The Coolidge Family Newsletter

Back to School Update: September 6, 2021

Brought to you by Sarah Marchant, Principal

@coolidgemiddle (Twitter)

A Message from Principal Marchant

Well, Coolidge families, that was a fantastic start to the school year! It was so nice to have two days to ease in, although the energy was not one of "easing", rather, the building was filled with energy, enthusiasm, collaboration, and fun! And now we have a few days to catch up and get ready for the new routine of school to truly become established.

There was much to be learned in two days. For our 6th and 7th graders, there were rooms to find, schedules to learn to follow (made more complicated in that we changed the schedules for the first two days), lunch procedures to figure out, locker routines to determine, and so many new people to start to get to know. For our 8th graders, they had to reacclimate to the schedule and routines of two years ago vs. those of last year and also have new people to know after being with the same group for the entire year last year. They get to figure out what "Electives" are and where they are located. And they now have to figure out what it means to be leaders in the school!

Students were great about asking questions, asking for help finding locations, and having patience when we worked out some kinks. We always welcome questions, and expect it will take time to truly become familiar with everything!

I'd like to give a public shout-out to our Coolidge staff for their thoughtful preparation for these first two days, and for creating the environment in the school and in the classrooms in which students were able to feel safe and engage with others, and whose love for middle school education and students was felt throughout the building. Everyone was so excited to be able to create more "normal" classroom environments!

Please see below for some important caregiver "To-Do's"! Thank you!

Photos from the Week

Upcoming Dates of Note

September 6: No School (Labor Day weekend)

September 6 (sundown) - September 8: Rosh Hashanah (School Committee policy for Religious Observance in effect)

September 7: After school library begins! (2:35 - 3:15)

September 9 from 2:00 - 4:00: Covid vaccine clinic at Coolidge. See detailed information below.

September 13: HCT Begins for 7th & 8th graders.

September 15 (sundown) - 16: Yom Kippur (SC policy for Religious Observance in effect)

September 20: Picture Day!

September 23: Early Release (12:30); Middle Level Evening Open House (parents/ caregivers): 6:00 - 8:00 PM.

  • Recorded presentations will be available for those who cannot make it in person or who prefer not to come into the building.
  • 6:00 - 6:30: Administrative welcome/ overview (Cafeteria).
  • 6:30 - 6:55: Team Discovery overview (cafeteria)
  • 7:00 - 7:45: 6th grade team overviews
  • 7:00 - 8:00: 7th and 8th grade team overviews (Polaris, Pegasus, Gemini, Infinity/math)
  • From 6:30 - 8:00, when teams aren't presenting, the teachers are in or near their classrooms to say hello.
  • The purpose of this evening is to get an overview of the year ahead and to put names to faces. It is not to have personal meetings with teachers/ staff about your child or to ask student-specific questions. We welcome more student-specific conversations at scheduled meetings, in email, or by phone! Thank you!

September 30 from 2:00 - 4:00: Vaccine Clinic #2 @ Coolidge.

October 11: No School (Columbus Day)

October 22: Early Release (12:30)

November 4: Picture Make-Up Day

To access the District Calendar, click here. Please make note of the middle level early release dates, which are marked in blue.

For a full list of ALL important Coolidge dates at Coolidge (printable for your fridge), click here.

Yearly Caregiver Forms Due on Plus Portals

There are two forms that caregivers will now find on Plus Portals; both need caregiver attention so that our records are accurate and so that students may have access to technology and to nurse preferences/ services.

Primary contacts will receive the "2021-2022 Pupil Information Form". This form includes the Acceptable Use Policy, nurse preferences, etc. All students need their caregivers to fill out this form!

All contacts will be able to fill out the "Contacts Info Update Form". This is where all caregivers can verify that their contact information is correct.

To receive guidance on how to access these forms, click here.

Vaccine Clinic @ Coolidge: September 9

The Reading Public Schools is working with VaxinateRx and Healthcare Family Pharmacy to host a COVID vaccine clinic on Thursday September 9th from 2pm-4pm at the Coolidge Middle School. All Reading Public Schools eligible students and staff are welcome, but time slots from 2-2:40 will be reserved for Coolidge students and staff.

Please register for yourself or your child to receive the vaccine at:

  • After registering you will receive an email with a link to the consent form for vaccination.
  • Please fill out and print the consent form to bring to the appointment
  • For anyone under the age of 18, a consent form signed by a parent/guardian must be presented in order to receive a vaccine (Parent/guardian does not need to be present as long as the child has a signed consent form).
    • Please plan on staying for 15 minutes after being vaccinated (30 minutes for anyone who has had a prior anaphylactic reaction to any medication)
    • Vaccination is free for everyone regardless of insurance coverage
    • We will be administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine which is currently approved for ages 12 and up.
    • We will return in 3 weeks to administer the second dose on Thursday 9/30 from 2pm to 4pm
      • A link will be sent to register for this clinic after the first dose clinic has been completed

    Consent for Covid Testing @ School

    As was referenced in the RPS message, the district now has three types of Covid tests available for use in different circumstances: Pooled Testing; Test and Stay; and Symptomatic Testing.

    The district is asking that all caregivers fill out the form linked here to either give consent or to decline. Thank you!

    We have had some questions regarding what to do in various situations related to Covid. Our head, nurse, Mary Giuliana, shared with me this AMAZING flow chart that helps to explain how various forms of testing will be used, as well as what people should do if considered to be close contacts (or have Covid). The flow chart can be found here, or click on the link below!

    The only thing I would like to add clarification to is that those who can participate in "test and stay" must A) have signed up for all testing, and B) been a close contact due to a school-based exposure. Outside exposures, such as family or non-school extracurriculars do not count.

    Devices at Home: Hopes/ Expectations/ Needs

    In the year ahead, Coolidge and Parker Middle School teachers will be using Google Classroom as the platform for most assignments. This is also where nightly homework will be posted.

    Unlike last year, the district is not providing loaner devices for 2021-2022. Students WILL have access to devices on a 1:1 basis during the school day. It is the expectation that families will have technology available for their middle school student to use at home. These may include: writing assignments, online math or science assignments, projects, etc.

    For those families who are financially unable to obtain a device for student use, we offer the following:

    • We will work with families who qualify for free/ reduced lunch on providing a device to take home on days when a device is needed (devices that stay at home are not currently available). Please also complete the “Share” form so that the information is shared beyond the lunch program. Loaner devices are not yet available, but it will help to know what our needs are when they do become available so as to get them out to families.

    • For those who do not qualify for free/ reduced lunch and/or if devices remain unavailable:

      • We will print assignments, as appropriate,

      • We will allow for hand written responses to writing assignments,

      • We invite students to use the computers available in the library during after school library hours.

      • We encourage students to use their local library to use computers.

      • We want open communication between the student, family, and teachers if there were any issues and to reduce anxiety!

    If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the building principal (Ms. Shankland or Ms. Marchant).

    Reminders: Overall Routines & Logistics

    Doors: All students will use the front doors only for arrival and dismissal.

    Arrival time: All students are welcome to arrive anytime between 7:40 - 7:50. As Advisory starts AT 7:50, students should allow for enough time to get to their lockers and get settled, so we recommend arriving at 7:40 or close to then!

    Before 7:40 arrivals: The only students who will be allowed in the building prior to 7:40 will be:

    • those who have been transported by bus
    • those who are purchasing breakfast
    • those who are going to see a teacher, with teacher permission.
    All others will wait in the front of the school until 7:40. While we normally would welcome all students into the cafeteria prior to 7:40, it is crowded beyond our comfort given the Covid circumstances at this time. This may change as the year progresses.

    Dismissal: All students will be dismissed at 2:30 from the front doors.

    Lunch: Student lunches are as follows:

    • 6th grade: 10:40 - 11:10
    • 7th grade: 11:30 - 12:00
    • 8th grade: 12:20 - 12:50

    The daily hot lunch is FREE this year to all students! This does not include snacks or ice cream. It's definitely something to take advantage of for all students! Whether or not snacks are allowed will be up to specific teams of teachers, and will follow proper distancing and allergy guidelines. Parents will be notified by teams if snacks are allowed, and proper protocols.

    Lockers: All students have been assigned a locker that is close to their core content classes. Backpacks, jackets, and cell phones should be left in the lockers during the day. The locker dimensions are: 12" wide, 11" deep, 64" high (with 1-2 shelves). While most students choose not to use a lock, locks are available in the main office. 6th graders will be introduced to the possibility of a lock within the first days, so we will not distribute to 6th graders until they have had a "lock lesson". Personal locks may not be used.

    Wellness (PE): Students will all be assigned a locker for Wellness. There is no need to bring any items for the locker during the first days; guidance for locker use will be given by the Wellness staff. We will not have students change clothes for Wellness class, yet they will have an option to change shoes. All students must dress properly for Wellness class on the days they have Wellness (sneakers, comfortable clothing). While changing is not part of Wellness this year, students will still be given a locker room locker within which they can put deodorant, sneakers, and a change of shirt (in the event they get so hot they they need a change).

    Masks: As is the state and local mandate, masks must be (properly) worn by students and staff during school, with the exception of outdoor mask breaks, outdoor classes, and at lunch. Proper mask use means a mask that covers the math and nose at all times. It is recommended that students have an extra mask(s) available in their locker, but if one is needed during the day, the office and school nurse have masks available.


    • Cell Phones: Students will cell phones are to have them turned off and stored in their lockers during the school day.
    • Laptops at school: The school will assign each student a laptop for use during the school day. Students are expected to keep good care of these, including plugging them in at the end of each day and following the Acceptable Use Guidelines.
    • Laptops at home: Unlike last year, the district does not have the resources to have a laptop loaner program at the elementary and middle schools. It is the expectation that families provide their student with a device at home in order for students to complete written or online assignments at home. That being said, if there is a family who qualifies for free/reduced lunch and who does not have a device for your child to use, please contact Sarah Marchant so we can talk about the options for your child. It is imperative, that in order to help families beyond the lunch program that the "free/ reduced" form is filled out along with the "Share" form. Please see below for those forms!

    Safety Procedures: Drop Off & Pick Up

    We are grateful that Coolidge is along a main road that is easy to pass through, and students can be dropped off from cars going in either direction along the road. It is imperative that students who are crossing Birch Meadow Drive to Coolidge do so in the crosswalk.

    Cars are NOT allowed in the driveway or in either parking lot for drop off or pick up. Do not enter either parking lot or the driveway unless you have permission (such as a student with mobility needs). Please also do NOT pull in at the end of either parking lot/ driveway as a drop-off location as this both blocks the staff from arriving/ departing as well as interferes with students who are attempting to cross those spaces safely. Please also do not take any U-turns in front of Coolidge.

    The parking lot across the street from Coolidge is an additional great place to drop off/ pick up/ turn around if need be!

    Please be patient with the crossing guard, whose priority is to cross students safely.

    Please note, the ramp by our flag is part of our crosswalk. It is NOT a place to enter or exit our driveway.

    If you are visiting Coolidge during the school day, you may absolutely drive into the driveway and park in one of the spots in front of the school. Please always be mindful of students who are outdoors or who are utilizing the crosswalk.

    Office Procedures for Students: Absent, Tardy, Early Dismissal, etc.

    Absence/Tardy- If a student is absent or tardy, please call the absentee/tardy line before 8:00 a.m. at 781-942-9158, press 1, and follow the prompts.

    Dismissal- If a student is to be dismissed early, please send your child along with a dismissal note to the Main Office upon arrival to school. If you need to unexpectedly dismiss your child, please call the Main Office at 781-942-9158.

    Note Writing Tips- Please include your child’s first and last name, grade and reason for absence, late arrival, or dismissal.

    Cell Phones- Students who have a cell phone may bring them to school. However, they must be turned off during the school day. If a student needs to call home, there is a phone in the main office for student use.

    Nurse- Students who are not feeling well should tell their teacher and proceed to the nurse’s office. Our school nurse will assess the student and call home if necessary. Students should not be calling or texting their parents/guardian.

    Meals are Free This Year!

    The standard hot lunch, as well as breakfast options, are free for all students for the entire year ahead. We encourage all families to take advantage of this opportunity! Free meals does not include water bottles or snacks. For more information, click here.

    Free & Reduced Lunch Application & *SHARE FORM

    In a typical year, the cost of meals are free or reduced for those who qualify using the "Free & Reduced Lunch" application. The application actually has more benefits than just breakfast/ lunch. If families fill out the form (p. 11), as well as the "Share" form on page 10, then those who qualify can also qualify for assistance for things like after school activities and field trips.

    If you are someone who thinks you may qualify, please consider filling it out so that we can help you in various areas over the course of the year! We can't actually help without this form! Click here to access the form.

    Summer Advisory Work: The Resulting Plan!

    During the second week of August, seven Coolidge teachers joined together to plan for our Advisory time for the fall. We have always believed in the importance of social-emotional well being for students (and staff, of course!) as students who feel safe are best able to learn. Our Advisory space is an important part of our SEL structure at Coolidge (but of course we do not limit social-emotional well being to this space alone). While it is an ongoing priority, we also know that students have been through a very unique, challenging time. And so we felt it prudent to take a look at our Advisory plan.

    It was decided that the first month of Advisory (September) will be dedicated to making connections, getting to know each other, and creating norms to create safe spaces within each Advisory group.

    October will be dedicated to the question: Who am I? Students will participate in activities about identity. All will produce some sort of "Identity Map", a visual of their own creation that expresses who they see themselves to be. The main resource for this will be activities from Facing History and Ourselves and the book "Being the Change" (Ahmed).

    November and December (and perhaps even beyond), we will utilize the book "The Power Book: What is It? Who has it and Why?" (Jewell) as a jumping off point for open-ended conversations about student identity, equity, and inclusion. The goal of these discussions will be to build understanding about power dynamics caused over history and through the experiences of each other, and to empower students to build empathy through the gained understanding. Examples of subtopics: adult power; gender power; power in the playground; leader power; and much more!

    • Questions (and often scenarios as well) will be posed each week, which will also be shared with our extended family community (along with any resources that we are utilizing in our Advisory spaces), so that families are aware of the topics of discussion week to week and so that families can participate if they so choose!

    The Advisory planning group look forward to receiving feedback from teachers, students, and families about how this plan goes, and will include this feedback when planning for the remainder of the year.

    After School Activities

    We are happy to be able to offer in-person after school activities again this year! After school programming is a fun part of the Coolidge culture, one we hope students enjoy and take advantage of! Every year, there are specific activities in place. They include: Science Team (we are looking for a head coach!), Acapella, Chime Choir, UED Club (Unity, Equity, and Diversity), Yearbook, GSA, Jazz Band (tryouts needed) a late fall/early winter theater production, and maybe a Student Council. The PTO supports many other after school activities based on student interest. We look to students to guide us with the creation of these. Examples of those run in recent history: Minecraft Club, Dodge Ball, Street Hockey, Knitting, Rubix Cube Club... you get the idea! With enough students and a staff member willing to supervise, the sky is the limit!

    A future newsletter will include more information about signing up for these clubs, and there will be morning announcements that the students will hear.

    SEPAC Updates

    Please join the SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council) at our next business meeting on Tuesday, September 14th at 7:00 PM in the RMHS Library & Media Center. The meeting will include a presentation and discussion on the results of the spring survey about future SEPAC presentation topics, discussion whether the SEPAC literacy/reading subcommittee should continue or disband; appointment of an election coordinator volunteer, nominations of candidates for the 2021/2022 SEPAC board, and if time permits, parent discussion about 2021 summer camp/activity experiences. All are welcome and ENCOURAGED to attend!

    Future meeting: Our annual Basic Rights Workshop. Please see this Flyer for more information on the Basic Rights Workshop: Understanding the IEP. This workshop will take place via Zoom on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at 7:00 PM. Participants must register for this event via the link on the flyer.

    Connect with SEPAC by clicking these links:

    The mission of the Reading Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) is to work for the understanding of, respect for, and support of, all children with special needs in the community.

    SEPAC webpage

    Join SEPAC's mailing list

    Follow SEPAC on Facebook

    Family/ Caregiver Resources

    Help Wanted!

    The following positions are open in the district; we welcome applicants!

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    Contact Us

    Sarah Marchant, Principal (x12301)

    Brienne Karow, Assistant Principal (x12302)

    Marianna Zanni, Administrative Assistant (x12303)

    Karen Mungenast, School Secretary (x12304)

    Cindy Ventura, School Nurse (x12305)

    Matthew Darling, Technology Integration Specialist (