Gill-Montague District News

"Challenging and Supporting Every Student"

Student Support Updates & Resources April 18, 2020

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April 16, 2020


Dear Gill-Montague Families,


Due to the current school closure, we have adapted our registration process and we will now offer three options for Kindergarten Registration. We hope that these options will provide families with convenient ways to get their children signed up for kindergarten. If you have any questions about the Kindergarten Registration process, please contact Sarah Burstein, Hillcrest Principal and GMRSD Early Childhood Coordinator, at 413-863-9526.


  1. Drive-Up Registration -- Families of soon-to-be kindergarten students may come to the school to pick up a registration packet and/or drop off necessary documentation and completed forms. These are Drive-Up sessions only -- families will be asked to remain in their vehicles and a school staff member will assist with the pick-up or drop-off of paperwork.


At Gill Elementary School

Wednesdays -- April 15 and April 22 from 1:00 - 2:00


At Hillcrest Elementary School

Wednesdays -- April 15, April 22 and April 29 from 1:00 - 2:00

Thursdays -- April 16, April 23 and April 30 from 3:00 - 4:00


  1. Electronic Registration -- Families can download the Student Registration forms from the Gill-Montague website and fill out the necessary information. Families will then scan and return the completed Student Registration form, along with copies of the student’s birth certificate, proof of residency documents, physical examination records and immunization records via email: registration.kinder@gmrsd.org.


  1. Registration by Mail -- Families can obtain the Student Registration forms through the Drive-Up option or through the Gill-Montague Regional School District website at www.gmrsd.org. Families will then complete the Student Registration forms and return them, along with copies of the student’s birth certificate, proof of residency documents, physical examination records and immunization records via U.S. Mail. Our mailing address is Kindergarten Registration, Gill-Montague Public Schools, 35 Crocker Avenue, Turners Falls, MA 01376.


We look forward to welcoming you and your kindergarten student to our schools at the start of the 2020-2021 school year!


Sincerely yours,

Sarah Burstein

Principal, Hillcrest Elementary School

Early Childhood Coordinator, GMRSD

Remote Learning is Up and Running!

As communicated by Superintendent Sullivan, the district has crafted a remote learning plan given mandated extended school closures. The superintendent's announcement is re-posted below along with a linked outline of the plan. As we are now up and running with remote learning we want to continue to reach out to ensure we are connecting with families, answering questions, and working in support of one another during this time.


April 7, 2020


Dear Parents and Guardians,


Please READ MORE on a summary of the plans we have put in place for remote learning and support during the emergency school closure. If you have questions about these plans please contact your students’ teachers, counselors, or school principal. We are striving to balance providing some continued student learning while also hoping to limit undue stress upon families at this unprecedented time. Your ongoing feedback and your partnering with our educators will be essential to any successes we have together.


These plans will take effect on Thursday, April 9, and last through the emergency closure period. In a previous letter I spelled out all the context for these plans and all the things the state and schools are aware of regarding the inadequacies of learning in this remote and hastily arranged manner. So, I won’t repeat them again. However, I do want to emphasize that our educators have been asked to teach in a whole new manner, using brand new tools, at a time that they too are struggling to manage this situation at home. So, I would just ask that we all continue to show each other as much patience and understanding as we can.

In it is an outline of what teachers will be providing by grade ranges across the district. School principals will be communicating with you about more school specific details.


Michael Sullivan

Superintendent of Schools

Update on Special Education Services

Given our unprecedented circumstances district leadership and school personnel have been working in earnest to implement special education services remotely in accordance with guidance put forth by our state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). In a communication on April 5th by Pupil Services Director Dianne Ellis, the framework for remote special education service delivery was detailed in the form of both model 1, resources and supports, and model 2, instruction and services. During temporary school closure the district was providing primarily model 1 services through offering resources and supports for the benefit of families through at home learning opportunities. Now with extended closure the district has shifted teaching & learning to provide special education through more direct, model 2 instruction and services, within small group class meets, virtual lessons, tele-health services, and adapted assignments posted by classroom or content area teachers.


Our teachers and related service providers are working in collaboration to develop individual remote learning plans for students with disabilities for this period of school closure. The plans reflect adapted day/weekly schedules, teacher/ service provider contact info and/or office hours as well as instructional guidance, accommodations/modifications and communication methods during this time, and a combination of both model 1 and model 2 special education service delivery methods. These student specific plans do not change the terms or placement of the last agreed upon IEP. These plans do not require parent/guardian consent as they reflect short term specialized support planning for the period of school closure. We appreciate that these remote learning plans cannot take the place of the richness of interaction and learning that takes place in a full day structured school program. Students, families, teachers, and staff are all adapting and working to manage daily routines that protect our health, balance demands, and promote learning and connections during this time. We are hopeful through our working together and through the delivery of remote services we can maintain critical academic skills for our most vulnerable learners while also maintaining supportive connections and relationships with teachers, support staff, and classmates.


Although our offices are closed, we hope to send out individual remote learning plans within the coming week. If you have questions about your student's services or need further guidance on engaging your child in a home based routine please contact your special education liaison or building principal.

DESE Letter and Family Resource Toolboxes

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has asked that districts distribute the letters linked below to communicate actions taken by the department to support districts, students, and families during this time of school closure. Additionally, the department has published a "family toolkit" in English as well as multiple languages that reflect the diverse language needs of our Commonwealth.


DESE Family Letter in English

DESE Family Letter in Spanish

To access this family letter in other languages please click visit the DESE website

http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/sped/family-letter/


Family Resource Toolbox in English

Family Resource Toolbox in Spanish

To access the family toolbox in other languages please visit the DESE website

http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/sped/family-resource-toolbox/


Special Education Resources for Families and Teachers

Status of IEP meetings? Family Q & A Sessions Offered

Our Educational Team Leaders are working out logistics to offer virtual IEP team meetings during this time of school closure. Given the remote learning environment there are a number of legal considerations that needed to be put into place including, but not limited to, confidentiality disclosure and waiver agreements. Educational teams have been advised by district leadership in accordance with state guidance to draft IEP accommodations, goals, and services as if we were in school. Given our remote learning status we are not able to deliver services in the same manner so this reflects one of the disclaimers for the district developing new IEPs at this time. During remote learning, students and their families have the protection of the agreed upon IEP, while also mutual agreement and recognition that those services can not be fully delivered given emergency measures, in favor of the student specific remote learning plans.


If your child was due for an annual review meeting during this time of school closure one of our educational team leaders will be in contact with you to offer a virtual team meeting. At this time we are not able to hold eligibility team meetings or re-evaluation team meetings in which psychological & educational assessments remain outstanding. We are not able to remotely complete these formal evaluations that include student observations, clinical assessment, adherence to specific testing protocols, etc. at this time.


We thank you for your patience as we prioritize a backlog of meetings! The Education Team Leader for Hillcrest, Sheffield, and Gill Elementary School is Celia Snow. Ms. Snow can be reached at Celia.Snow@gmrsd.org. The Education Team Leader for Great Falls Middle School and Turners Falls High School is Cheryl Thompson. Ms. Thompson can be reached at Cheryl.Thompson@gmrsd.org.


Would you like to participate in a question and answer virtual conference session about special education and student support topics? If yes, please send an email to Director of Pupil Services, Dianne Ellis at Dianne.Ellis@gmrsd.org with FAMILY Q & A in the subject line. We will then be in contact with you to offer times in which you can join a virtual session with district administrators to address questions you may have.


In our working together and supporting one another we will get through this uncertain period.


Sincerely,


Dianne Ellis

Pupil Services Director

We look forward to meeting you Montague Mack! :-)

Our GMRSD comfort dog is still looking forward to meeting all of our students once emergency measures are lifted. He has been with Officer Dan Miner at the middle school/high school building assisting with meals distribution. He has also been working "remotely" on his comfort dog and puppy training!


You can follow Mack on Instagram at @Mpdk9Mack. For a coloring page of Mack click here.

To write a letter to Mack, please address it as follows:

Montague Mack

C/O Officer Dan Miner

180 Turnpike Rd.

Turners Falls, MA 01376

Technology Tips and Guidance for Using G-Suite for Education Tools

Linked below are a few short YouTube videos for families and students. These videos provide helpful tips on how to access google classroom and other applications students have access to within our district g-suite for education domain. During remote learning teachers are utilizing google classroom and technology applications to deliver instruction, schedule class meetings, and post assignments.


Please note these videos are posted on Youtube which unfortunately includes advertisements! GMRSD doe not endorse any products presented but wanted to offer the instructional content of the videos as families and students learn to more effectively navigate these technology applications.


Accessing Google Classroom

Guide to Using Google Meets

Parents and Students Guide to Google Classroom

How to Find Shared Docs, Files, and Folders in Google Drive

How to Create and Insert a Table in Google Docs

Guide to Google Sites-Create Your Own Free Website with Ease

Accessibility Guidance for using Chromebooks


If you have questions or concerns or need assistance in accessing technology for remote learning for your student please be in contact with your child's school.

Supporting English Learners During Remote Learning

Our teachers, administrators, and support staff have been reaching out to families and students to ensure our English Learners have learning resources, technology access, and online instruction to promote their academic and language development skills.


GMRSD English Learners Educational Resources padlet
This includes a wide range of educational websites suitable for prek through highschool.


English Learners Family and Community Resources: (GMRSD website)

Curriculum and Instructional Practices for Teachers of English Learners (GMRSD website)

English Learner Remote Education DESE state guidance

Supporting the Needs of English Learners through Remote Learning (provided by DESE)

E-Learning Resources for Teaching English Learners (general educational resources)


If your have concerns about your English Learner student during our remote learning time please contact your student's principal or our Spanish Language Community Liaison, Jimena DePareja at 413 695-9593.

Family feedback on school calendar for next year

Even though it feels like an uncertain and long way off, we are interested in getting your feedback on our school calendar for next year. We have a single question survey which you can respond to at this link if you wish to let us know when you would like to see the school year start and end. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/629FV3W


Please answer this question by April 31 if you wish to have the school committee see your response. Please click the link to access our Draft Calendar.

Earth Day Community Service Opportunity

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries. April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!


In honor of Earth Day , we invite students and families to take part in a community green up day through planting seeds/plants, raking yards, or picking up litter around your neighborhood. We ask that families choosing to participate in an Earth Day community green up exercise good judgement and supervision, maintain social distance and wear personal protective equipment (masks and gloves) while they take part in this international event.


The Montague Public Works Department has agreed to pick up bags of collected trash from Earth Day Community Green Up activities. In order to make this arrangement, please call 413 863-2054 between the hours of 6 am and 4 pm. As the office is closed, you will need to leave a detailed phone message and specify:

  • The name and phone number of family that participated in the Earth Day green up;
  • Street or area that was cleaned;
  • the number and location of trash bags for pick up.


In the spirit of Earth Day, the Department of Public Works will only accept collected litter from streets, wooded areas, and river banks.

Spreading "positive" messages and hope during this challenging time

On social media and in the news we have heard of a number of ways that families are showing strength and connection during the Covid-19 crisis. This includes families who have placed teddy bears in their windows and in their yards. Families can then walk or drive around and go on "bear-hunts" to see how many bears are in their larger neighborhood or community. We have also heard of the "have a heart," campaign in which windows are decorated with cut out hearts to show support for healthcare workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Lastly, we have also heard of children and youth writing messages of hope in sidewalk chalk. We encourage you to join in one or more of these activities or to create a new one of your own. If you want to share one of your family's messages or hope filled actions please feel free to send pictures to Pupil Services Director Dianne.Ellis@gmrsd.org with the subject line HOPE and we can include your submission in a future newsletter.

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