Monday, January 18, 2021 is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We do not have school on this federal holiday. I hope we are all able to take time every day and especially on Monday to think about the legacy and accomplishments of Dr. King, and how we, too, can serve our communities to support social and racial justice.
PTO/Principal Forums: Round 3!
We held the K-2 forum this past Wednesday. Parents shared that they really enjoyed and learned from the staff presentations about literacy, library and math supports for our students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade.
The grades 3-5 Forum will be on Tuesday, January 19th
The grades 6-8 Forum will be on Thursday, January 21st.
I am very pleased to announce that the Town of Brookline approved our request for emergency funds to support COVID-19 testing in 2021.
I want you to know how grateful we are for your continued dedication and commitment to your students in these uncertain times. Your health and safety is a priority. While all of the details are still being worked out, and more details can be found below, here is what I can tell you about the new program at this point:
In January, the PSB will begin offering a new weekly asymptomatic testing program.
The program is expected to be 8-10 weeks long.
We are offering this program at no cost to all PSB staff who regularly interact with students, full time and part time.
This program is completely voluntary. If you must pause your participation or join after the opening date, that can be arranged with advance notice, although consistent participation is best and important for monitoring health in our buildings.
The test is a self-administered nasal swab that will then be collected at your PSB building. Complete and specific instructions will be sent in January. There are many different approaches to swabbing and collection that our peer districts are using. So for the first few weeks we will all need to be flexible and experiment with different processes to determine what works best for us in Brookline.
You will typically receive your results within 24 hours to an email address you provide.
If you develop COVID symptoms or are identified as a close contact, please do what you do now (seek immediate guidance from your healthcare provider, and as needed, get yourself tested and/or quarantine). This new program does not replace our current procedure for individuals with symptoms or who have been identified as close contacts.
Even though our PSB in-school transmission numbers have not been a concern to date, we are introducing this program in January because COVID cases have risen to a level in Massachusetts that are concerning statewide. We wanted to provide this extra layer of protection for you as we all wait to hear about a timeline for a vaccine rollout for the public schools. This testing is one more part of many investments in health and safety that began in June and ramped up in August/September. Our staff colleagues and volunteers have worked very hard and have improved our ventilation and HVAC systems, provided personal protective equipment for our staff, increased disinfecting and cleaning of our buildings, created procedures for distancing and cohorts, provided an in-town testing option especially for symptomatic individuals and close contacts, and many other safety precautions.
I wanted to get this information to you as we begin the winter recess, and I will provide more complete information in January. Some additional background information can also be found below.
Additional details about the planned testing program:
I would particularly like to thank those who worked so hard to make this happen for us. This effort has been spearheaded by Tricia Laham, Coordinator of School Health Services, and I am grateful to our entire nursing team who will help administer this program. I am also grateful to Dr. Swannie Jett, Commissioner of Public Health and his staff; Mel Kleckner, Town Administrator and Justin Casanova-Davis, Assistant Town Administrator; and our team of four parent volunteers: Grady Clouse, Dr. Nira Pollock, Dr. Jenny Tam, and School Committee member Susan Wolf Ditkoff. Without their tireless efforts over weeks, nights, and weekends, we would not be able to offer this program.
On Thursday, December 17, the Brookline Advisory Committee approved $500,000 of emergency funds for COVID-19 testing in 2021. $300,000 of those funds are dedicated to a new weekly voluntary asymptomatic testing program for all of our student-facing Public Schools of Brookline educators and staff. Funds will also support some surveillance testing for middle and high school students in our hybrid learning program, grades 6-12. Student-facing staff were identified as the top priority for testing with older students as a secondary priority; it was not recommended that younger students be routinely tested. The other $200,000 is dedicated to continuing the Town testing site (currently run by mPathy, primarily for symptomatic and close contact cases). Any uninsured members of the Brookline community who have symptoms or are identified as close contacts will have their costs covered by the Town (this does not apply to people without symptoms). These funds are expected to last for the first 2-3 months of 2021.
We hope that providing this voluntary testing program for student-facing staff will provide reassurance to our PSB staff and provide data that will allow PSB to confirm the effectiveness of our COVID-19 mitigation practices and evaluate any additional measures that may be needed. Real-time, system-wide information will also help provide specific action steps and peace of mind for our entire school community.
I hope everyone had a productive remote snow day yesterday and a traditional fun, snow day today.
Please remember that we have school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Cohort B will go to school on Tuesday, December 22nd and cohort A will be remote at home. Although it is Tuesday, we will follow a Thursday schedule district wide. Wednesday will be a typical remote day for grades 1-8 and an in school day for Kindergarten students.
The December break starts on Thursday, December 24th. School will be closed for all students until Monday, January 4, 2020 when all kindergarten students and cohort A returns to the building.
The PSBMA librarians invite families to participate in a district-wide Mock Caldecott activity, a picture book award program for students in grades K-5.
What will we do?
● LEARN about the Caldecott Medal and the criteria the Caldecott Committee uses in judging. ● READ twelve possible winners of the 2021 Caldecott Medal. ● VOTE! In late January, students and families will vote (via a Google Form) for the one picture book they believe is most worthy of the Caldecott. The official Caldecott announcement will be made on January 27th. We will compare our selections with the committee’s choices! ● Supplement your reading: materials for this program will be posted on the Brookline K-8 Library Remote Learning website.
Where can we find the books?
● Thanks to the Brookline Education Foundation (BEF) we have purchased additional copies of the books in e-book format. They are available through your school library’s catalog. ● Many of our school libraries own print and e-book versions of the titles. Go to your school library’s catalog to see what’s available. ● The Brookline Public Library and Boston Public Library may also have copies.
Thank you to all the parents, caregivers and staff who particpated in our November PTO/Principal forums the last two weeks. We were abe to review and discuss the successes of the hybrid learning model, and how students, staff and families have adjusted to the new routines and schedules. Congratulations to all!
Wednesday, November 25th: School closes at noon for Thanksgiving Break
Thursday, November 26th: No School-Thanksgiving
Friday, November 27th: No school for Thanksgiving Break
Early Release Days for Grades K-8:
1. Thursday, December 3-Grades K-8 dismissed early at 12:40pm
2. Tuesday, December 8-Grades K-8 dismissed early at 12:40pm
Annual Cranberry Counting:
Every year for the past 50+ years Lawrence teachers and students estimate how many cranberries are in a jar. This year we have a touchless way to see the jar, make your estimate, and enter to win a bookstore gift card if your estimate is the closest in your category.
From Interim Superintendent Marini on November 17th:
In these unprecedented times, I understand the desire to want to maintain the holiday traditions that anchor us to family and friends, but this year is different. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19 and that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. In addition to the CDC guidance, Mass.gov has issued travel regulations. Most notably, if you visit a high-risk state, you must fill out a travel form and either produce a negative COVID-19 test administered up to 72 hours prior to returning to Massachusetts or quarantine for 14 days.
Wednesday, November 11th: Veteran’s Day-No School for students and staff
Wednesday, November 25th: School closes at noon for Thanksgiving Break
Thursday, November 26th: No School-Thanksgiving
Friday, November 27th: No school for Thanksgiving Break
Fall Early Release Days for Conferences:
Lunch will not be eaten in school on early release days, as we want to maximize instructional time for students. Students will still have a snack break and those who need to take a bagged lunch home; will be able to do so.
Thursday, November 12-Grades K-6 dismissed early at 12:40pm
Tuesday, November 17-Grades K-8 dismissed early at 12:40pm
Thursday, December 3-Grades K-8 dismissed early at 12:40pm
Tuesday, December 8-Grades K-8 dismissed early at 12:40pm
I realize that beginning of the year conferences may sound different this year and not include as deep of a data/assessment review that you are typically used to providing to parents/caregiver in past (non COVID) years. We will follow the district calendar and reframe our conversations to match the late start, remote learning and only a few weeks of following the in person hybrid schedule.
The PTO Presidents and I will host the second round of grade level forums for parents and caregivers in grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. These forums will be at 7pm as the first round of forums were held at 4pm. The January/February forums will take place in the morning to meet the needs of varied work and life schedules.
Lawrence K - 2 November PTO/Principal Forum
Time: Nov 12, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Lawrence 3 - 5 November PTO/Principal Forum
Time: Nov 17, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Lawrence 6 - 8 November PTO/Principal Forum
Time: Nov 19, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Dressing for Colder Weather:
Please send your children to school with layers and warm clothing.
I suggest an extra sweatshirt and socks in case they get wet during recess. Also send them
with hats, gloves and boots. We will go out in the snow and colder temperatures.
Holiday Travel and Celebrations:
As the holidays quickly approach and we each begin to plan for fall and winter celebrations, we understand that many festivities will look a bit different this year. Since COVID-19 can easily spread from one person to another during traditional holiday activities, such as gathering for shared meals or rituals, we ask that our students and staff be extra cautious when making plans this season.
If you are planning to travel outside of Massachusetts please email both nurses firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com once you have your travel destination and dates, this is so we can help plan for your safe return to in person teaching as soon as possible.
Please see the link below in regards to travel, testing, and/or quarantine requirements upon your return into the state.
Follow Massachusetts travel orders requiring quarantine upon return from most locations. Per the travel order issued by Governor Baker on August 1, all families traveling from out-of-state and internationally must self-quarantine for fourteen (14) days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts. More information can be found here.
Please reach out with any questions and or concerns.
Safe travels and Happy Holidays!
Nurse Miller and Nurse Hillary
Parent Volunteers to Help with Lunch and/or Recess:
Are you available to help during the school day? Even just one day a week? Well, Lawrence parent and caregiver volunteers can serve as Lunch and Recess Monitors during in-person hybrid days in grades that their children are not in. Volunteers will be trained on procedures and safety, must complete a CORI check and will be helping meet a current need at our school. It is a weekly commitment.
This is a new way that parents/caregivers can volunteer at Lawrence during the pandemic, even as many of our traditional ways of volunteering are on hold. Just use this Lawrence Volunteers link to share your interest and availability.
The Lawrence admin team will reach out once they can match specific class/grade needs with your availability. Looking for more details about this opportunity? Wondering what times are most needed? Check the form first! Still have questions, email PTO Board Member Grace at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for considering.
I am writing this afternoon (10/23/20) with an important scheduling change that will impact all hybrid students (or those set to enter hybrid) in grade levels 9-12 beginning the week of October 26, 2020 and grade levels 1-8 beginning the week of November 2, 2020. The Leadership Team, School Principals, and the Brookline School Committee have decided to make Wednesday a completely remote day for all students in the hybrid learning model.
Wednesday will remain a shortened day (early dismissal), but students in grades 1-12 enrolled in the hybrid model will participate in their instruction remotely. We have learned a lot in the past four days after transitioning to the hybrid model and believe this change in schedule is what’s best for our educators, our students, and our staff.
Why the transition?
Relationships and Community Building
Students in grades 1-12 began the year together, albeit remotely, and are now split due to the hybrid schedule. A remote Wednesday allows students to reconnect with their peers and have a whole class experience again.
Students will receive live synchronous learning similar to what they experienced the first four weeks of RemotePlus.
Students will have more live time with their teacher(s) over the course of the week because all students will have two full days in-person and a full half-day remote each week. This allows more time to strengthen relationships between teachers and students which we believe is a necessary factor for student success.
Instruction and Curriculum Planning
Students will receive a robust day of synchronous learning on Wednesday in their content areas reducing the amount of asynchronous time they currently have during the school week.
Teachers can plan more coherently now that students are receiving the same amount of touch points per week.
Students in Cohort A and B will be more in-line with each other as they will have an equal amount of time with their teachers each week. The remote Wednesday can serve as a full group check-in for misconceptions or misunderstandings related to learning.
Teachers and specialists (math, literacy, special educators) can facilitate more small group instruction/intervention from various classes that have similar needs. The remote Wednesday alleviates the concern for crossing cohorts as these small groups can meet remotely.
Secures collaboration and preparation time for teachers that is more efficient and less strained than currently scheduled in the hybrid model.
Cleaning and Sanitization
Additional time for a more thorough cleaning and sanitizing of buildings between cohorts
Additional time for appropriate cleaning of shared materials such as paper, makers, library books, math manipulatives, etc.
As more students enter the building in the hybrid model, a Wednesday cleaning day allows the building to breathe and likely increases how long we can remain open in this model.
Wednesday will be a fully remote day for students in the hybrid model in grades 9-12 beginning Wednesday, October 28, 2020.
Wednesday will be a fully remote day for students in the hybrid model in grades 1-8 beginning Wednesday, November 4, 2020.
Wednesday will remain an early dismissal day
Remote Learning Academy schedules will not change.
Kindergarten schedules will not change. Kindergarten students enrolled in-person will attend in-person 5 days a week.
Students in First to Return who will remain in-person 5 days a week have been notified. All other students in First to Return have shifted to the hybrid schedule.
We know this is a quick transition for some families, staff and caregivers and appreciate your flexibility as we continue to update our plans based on recent information, lived experiences, and what we believe is in the best interest of our community. School leaders and teachers will be able to provide more details on the Wednesday schedule specific to your child(ren) in the upcoming week.
I really enjoyed seeing so many of you at the Principal/PTO Forums last week. These are virtual meetings we have organized to take the place of our traditional in person PTO/Principal Coffees that we cannot hold due to COVID. We held a meeting for each grade band K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. We also held our first coffee for Lawrence families who are in the METCO program this past Monday. Finally, we held the first Lawrence School Council meeting on Tuesday, October 6th. Thank you to our parent representatives: Jaime Carillo, Amy Evenson, Mendie Weylu and Ken Yamada. I have enjoyed reconnecting with so many families!
K-5 Open Houses on Thursday, October 8th
School will be closed on Monday, October 12th for all students and staff for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. No lessons on this day.
6-8 Open Houses on Thursday, October 15th
School will be closed for all students on Monday, October 19th as it is a Professional Development Day for staff. No lessons on this day.
New Hybrid Schedule starts for students in Grade 1-8 on Tuesday, October 20th
Wednesday ends at noon for students in K-8-Lunch not served.
Friday is extended from 1:40pm to 2:30pm for students in K-8
Hybrid in person return based on A and B cohorts starts on Tuesday, October 20th for students in grades 1 and 2.
Hybrid in person return based on A and B cohorts starts on Monday, October 26th for students in grades 3 and 8. Students remain at home until then.
Students must come to school with multiple masks in their backpacks as they are expected to wear a mask all day except during snack and lunch. We have additional masks for emergencies.
Once in person starts for grades 1 and 2 on Tuesday, October 20th, families will not be able to live park to drop off students on Francis Street per the Brookline Police Department. Also, families should not drive down Newell Road or Sterns Road to drop off students. This practice by some has created dangerous situations in the past, and we need to make sure all remain safe. Thank you for following these expectations.
Hybrid Model approved by the School Committee:
Students in each class have been divided into A and B groups. A great deal of time and effort has gone into making these groups with a focus on balancing groups and making sure we can service all students. Additionally, we have been asked to make sure that siblings are in the same letter cohort.
A group attends school in the building on Monday and Tuesdays, while group B learns from home.
B group attends school in the building on Thursday and Friday, while group A learns from home. Reminder, Friday will now end at 2:30pm.
Group A and B will alternate being in school/learning from home on Wednesdays which will end at noon and lunch will not be served on Wednesdays
Some parents have reached out to ask if we can move students into particular groups to accommodate outside pods/family support groups. Unfortunately, we are not able to do so as one move can have a domino effect on many lists. I am sorry that this is so hard, and I wish we were able to do so.
Excited to see more of the stduents in the buidling!