As a Matter of Fact!

SOMSD Newsletter - June 12, 2020 VOL. 1, ISSUE 14

Superintendent's Corner

2020 - 2021 Distance Learning Update

Hello SOMSD Community,

As we detailed in our May 22nd weekly newsletter, please know that the community’s concerns have been heard. Our District's School Leadership Team is working tirelessly to prepare for the uncertainty of the fall. We will be offering more details in the coming weeks but I want to clarify, with respect to the subject of the District’s plans for distance learning in the 2020-2021 school year.

If a distance methodology or hybrid is warranted, all students will be provided with meaningful age-appropriate live instruction through a much-improved platform. This includes the Special Services improvements below that were realized in the last few weeks-

  • Related Services - additional therapists have been added to current staffing to expand on services offered for speech, PT, and OT. Contracted therapists (who already have working relationships with the district) have been contracted to begin providing additional services to families. The contracted therapists will provide an extension of services already being provided. These therapists will be working directly from students' IEPs, in order to assist with meeting IEP goals. These additional certified therapists will allow for hours to be extended when therapy can occur, while also providing consistency in service delivery. Each therapist has received an introduction by our lead speech therapist and has reviewed the IEP for each student they will be supporting.

  • Paraprofessionals - 1:1 and shared aides have received extensive training, and now will be deployed to provide check-in supports for students they support. The special education supervisors have worked to develop sample tasks that paraprofessionals will implement in working with students. Paraprofessionals (1:1 aides and shared aides) will begin working to assist students who they supported prior to the closure. Paraprofessionals will engage in a variety of tasks, including but not limited to: daily check-ins with students, oral reading tasks, assisting students with executive functioning tasks, and other specialized tasks as needed.

  • Video Conferencing - Weekly live-interactions have been added to support students with IEPs. While various platforms are being utilized across the district, and there is a focus on pre-recorded lessons, special education teachers specifically, will use Google Meet/Hangout to assist their students by using video or audio means to support the accommodations and modifications as set forth in IEPs. Students in grades Pk-8 with an IEP will be contacted at least once a week for personalized virtual interaction with their special education teacher. The weekly live-interaction will be an opportunity with the teacher to follow-up on a pre-recorded lesson or activity directly with the student/family. This consistent communication will allow the teachers to review with students any challenges that they may be having with a particular lesson or activity.

Thank you, wishing you and your families well.

Educationally yours,

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, Superintendent of Schools

2020 Graduation & Moving Up Ceremony Dates by School

Please see below for Moving Up and Graduation Ceremony dates by schools. Dates can also be viewed on the District website.

All virtual ceremonies will be posted to the South Orange & Maplewood School District YouTube Channel:

Class of 2020: CHS Virtual National Decision Day

CHS Class of 2020 National Decision Day

Virtual Graduation Update: CHS

Hello SOMSD Family,

I hope this correspondence finds you and your family well. As we approach the end of the school year, and in light of the Governor’s updates over the past couple of weeks, we want to clarify our current position and provide some rationale regarding the graduation process and plans for our District.

We are specifically focusing on Columbia High School, and will address other students in our district who are being promoted from a ‘milestone grade.’ I understand that we all yearn for a return to what we view as normalcy, including our much-anticipated rites of passage and culminating activities. However, I am confirming in this communication the following: Our virtual graduation and promotional activities will be moving forward as our official ceremonies for the 2019-2020 school year. The health and safety of our students and staff continue to remain our highest priority. It is a sobering fact that as of last Thursday, 6/4, 12 positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed at the countywide testing site in Maplewood.

With that being said, our Maplewood Health Officer, CHS Leadership Team and I will be having discussions with the CHS Class of 2020 student representatives and the CHS Home School Association (HSA) to talk about what is creatively possible in terms of celebrating this very deserving group...


End of the School Year: Retrieval of Student Belongings for Elementary Schools

Dear SOMSD Families,

As we prepare for the end of the school year, District schools are coordinating efforts to retrieve and secure belongings that students may have left behind in their classrooms.

Although some families have already shared that they have nothing of value to pick-up, we want to provide an opportunity for parents/guardians whose child (ren) may have left behind meaningful or irreplaceable personal belongings in their classroom prior to our COVID closure.

If you are the latter parent and wish to have a personal item returned, immediately email your child’s classroom teacher. In addition, please copy your building principal on the email and provide a detailed description of the items you are requesting. This email must be received by the end of business on Monday, June 15th. If you do not have email access, please call your school’s front office and leave a message.

Arrangements will be made by individual schools for pick-up of your child’s property; any unclaimed items will be discarded. Student’s clothing (unless parent/guardian shares otherwise) will be placed in each school’s Lost and Found and will be available when we are physically back in the building.

Thank you for all that you continue to do in support of teaching and learning!


South Orange & Maplewood School District

Hard Conversations in Difficult Times: Talking to Our Kids about Current Events, Racial Injustice & Equity

Tuesday, June 16th, 7:30pm

This is an online event.

Save the Date!

Join the Parenting Center for a WebEx with Dr. Eddie Fergus, Professor, Author, and Educational Policy Expert and Dr. Adam Price, Child & Adolescent Psychologist, Author and Lecturer on Child Development and Parenting. Should we tell the kids? How? Those are among the many questions parents are asking after the death of George Floyd, which has sparked nationwide protests and outrage. Experts in child psychology and race-based stress say these conversations are essential for all parents to have. Join us for an evening of discussion, as guest experts provide advice and appropriate ways to speak to your kid(s).

For more information:

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SOMSD Announces Summer Food Support Programs & Information

Summer Food Support Programs & Information

Programa e Información de Apoyo Alimenticio de Verano

Pwogram Sipò ak Enfòmasyon Pou Manje Pandan Ete

South Orange & Maplewood School District in partnership with the Township of Maplewood, South Orange Village, the Parenting Center and its partners are providing various options for food support over the summer months. See the information below or visit the District website at:

Class of 2020 & 2021 Register to Vote: Message from CHS Student Council’s Voter Registration Committee

Hey, Class of 2020 and Class of 2021!

Are you 17 or older? You can register to vote! There is power seen in the streets of MAPSO, and you have the opportunity to bring that power to the polls when you turn 18.

Remember that primaries are super important for local and state elections, so even if the presidential nominees are already decided, you should still vote in the primary. New Jersey holds a closed primary, so you must register by June 16th with a party affiliation (or as an Independent) in order to vote in either the Democratic or Republican Primary.

Young people are historically those who vote the least, but we have the opportunity to change that. As a community, we are active in so many causes, so let’s make sure we’re heard!

Want to educate yourself on the candidates before you vote? Attached below are the websites for candidates for contested nominations in our area, listed alphabetically.

For House of Representatives:
Donald Payne Jr. (D); Gene Mazo (D); John Flora (D)

For Senate:
Cory Booker (D); Eugene Anagnos (R); Hirsh Singh (R); Lawrence Hamm (D); Natalie Rivera (R); Rik Mehta (R); Tricia Flanagan (R)

Candidates for Board of Freeholders

Now that you have the info, print your registration form so you can vote! If you do not have access to a printer or ink, but would like a form to be delivered contact-free, please send an email to

See you at the polls,

Student Council’s Voter Registration Committee and Students For Justice

Long-Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) Update

The District’s Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) received preliminary approval from the Board of Education on November 19, 2018. The repairs, renovation, and new construction work of the Long Range Facilities Plan will address the health and safety issues in our facilities and expand our capacity to meet growing enrollment. The first bond sale closed during the summer of 2019; since this time, architects have been working on architectural designs for District facilities. During this time, numerous meetings were held during the school year to finalize designs.

On June 22, 2020, the Board of Education will be asked to authorize the administration to send the elementary school designs for code review. Code review is a process where building code officials examine the designs to ensure they follow all building codes. Once code review is completed the projects will be advertised for bid and contracts awarded. A video for each elementary school is posted on the district's YouTube channel summarizing each building project. The videos provide a brief overview to help inform the SOMSD community about each school project.

View LRFP Elementary School Videos:

Shout Out Corner: SOMSD Jefferson Elementary Teachers Going Over & Beyond for their Students

Additional Information & Resources for the Community