As a Matter of Fact!

SOMSD Newsletter - August 21, 2020, Vol. 1- ISSUE 18

Superintendent's Corner

Hello SOMSD Family,

I hope that all is well. I imagine many families are in the process of deciding how to configure dynamics of work, your child's upcoming all-virtual learning environment, and the many other elements that must be considered as we move closer to school reopening on September 8.

As shared in our August 14 communication to families, our decision to shift to an all-virtual reopening model through the first marking period, was a difficult but necessary one. Below is the link to the "All-Virtual" Presentation shared on Monday, 8/17 during the Board of Education meeting. It outlines the key factors that led to our decision. We have partnered with the South Mountain YMCA and this collaboration will provide District families and employee's with the option of childcare support (if you have not yet filled out the Y's "Childcare Need Survey" the link is provided in the YMCA recap write-up below).

I am also sharing the SOMSD "Student Virtual Code of Conduct" which was included in our Restart and Recovery Reopening Plan. As we prepare to begin the 2020-2021 school year, the Virtual Code of Conduct is intended to give our students, families and staff members clear guidelines for what is expected of our students in a virtual setting. As we navigate our online learning environment, clarity of expectations will set us up for collective success. We encourage families and students alike to review the document (the link is provided below). We will be sharing grade-level schedules with families next week. Be well and safe.

Educationally yours,

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

2020 - 2021 SOMSD Student Virtual Code of Conduct

The SOMSD Virtual Code of Conduct is intended to give our students, families and staff members clear guidelines for what is expected of our students in a virtual setting. Families and students are encouraged to read this document.

South Mountain YMCA to Offer Childcare Support to District Families/Staff

Dear SOMSD Families/Staff:

As a reminder, with the District's shift to an all-virtual instruction model for the first marking period, we are collaborating with the South Mountain YMCA to make necessary accommodations to offer childcare support for working parents and staff in our District. In addition, we will be working to train the YMCA to train their staff in using Canvas.

Through collaboration between the South Orange & Maplewood School District and the South Mountain YMCA, we are pleased to announce scholarships and financial assistance for families in need. We are also working with the Y to plan for possible expansion of their capacity utilizing targeted space in our schools if necessary. It is our priority to ensure equitable access to programming and the Y for All Financial Assistance Program is available to ensure scholarships are available to families who need our programs the most. District families can email Karen Weiland at for support in accessing financial assistance. To reach the Y directly, please contact James Goodger at

Below are links to the YMCA’s child care needs survey for the fall. If you are a current YMCA member and have already completed a previously emailed School Age Child Care survey, there is no need to complete this one.

SOMSD Congratulates Board member Shannon Cuttle

Congratulations to Board member Shannon Cuttle for two major accomplishments/honors. On August 10, Board member Cuttle was elected by Board of Education members from districts across Essex County to serve as a delegate to the New Jersey School Board Association (NJSBA) Board of Directors representing Essex County. The NJSBA Board of Directors is composed of two representatives from each New Jersey county and this is the first time SOMSD has had representation on the NJSBA Board.

We also congratulate Boardmember Cuttle for making history as the first transgender elected official to be a delegate for the DNC Convention representing NJ District 12.

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What's Going On? District Updates

Events Around Town!

As we partner with our local community, we want to share events that are helpful to our SOMSD community at large. Please see the information below on upcoming events hosted by the Township of Maplewood, Maplewood Library, and SOMA Shares. When schools reopen virtually in September, we will share community events via our normal SOMSD community digital backpack on the District website.
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NJ Virtual Town Hall for Middle School & High School Students

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is calling all NJ middle and high school students! Join the Virtual Youth Town Hall on August 27, 2020, to discuss how you were impacted by COVID-19 this past spring and share your thoughts on moving forward! Register by TODAY August 21, 2020!! Follow the link provided here

SOMSD Families Can Access Digital E-Books & Audiobooks through the District's MackinVIA Membership

As a reminder, the South Orange & Maplewood School District is now a member of the Connected Library Consortium. This membership allows us access to a collection of e-books and audiobooks for K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 that is housed in MackinVIA. We joined the CLC through a collaborative effort between the SOMSD school libraries and the District.

Parents/Guardians feel free to use this resource to support the District's summer reading lists ( For more information on how to access this digital resource visit:

Additional Information & Resources for the Community

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