WMS Community Bulletin 3-19-20

EXCELLENCE*EQUITY*COMMUNITY

Watertown Middle School 2019-2020

Hello Watertown Middle School Community,


I hope you are all healthy and well and adjusting to our new normal. It is very hard to believe it is the first day of Spring! For me, some routines are easy to adjust to, i.e. not getting as dressed up, and some are more difficult, i.e. video meetings as opposed to face to face conversations. Today I had a faculty meeting online! It was wonderful to see all the teachers', IAs', coordinators', and admin. assistants' faces, but hard not to have personal conversations. But safety first for sure!


Last night you should have received an email from Superintendent Galdston about what student learning will look like during our school closure. I pasted it below in the newsletter. Our WPS Leadership Team has been working together diligently (and virtually!) to compile relevant and engaging resources for your students. You can view these resources on our Extended Learning Opportunities website. As Dr. Galdston stated in her communication, “Please note that these activities are not intended to replace or substitute classroom instruction, but instead to keep our students engaged and thinking as much as possible while school is not in session. You may want to bookmark this site as we will be utilizing it and updating it throughout the period of closure.” The most important thing in the next weeks is for your family to remain connected to your students’ teachers and to the learning opportunities that will enrich and reinforce their learning.


Learning from Home


You can expect:


  • Your student’s homeroom teacher to be in touch with your child via email or Google Classroom by the end of this Friday, and then regularly moving forward
  • Your student's other teachers will also be in touch. All teachers will also be in touch with parents/guardians. We are working out an efficient system to gather parent emails for teachers to be able to send out batch emails.
  • That teachers will share learning activities for each week, which may also be updated on the Extended Learning Opportunities website. The learning activities will be standards-based, grade-level content activities that may review material already learned and deepen understanding. They will not be collected or graded, or be used as assessment toward term grades. They are strongly suggested, but not mandatory.
  • Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, and the School Psychologist to be available to connect families with community resources and offer social-emotional support. They are also a resource for questions about connecting with teachers or accessing additional support services. Contact information for these professionals is in the process of being posted on the Extended Learning Opportunities website.
  • Special Education liaisons to be in touch weekly to ensure that students on their caseload have access to enrichment activities and to support students' social-emotional needs through virtual connections.
  • Mr. Del Porto and I will be available to respond to parent inquiries. The best way to reach us is via email, which we will be checking daily. I also now have a work cell number, which is 617-631-6807. You may call me or text me between the hours of 8:00 am - 4:00 pm Monday-Friday. If you text, please identify yourself as I do not have everyone's numbers in the cell.
  • That all WMS faculty will be checking emails daily, and you can expect a response from them within 24-48 hours.
  • Regular updates and communication from me; it is my goal that we all stay as connected as possible. We are all learning in this new situation, and we will take it day by day together. :)


Other Information

  • WPS schools are closed through April 6th at this time. Our number one priority is keeping your students and your families safe. Certainly, any large group event that was scheduled to take place prior to April 7 is canceled/postponed at this time. Some events, such as the DC trip and Watertown Week events that were planned for June will not take place at this time. As this situation evolves, there may be additional changes to previously scheduled events. We will endeavor to keep you informed about changes as those decisions are made. Feel free to email me with any specific questions.
  • We have not received official word about grades 6-8 MCAS yet. As soon as I know, I will let you know.


Social Distancing


We need to continue to practice social distancing. It is crucial in helping to "flatten the curve" and slow the spread of the virus. I am sure it is challenging to keep your teens from gathering in face-to-face groups of friends, but it is critical that we do so. Routines will help you to achieve this more easily, and you can see sample ways to do that on the same Extended Learning Opportunities website. I know some teachers will be suggesting routines to your students as well.


We will get through this together as a Watertown Middle School Community who is part of the amazing Watertown Community as a whole. Please do not hesitate to reach out - we are here to help. And stay tuned for my fun WMS Cookbook update and challenges tomorrow! :)


Take good care of each other,

All my best,


Donna

Big picture

Chromebook Distribution

Many students picked up Chromebooks earlier this week, which was terrific!


Now that we have been home for a few days and additional online learning and enrichment is being provided, there may be some students who realize they actually could use their Chromebook at home. If this is the case, please email Mr. Del Porto or me and we will work out a time for either you to pick it up or for it to be delivered.


Internet Access: If you are having any concerns with your Internet Access, we know of low or no-cost options for you. Please send me an email, and we will work to troubleshoot those issues with you.

Many of you have asked how to help...

One important way to help is by donating to the WATERTOWN FOOD PANTRY.


The Watertown Council on Aging administers the Watertown Food Pantry, which provides food assistance to any Watertown resident in need.


LOCATION: The Food Pantry is located at the rear of the Belmont-Watertown United Methodist Church at 80 Mt. Auburn Street. The entrance to the Food Pantry is around the left corner of the church (formerly St. John's) from the parking lot at the side of the building, basement level. Look for the Watertown Food Pantry signs.


DAYS and HOURS: Tuesdays, 10:00 am - 11:30 am and Thursdays, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm.

Watertown residents need to bring identification including proof of address (driver's license, rent, or utility receipt). A five-day supply of food is available each month, as well as information about other food pantries in the area. Out of town residents can be served once per year. Home Deliveries on Tuesdays are available for homebound elders by request.


CONTACT: Call the Council on Aging/Senior Center at 617-972-6490 for more information, to volunteer, and to donate.

Big picture

Dr. Galdston's Update 3-18-20

Here is the information that Dr. Galdston sent out last night:


Good Evening, WPS Families, and Staff:

Tomorrow as we welcome our incredible staff to join together in virtual spaces and begin to transition to providing continuous learning opportunities for students and families, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the entire community for understanding that shifting from face-to-face live instruction to this new virtual learning paradigm is challenging. The next few weeks will be a time that we all learn and grow together. Our teachers and staff are learning how best to keep continuity in learning for our students, and our families are learning how best to guide and support their children at home.


Keeping Learning Moving

The Office of Teaching, Learning, & Assessment is continuing to develop excellent resources to support our families while schools are closed. On our new Extended Learning Opportunities webpage, we have posted educational resources for students from early childhood through grade 12. We hope you will find these resources to be helpful to stay engaged and provide opportunities for learning during the school closure. Please note that these activities are not intended to replace or substitute classroom instruction, but instead to keep our students engaged and thinking as much as possible while school is not in session. You may want to bookmark this site as we will be utilizing it and updating it throughout the period of closure. As our teachers are preparing for course and/or grade level specific learning opportunities, please refer to this website as it provides deeply engaging resources for you to use with your children.

Tomorrow, our educators will gather for a virtual staff meeting with their principal to reconnect with one another and to share information about our new virtual work. On Friday, teachers will reach out to parents at the K-5 level via email and directly to students and parents via email or Google Classroom in grades 6-12. They will share plans and resources for the coming week for continued learning. Please note that at this time we are not holding virtual classes at a scheduled time, but rather are providing resources and learning materials one week at a time that should be utilized using the sample schedules that are being offered. As the weeks progress and we all learn more about our new context for teaching and learning, I am confident that we will fall into routines and schedules that keep learning moving. Please be patient with our teaching staff, as they also are learning about how to best support their students while at home.


Technology Access

Moving to distance learning will involve a variety of activities, many of which are online and require internet connectivity. If you are unable to connect to the internet via an internet provider, a personal hotspot, or other means to access online content, please send an email to your children’s principal or call the WPS Central Office at 617-926-7708 between the hours of 8-12. There are several options for low- or no-cost internet currently being offered, and more information can be found on our digital learning website. If your child needs a device to access the online resources, we have Chromebooks available for loan. Please contact your principal via email for assistance.


Monitoring Your Child’s Online Use

As we move to more online resources for our students, please be vigilant in monitoring their online activities. We are working to provide you with resources that have been vetted. As you begin to seek out activities to supplement learning, we suggest that you check the app or website privacy statements to ensure that you are aware of how data may or may not be shared. We will provide families with more guidance about how best to do this in the coming days, and for now, you can refer to our Empowered Digital Use Policy.

Additionally, please review your children’s social media activity and talk to them about their online use. Our children crave social interactions, which is a natural part of being a child (or human), and as such, we imagine that they will be turning to social media, especially at the middle school and high school level. We strongly suggest setting limits for using social media, especially as the news right now is dominated by the coronavirus pandemic.


Contact Information

We sincerely appreciate your support of our larger state-wide effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. If you have any questions, whether about the above information or the closure in general, please do not hesitate to contact me, your principal, or another administrator. All administrators will be working remotely during the closure and will be available to respond to your inquiries.

Dr. Dede Galdston, Superintendent, deanne.galdston@watertown.k12.ma.us

Dr. Theresa McGuinness, Assistant Superintendent,theresa.mcguinness@watertown.k12.ma.us

Heidi Perkins, Director of Finance and Operations, heidi.perkins@watertown.k12.ma.us

Kathleen Desmarais, Director of Student Services, kathleen.desmarais@watertown.k12.ma.us

Ken Storlazzi, Director of Human Resources, kenneth.storlazzi@watertown.k12.ma.us

George Skuse, Director of Digital Learning and Libraries, george.skuse@watertown.k12.ma.us

Lori Kabel, Director of Public Buildings, lori.kabel@watertown.k12.ma.us

Shirley Lundberg, WHS Principal, shirley.lundberg@watertown.k12.ma.us

Donna Martin, WMS Principal, donna.martin@watertown.k12.ma.us

Mena Ciarlone - Cunniff Principal, mena.ciarlone@watertown.k12.ma.us

Erin Moulton, Hosmer Principal, erin.moulton@watertown.k12.ma.us

Stacy Phelan, Lowell Principal, stacy.phelan@watertown.k12.ma.us

Karen Feeney, Early Childhood, karen.feeney@watertown.k12.ma.us

Kate Phillipson, ESL Coordinator, kathryn.phillipson@watertown.k12.ma.us


If you need assistance via phone, you can call (617) 926-7708 between the hours of 8 am-12 pm.


Yours truly,

Dede Galdston and the WPS Leadership Team