As A Matter of Fact!

Special Edition: End of the Year | June 25, 2021

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Superintendent's Corner

SOMSD Family,

This week we completed the 2020-21 school year and it thankfully ended with a sense of normalcy that we all have been longing for. Thank you for all that you have done to support our schools during such a challenging time. As I shared with our Columbia High School Class of 2021, last evening:

  • “For the past 15 months, we have repeatedly used terms like, Unprecedented… Unparalleled…Extraordinary… We used these terms to try and describe the challenges that we all were managing. For you … class of 2021, your parents and teachers, our administrators we had to learn how to keep our school district moving forward. We had to literally learn how to teach again and master new digital platforms. How to connect. How to inspire. How to balance grace & understanding, with accountability & expectations…how to do all we could to prepare you for a world that was more uncertain than ever. This was truly Unprecedented… Unparalleled…Extraordinary…As we close out this school year, join me in thanking your Teachers, Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, Administrators, Support staff and of course your very first teachers…your parents for all they have done to support you and your success!”

This week our District PreK students celebrated their moving up to Kindergarten culminating activities. In partnership with our PTAs and HSAs, our elementary schools held virtual moving-up ceremonies for their 5th-grade classes with a mix of both virtual and in-person clap-outs for their students.

Our School Leadership Team and I were thrilled to attend our middle schools’ in-person moving-up ceremonies for their 8th graders in their school gymnasiums. South Orange Middle and Maplewood Middle School both held the touching memorable ceremonies that our students and families deserved.

On Monday our CHS Seniors attended prom while yesterday CHS celebrated its 134th Commencement Exercises in-person at the Yogi Berra Stadium and we had the opportunity to see off 500+ graduating seniors who are headed to the next phases of their young adult lives.

We thank our administrators, staff, students, and families for a job well done. This will be a well-deserved summer break and we wish you all the best. We will continue to provide updates to our community via our District newsletter over the summer months.

Educationally yours,

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

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Key Updates

Fall 2021 Reopening Updates:

Yesterday, we also submitted our Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction & Continuity of Services template to the state, by the June 24th deadline (click on the blue button below). Late next week we will be sharing a pre-recorded presentation with the community that provides "A Year-End Review" highlighting key District accomplishments as well as some more detailed information regarding reopening from September 2021.

SOMSD III Updates:

Today also marks an important time in our District's history, as we move forward with our Intentional Integration Initiative. Parents of incoming Kindergarteners received their placement notifications. This inaugural Kindergarten class will be remembered in our District’s history as the students who brought the South Orange Maplewood School District Intentional Integration Initiative (which has been years in the making) to fruition. We encourage families to join us on Tuesday, 6/29, for the SOMSD III Q&A webinar for incoming kindergarten families only (information can be found in the events section below).

Summer School Programming:

Our Summer school programming will begin next week. Parents/guardians of enrolled students can view 2021 Summer Programming Contact details here:

State Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction

All schools in New Jersey were required to submit their Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service template to the state by June 24. This the high-level plan submitted by SOMSD.

Groundbreaking Ceremonies at Clinton & Jefferson Elementary Schools

The South Orange & Maplewood School District along with EPIC Construction hosted groundbreaking ceremonies at Clinton and Jefferson Elementary schools today to commemorate the kick-off of construction work that will begin at the schools over the summer. Groundbreaking ceremonies for Seth Boyden and Tuscan Elementary schools are scheduled to take place early next week. EPIC Construction who is contracted to begin the construction provided hard hats, shovels, and project banners for this exciting and monumental event where invited guests which included District senior leadership, building administrators/PTA representatives, BOE members, local officials and EPIC Construction staff were and will be in attendance. Construction work will begin over the summer as part of the District’s Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP)

SOMSD 2021-22 SY Transportation Application Now Available

The District's Transportation Application for the 2021-22 SY is now available. Click here to access the 2021-22 Transportation Application [].

Families must complete a transportation application each year for each student even if transportation has been provided in the past. Applications must be submitted on or before July 23, 2021. Applications received after July 23rd will be assigned transportation if eligible and if space is available. The district will notify the parent/guardian of eligibility during the summer before school opens. Students eligible for transportation will receive a bus card identifying the assigned stop and estimated pickup and drop-off times.

Special Education: Classified special education students may be eligible for transportation according to their IEP. The Special Education Department makes these arrangements. Contact the Department of Special Services at 973-762-5600 ext. 1840 for more information.

Please note the key dates below:

  • By July 23, 2021: Parent/Guardian submit Application for Public School Transportation
  • August 2021: District mails notification of eligibility to parents/guardians

Submit the completed application to your child's school office or mail it to:
South Orange & Maplewood School District
25 W. Parker Avenue
Maplewood, NJ 07040

District Announces 2021 Summer Assignments & Reading List

SOMSD announces its annual summer assignments and reading list. Compiled by our school librarians and SOMA public libraries, these suggested summer readings are available online through the District's website and the public library sites. Learn more here:

District 2020-21 Meal Application & P-EBT Benefits Deadline Open Until June 28

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) is part of the U.S. government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. P-EBT benefits are available to children who were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals at a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), but whose schools closed or operated with reduced attendance or hours for five consecutive days due to COVID-19.

If you have not yet completed a 2020-2021 meal application, you can still apply no later than June 28, 2021. If your student qualifies for free or reduced meals, you will be eligible for P-EBT benefits issued by the State for the entire 2020-21 school year. IF NO MEAL APPLICATION IS COMPLETED & APPROVED BY JUNE 28, 2021, YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE P-EBT CARD.

Click here for information/translations:

Upcoming District/School Events

SAVE THE DATE: SOMSD Integration Virtual Q&A Event for Incoming Kindergarten Families - June 29

Dear Incoming Kindergarten Families,

We invite you to join Superintendent Ronald G. Taylor on Tuesday, June 29 @ 6 pm as he provides a brief overview of the District's Intentional Integration Initiative (III) which will launch in September 2021. The brief presentation will be followed by a Q&A session for any additional questions families may have regarding III. Please visit the SOMSD III microsite for updated information regarding this initiative:

Click here for event information:

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Graduation & Moving Up Ceremonies

In case you missed it or just want to relive the moment again, you can check out the District's graduation and moving up ceremonies on our YouTube channel.

Thank You & Best Wishes to All of Our Class of 2021 Students

Marshall Elementary 2nd Grade Clap Out
SMS 2021 5th Grade Clap Out
Tuscan Elementary School: 2021 Clap Out

MMS Class of 2021 Moving Up Ceremony Slideshow

Maplewood Middle School Class of 2021 Graduation Slideshow
All Return to School Updates & Resources

All updates and resources regarding the District's January 2021 return to in-person instruction.

2021 Summer Food Support Programs

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The SOMSD Covid-19 Dashboard will be updated weekly and will track and reflect positive cases of both virtual and in-person staff and students

Local COVID Vaccination & Testing, Rental Assistance Information & Resources

NJ vaccinations are now open to youth 12 years and up. Everyone 12 or older who lives, works, or studies in New Jersey is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Essex County is expected to provide the Pfizer vaccine for 12 and up at two locations:

  • Vaccination appointments are available at Essex County College and the Kmart West Orange location. Hours will be 3:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m., which is subject to change. You will be able to schedule an appt on or and see vaccine availability; walk-ups will also be accepted.

View previously shared information regarding local COVID testing and vaccination and other important Covid-related resources and assistance. Please visit the District website for information:

BOE Vacancy

The SOMSD Board of Education has a vacancy. The vacancy will be filled by an appointment made by the remaining members of the Board at the next public meeting on July 12th, 2021 beginning at 7 pm. Interested parties should submit materials by July 7 @ 5 pm. To learn more about the application and submission criteria visit: nd subm mor

SOMSD Calendar of Events