January 14, 2022
January 21, 2022
Dear Mohawk Trail & Hawlemont Families,
The past few weeks have been a challenge with battling frigid temperatures and navigating the nuances of educating and teaching during a pandemic. Our COVID-19 School Planning Task Force continues to monitor and discuss all these changes and their impacts to our district. I'm grateful to our staff, students, and families for your ability to pivot and adjust whenever needed. YOU make this district a truly great place to learn and grow. And for that -- I thank you!
Here's what's happening this week:
* NEW COVID-19 updates: At-home rapid antigen testing
* FY 2023 budget season
* Current & prospective MTRS caregivers: virtual event
* In the News
* School Spotlight
Important COVID-19 updates: At-home rapid antigen testing
This week Governor Charlie Baker and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) shared new COVID-19 guidance for schools, giving districts the option to eliminate "test and stay" protocols and move to weekly at-home rapid antigen testing. After discussion with the COVID-19 School Planning Task Force and at the recommendation by our COVID-19 Nurse Leader Donna Weber regarding the benefits this new program will provide, we have made the decision to participate in the new at-home testing program.
What does this mean? Districts that opt-in to this new program will be able to provide staff and students with two rapid antigen tests on a bi-weekly basis (one test for each week) to be conducted at home each Saturday. This allows staff and students to test at-home each Saturday to help identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. The program will begin on Jan. 29 for staff and Feb. 5 for students.
We will continue with contract tracing to inform families when their child/ren are deemed a close contact at school and to monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms.
In addition to the at-home program, we will continue with our pooled-testing program in the schools and symptomatic testing (for those who become symptomatic while in school). Together these mitigation strategies help us to better identify school community transmission and outbreaks--helping us to keep our schools healthier and safe by early detection.
To participate in the AT-HOME testing program, you will need to fill out THIS opt-in form. The link will also be posted on the district's COVID-19 information page for easy access.
If you have not yet signed your child/ren up for pooled testing, but would like to, CLICK HERE or visit our COVID-19 information page (www.mtrsd.org/covid-19-information) and scroll down to POOL TESTING PROGRAM (there's a blue button link to sign-up).
With our shift to at-home testing in conjunction with our pooled testing program, we will no longer participate in the "test and stay" program. What we've learned through our participation in test and stay is that it was not effectively identifying positive cases during the "test and stay" window. Nurse Weber noted that in many cases, individuals were not showing up as COVID-19 positive until after the five-day window (often showing between days six and nine). With the shift to at-home testing combined with the ability to continue pooled testing and contact tracing, we feel these initiatives combined with our mitigation strategies will continue to help us navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Please remember to practice ALL of our mitigation strategies in the FAB FIVE–get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster if you have not yet done so; wear your masks; practice physical distancing; wash your hands; and stay home when you are unwell. When we all do our part, we keep our schools healthy, safe, and open for learning. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nurse Weber (email@example.com).
SAVE THE DATE - Vaccine clinic returns to MTRS!
If you have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccine or booster or need your flu shot - MARK YOUR CALENDARS! The FRCOG mobile vaccine clinic will be at Mohawk Trail Regional School on Thursday, Feb. 3 from 1-6 p.m.
FY 2023 budget season
Over the past several months we have been working hard to plan for our district needs for fiscal year 2023 and building our draft budget. Together with our team from TMS, our business administrator, we have been meeting with the budget subcommittee to clean up our spreadsheets and the budget process to make our reporting much more accurate and efficient.
Last night we presented a preliminary draft budget to the school committee and budget subcommittee. The committee and meeting participants provided valuable feedback which we will continue to use in revising our draft budget before our public hearing on Feb. 9 and school committee vote on Feb. 16.
A breakdown of our timeline and budget materials can be found on our website, www.mtrsd.org/business-services. As we approach town meeting season, copies of our FY23 flyers will also be made available on the website.
You’re Invited! MTRS VIRTUAL EVENT: What is a Trailblazer?
Are you a current or prospective family interested in learning more about our Trailblazer work? Do you wonder, "What is the Trailblazer model?" and how does it prepare students for the future? Are you a caregiver to elementary-aged children who will attend MTRS in the future? If so - this virtual event is for YOU!
WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 15
6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Join us for this virtual event and hear directly from our current students who are blazing their trails at MTRS. We will provide you with an overview of our Trailblazer model and students will answer your questions–what does it mean to be a Trailblazer at MTRS? How are we preparing students for life post-high school? Hear from our students about our innovative, hands-on learning opportunities, internships, Capstone work, and more!
Space is limited! Please RSVP to MTRS Principal Chris Buckland by Friday, Feb. 11 to reserve your space and submit your questions in advance: firstname.lastname@example.org. Virtual meeting log-in information will be provided when you register.
MTRS students in action in the classroom . . .
MTRS Assistant Principal Diane Zamer shared a fun highlight this week from her adventures in visiting classrooms, watching our students blaze their trails and engaged in their learning.
"What a great week of teaching and learning at MTRS! One of my highlights this week was observing students in Mr. Drake’s English 10 class working hard on their final projects for the semester. Analyzing multiple readings from the semester, students explored the idea of the American Dream through essays, photo essays, music, and skits. I observed students filming an interview with "Kurt Vonnegut" to find out his idea of the American Dream. In the photo below MTRS students are rehearsing their interview -- Emily Sissum plays the part of Vonnegut; Eliandra Snape as the reporter; and Kaylin Sumner as director of photography. Keep it up, 10th graders! I can’t wait to see your projects."--AP Zamer
Colrain Central to host open house for Heath Families
Heath Families are invited for an OPEN HOUSE at Colrain Central School on Tuesday, Jan. 25 from 6-7 p.m. Principal Amy Looman and Superintendent Sheryl Stanton welcome families to tour the building, meet the principal, and ask questions. For those who are unable to attend the open house, families can contact Principal Looman at (413) 624-3451 or email@example.com to arrange for a private tour.
Winter Enrichment - MTRS Snow Club
The MTRS snow club has been enjoying time at Berkshire East. Students in grades 7-12 have the opportunity to hit the slopes each week to learn and/or improve on their skiing or snowboarding skills. This program is made possible through the MTRSD Community Engagement and Enrichment Programs (CEEP).
Did you know there are a VARIETY of program offerings for elementary and MTRS students hosted through the CEEP? To learn more, visit our website: https://www.mtrsd.org/ceep or contact Alia Woofenden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colrain Central School
Ever wonder how energy transfers in an energy plant? Check out these amazing Colrain Central students explaining the process!