remember we are all on the same team. As you can imagine in situations like this there  are many things to consider, many moving parts, many different perspectives and no way to please everyone. However,  I promise you that our goal in any decision is to do what is right and best for the health and safety of our students, staff and families in the midst of a global pandemic and to deliver of the best education we can in a year that is anything but normal, easy, predictable and /or like anything we have had to manage in our educational careers. We continue to appreciate your support and understanding as we start the new year and I ask for your vigilance in wearing masks, social distancing , hand sanitizing and keeping students  home when sick so we can ensure that our students can be in school as much as possible. 

 

If you are unable to attend or watch the meeting, I am happy to take questions and provide information at jacobsc@georgetown.k12.ma.us  I will also send out a message to let you know if students will be returning the week of January 4 or the week of January 11 following the meeting tomorrow afternoon.

 

Have a nice evening,

Carol 

Zoom meeting link

 

 https://zoom.us/j/93551734822?pwd=eG9VZHA3cktPKytEZlpRQU9hb1diZz09

 

COVID UPDATE – December 16, 2020

Hello Georgetown Community! I hope you are all staying well and finding time to enjoy the holiday season despite COVID restrictions. I am hoping that the vaccine will be a game changer in 2021 and that we will begin to regain some sense of normalcy including getting our students back in school full time! I am very proud of that fact that, with the cooperation of everyone, that it is now December and we have not experienced any spread of the COVID virus in the schools. As you know, we have seen some positive cases in town among our parents and students (16 students and 4 staff) since October 1 in every case people have appropriately quarantined and all identified close contacts have tested negative. I attribute this success to the protocols we have in place, the amazing commitment of our staff and students to staying safe while in school and the numerous cleaning, sanitizing and air quality enhancements that we have put in place. As the cold weather has begun and the fact that windows can no longer be left wide open, we have recently placed air purifiers with the most effective anti-virus filters in every classroom. This, along with plastic barriers, UV anti-virus light towers, socially distanced desks and seating in all common areas and sanitizing stations and hand washing options in classrooms and hallways are working to stop COVID from spreading in our schools. Many people predicted that all schools would return to full remote by November 1st and we are still in hybrid model in December. This has not been easy but we are committed to providing in school learning for as long as it is safely possible to do it. Safety does come first so we will continue to watch the data, plan and make decisions accordingly.

 

  1. Change in School Schedule- Please Read

 

  1. Snow Day on Thursday December 17 I have been following the weather forecast closely and we are expected to get a sizable storm in our area with heavy snow, blizzard conditions, high winds and potential power outages on Wednesday night into Thursday mid-day. With this in mind, I want to let you know that this Thursday will be a traditional snow day and remote learning will not be scheduled. The reason for this is that there is a prediction of widespread power outages which will make remote learning difficult to manage for teachers and /or families. Our plan, as I mentioned in a previous update, is to designate most snow days as remote learning days (which is still the plan) but we need to consider every situation on its merits and make the call based on the available information. Remote learning can work well as long as we all have power and I look forward to using this option as the winter progresses. I hope this notice assists you in planning and I hope you enjoy a family snow day.

 

  1. Full Remote Before the Holidays With the holidays approaching and a short week next week, I want to let you know that Friday, December 18, Monday December 21, Tuesday December 22 and Wednesday December 23 (1/2 day) will be remote learning days. I will be closing the schools for in person learning so that we can all stay in our homes for a few days before the holiday to provide less opportunity for exposure and eliminate the need for contact tracing for our staff during the holiday. This will also provide our staff and families with some peace of mind before seeing family. Monday is already a remote day so this will add 2.5 days of additional days of remote learning for all students including our high needs students. Originally, Friday 12/18 was scheduled for an in person day but with the snow day on Thursday and the following week scheduled as remote days, we expect that attendance may be spotty and the consistency of four remote days for everyone would be more productive.   I want to be sure parents know that teachers will be structuring these days in the same way they did in the first three weeks of school when we were all full remote. They will be providing live instruction and synchronous and asynchronous assignments throughout the day. Please make every effort to ensure that your children attend school on these days because attendance will be taken and teachers will be planning for a regular full school day. I regret that this change in schedule will affect holiday parties in the schools and spirit week activities next week but I am hope alternative plans can be made so they can still happen if possible. I hope staff and families can make this work and I realize it will require some additional scheduling which I know is not always easy. Thank you for understanding that this will give many people the chance to spend time with families more safely and all students will have the chance to continue learning during these 3.5 days of remote learning. I appreciate your understanding and if you have any questions, please let me know.

 

  1. Happy Holidays I want to take a moment to wish you all a very happy holiday season in whatever way you celebrate. I hope you have the chance to enjoy time with family in a very safe way, enjoy special celebrations and rituals of the season and have a peaceful and relaxing winter vacation. We have all earned it and desperately need it! We will watch the COVID numbers over the break and hope they moderate or decline for the good of everyone. As of right now, we plan to return to the hybrid model when we return to school on January 4, 2021.   Please help us make this happen by using safety protocols even at home, wearing masks, social distancing especially when gathering with close friends. We definitely saw an uptick in positive cases after Thanksgiving due to small group gatherings and hopefully we can continue to keep COVID out of our schools with your help. Thank you in advance for making this a priority as you enjoy your well-deserved time away. There is no doubt that this year has been difficult for all of us in many different ways but we can’t stop now. Better times are ahead and, with that said, I want to wish each and every one of you the very best in the New Year 2021. Thank you as always for your support and see you next year! Warmly, Carol