What's Happening At TRJHS!

From the Desk of Mr. Sturges, Principal

Welcome Back Week!

Good Afternoon Parents and Families,


On Wednesday, September 16th, we welcomed our Cohort A students back to school. Remote learners and Cohort B students logged in remotely and we kicked off another school year. Although this time we were all wearing masks and socially distancing ourselves, we were still able to have a great opening day. In a year like this, we were then able to recreate the same opening day feel for the Cohort B students on the following Monday. It had been a while since students were walking our halls and it was a rewarding day having safely returned our students to the building. With our new model for education we will be giving our best effort to maintain our high standards for education in an assortment of learning models. There will be moments of frustration as well as feelings of accomplishment and achievement for our students over these next few months. We will work together between home and school to make this as memorable of a year as we can. When our students reflect on their middle school experience at TRJHS years from now, we want them to "remember the year" and have it serve as a positive experience. We look forward to taking this journey with our students.

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Outdoor Classrooms

In planning our return to school teachers have been encouraged to take students outdoors for mask breaks. Our staff and students have gone above and beyond embracing the challenges of this new school year and have incorporated outdoor learning as part of the daily routine. Physical education classes are outside regularly. Staff have utilized the benches in front of our school as a classroom where kids are reading. Science classes are exploring the natural environment more often and health classes are utilizing the bike trails. Students have been raving about the new ability to get out of the class and get fresh air throughout the day and it has been showing positive outcomes for their overall energy by the end of the day.

Parent Drop Off/Pick up

First off, I want to thank everyone for your patience with getting your students to and from school. We recognize the process takes time and it's gotten better each day. In an effort to expedite the process for drop off in the morning as well as pick up in the afternoon, we've taken a few measures. This is not new information, just a reminder on how we are facilitating this process.


Drop Off:

We are able to begin letting students into the building at 7:20 each day. We ask parents to line up in two lanes. One line drives through the parking lot and lines up in the right lane out in back of the school. The driveway lane as you go straight entering the campus will line up in the left lane out behind the school. Please wait for staff to call your students for a safe and staggered entrance into the school. We ask that students have bags ready and are set to go so we can keep traffic moving at a steady pace. Once you drop off your child(ren) parents can exit the campus by turning right and heading back around the building.


Pick Up:

As many of you already know, we've adopted a number system for pick up. Any student who is parent pickup has been provided a number that we ask is placed in a visible spot on the dashboard. We will use that number to begin dismissing students at the same time as buses are called. This has been very helpful at moving traffic along and minimizing travel at dismissal in our stairwells. Parents should wait at the sign near the back of the staff parking lot until directed by a staff member to move forward allowing the final buses to get into their positions. Once the buses are set we will direct parents into two lanes behind the school. Once you pick up your child we ask that you turn right and continue around the back of the building.

Lunches

Students have been assigned seats throughout the day as part of our safety plans, including lunches. Each grade is split into the cafeteria and classrooms. They are separated by team and sitting anywhere from 6-10 feet apart so they can eat their lunches. Similar to eating at a restaurant, students are instructed they need to put their masks back on if they are to leave their seats. Our kids have been unbelievable so far adhering to the mask rules. We've added in music and movies to each lunch in an attempt to give them a 30 minute break with some fun. During the first few days, our students awkwardly sat distant from one another and the cafeteria was extremely quiet. Two weeks later they are getting comfortable with the setup and figuring it out. Middle school students are amazing at communicating to their friends across the cafeteria with lip reading and make shift sign language!

Teacher Absences for Remote Learners

Whether remote or in person, there will be times when teachers are absent and substitutes will be in for the day. Students in class and at home will be expected to work on the same assignment those days which will consist of a more asynchronous lesson. In each teacher's google classroom, your student will have access to a substitute plan for the day. The teacher will notify their students on a given day that they will be out and then direct the students to the lesson for the day in google classroom. We are required to take attendance for remote and in person students. Students will be asked to click on a google form provided to them to type in their name just for attendance credit before they go find the substitute teaching plans for the day.

Live Teaching: Remote and In Person

It may not be a typical school year, but it doesn't mean we can't make it work! Walking through the classrooms so far this year has been an amazing thing to see. On a regular basis we are seeing teachers conducting lessons to their students in front of them as well as including the remote learners who are live streaming through virtual classrooms. Just last week I observed a classroom debate on a reading prompt including input from students both in person and participating remotely. We've all had technology mishaps or disconnects throughout these first couple of weeks, but for the most part classes have been streaming successfully. The students are constantly getting complimented by our staff on how hard everyone is working to make this virtual learning model work. The staff has been putting in endless hours of work to give every opportunity for this hybrid model to be a positive experience for at home and in school learners alike.

Expectations for Remote Learning and Masks

Included below is our districts newly adopted remote learning code of conduct as well as our face mask policy. These have already been sent home with our students and explained to them as well. Please note as we are doing everything in our power to replicate a school day for remote learners and hybrid learners who are on their home week we kindly ask that participation in live streamed classes is limited to only students. This is to minimize distractions as well as respect student confidentiality. Given the circumstances we are all navigating together, we've had a successful start to this new model of learning here at TRJHS.


The two policies are included below for reference.

District Remote Learning Expectations

TANTASQUA REGIONAL/UNION 61

Remote Learning Student Code of Conduct

As remote learning becomes more common practice in our school district, it is expected that all rules for in-class instruction will be transferred to the remote environment. In addition to adhering to all aspects of the District’s Empowered Digital Use Policy, File IJND, the following rules and procedures are established for students receiving remote learning:

· All Acceptable Use Policy and Student Handbook rules continue to be in effect during Remote Learning.

· Students will not use cell phones during synchronous sessions, unless directed by the teacher or using as a device to access the teacher directed remote learning.

· Students will only use blank or solid color backgrounds, or no background at all, during Synchronous remote learning.

· First and last names will be used by students when labeling their “window”

· Comments and responses will be provided verbally, unless otherwise provided for by the teacher.

· Students should be attentive to synchronous sessions at all times, just as during in-person school sessions.

· Student attendance will be required at all sessions, and attendance will be taken with advance notice being provided for tardiness and absences to the extent possible.

· Synchronous Learning Sessions are not intended to replace parental/family/guardian supervision.

· All work products will be graded as during in-person school operations, except as altered by the establishment of an SEL Plan, IEP, 504, or similar arrangement.

· Student recording of live synchronous learning sessions will be strictly prohibited.

· Parents/Guardians/Siblings, etc., are not permitted to participate in, disrupt or record a Synchronous Learning Session unless explicitly granted permission because doing so violates the confidentiality of the other students in the synchronous learning session.

· Asynchronous lessons posted by any staff member cannot be reproduced or shared.

· Any violations of this policy shall be forwarded to the appropriate administrator for disciplinary measures.

District Face Mask Policy

TANTASQUA REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

FACE MASKS

The District is mindful of the evolving need for emergency measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In consideration of the recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Massachusetts Department of Health, and the Massachusetts Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the School Committee is adopting this emergency policy for all students, employees and visitors of Tantasqua Regional Schools.


Until further action of the School Committee, all students, employees and visitors attending Tantasqua Regional School District shall be required to wear a mask including (a) while attending school or a school function in any school building, facility or other area of a school campus, and (b) when riding in school-provided transportation. All masks must cover the nose and mouth of the student.


This policy applies to students waiting outside school buildings, before and after school, and to students waiting at bus stops. Students shall wear masks at all times except for the following:

● Students may remove masks for eating or drinking, only as authorized by school staff and in designated areas;

● Students may remove masks when appropriate social distancing measures are in place as determined by a teacher or school administrator, consistent with DESE Guidance;

● Students may be exempted from wearing a mask by Building Administration when providing medical documentation from a physician of a medical condition prohibiting mask wearing. These students will instead be required to wear a face shield. ;

● Individual students may remove masks on a case-by-case basis for specific instructional needs, as determined by a staff member, in which case the staff member will ensure appropriate social distancing measures consistent with DESE guidelines; or

● Students may be exempted from this policy due to special behavioral or individualized needs as determined by the Special Education Director or Building Principal.

Masks worn by students and staff can be disposable or reusable and shall:

● fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin,

● be made with at least 2 layers of breathable material,

● fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, and

● be secured with ties or ear loops.


Based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandannas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind will not be considered appropriate masks.


If a staff member or student does not have an appropriate mask, or soils, loses, or breaks theirs during the day, they will be provided with a mask by the school nurse.


If a student attends in-person learning, the failure of a student to comply with these expectations and the willful defiance to follow direction from school staff will be considered insubordination. Violation of this policy will result in the student being removed from class for dismissal, and a parent/guardian being notified to pick up the student within 45 minutes. Further discipline with be progressive up to and including a requirement to be shifted to fully remote learning.


Visitors in violation of this policy will be denied entry to the school/district facility.

This policy will remain in place until rescinded by the School Committee.


LEGAL REF.: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, COVID-19 Order No. 31 –

https://www.mass.gov/doc/may-1-2020-masks-and-face-coverings/ download

REFS.: Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Considerations for Wearing Masks -

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guida nce.html

● Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – Reopening

Guidelines - http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/

● Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Mask Up MA! –

https://www.mass.gov/news/mask-up-ma

SOURCE: MASC – August 2020

General Safety Requirements

Just as a reminder, the following are general safety requirements that are daily expectations for all staff/students:

  1. All staff/students are required to wear a face mask at all times

  2. Students will have scheduled mask breaks into each day.

  3. Students will be encouraged to access the bathrooms for hand washing at any time. Hand sanitizer will be available in wall fixtures located throughout the building as well as in each classroom.

  4. Teachers will be encouraged to take their classes outside. PE classes will be strictly outdoors pending weather conditions.

  5. No large group assemblies or field trips will be allowed until further notice.

Calling in Sick/Appointments

If your child is absent, tardy or being dismissed no matter which learning model they are in, we ask that you please call the main office and notify us so we can keep a record of student attendance. If your child is a remote learner and they need to miss a class or two for an orthodontist appointment (for example), please let us know with a quick phone call so we can keep track and notify teachers who will be taking attendance in each class. If you have to call the school for any attendance reasons, please notify the staff member you speak with if your child is remote or in school. If your child is a cohort student who is supposed to be attending school and doesn't feel well but wants to log in remotely, they still can. We just ask that a phone call is made to the main office to let us know. We encourage students to remain home if they aren't feeling well and this allows them to still access their school day. This has been a frequently asked question and this process so far has been working well.

Daily Schedule

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For clarification on the daily schedule, students will be following the rotating schedule pictured above. As you've already noticed, we have 7 classes for each student, but only 5 meet each day. Based on parent and student feedback from the spring, students were overwhelmed with the remote learning model trying to keep pace with 7 classes. The days are identified by the first letter of the day (ex. day 1 pictured above is an "A" day, day 2 is a "B" day etc.). We announce each morning what day it is and also I send a daily reminder to remote students. Individual teams also set reminders to help keep students organized. For planning purposes, pictured below is a monthly calendar (for the first 3 months) letting families know in advance what "day" of the schedule will be meeting.
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Wellness Warrior Gear!

You are invited to check out the attached flyer and online store for some #WellnessWarrior gear! Whether you're representing school colors or your team color, we can all spread the message of kindness together! Order deadline: October 11. Any questions please see Mrs. Lowe (lowea@tantasqua.org)


https://ttwellnesswarrior.itemorder.com/sale



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School Council

We are currently seeking two parent representatives to serve on the TRJHS school council. We meet once a month to discuss our school improvement plan. This committee is comprised of administration, teaching staff, parent representatives and students. The role of School Council members consists of the following:

1. Advise the Principal in the identification of the educational needs of the students;

2. Advise the Principal in the review of the annual school budget; and

3. Advise the Principal in the formulation of a School Improvement Plan.


It is my expectation that the School Council will meet at least once a month to accomplish our

goals. In order to meet the needs of faculty and parents on the Council, a meeting time will be

determined by the members at our initial meeting. We will offer a remote option for meetings as well. Please contact Mrs. Mars (marsj@tantasqua.org) if you are interested in being involved with this committee.

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Social Media

I encourage families to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for announcements and to view pictures from activities during the school day. Please note, our Facebook page is a post only site. If you have any questions we ask you please contact the main office and we will be happy to help. Our Facebook page is facebook.com/TantasquaRJHS and you can follow me on Twitter @principal_trjhs. We do our best to keep up with active posts. As activities pick back up again at some point, they will become more active.