Governor Baker orders Mass. schools to stay closed through end of school year and GPS’ new social media campaign.

I am sure you heard by now that the Governor announced  all public and private school buildings will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Remote learning will continue until the last day which is scheduled to be Friday, June 19, 2020.  While this was not entirely unexpected, there was extensive discussion about what it would take to open schools for the first few weeks in June to provide closure. Frankly, the alternatives being discussed were unrealistic and ,at the end of the day, there was not a way to ensure that you and our students would be safe. As much as I would have loved to see this work, your health and safety and the mental and physical wellbeing of you and our students, is my highest and most important priority. I agree with the Governor and believe he made the only decision he could have given the information that was available to him. That is not to say that I did not shed a tear or two when I heard him say the actual words because I did but I also breathed a sigh of relief at not having to figure out how to “socially distance “our schools with little to no time to prepare while at the same time worry about a deadly virus that is still so active in MA. Now, we will have time over the summer to be better prepared for the fall. I am grateful for that!
As you can imagine that as soon as the decision was announced, my email blew up with questions and concerns. I am sure you may have some of the same questions so I am in the process of making a list and I promise I will answer every question as soon as answers are available. I might not anticipate all questions, so please forward any to me.
Now that people know that this current state will last through June, there seems to be a renewed sense of anxiety and every other emotion that you can imagine.  This is understandable and the biggest concern seems to be about how this three month closure is going to negatively affect our students.  There is no doubt there may be some impact but I think it is going to be more emotional than academic. I am confident that you will be able to quickly assess the situation and most students will make the gains they need to in a short period of time when they return in the fall. We do have some students that we are all worried about but again they have been learning during this time away and I know we will all circle around them to get them where they need to be.
 The bigger concern for me is  the emotional toll this is taking on all of us.
We miss our friends, the daily connections      and the predictability of our lives. We long for life the way it was six weeks ago when we could come and go freely and we are probably concerned about what  school will look like when we open in the fall. The struggle is real!
For me, I am staying positive by focusing on the many things we ARE all doing and not on those that we have not or can not do right now. We are doing SO much and it IS making a difference! Probably more than we even know. I think about the joy our students feel when they have the chance to zoom with their teachers and peers. It is this connection that makes them feel they are cared about and still part of their community. I love the fact that we are making sure our students in need are being fed during the week. For some  people in our town, food scarcity is a reality and it warms my heart to know that basic needs are being met.  I am heartened with the outpouring of support for our senior class who have literally had the end of their senior year stolen by this virus.  I am grateful for the many acts of kindness that are coming to bear to be sure that these wonderful young people receive the recognition and accolades they have so richly earned and deserve! I appreciate all of the people who really care! Finally, I am grateful for the way we are staying strong TOGETHER and pushing through the challenges of remote learning.  The level of collaboration, personal Investment, risk taking and stretching beyond what is comfortable is nothing short of amazing and should be shared and celebrated!
As the next two months move along, there will be so many more successes and examples of the positive impact you are having which will keep our spirits high,  make us smile and fill us with pride. So In order to capture these moments, we are going to try something new.  We are going to use our district’s Facebook page, twitter and Instagram accounts to flood them with fun stuff.  I am going to be letting families know about this as well because I know they are having some successes at home which we want to capture also. One of the highlights of my day is when I look on Facebook and see pictures of our families and friends working and learning together while the schools are closed. I want to capture all of that positive energy in one place so beginning next week we will begin posting  examples of student work, videos , recognizing and spotlighting  student accomplishments ,virtual performances or any other examples we want to share with our school community to reaffirm that we are moving mountains , overcoming obstacles, staying positive and making a DIFFERENCE !  This will be a work in progress and it will evolve . Let’s see where it goes and If you have anything  to share, please send your contributions to: georgetownconnects@georgetown.k12.ma.us and we will get it posted.
I hope that you and your families are continuing to stay well  I am hoping to hop on a few of your zoom meeting soon to check in with you .
Until then, we remain Georgetown Strong and Royally Proud! We got this!
With appreciation and my utmost respect, Carol