Catena Colts Connected

November 13, 2020

Dear Catena Families,

During this time of the year, we usually find comfort in connecting with our families & friends. Amidst the pandemic of 2020, these connections may look and feel very different this Thanksgiving.

In a recent communication from Mindful magazine, we were reminded:

...we can adapt and find inspiration in the resilience of our relationships.

By paying attention to the ever-present potential for care, kindness, and trust, we can kindle the warmth of connection—with ourselves and with all to whom we extend our love.

The author continues by sharing 3 mindful practices that might help us to celebrate our connections this season, if even from a distance:

  • Take time to connect with yourself.
  • Show your loved ones that you care by really listening (whether in-person or virtually)
  • Widen your circle of care to encompass more people (through loving-kindness)

You can Explore these practices here.

With Covid-19 cases continuing to rise, it is more important than ever for our Catena Family to remain vigilant and committed to maintaining a safe and healthy school environment for students, staff & families. We know that the upcoming holidays may afford families travel opportunities and activities that might be considered higher risk. The district reminds us all that when traveling to a state or other area (country on level 2 or 3 travel notice) on the quarantine list, a quarantine of 14 days will be required for students and staff before they may return to the building. Remember, we are fortunate that children can still connect to their classrooms virtually when they must stay at home.

Adherence to this requirement is crucial to our ability to educate our students effectively and keep our schools open and our children and staff healthy. We must also thank our families for being diligent in completing the Daily Health Screening form each morning. This supports our students & staff in starting the day smoothly, safely and with many smiles. This screening form is also an additional tool used to monitor symptoms. It helps us to remain informed of illness in the community so we can take appropriate and necessary actions to ensure a safe environment here at school.

Together, we are Catena Strong!

We are grateful for our wonderful Catena Family and the many blessings in our lives. We encourage our SuperKids, families and staff to be a light! Share your smiles, positivity and kindness, practice gratitude and celebrate your connections.

Be well,

Ms. Shaw & Mrs. Cecilione

Upcoming dates to remember...

October 23rd-November 19th: Visit Genesis Parent Portal - Schedule Parent/Teacher Conference

November 20th, 23rd & 24th: Parent-Teacher Conferences; No PM Learning Block

Wednesday, November 25th: No PM Learning Block, MP 1 Report Cards Post in Genesis Portal

for Grades 1-5

Thursday & Friday, November 26th & 27th: Happy Thanksgiving! School Closed

Monday, November 30th: All in-person learners come to the school building

Catena Project Eat Thanksgiving Food Drive

Please join us in sharing some generosity, positivity and gratitude with others this holiday season and donate to our Thanksgiving Food Drive. Project Eat is collecting items through Tuesday, November 17th. Frozen Turkeys can be dropped off on Friday morning, 11-20. Bring a turkey and be entered into a raffle for a fun prize!

Virtual Students - Squad Shirt Available for Pick Up Starting Monday November 16

Starting Monday, November 16th Squad Shirt will be available for pick up.

The bins are by color, teacher name, student name

Squad Meeting is scheduled for Friday, November 20th.

Students and staff will wear their shirts or squad colors.

Meals for Students

All students are eligible for a free take-home bagged lunch beginning with Phase II on November 30th. Please see the form below if you are interested in your SuperKid having a lunch each day.


An attendance alert is automatically generated in your Genesis message center once your child is marked absent. If a child is not physically in the building by 9:00 or virtually logged on to their zoom by 9:00, they will be marked absent. As they enter, their attendance is changed.

If you received an alert and you checked your message center and it is regarding attendance, please go to the attendance tab to view the calendar. If there is still a discrepancy, please notify the homeroom teacher.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Please see the letter below regarding upcoming Parent-Teacher Conferences at Catena. All conference links will be shared by teachers leading up to conference days. Parents will need to access students' Google Classrooms and use their personal emails to access links.

SuperKids Learning All Day!

Our school day consists of Connected Learning from 9am-1pm daily. During this time it is important that students are engaged in the classroom schedule. This will be a balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning. There are times when learners at home will be given a break or assignment to work on while the teacher addresses routines and procedures in the physical classroom. Just the same, there will be times when students in the classroom may be working independently and the teacher will work directly with those learners at home. Please be sure that SuperKids are prepared with supplies and in their "learning space" during this time so they can engage appropriately.

Our SuperKids' days continue in the afternoon. These PM Learning Blocks are from 2:25-3:35 each day following time for all students to have lunch and recess at home. Live lessons/learning time may not be scheduled every day; however, when small groups or individual lessons are scheduled it is in the effort to personalize learning for students. This PM Learning Block affords teachers time to provide intervention and enrichment for students in content areas. Please prioritize these scheduled lessons for your students. Teacher/student learning conferences, asynchronous lessons and assignments and related arts classes are also scheduled daily. Teachers will share schedules in their Google Classrooms and students will have personalized learning opportunities across the week!

From Our School Nurse~Mrs. Toth

Reminder: You must complete the COVID form every day that we are expecting your child in the building. For example, if your child is in Cohort A, you should complete the form on every Cohort A day regardless if your child will be present in the building or virtual.

Daily Health Screening

Thank you! Our families have been doing a great job completing the district required Daily Health Screening. We ask that families prioritize time each morning before sending students off to school (on a bus, in a car, or by foot!) to complete the Daily Health Screening by 8:30am.

Log on to Genesis Parent Portal each morning and fill out the survey by 8:30 AM for each of your children(

Honesty is a must! If your child is showing symptoms, keep him/her home and allow him/her to participate virtually. Completing the Daily Health Screening must become part of each Catena family's morning routine. It is already part of ours~all staff monitor themselves for illness and completes a Daily Health Screening.

What happens if a student arrives to school without a Daily Health Screening completed?

If the Daily Health Screening is not completed, students will not be able to start the school day with their classmates. Screening by the school nurse will be conducted and families will be contacted. A parent must then complete the Daily Health Screening along with the nurse or a health assistant and confirm that the child is in good health and has not been in close contact with someone with Covid-19.

Completing the Daily Health Screening is crucial as we strive to maintain a safe and healthy environment for SuperKids, families and Catena staff!

Try this morning checklist:

  • Completed Covid/Daily Health Screening on Genesis Parent Portal;
  • My SuperKid has their mask on. We have labeled the mask;
  • My SuperKid has a back-up mask in their bookbag;
  • Snack and a water bottle are packed in my SuperKid's bookbag!
Daily COVID screening form - Google Slides

Main Office Reminders

Reporting A SuperKid's Absence

Please follow these steps when communicating your SuperKid will not be attending school for illness related reasons:

  • Call your school's main phone line 732-431-4430 to access the attendance line (press 1) prior to the start of the school day (9:00 AM)
  • Leave a message or provide staff with the following detailed information: NAME, GRADE, TEACHER, REASON FOR ABSENCE, GIVE SPECIFIC SYMPTOMS
  • School staff will inform you of when student can return to school
  • A PHONE CONFERENCE with your School Nurse is REQUIRED if student is excluded for COVID-related symptoms (see above)


Please be sure to communicate any travel plans to the Main Office. The district will require a 14 day quarantine for any student or staff visiting states on the NJ Quarantine List or a country on the Level 2/3 travel notice. If we do not have a reason for a student's absence we will be calling to verify. Additionally, communication will be sent with a date when students may return to the school building.

Forgotten Items

Just a reminder...As part of our Phase I procedures we are not able to accept items dropped off to the building. Students will be given water and pretzels if they forget snack and we will provide other supplies they may need throughout the day (Chromebook, notebooks, pencils etc.). Please call the office if you have questions or to communicate that your SuperKid forgot something and may need support. Thank you for understanding.

Be Responsible~Mask Up!

SuperKids are doing an awesome job! As per the New Jersey Department of Education guidance provided to all school districts, masks are required to be worn by all staff and students throughout the school day. Students riding buses are required to wear masks from the time they board the bus in the morning until they get off the bus at the end of the day. Students who walk to school or are driven to school must wear face masks once they enter school property. Upon leaving school property in the afternoon students can remove face masks. Parents accompanying students in the morning or picking up students in the afternoon must wear masks.

Masks may be removed for water breaks and during scheduled snack, when students are socially distanced with 6ft of space. By making sure we "mask up" we can keep ourselves and others safe at school.

Families should make time to review the district's mandate and school expectations for wearing a face mask. We will continue to review the expectations and appreciate your support in doing so at home.

Technology Support

If your child is having difficulty using their FTS district issued chromebook, please send an email or call the Catena Main Office who will submit a ticket accordingly to our Technology Department. Thank you for your patience. We are working to address repairs and tickets on a daily basis to keep SuperKids connected to their classrooms & learning!

Virtual Learning Expectations

Big picture

JJCS Parent Support Site


Shop for Catena Spirit Wear!

The PTO is launching a new spirit wear store with DependabiliTees. The store is only open for a few weeks - all orders must be submitted by November 20th. This will ensure delivery by the holidays.

Select online store, then Catena Colts.

Check out new options including tie dye designs!

Please be sure to select the correct homeroom when placing an order. The PTO will be collecting all orders (no shipping fees) and will distribute either through school or home delivery.

Thanksgiving Pie Sale

Please join the PTO in supporting our school through the purchase of delicious, PRESERVATIVE FREE Thanksgiving pies from Wemrock Orchards! Hassle free and convenient pick up without the long store lines!

  • Pies are $16 each!
  • Available in apple, apple crumb, sugar free apple, pumpkin, cherry, blueberry, blueberry crumb, pecan and peach!

Orders due by Wednesday, November 18th. We cannot accept late orders!

Pick up will take place on Tuesday, November 24th between 4:00pm and 6:00pm outside Catena.

Please contact Heather Gougeon for alternative pick up (if needed later in the day) at or 732-632-7352.

PTO Holiday Shop

Support the PTO and shop for the holidays online with your SuperKids!

Joseph J Catena Elementary School

For 60 years we've focused on building strong minds, strong bodies & strong character! Our students are encouraged to share their unique talents and gifts and follow their curiosities as they grow and learn. In 2021 Catena turns 60 and we are excited to celebrate the strength of our school community. Together~parents, staff & students~we are Catena Strong. We are grateful for the opportunity to learn with our SuperKids, incredible staff and amazing families each day at JJCS!