JW Killam Principal's Corner
Ms. Leveque's Weekly Newsletter
From the Desk of Ms. Leveque
Week number two went great! We loved having our kindergarten students in our building and the opportunity to complete our orientations. There is nothing better than seeing a cafeteria filled with students as they laugh and bring energy to the building. We look forward to having more students enter our classrooms as soon as it is safe for us to do so.
Lunch while Remote
We fully recognize that for those families who have multiple children at home, having more than one lunch time is a challenge. If you need all children to eat at the same time, please email your child's teacher to determine a plan so your child can still attend to the learning and eat. Most likely, you will be asked to turn off the camera and microphone while eating.
This is a friendly reminder that headphones would be preferred even for your remote classes. We are hearing a lot of background noise in our class meetings and this would help us out a lot. You may be surprised to learn that even your adult conversations travel between rooms!
Changes in Dismissal and Absenteeism
If your child is absent, remote or in-person, please call the absentee line at 781-944-7831. If your child is in person in school and if your dismissal plan changes during the school day, call the office at 781-944-7831 to notify us about the change. Office staff will get this information to the teachers. If you email a teacher during the school day they cannot always read the email and changes in dismissal information could be missed.
Killam Upcoming Dates
September 27th - 28th: Yom Kippur
Tuesday, October 13th: Grades 1 and 2 begin hybrid (Cohort B in-person; Cohort A remote)
Please Update Your Child's Information
We are asking every family to update their information in the Portal. It is important that the Killam main office has accurate demographic and contact information for every child. Please take a few minutes between Tuesday, September 29th and Friday, October 9th to verify or correct your child’s current demographic information by choosing one of the following methods:
Click here to login to your portal account. Once you are logged in, select Forms from the menu bar and complete the 2020-2021 Reading Public Schools Pupil Information form.
If you do not have access to technology, please contact the Main Office at Killam to request a paper copy which you can return to the school via U.S. mail or drop off at your earliest convenience.
Please take a minute to review the Student Handbook on our website as well as the Student Acceptable Use Policy. Thank you very much for helping us keep information about you and your child up-to-date.
JW Killam Book Bag Pick Up
An essential part of the reading development process is having enough “just right” books in kids’ hands. During this fully remote teaching/learning period, we will be using a combination of online reading resources and real books to support your child’s reading growth.
To this end, beginning on Wednesday 9/30, teachers will be sending home large Ziploc bags containing books and perhaps other materials for your child to use during remote learning. Please read about this routine carefully below and let us know if you have any questions.
WHEN and WHERE?
On Wednesday September 30, starting at 8:15, there will be a large bin for each classroom outside in front of the building. The bins will contain a book bag for each student. Please come to the school sometime that day to take your child’s bag from the classroom bin. The bins will be outside in front of the school until 3:00. There may be materials from specialists to be collected as well. As art and music teachers are seeing students for 1/2 the year twice weekly, not all classes will need the materials. Specialists' bins will be clearly marked indicating which classes should collect materials. You can continue to pick up book bags between 3-6 pm, but during those hours the remaining book bags will be in the front lobby of the school in grade level bins. If you choose this time option, please go to the lobby and find your child’s grade level bin and take the bag from there.
The large ziploc book bag will stay home with your child for 2 weeks. Your child’s teacher will give directions for how to use the books and other materials. If your child works with our reading specialist, Mrs. Matthews, she will be sending special books home for her lessons as well. Mrs. Matthews will label her book bags and tuck them inside your child’s larger book bag so you don’t have anything extra to pick up. Please help us remind your child to take good care of our school books while they are at your home, and pack them back up in the bag just as they were when you picked them up.
On Wednesday October 14, again starting at 8:15, there will be 2 large classroom bins outside in front of the school. One will be labeled RETURN HERE and the other will be labeled TAKE HERE. Please return the old book bag to the return bin and take the new book bag from the take bin. Again the bins will be outside in front of the school until 3:00. You can continue to pick up/drop off book bags between 3-6 pm, using the grade level bins in the front lobby of the school. If you choose this time option, please go to the lobby and find your child’s grade level bin and return/take bags there.
We will continue to follow this every-other week book bag exchange routine for the duration of the fully remote learning. Once grade levels are back in school within the hybrid model, we will no longer need to use this routine.
As always, please remember to sanitize, wear a mask when on school property and practice social distancing. Thank you for supporting us in this routine! We are excited to be able to get books into our students’ hands!
What Do the Remote Learning Weeks Look Like?
There will be whole class meetings and instruction as well as small groups and individual sessions. Of course students will have some built-in breaks for snack, lunch and play. They will also have a 40-minute specialist lesson each day (Monday - Thursday) and some of those lessons will be synchronous (live) while others are asynchronous (pre-recorded or independent). These are not "optional" lessons or activities and attendance will be taken a minimum of twice daily. Your child needs to participate all day. If your child is going to be out sick, either in person or remote, please call our absentee line.
As you can see, students will be busy, and we are ready to support them!
Message from our School Psychologist, Dr. Gomez-Salemi
Supporting our students and ourselves this year requires the development of new skills as well as greater creativity and fortitude! In order to stay connected and engaged with students and families, I will upload resources to your child’s google classroom weekly. Resources will be based on different social-emotional topics. Topics will include but are not limited to: calming strategies, growth mindset techniques, brain breaks, coping skills, mindfulness, yoga, and breathing activities. Resources will be earmarked as strategies to support student learning and resources for families. Virtual learning is a different experience for all of us. We want to make sure you feel safe and supported so please feel free to reach out anytime!
Providing Accommodations for Students on Religious Holidays
Over the next several days, there will be teachers, students, and their families who will be celebrating and observing two major religious Jewish holidays where they will be missing school. During this time, families will be attending temple services and gathering with families, either in person or remotely, during the evening hours. The full School Committee Policy, IMDA and the implementation regulations, IMDA-R are found here. For planning purposes, the following upcoming holidays are recognized by the Reading Public Schools as major religious holidays:
Rosh Hashanah: Begins at sundown on Friday, September 18th and ends at sundown on Sunday, September 20th.
Yom Kippur: Begins at sundown on Sunday, September 27th and ends at sundown on Monday, September 28th.
State and federal laws require schools to make reasonable accommodation to the religious needs of students in observance of holy days. With respect to students, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 151C, section 2B reads in relevant part as follows:
“Any student in an educational or vocational training institution...who is unable, because of his religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study or work requirement which he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day….No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of his availing himself of the provisions of this section.”
As a result, the following accommodations will be in place for ALL students on the following dates:
I. No assignments will be due for any student the day of or the day after the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays. Therefore, there will be no assignments due in any classroom in the Reading Public Schools on September 21st, 28th, and 29th.
II. No tests or quizzes will be scheduled on the days of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Therefore, there will be no tests or quizzes scheduled on September 28th.
III. No one-time events such as field trips, music performances, theatre plays and productions, auditions, and back to school functions will be scheduled on the days or eves of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Therefore, there will be no one-time events scheduled on September 19th (evening), September 20th, September 21st, September27th and September 28th.
Absences on Religious Holidays
Parents and students (if age appropriate) are encouraged to notify the school in advance when their child will be not be attending school because of religious or ethnic observance.
Discrimination against any student, because of such individual’s religious/ethnic belief or practice, or any absence based on said belief or practice is prohibited.
1. Any pupil absent from school because of a religious holiday may not be deprived of any award or eligibility or opportunity to compete for any award because of such absence;
2. Students whose conscientious observance of a religious or ethnic holiday conflicts with participating in a school-scheduled event such as tryouts, athletic contests, theatricals, or concerts, will not be required to participate nor penalized for their non-participation;
3. Any absence because of religious or ethnic holiday must be recorded as an excused absence for religious observance in the school register or in any group or class attendance record.
Parents should follow the normal procedures when their child is going to be absent to observe the religious holiday and call the parent verification system at the school on the day of the absence or notify the school in advance by email, written note, or phone. If a child is to receive an excused absence for religious observance, the parent must indicate that information in the correspondence with the school.
The PTO had a great first meeting through zoom this week! Thank you to everyone who attended. We will be posting the video of the meeting soon if you missed it.
An email went out this morning asking for volunteers for room parents. If you did not receive an email please make sure your information is on AtoZ and up to date! Room parents will be sending along important information about what is going on in the classroom and you will miss these updates if you are not on AtoZ!
We are also having a Day of Service for Killam on October 2nd from 1-3pm. Volunteers and donations are needed. Please see the signup genius for more details! https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0F49ACA72EA1FC1-killam1
Message from SEPAC
Dear SEPAC Community & Friends:
We have heard from SEPAC members frequently that opportunities for social connection and support among caregivers are a priority. In an effort to try and meet that need, SEPAC is hosting its first virtual social connection/support chats via Zoom next week, Tuesday, Sept. 29th at 10 AM and 8 PM. We are offering daytime and evening chats to meet the needs of more families. The one hour chat will be casual and friendly and loosely facilitated by two SEPAC board members with assistance from "Friends of SEPAC" volunteers. The purpose of the chat will be to offer a listening ear and positive support to your fellow caregivers. The plan is for the chats to start off with a discussion about the "Back to School" experience - whether it be in person or remote - including the joys, challenges, and strategies, and home routines to help foster a sense of normalcy during these challenging times. Please note that no SEPAC related business will be deliberated and the chat will not be recorded.
Another priority that was proposed as a SEPAC goal for the 2020-2021 school year was caregiver education on reading and literacy, particularly early signs of reading challenges. While the SEPAC, in collaboration with the District, works towards this goal, in the meantime, Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is offering a webinar on this specific topic on Oct. 15th. Details and link to register are below.
"Early Signs of Reading Challenges"
A webinar featuring NESCA Pediatric Neuropsychologist Alissa Talamo, Ph.D.
October 15 from 2:00-3:00 PM ET
Register in advance for this webinar:
Resources to Setup Your Child for Remote Learning
All information is listed under the Distance Learning Resources tab on the Killam Homepage.
-How to Sign-in to Google Classroom
-Google – Teach from Anywhere: Google has established a website to help families and teachers (individual links) use Google and troubleshoot common problems, but all provide helpful hints. This is something teachers may want to share with families at some point. Click HERE to check it out!
-How to Login to Zoom
Helping Your Child Prepare for School
- Continue to work with your child on face mask wearing and etiquette. We know that face coverings are essential to decrease the spread of COVID. All students in Grades K to 5 will be required to wear face masks, with scheduled breaks during the day.
- The JW Killam School has Poland Springs water dispensers in some locations, but they will not be in every classroom. Please send your child to school with a full water bottle every day that they can refill as needed.
- If you have a younger child please work with them on opening their own snack and lunch containers, tying shoes, blowing noses, and putting on outer wear. We will not be able to support children with these activities as we have in the past.
Message from the Student Services Office
In our new digital world, we have developed ways for families virtually to sign paperwork. This reduces the length of time it takes to get forms to you.
If Dr. Shana Goldwyn, our Team Chair, has paperwork for you to sign, she sends you an email letting you know that you will be getting an email from Frontline Education. When you get that email it will have a link to take you to the form. We are using this for all paper working, including meeting invitations, consents to evaluate, and IEPs.
Please check your junk, clutter or spam folder if you get an email from Dr. Goldwyn indicating that she has sent you a form through Frontline Education.
Office Hours with Special Education Administration
During the extended closure in the Spring of 2020 office hours were offered to families and we would like to continue to offer virtual office hours with Jennifer Stys, Director of Student Services and Allison Wright, Assistant Director of Student Services. Office hours is a time for individual families to discuss questions and concerns regarding the implementation of their student’s IEP, their progress or to share positive feedback. If you are interested in attending office hours, please sign up for a 15 minute block via the link below. The dates/times of office hours are as follows:
- Tuesday 9/29 2-3 pm
Special Education Support
If you have any questions about your student’s IEP or services please reach out to our building Team Chairperson, Shana Goldwyn at Shana.firstname.lastname@example.org
SEPAC and Parent Resources
The SEPAC will be offering a basic special education rights training on October 13 at 7:00. More information will be coming about this important event.
Message from the Reading Technology Department
The district IT department has loaned out 793 laptops to families. They have run out of devices that are set up and currently are setting up more for loan. If you have requested a laptop recently, you may not hear about its availability for a week.
If your technology needs have changed since you completed the family survey, please email Killam's Administrative Assitant at email@example.com and let her know the change. She will forward your request to the technology department.
There has been some concern about Chromebooks for use in online/distance learning. Any laptop (Chromebook, Mac, PC) that has a web browser will work for online/distance learning. Our platform is web based. Tablets (including Kindle Fires) and phones with internet browsers can be used, however, the interface is difficult on these devices. A laptop is recommended.