JW Killam Principal's Corner
Ms. Leveque's Weekly Newsletter
From the Desk of Ms. Leveque
I fully recognize that we have many questions about the COVID-19 or Coronavirus and how it will impact our children at school. Like you, our staff is working diligently to think through as many scenarios as possible and plan proactively. The safety and health of our students is our top priority. Whenever there is an unknown, as is the case here, we want to be cautious, think carefully about what we do know for certain and, at the same time, remember that we have strong, well-tested illness protocols already in place that we don't want to lose track of in this process. Therefore, we are all working together on how to increase our awareness and better our practices in light of the information.
Dr. Doherty sent out a community letter this week addressing the Reading Public Schools response to the Coronavirus. If you have not read it, please click here. I also want to assure you that we are making a few changes in our daily routine out of abundance of caution. I want to re-iterate some of the points Dr. Doherty has made that are impacting Killam School.
Updated School Calendar
- March 20th is a full-day of school for students and staff.
- This weekend (March 13th, 14th, 15th) all weekend activities have been cancelled. Custodial staff and technology staff will be in the school cleaning all high touch areas with a cleaning agent that kills COVID-19. High touch areas are any places touched during the day by many human hands.
- Going forward, each night two hours will be used for cleaning high touch surfaces with effective cleaning agents.
School and Community Events
Between now and April 17th, community events in the Reading Public Schools and all outside rentals are cancelled. The following Killam School events have been cancelled:
- PTO General Meeting on April 2nd
At this time, smaller committee meetings like School Site Council and PTO Executive Board will occur, however those groups may choose not to meet or we may get other guidance from the Town of Reading which will cause those meetings to be cancelled.
- Killam's 50th Celebration scheduled for April 14th has been post-poned.
- The March 16th Welcome to Middle School Nights for Grade 5 families has been rescheduled tentatively to April 27th. A confirmation about that date will be sent out closer to the event.
- The Coolidge "Family Math and Science Night" on March 25th is also postponed for now.
In order to maintain safety for all families, students and staff, if you are a regular volunteer who has had any exposure to COVID-19 or believes you may have had exposure please cancel your volunteer time. We love our volunteers and know that once this public health situation is over you will be back to support your children and the teachers. Right now please be cautious with your volunteering.
Please know that as a District, we are fortunate to receive ongoing information from the Department of Health, the Governor's Office, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. With their guidance, we will continue to make updates to our plan as is necessary. As I said before, our ultimate goal is to maintain the health and safety of our community. We will communicate this information as decisions are made. The teachers and staff at Killam know that the love and protection of your children are your most precious commodities and we do not take this lightly! If you are interested in more information, the rest of this newsletter is dedicated to how we can support each other and our children in discussing the Coronavirus. With a community focus, we can continue to put our students health and learning needs at the forefront of our school days.
Reading Police Officers Serve Lunch!
Important Killam Dates
Monday, March 16th: Wear class colors!
Friday, March 20th: CHANGE- Full day of school for students and staff.
Report Cards for Term 2
Term 2 report cards are emailed home on Friday, March 13th. If you have any questions, please reach out to your child's teacher.
As a reminder, parents and guardians can access your child's released report cards at any time! Login to your PlusPortal account and choose the eLocker tab on the top of the page. This will bring you to all official report cards that can be downloaded as a PDF and printed or saved from the luxury of your home.
News from the Health Office: Information About Viral Illnesses
We are all aware about the news regarding the coronavirus outbreak. It is concerning to see the virus spread; for that reason we want to be sure that you are familiar with the information that is being provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health regarding coronavirus. The school website contains documents with important information regarding the coronavirus and its symptoms and transmission. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the Health Office at 781-942-9177. Click here to find out about the Coronavirus facts and information about how schools are addressing the spread of viral illness.
How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus
By Kamilah Drummond-Forrester, Director of Open Circle
News of the coronavirus COVID-19 is everywhere, and it is critical for us to be intentional about how we talk to children about what they are hearing. As a mother of four children ranging from ages 5 to 17, I think I’ve heard anything and everything about how one can get the virus and where it came from. I’ve had to gently guide and redirect my own children in their anxiety and misunderstanding about this.
Here are a few things that I have found useful in my conversations with my children, and I share them in case they are useful to you:
Children take their emotional cues from adults. It is critical that we mind our reactions and our words when in the presence of children. Kids look to us for how to react to a crisis or a sensitive situation. Our words and actions should convey calm and compassion. Connecting with school nurses or medical professionals to get the facts about the coronavirus and how it is spread may be helpful, so that we can be sure we’re conveying factual information to the children around us. Displaying an overly anxious or fearful affect will be “contagious,” and cause children, in turn, to become overly anxious and fearful. Remain calm and reassuring as much as possible. Lean on the other adults within your community to share your own fears and concerns if that’s useful.
Interrupt othering behavior and speech. An unfortunate by-product of this scare has been the othering of Asian American communities. Many Chinese restaurants and businesses are experiencing loss of business as a result. I’ve heard many children say things like “Chinese people caused this” or other disparaging remarks. It is important that adults immediately and firmly interrupt these types of comments and othering behavior.
Practice calm breathing and mindful pauses. At Open Circle, one of the threads woven throughout our curriculum is calm breathing and mindfulness. Incorporating 3 calm (diaphragmatic) breaths and 1-minute mindful pauses throughout the day will go a long way toward providing children with a coping tool for calming down and decreasing anxiety.
Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. None of us have all the answers to questions children may ask us about this topic, and that’s ok. If a question comes up that you don’t have an answer to, you can offer to try to get the answer from someone else later. But some questions simply cannot be answered with any definitiveness. Help children to understand that in life there are grey areas, and that not all questions have straightforward answers. They should understand that the adults in their lives--whether at school or at home--will be there to protect and assist each and every one of them, no matter what. As Mr. Rogers’ mother used to say, when there is a crisis, “look for the helpers.” Knowing that there will always be helpers may go a long way toward relieving children’s worry.
For more resources in helping children deal with traumatic events or sensitive topics, we have put together the following resources:
Upcoming ALICE Drill
Attention 5th Grade Families-- Middle School Transition Information
It is hard to believe that we are already preparing for transition to middle school! Although we are not ready to have the fifth graders leave us quite yet, they are sure to be ready for the big move come summer! Please click on the link below to access transition documents for both Coolidge and Parker including:
Welcome letters from each middle school principal
Parent input form due April 3 (please note these are different than the elementary input form)
Important Transition Dates
Registration forms for "Welcome to Parker" and "Welcome to Coolidge" (in August)
Please note that the middle school transition meetings will be postponed until tentatively April 27th at 7:00 pm. Middle School Principals will be in touch as that date approaches to re-evaluate if necessary.
The Coolidge "Family Math and Science Night" on March 25th is also postponed for now.
Killam Turns 50!
Killam Extended Day Registration
Below are the dates for Extended Day Registration for the 2020-21 school year.
- February 24th – March 16th – Priority registration for incoming kindergarten students and existing Extended Day families
- March 16th – ongoing – Registration is available to anyone in the district provided space is available
February 24, 2020
February vacation is over, and as the students return (some reluctantly!) to their normal routines, Understanding Disabilities returns as well to our classrooms to finish out the year with the final two lessons, Physical Disabilities and Hearing and Vision Disabilities.
In March, Understanding Disabilities will return to the 1st grade classrooms across the district with the second UD lesson of the year for grade 1 - Physical Disabilities. In this lesson, we teach the students about Physical Disabilities and how to be a good friend to someone who is experiencing a physical challenge. The children learn what a physical disability is (and we discuss more broadly the term “disability”), some tools and supports that people with physical disabilities might use, and most important, we talk about ways that we are all the same inside. This lesson has three hands-on activities to help the students think about some of the tasks they complete every day, and what it might be like if they couldn’t do them in the way they normally might. Each classroom needs three grown-up volunteers to lead each of the activities. The link for Killam volunteers for 1st grade is: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0a4baaac2da6fc1-killam1.
In May, while many of our grades 3-5 students may be thinking about MCAS, UD will visit the 2nd grade classrooms to teach about Hearing and Vision Disabilities. This unit, which used to be taught as two separate units, teaches the students about both hearing loss/deafness and vision loss/blindness. We discuss terms like “hard of hearing,” “deaf,” “low vision,” and “blind”, we learn about tools and supports used by people with hearing or vision disabilities, and we remember that we are all the same inside. There are four hands-on activities for this lesson, and thus four volunteer slots per classroom. The link for Killam volunteers for 2nd grade is: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0A4BAAAC2DA6FC1-killam2.
If you are interested in volunteering with UD, please contact Allison Sillers at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional resources and some at-home activities, please visit our website at www.UDathome.org.
New in 2019-20 - Pay PTO dues with Venmo at @KillamPTO!
Please be sure to include your child/family’s name in the notes when you submit your Venmo payment so we can credit the dues to the appropriate family.
Killam MCAS Dates
The Reading Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) encourages you to attend the following upcoming events:
- Wednesday, April 1st, 10AM daytime SEPAC business meeting in the Reading PUBLIC Library conference room. Family-friendly engagement opportunity for parents and caregivers who cannot attend evening meetings. Agenda forthcoming.