As a Matter of Fact!

SOMSD Newsletter | Vol 3. Issue 4 | 9.24.21

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Welcome Back!

Hello SOMSD Community,

We have wrapped up the first two weeks of school and it has been a whirlwind. We thank our families for your patience as we have sought to address hiccups with our transportation, outdoor lunch, and other school-related operational logistics. We thank our staff, for their hard work and stepping into a variety of roles to ensure that our students are safe as they acclimate to being back to school full time.

Check out two short photo video highlight reels below. One features some back-to-school images from across our campuses and the other highlights Columbia High School's: Freshman Activity Fair which was sponsored by the Student Council on the first day of school. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!

Educationally yours,

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

SOMSD Back to School Photo Reel

CHS Student Council: Freshman Activities Fair

On Monday, September 13, the CHS Student Council sponsored the annual Freshman Activities Fair for all ninth graders and tenth graders, many of whom attended school in person for the first time! It was a huge success thanks to our administrators, staff, and of course, our student leaders! The Activities Fair was held on Ritzer field from 8 am-10 am, where students signed up for and inquired about clubs, sports, and activities that Columbia has to offer.

CHS Student Council: Freshman Activities Fair Photo Reel (September 13, 2021)
School Reopening News, Updates & Resources

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

SOMSD 2021-22 Student Assessment Information for Parents/Guardians

Each year, your child participates in a number of assessments that are either mandated by the New Jersey Department of Education or are administered by the District to assist us in determining individual student educational levels. Each of these assessments also assists us in developing instructional practices that meet the needs of our students based on the data collected. Furthermore, these assessments assist us in revising our curricula to be certain we are providing our students with the best possible programming. Please click the link below for information regarding the assessments your child will participate in during the 2021-2022 school year.

Click the link to read the full letter:

Fall 2021 Return to School Guidebook

This is a working document, and as shared above, details are subject to change and updates based on guidance from the Governor’s office, NJDOE, NJDOH, local departments of Health and the CDC.

Counseling Services for Elementary School Students/Families

The Elementary School Social Work Program offers counseling services for students at each of South Orange & Maplewood School District's elementary schools. The program offers individual and small group counseling with a social work intern. Its aim is to remove barriers to success and to provide students with the social/ emotional support necessary for them to get the most out of their school experience.

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Transportation & Bus Service Updates

Yesterday, we shared an update with the community regarding transportation and bus service. First, we want to thank you, our parents, for your patience as we’ve sought to resolve a myriad of transportation issues that have impacted the start of the school year. We recognize that there have been significant delays in the pick-up and drop-off of students via our routes across the District. Our Transportation Department (and our partnering bus companies) are continuing to work on resolving ongoing issues and to ensure safe, consistent transportation for our students. Read more here:

MediMobile Will Continue to Provide Weekly Saturday Covid-19 Testing w/ Extended Time @ CHS

MediMobile, will continue to offer weekly voluntary COVID-19 testing on Saturday's at Columbia High School (CHS) Gymnasium Parking Lot, (on Valley Street) until further notice. The testing time has been extended from 9 am - 3 pm. Testing is open to all District staff, students, SOMA community as well as any Essex County resident.

We encourage staff, students, and community members to get tested. As school is set to reopen, we especially encourage parents/guardians to have their child(ren) tested.

  • PCR and Rapid (nasal swab) tests will all be available to anyone over 6 months old.
  • There is NO out-of-pocket cost to anyone.
  • Those with health insurance must bring proof of insurance and valid identification. Those without health insurance must bring valid identification and a form will be provided for you to complete.
  • No appointments are required.

Visit the District's COVID-19 Testing/Vaccination page for all updates and upcoming clinics:

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2021-22 Covid-19 Parent Agreement

Reminder, if you have not already done so, pleasee must submit an E-Signature for the 2021-22 Parent COVID 19 Compliance Agreement via PowerSchool for the upcoming school year by September 17, 2021. Click the link for more information:

Chromebook Distribution & Pick-Up

A reminder to parents/guardians please remember to pick up your child's Chromebook (at CHS students can pick up their own Chromebook if a parent/guardian is unavailable). Please see the distribution dates below. Pick-up is taking place at the Board of Education building (525 Academy Street) parking lot (behind the building).

If you are a parent/guardian whose child is in need of a Chromebook prior to your scheduled distribution date, please visit the link:

  • August 30, 2021 - September 17, 2021 (Phase 1 - High School & Families In Need)

    • Chromebook Distribution for all students in Grades 9 - 12 (CHS)

    • Any students in grades PreK - 12 who do not have a device at home that they can bring into school.

  • September 20, 2021 - September 24, 2021 (Phase 2 - Middle Schools & Families In Need)

    • Chromebook Distribution for all students in Grades 6 - 9 (MMS / SOMS)

    • Any students in grades PreK - 12 who do not have a device at home that they can bring into school.

  • September 27, 2021 - October 7, 2021 (Phase 3 - Elementary Schools & Families In Need)

    • Specific school schedules will be coordinated through the elementary schools directly.

Covid-19 SOMSD Dashboard

It is the responsibility of the staff member who tests COVID-19 positive, or the parent of the student who tests COVID-19 positive to notify the principal who notifies the superintendent. The local DOH is notified and they conduct Contact Tracing.

SOMSD 2021-22 Upcoming Events

MAPSO Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 is underway in Maplewood and South Orange. From Latin Restaurant week and outdoor dance parties to documentary and feel-good films inside and out, this month promises to be a feast for the senses. Check out the MAPSO website for a full list of events:

District SMS Text Messages

If you are a District parent/guardian and are not currently receiving District SMS text messages please visit the link above for information on how to opt-in.