COVID-19 Update, June 9, 2020

Hello Georgetown Friends,
I hope you are all well and continuing to hang in there. I am so sorry this posting is a little later than usual but I hope it will still be useful to you. We have 9 days of school left and I know it is tempting to just call it quits. We will be wrapping up next week with an opportunity to finish up last minute assignments and end of the year festivities virtually. Keep watching our Georgetown MA Public Schools Facebook page for postings. Right up until the last day of school, we will continue to celebrate student growth and we are very excited to announce that we will officially conclude the year at all schools with our long awaited Rolling Rally on the last day of school Friday June 19th from 9:30- 11:00 am. Staff who will be participating at each school should arrive at their respective schools between 9 and 9:15 to get set up where you will physically distance outside of the schools and families may drive by waving and honking horns ( signs and decorations are optional) to say goodbye to the staff as they are rolling by. Parents: If you have children at multiple schools, you should have plenty of time to go by each school during this time frame should you wish to do so. This fun event is being coordinated by Joe Pittella, Hope Doran and Paul Swaim so I will probably have more information next week to share with you but please SAVE THE DATE! I know the staff and students will love to see each other one last time before we begin the summer break. Enjoy the rest of the week!

Sad Times in America
My intention is not to be preachy but as the leader of our schools, I think it is appropriate for me to make a statement regarding the events of the last couple of weeks. I don’t think there is an American alive who can condone the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer who was abusing the power of his position. I still get tears in my eyes each time I see the footage of that event and doubt that I will ever get the image out of my mind as it represents for me the worst of human nature. Acts of blatant racism like this must be denounced and the cries for peace and social change that are happening throughout this country must be heard. It is time for the silence to end and for all of us to speak out in support of equal rights and inclusion for all in both our words and deeds. I hope we can all agree that no person should live in fear or be treated as less because of their race or the color of their skin yet it happens every day in this country. In every profession there are great people and there are some who do not represent their profession well. In this case, the officer who committed this murder should not have had the opportuity to do so. Personally, the police officers I know and have had the chance to interact with are professional, competent and they know their role. Many of them are my friends and colleagues and I am grateful for that but what happened to George Floyd is not an isolated event and it is completely unacceptable. These protests can not be an end in themselves or nothing will change. It is important for people to continue to come together as they have for almost two weeks now to push for positive and substantive change in our institutional norms, policies and practices. I personally do not believe people are born racists and that is why I believe that education is key to combating this insidious problem but it must be a shared responsibility since our choices and attitudes begin with us. If we are to help change the course of social justice in this country we have to be the change we want to see in this world. It starts with us and affects our youth in very real ways. In our public schools, we actively promote inclusion and acceptance of everyone even though we are not always successful. We teach our children to cooperate and work together, have empathy for others, celebrate differences and act responsibly but we can do better. Our children are watching and experiencing this emotional time in the moment. They are looking to us as the adults in their lives to provide leadership and be role models in a world that so desperately needs kindness, compassion, inclusion, peace and appreciation for the contributions of ALL cultures in this country. It is ,after all, what makes this country great yet somehow events like these keep happening. I can’t help asking myself why and feeling sadness every time history repeats itself but I find hope in the youth of this generation. On June 3, 2020, over 200 youth and students mobilized a movement and gathered in downtown Georgetown in a peaceful protest. Being there myself, I can say confidently that these young people showed all who came by how a peaceful protest should be done! They made their voices heard against racial injustice and called for a stop to police brutality in a peaceful and respectful way seen in this emotionally charged setting They made me, their families and this district so proud and ,once again, they reminded me that they are the future and they WILL make a difference and speak out when they see something that needs to be changed.I know the School Committee and the entire staff of the Georgetown Public Schools is unified in our commitment to teaching our children that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect because, after all, we are one race, the HUMAN race and we want and expect justice for all. Our children are definitely watching and learning so let’s continue to work together for a better world for ALL.

Graduation Information
We are all anxiously awaiting the GMHS graduation that is this Saturday June 13th at the Saint Mary’s Church parking lot at 10:00 am. Since the Governor’s guidelines include restrictions regarding the size of group gatherings, I want to remind everyone who is attending that we must comply with some basic expectations to be in compliance with the Board of Health and the state. We are grateful for permission to provide our seniors with an in person, outdoor graduation that they asked for and , in return, we must respect the rules.

Anyone attending the ceremony MUST remain in their car except when using the portable restrooms which will be located at the end of the parking lot. For everyone’s safety, your car will technically be your “group of less than 10 people”. If you leave your car, you must be wearing a mask or face covering. You can roll your windows down or run the air conditioner but you have to stay in your car per agreement with the Board of Health. We appreciate your attention to this matter.

Students will be sitting in front of the stage six feet apart and wearing masks unless it rains on Saturday morning. If this happens then students will sit in their family car and be escorted to the stage by an attendant so that they can walk across the stage ( which will have tents) to receive their diploma. Everything else about the ceremony will remain the same and let’s hope the weather is beautiful. The forecast for Saturday morning sounds like it is going to be low humidity, in the 70s and partly cloudy and no rain in sight right now. I hope this holds!

The ceremony will be taped and broadcast later on the local access channel GCTV, the local Georgetown Cable Television Network. However, it will be live streamed on the district’s Facebook page Georgetown MA Public Schools using Facebook Live. If you “like” our page prior to Saturday, you will receive a notification when we go live. When you enter the church parking lot, you will be able to listen to the entire ceremony from your car radio by tuning to the channel which will be provided to you on Saturday. We are also broadcasting on a huge jumbotron thanks to the sponsorship of G. Mello Disposal Corporation.

Immediately following the ceremony, we will have the first ever parade celebrating our graduates. The Georgetown police will be leading the parade and we ask that any cars not wishing to follow the parade route with us take a left turn out of the parking lot as the parade will be going right. In case you are wondering, the parade route is as follows:
Leave St. Mary’s go RIGHT onto Andover Street heading towards town hall. At the lights turn RIGHT onto Central Street (Route 97) .
Go LEFT onto Elm Street-this will pass Penn Brook driveway.
Go LEFT onto East Main Street (RTE 133) and go through the center of town. Go straight through the 4 way intersection lights to West Main Street .
Go RIGHT onto Prospect Street. Then turn right onto Pond s (This is in front of Perley School). Go RIGHT onto North Street.
GO LEFT onto Pleasant Street and LEFT again at Maple Street Right at to end Winter Street and then it can end at the driveway to the high school.From there people can head to the traffic light and head home in whatever direction is home.

We welcome any families from town who are not attending the graduation to come and celebrate the seniors at some point on the parade route although maintaining appropriate social distancing . We should be leaving Saint Mary’s by 11:15 am and the parade should last 10-15 minutes from start to finish. It should be a great morning and pray for good weather!

Perley and Penn Brook Extended Day in the Fall
We have been receiving a lot of inquiries about how the extended day programs will work in the fall. We have begun the process of discussing this but we are awaiting specific information from the state in the next couple of weeks in order to see what the parameters will be. Based on what we have heard so far about summer champs and day care centers, we expect that there will be strict guidelines about social distancing, mask wearing, group sizes of 10 or less with one staff member and limited capacity in the school at any one time. This means that we will likely have to reduce the size of our program because it is unlikely that we will be able to accommodate 150 students a day at Penn Brook as we have in the past at least for the fall. Schools may also have to follow a staggered schedule so students will only be eligible to be in the program on the days they are scheduled to be in school. We also expect that , in addition to those listed above, the following procedures will be in place.
There will be no drop in services. We must know who is in the program in advance as the numbers will be reduced and we expect the demand may be greater than we can initially provide.
Everyone MUST be registered and the application is on line at both the Perley and Penn Brook websites. Families must register for a two day minimum and commit to the days they identify as payment will be based on this information.

https://sites.google.com/site/pennbrookextendedday/welcome/home/registration-form–

The Perley registration form will be on their website at the end of this week.
Staff members who wish to have their children participate in this program must register and identify the day/days that you will utilize the program. Unfortunately, drop ins will not be allowed as we have to know our numbers in advance to be sure we do not exceed the number of children on any given day.
Rates for the program will likely increase but we are waiting until we have more details about the program. It is likely that we will identify a daily rate and we will not be accepting payment for the year at the start of the year. If there is a staggered schedule, your payment will be based upon your child’s schedule.
We have not made decisions about programming on professional development days but we will be able to provide more information when final program plans are determined.

HERE IS WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU. We are currently using this time to assess the need for our before and after school programs in the fall at both Perley and Penn Brook . We are asking that you please go online and complete the registration form by June 26, 2020 if you would like your child to be considered for this program. We are not accepting any money at this time and registering does not mean that you will receive a slot. However, we do need to know who is interested at this point. Please adhere to this date as we may have to do a lottery if there is more demand than spaces available. I know this may be unsettling especially as there are so many unanswered questions. We will do our best to provide any up to date information as we have it. I promise you that! Thank you for assisting with the registration process.

Take care and be well! Talk to you soon!
Carol