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