Gill-Montague District News

"Challenging and Supporting Every Student"

GMRSD News Updates March 16, 2020

Governor's Announcement & Closure of Schools Until April 6

Our administration is taking these rapid steps to protect the health and safety of our residents to mitigate the spread of COVID-19." Governor Charlie Baker

Please note information below from Governor Baker on emergency measures in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts relative to Covid-19. This order affects public and private schools, businesses, restaurants, and public gatherings. This order takes effect March 17, 2020.

News from Governor Baker

Superintendent Sullivan update March 16, 2020

March 16, 2020


Dear District Families,

As you have heard by now, Governor Baker has ordered schools to be closed through April 6, 2020. He has also directed that public meetings and gathers be limited to a maximum of 25 people.


Here is some information about how the district is responding to this evolving situation:


It is possible additional closures could occur.


Our meals distribution program is up and running and will continue throughout the closure period.


The district’s central office will be staffed from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm during this period. It will not be open to the public, however, individuals who have called ahead and have a pressing matter may be able to enter. School buildings will remain closed during this period.


The school committee was faced with a difficult decision regarding the superintendent search. With candidates typically needing to give their current employer 3-month notice of a resignation, as well as the possibility of losing a candidate to another district, the committee felt it was necessary to not postpone the search until the end of the emergency closure period. But circumstances have now required an unavoidable reduction in the level of participation in the process.


The search process is continuing with a highly modified structure. The 3 finalists will meet with school principals and district administrators this week and school committee members will hold video conferences with personnel from the candidates’ current school districts. Unfortunately, we needed to cancel public and staff meet and greet sessions.


The school committees’ interviews of the finalists remain scheduled for the evening of

March 23:


5:30 pm Brian Beck

6:45 pm Karen Ferrandino

8:00 pm Mary Jane Rickson


The committee will meet again to make their final selection on March 24. These meetings are school committee meetings and would typically be open to the public. Unfortunately, due to the governor’s order on limiting meeting sizes, both meetings will be closed to the public. The meetings will be video recorded by MCTV however.


All athletic and extracurricular activities, meetings, and school social events are cancelled during this closure. The rescheduling of sports seasons, the secondary school musical, kindergarten registration, and other events is being considered and adapted as things change.


The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is working to determine how to proceed with state MCAS tests. Advanced Placement (AP) and other standardized test schedules are also still being adapted. The provision of services for students with disabilities is also being worked on by DESE.


The district is working on plans for teachers to provide students with distance or electronic learning opportunities starting late this week or early next week. This will not be an attempt to continue our formal curricula and students will not be graded on the assignments provided. Instead, teachers will provide their classes with engaging learning materials and recommended tasks for them to advance their learning while at home. Teachers will contact students via email and instructions will be provided for students on how to use Google classroom tools. We will send you and your student plenty of information on how to take part. This should be viewed as a low stakes, low stress opportunity to learn and if students are not able to accomplish some or all of the recommended tasks, there will be no negative school consequences.


Parent-teacher conferences were to be held this week. We are asking all teachers to send parents/guardians emails or make phone calls informing them of their students’ recent school performance. Tentatively, we are asking that teachers accomplish this by Friday, March 27.


Later today we will be posting a list of organizations and websites which can be contacted regarding community resources and supports available. Updates of all kinds will be posted on the district website: gmrsd.org.


I am sure you are finding these recent days to be highly stressful and perhaps exhausting. We will continue to do what we can to support you in the days ahead.


Sincerely,

Michael Sullivan, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Free Meals Provided During School Closure

Dear District Families,

We are pleased to announce that the district’s food service staff, working with the help of Kuzmeskus Bus Company, will continue providing meals to students next week. Meals will be free for all children 18 and younger. We will provide a bagged lunch along with a breakfast for the next morning. Meals will be available at these sites and times from Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20:

This Week's Menu


If you have any question about this program please contact Director of Business and Operations, Joanne Blier at 863-3251 or joanne.blier@gmrsd.org


Please note correction on meal times as shown below.

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Special and Inclusive Educational Resources

This resource includes a wide variety of academic skills, communication, motor, and content area skills organized by grade level folders compiled by the Council for Exceptional Children. We encourage you to explore and to utilize these resources to promote learning and maintenance of important developmental and physical skills during this period of school closure.

Educational Resources from the Council for Exceptional Children


Support for special populations:

How to Explain a Global Health Crisis to Children with Autism (Psychology Today)

Autism Social Story About the Corona-Virus

What is the Corona- Virus? Social Story resource

Learning Materials During School Closures

Our school teachers and staff will be posting resources and links on classroom pages,

Plusportals, Google Classroom, and/or otherwise reaching out via email starting next week. We are not asking our teachers to utilize all of these platforms but to choose a communication platform so we can provide learning and enrichment opportunities for students and families during this time of school closure.

Education Companies Offering Free Subscriptions due to School Closings

Local Resources for Local Families

Montague Catholic Social Ministries’ building will be closed, as well as all of their programs with the exception of housing assistance, which is available by phone or email: contact Mary Conway at 413-824-5386 or basicneeds@mcsmcommunity.org.

The Western Massachusetts Food Bank’s mobile food bank comes to The Montague Council on Aging at 62 5th Street in Turners Falls every 3rd Wednesday from 1:30-2:30.

The Franklin Area Survival Center’s Food Pantry at 96 4th Street in Turners Falls will be open to all without intake necessary while our schools are closed – ask for Fran or Dawn if the staff person there is not aware of this. The food pantry is open from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry and the West County Emergency Food Pantry ‘s hours remain the same for both the Greenfield and Shelburne Falls locations: Center for Self-Reliance at 3 Osgood St, Greenfield: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 10 am-5 pm.


West County Emergency Food Pantry at 51 Maple St, Shelburne Falls: 2nd 3rd and 4th

Wednesday 11 am-5 pm.


Starting Monday 3/16, the following changes to their services will happen at both pantry sites:

  • They will no longer be operating as a "choice pantry" but rather will be preparing pre-made bags for sidewalk pick up.
  • They will be suspending their weekly produce only pick-ups.

If someone is sick and is exhibiting symptoms such as cough and fever please stay home or remain in your vehicle. Those who are ill or in quarantined should please call them at (413) 773-5029, and they will do our best to get food to those in need in these challenging times.


The Brick House building and their Teen Center will be closed but are encouraging their youth to contact them by phone or text at this number: 413-800-5705. If you need family support, you can call 413-824-1106.

Community Action’s Family Resource Center will continue to be open during their regularly scheduled hours which includes 2nd and 4th Saturdays. Staff are available for individual meetings and connecting people to needed resources in person or by phone. Please call them at 413.475.1555. Please stay home if you or your children are experiencing symptoms, but they will communicate with you by phone.


Also, they are cancelling all drop-in group programs, including: all playgroups; We Need A Break; New Baby, New Feelings; JIF, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren; Thursday Family Lunch and Saturday Family Breakfast.Until further notice, their playrooms will not be open for drop-in socialization and play and their donation area is closed. They are also suspending their programs with pre-registered participants including STAND UP!, Parenting Journey and Nurturing Fathers.


Dial Self Youth Drop-in Centers are open to distribute food or hygiene kits, but not to “hang-out”. You can call 413-774-7054 x4 to reach the centers in Greenfield and Orange for more information.

For those who need support around domestic violence issues:

Nelcwit’s 24/7 Confidential Crisis Hotline is 413.772.0806.

The Salasin Project’s Individual & Family Support Services are also still available; call 413-774-4307. Their groups and events, however, are closed/cancelled at least until April 9th.

If you have any questions about additional resources, please email

Stacey Langknecht,

Gill-Montague Regional School District Family Engagement Coordinator

Stacey.langknecht@gmrsd.org.

These are not snow days: the Importance of Social Distancing

This is the original and public letter from Asaf Bitton, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Doctor of Epidemiology.

https://medium.com/@ariadnelabs/social-distancing-this-is-not-a-snow-day-ac21d7fa78b4


Other "Social Distancing" resources

Taking Care of your Behavioral Health: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Social Isolation (SAMHSA)

The Dos and Don'ts of Social Distancing (The Atlantic)

Social Emotional Learning Resources for Families to Talk About Covid-19

As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread, schools around the world are rapidly pivoting to support children’s health and well-being. As districts shift to online learning, parents, educators and school leaders are searching for ways to continue prioritizing children’s social and emotional development at home.

Social Emotional Resources

Compiled by NIck Woolfe, Graduate student with research interests in Social Emotional Learning.

How to Talk to Your Children about Covid-19

Community Networks for Supporting Each Other in Gill/Montague

We have community members from our Community School Partnership working on establishing systems in which folks can communicate with each other to offer mutual support. We encourage you to check these sites for updates on community network efforts.

Gill-Montague Community Partnership website

Gill-Montague Community Partnership Facebook Site

Positively Gill-Montague Regional School District Facebook Site

GMRSD Student Services & Family Engagement Department

  • Special education
  • Guidance & School Psychology
  • English Learners
  • Specialty services- OT, PT, speech & language
  • Nursing & health education
  • Home & hospital tutoring
  • Homeless education and more
  • Family Engagement Coordinator


Dianne M. Ellis, Director of Pupil Services