Superintendent Weekly Update

May 21, 2021

Dear Mohawk Trail & Hawlemont Families,

This past week has been a whirlwind! With our students, staff, and families fully back into the groove of in-person learning, the weeks are FLYING by and the countdown to the end of the year is quickly approaching.


As we head toward one of the busiest times in our school year, remember to check emails for updates; stay tuned to your principal's newsletter for important information; and never hesitate to reach out if you have questions. We're here to help guide you though this busy time!


And... here's what's happening this week!


* COVID-19 School Planning Task Force Updates

* MTRS Athletics Updates

* End of Year Events

* MTRS Student Eliandra Snape Receives Peacemaker Award

* Class of 2024 Walkathon on May 22

* Class of 2021 Senior SHOUT-OUTS

* NOW HIRING! Explorers Summer Program

* Annual Town Meeting Materials

* School Spotlights

* Outdoor Learning on Our Beautiful Campuses!

COVID-19 School Planning Task Force Updates

Earlier this week Gov. Baker announced the next phases for the state's reopening, including several adjustments to mask mandates and lifting emergency orders that were established last spring.


As we have done throughout the pandemic, our district's COVID-19 School Planning Task Force meets each Thursday to review state, regional, and local COVID-19 data; discusses the impact to our community; and helps to guide me in deciding next steps for our district.


Our discussion last night was lengthy--weighing heavily the guidance from the CDC and DESE; Gov. Baker's lift on restrictions for outdoor mask mandates for those who have been vaccinated; and recommendations from our FRCOG representative, school physician, and members of the task force. Throughout this year we’ve remained committed to wearing masks not just for ourselves, but to protect and care for those around us--those who may not yet be vaccinated and those who may be immunocompromised.


As we have throughout this pandemic, when new guidance is released, we take our time to pause, review, and carefully analyze the information. We always move forward with decisions knowing we’ve done our due diligence in reviewing the guidance fully. And while sometimes we agree with the guidance, in some cases we did not and we responded appropriately. In this case, we've heard the perspectives from both sides of this issue. These discussions and decisions were made thoughtfully and carefully--trying to respect all viewpoints.


We will be presenting the following information and decision for consideration to the Mohawk Trail Regional School Committee on Tuesday, May 25 at 6:30 p.m.


We are still working with the Hawlemont Regional School staff and School Committee and will share an update with Hawlemont families soon relative to the new DESE guidance. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your building principal or myself if you have any questions or concerns.


Information:


What we know:

COVID-19 caseload data in our region has been exceptionally low and transmission within our schools has been ZERO thanks to our multiple mitigation strategies and following the FAB FOUR.


State guidance for schools indicate that masks are still required when inside school buildings; but not required for outdoor recreation and recess. Gov. Baker and DESE, while issuing their guidance, have left the final decisions for mask wearing within local jurisdiction. Our school policies and procedures to wear masks when in school buildings and on school grounds (outside) have been effective this school year in keeping caseload numbers low in our district. While the state has seen significant success with vaccinating adults 18+; and now with the rollout of vaccines for children 12+, we still have a high percentage of our population who remain vulnerable -- most notably our younger students under 12 years-old.


What does this mean?

Recommendations from both our FRCOG and school physician indicate mask wearing has been an effective mitigation strategy in our community. Masks will remain a key mitigation strategy when in our school buildings and on our school grounds. However, we are proposing some adjustments to mask wearing in our outdoor environments. When examining COVID-19 transmission rates outdoors, we must follow the science which indicates that viral transmission in an outdoor setting is extremely low.


Proposals:


For MTRSD ELEMENTARY students / families only:

Masks will continue to be worn while in our buildings and when on our grounds for the few remaining weeks of our school year, but can be removed during recess. Students at recess are in very small cohorts for a brief amount of time. Students unmasked at recess would not be considered “close contact.” With no current COVID-19 vaccine available for this population, they remain our most vulnerable. Mask breaks, outdoor learning whenever possible, and physical distancing remain a priority.


For MIDDLE / HIGH SCHOOL students / families:

Masks will continue to be worn while in our buildings and outside when moving throughout our school grounds; mask breaks will continue throughout the day.


UPDATE to mask mandate for our student athletes:

Masks will continue to be worn when students are on the benches / sidelines and transitioning from the bench to the field. However, masks can be pulled down while actively playing in a position where physical distancing is possible (ex: outfield in baseball/softball).


Visitors:

All visitors must continue to wear a mask when walking on school grounds (to / from parking lots/fields/courts/track etc.). Physical distancing should be maintained.


Additional Information:

As a reminder, the state mask mandate has NOT been lifted for those individuals who have not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19.


WHEN do I need to wear my mask?

Any time you are walking to / from our buildings; inside the building; to/from recess; in any instance on the school grounds (inside or outside) when you are moving from one location to another. We are following the same procedures in our outdoor environment as you might experience when dining at a restaurant (ex. masks on when you arrive and travel to your table; unmasking when you are seated with your party).


Can I keep my mask on when outside / at recess?

Yes! The option to keep your mask on is always an option for you and your family.


Graduations (MTRS / 6th Grade) & End of Year Celebrations:

More guidance will soon be provided by your building principal regarding procedures for graduations/end of year celebrations. Please be sure to stay tuned to your email for updates!


As always, thank you for your patience as we have navigated the multiple guidelines from the CDC, MDPH, and DESE.

Possible COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at MTRS

Last week our district Nurse Leader Donna Weber queried caregivers of children 12+ to see if there was an interest in providing a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Mohawk Trail Regional School. We are STILL accepting sign-ups. If you are interested in your child obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine, PLEASE sign-up here https://forms.gle/e52EchuJepbban6j6.


If YOU or a member of our community are interested in obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine at our clinic, but have not yet signed-up, please contact Donna Weber at dweber@mtrsd.org. Feel free to share this information with your friends, family, and community!


Please sign-up before Monday, May 24 as Nurse Weber finalizes numbers to be sure we can host a clinic.


If you have any health/COVID-19-related questions, please don't hesitate to contact our Nurse Leader Donna Weber (dweber@mtrsd.org) or reach out directly to our partners at FRCOG, (413) 774-3167, ext. 153.

MTRS Athletics Updates

If you haven't yet had the opportunity to see our teams in action this year, it's not too late! Grab your camp chairs and blankets and join us as we cheer on our incredible student athletes! The weather has been holding out nicely for some wonderful game days on the MTRS campus. It's been amazing seeing our students playing the sports they love and to feel the energy of our community coming together once again.


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I'm excited to share the MTRS Athletics Community Feedback Group kicked-off their work with Athletic Director Greg Vouros and hosted their first meeting on Tuesday, May 18. A big WELCOME and THANK YOU to Nick Brown, Kristen Howard, Tina Miller, Angela Schatz, Mandi Summers, Jess Thompson, Octavia Crawford, and Elly Patnode for serving on this group!


The group discussed their long-term and short-term goals; how they can make an impact on the future of MTRS Athletics; and began brainstorming and outlining action steps. AD Vouros shared his excitement for working together with this group and the insight they will be able to provide.


Community feedback and engagement is a pillar of the MTRS Trailblazer model. Workgroups like this provide a critical eye and help to achieve common goals for the school, the program, and the district. We're excited to add the Athletics Community Feedback Group to the line-up of engagement forums!


Anyone interested in sharing ideas or feedback with the workgroup, please reach out to AD Vouros (gvouros@mtrsd.org) anytime! And be sure to tune-in to AD Vouros' weekly athletics newsletter for regular group updates. The group will meet monthly and we are excited to learn more about their work!


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A friendly reminder of our district’s COVID-19 protocols: ALL athletes and spectators are still required to wear masks and physically distance when participating or attending events at MTRS, even outdoors.


Spectators, regardless of their vaccination status, are also required to wear masks and adhere to physical distancing (and should be watching from designated spectator areas).


We’re really excited to welcome guests back to our fields and know that adhering to the FAB FOUR and following these procedures will help to keep our athletes playing this season!

End of Year Events

Buckland-Shelburne Elementary

Saturday, June 26: 6th Grade Graduation Parade (tentative)


Colrain Central School

Monday, June 14: Field Day (rain date June 21)

Thursday, June 17: 3rd & 4th Grade Play

Sunday, June 27: 6th grade graduation (rain date June 28)


Sanderson Academy

Thursday, June 17: Field Day (rain date of June 22)

Friday, June 25: 6th Grade Graduation (1 p.m.)

Eliandra Snape Named 2021 Peacemaker Award Recipient

We are so excited to share that ANOTHER MTRS student has been awarded a 2021 Peacemaker Award!


Congratulations to MTRS student Eliandra Snape (Grade 9) for being named a 2021 Peacemaker Award recipient by the Interfaith Council of Franklin County and Traprock Center for Peace and Justice.


Snape was nominated by a member of her church, Sandy Thomas (Second Congregational Church in Greenfield), for her commitment to numerous community service projects both in her church and school community.


Projects near and dear to Snape's heart include helping to alleviate food insecurities and serving regularly as a local food distribution volunteer; raising funds and participating in the Relay for Life; running the nursery program at her church and singing in the choir; and working for racial justice and diversity. She previously served as a member of the Mohawk Trail Equity Alliance while in middle school.


"Her compassion is remarkable for a person as young as she," said Thomas. "(Her) sensitivity and outreach to others who are different appears to be in her DNA. . . . Ellie is a gift to all she meets, especially those who need a boost or hand-up. The world in a much better place because of Ellie Snape's innate kindness and desire for justice."


In addition to her numerous volunteer projects, Snape is currently building her own tiny home--flipping a camper--with the hopes of living there during her college years. Her enthusiasm for tackling projects and looking at real-world solutions is an asset to Snape's various volunteer groups. She one day aspires to become a lawyer or work in law enforcement.


Snape and her fellow award winners will be recognized by the Interfaith Council of Franklin County in a video production which will be aired on the organization's YouTube channel in the upcoming month.


Congratulations, Eliandra on your award! We are proud to have you represent Mohawk Trail Regional School and our district!

Class of 2024 Walkathon THIS Weekend!

GOOD LUCK to the MTRS Class of 2024 as they head out to the track on Saturday to raise funds for their class and the Baystate Foundation!


If you're still interested in sponsoring a student or making a donation, it's not too late! Visit https://sites.google.com/mtrsd.org/walk4health/homepage to make your pledge today.


To read more about the Walkathon, click the link below to the story coverage in the Greenfield Recorder this week!

MTRS Walkathon Slated for May 22

Link to The Greenfield Recorder article highlighting the Class of 2024 Walkathon

It's SENIOR SHOUT-OUT time!

We are SO excited to celebrate the Mohawk Trail Regional School Class of 2021 as we countdown to graduation slated for Saturday, June 5!


Follow @mohawktrailregional on Facebook and Instagram to see the full Senior Shout-Out postings (including their favorite quotes... what's next...) throughout this month!

#BlazeYourTrailatMTRS

MTRS Blaze Your Trail black and white logo

Don't Forget - LIKE & SHARE Our Content!

Help us keep our community informed! Follow our schools on social media; share our school and district newsletters! Visit our websites! Check out our Vimeo page! There are so many ways to see what's happening around our district and in our schools.


We're proud of our students and our schools and hope YOU are too!

NOW HIRING! Explorers Summer Program

ATTENTION MTRS Students!


Are you looking for summer employment? Do you like working with kids? If so - check out these opportunities working as a Counselor or Counselor-in-Training for our district's summer educational and enrichment program!


Counselors:

The Mohawk Trail Regional School District Summer Program is hiring counselors to work with elementary-aged students in K-2 and Grades 3-6. QUALIFICATIONS: Counselors must be 15+ years old; have an interest in working with youth; and be comfortable working outside in any weather. MTRSD students are strongly encouraged to apply. HOURS: Programs will run for 5 weeks total, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pay is $15 per hour. Tentative dates: starts the week of July 12 through August 13.


Counselor In Training (CIT):

The Mohawk Trail Regional School District Summer Program has two openings a day for middle school students to be Counselors in Training for our elementary-aged students. Students must be enrolled in Mohawk Trail Regional School (entering 7th or 8th graders are eligible). Students should be interested in working with youth; able to be active; and willing to be working outside during any weather. HOURS: Programs will run for 5 weeks total, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tentative dates: starts the week of July 12 through August 13. Half-days are an option.


To view the full job postings, visit www.mtrsd.org/Job-Postings and click on the link for "Summer Program Positions - Mohawk Trail / Hawlemont Regional School Districts."


Want to learn more OR apply? Contact Summer Program Coordinator Alia Woofenden at awoofenden@mtrsd.org. For more information about the program, visit www.mtrsd.org/Explorers-Program and follow us on Facebook @MTRSDExplorers.

Big picture

Annual Town Meetings

Town Meeting season continues! For those who have already held meetings, THANK YOU for your support! As you approach your town meeting date, be sure to check our website district website-->Business Services page for links to our town meeting handouts.


If you have any questions about the budget or the information on our handouts, please do not hesitate to contact me (sstanton@mtrsd.org).

School Spotlight: Sanderson Academy

Sanderson Academy is hosting a "Change the Light, Change the World" fundraiser with 100% of the proceeds to benefit the school!


To see the variety of options available for purchase and to order online, visit: https://techniartordersite.com/eversource/ Your items will be shipped directly to your home (no shipping fees). So feel free to share with friends and family near and far! Order now through MAY 28!


When completing your order, be sure to indicate Sanderson Academy in the Organization/School Name field and Sanderson Academy for the Name of Student/Participant field.


Thank you for helping to make the world a brighter place, one light bulb at a time, and supporting our school!

Sanderson Academy Light Bulb Fundraiser

Click here to visit the website

School Spotlight: Colrain Central School

Community members -- we need YOUR help! Colrain Central School is seeking donations and volunteers to make their student-designed pollinator meadow dreams come true!


This year, the second, third, and fourth graders have been working together to plan a pollinator meadow. NEXT week (Thursday, May 27 and Friday, May 28) they will embark on a whole-school project to create the meadow and are looking for a few donations (and a helping hand or two!).


We could use donations of native pollinator-friendly plants that like sun or partial-sun and a shallow bird bath or dish that could be a water source for pollinators.


Examples include:

  • Sundrops
  • Aster divaricata
  • Tall Phlox
  • Broadleaf Aster
  • Monarda Fistulosa
  • Garlic Chives
  • Golden Groundsel
  • Violets--purple & white
  • Blue Comfrey
  • Variegated Solomon's Seal
  • Rudbeckia Fulgida
  • Echinacea Purpurea
  • Red Raspberry
  • Black Raspberry
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Penstemon Dgitalis (Husker's red)
  • New England Aster
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Senna Hebecarpa
  • Cup Plant


CCS is also looking to borrow shovels and is seeking adult volunteers for the day. Interested in helping? CONTACT CCS Service-Learning Coordinator Talia Miller, tamiller@mtrsd.org, if you would like to donate (any of the above) OR have a loaner shovel!

student drawing of bird, sun, flowers, bee. Text: We are making a pollinator meadow. We want to help the bees. We care about bees! Will you help us?

Outdoor Learning on Our Beautiful Campuses!

Across the district, educators this spring have been making the best use of our beautiful campuses; conducting class discussions and exploring outside whenever possible! If there's a positive takeaway from what we've learned this past year is that we are so fortunate to have our schools located in such a rich outdoor environment. It's made the shift to spending as much time learning outside the four walls of our classrooms quite easy!


(Photos immediately below): Students in MTRS Visual Art Teacher Rachel Silverman's Hiking and Nature Art class headed into the woods behind our school to explore and draw our beautiful trail system from observation.


"We are practicing our drawing skills while also benefiting from being outdoors, immersed in the sensory experience of the forest," said Silverman.


(Middle row photos): MTRS students in Catherine Glennon's US History class move their lesson outside for fresh air and sunshine.


(Bottom row photos): Students at Colrain Central School head outside for some learning fun!

Thanks for all you do to make Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont School Districts GREAT places to learn and grow!