BWRSD Community Update 9/18/20

Message from Jonathan Brice, Superintendent of Schools

Dear BWRSD community,

The first week of school has been successful. I am sure that each of us can find something that we would have done differently, however, as I have visited each school I have reflected on one thing, the face of our students in class. What a wonderful sight to see students working on math problems, listening to their teacher reading their new favorite book, and watching new students at KMS or MHHS try to find their way to their next class. It has been great to see our students in class.

Throughout the week I have been encouraged by our BWRSD staff that are making the miracle of teaching and learning occur in each classroom. Encouraged by our support staff that have cleaned buildings, served breakfast and lunch, and answered phones each day. Your collective efforts have made each day possible.

We are committed to ensuring that students are able to learn, in person or via distance, to the highest level possible. We also are planning, based on data from the first week of school, how we can increase student attendance at MHHS. We will have more information by the end of September.

Thank you for a great first week of school.

Jonathan Brice, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


Contents of this Update:

1. An Important Note about Teaching Current Events and Critical Thinking

2. High School Program of Study and School Committee Policy IFD

3. Colt Andrews to open for in person classes on Monday September 21, 2020

4. First Week of School Update

  • Completion of the Student Attestation
  • Mask Breaks
  • Conversational tones during lunch and recess

5. Distance Learning Classroom

6. RIDOT Update, Silver Creek Bridge

1. An Important Note about Teaching Current Events and Critical Thinking

As a community, we should want all students to learn and grow into productive, knowledgeable, empathic adults. Throughout the learning process, students will be challenged to learn new concepts, new cultures, new facts, and new ideas. Effective learning must always challenge old assumptions, concepts, and facts so that new growth emerges. In our democracy, education should not minimize our students’ thinking, but instead expand their critical thinking ability.

Educator and civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune, who served as President of Bethune Cookman University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Daytona, Florida; special advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and founder of the National Council of Negro Women, said in a speech, “any idea that keeps anybody out is too small”.

Learning about new concepts, and new points of view opens the door to new ideas, increased social awareness, and the ability to learn about people, perspectives, and cultures that may be different than our own world view. Becoming a critical thinker involves analyzing information from multiple sources, understanding the difference between valid and reliable information vs. social media posts masquerading as facts, and then being able to make informed decisions that contribute in positive ways to our schools and community. Critical thinking is not only essential to our students’ future but also to helping our society, as a democracy, continue to grow and flourish.

I thank Ms. Melmed, and her colleagues in the English department at MHHS for doing exactly what we discussed during our districtwide Diversity Committee meetings this summer. These meetings involved over 60 community members, parents, and educators and explored programs and practices being used around the country to ensure students have access to culturally diverse instructional materials. These approaches foster students’ development as culturally and socially competent citizens and their achievement of high academic standards. In this case, the supplemental materials used by Ms. Melmed and her colleagues as a preface to the American classic, Catcher in the Rye, provides an example of meaningful and high quality instruction that exceeds our expectations.

-Jonathan Brice, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

2. High School Program of Study and School Committee Policy IFD

Each year MHHS presents the Program of Study for the upcoming year. This is based on School Committee Policy IFD - Curriculum Adoption.

The MHHS Program of Study 2020-2021 was presented to and approved by the School Committee on January 27, 2020. The course description for grade 10 English is detailed below.

1 Credit Gr. 10 English

English 10 is a skills-based course in which students learn to implement effective strategies to develop their reading and writing. Students will read and respond, through oral and written analysis, to various short stories, poems, informational texts, and major works. This course will take an interdisciplinary approach considering texts within historical, social, cultural, and political contexts. In addition, students will produce constructed responses as well as argumentative, informational/explanatory, and narrative essays.

To review the entire Program of Study please use this link: POS 2020-2021 Web.pdf

3. Colt Andrews to open for in person classes on Monday, September 21, 2020

Thank you to the Colt Andrews staff for engaging their students in distance learning this week as our custodial staff ensured all of the health and safety measures were in place and classrooms were set up for our students. Thank you also to the numerous teachers, support staff, and families who assisted with the Chromebook distribution process.

4. First Week of School Update

  • Completion of the Student Attestation

Thank you to the overwhelming majority of families that completed attestation forms each day. As we know, families are required to take their child’s temperature each day and complete the COVID-19 Student Attestation form in the Aspen Parent Portal to confirm that their child does not have any of the symptoms listed. This is a critical step in preventing the spread of COVID and ensuring we keep our schools safe. We appreciate your cooperation in not sending your child to school if they have any of the symptoms listed.

  • Mask Breaks

This week we have seen students being very respectful of our mask requirements,

calling for masks to be worn at all times while on school grounds. The only

exceptions are that students may remove their masks during a designated snack or

lunch time, or with teacher permission, when they are outside and able to maintain

a distance of at least 6 feet.

  • Conversational tones during lunch and recess

There was an article in the newspaper stating that some districts are requiring all

students to eat lunch in silence. We want to clarify that students are permitted to talk

in quiet voices during lunch and at recess. This is an important time for socialization

and catching up with friends.

5. K-5 Distance Learning Classrooms

All of our K-5 distance learning classrooms are now fully staffed and up and running! Based on parent requests, we have established 17 distance learning classrooms across our elementary schools, to provide full distance learning instruction for 395 students. Distance learning teachers are following the district curriculum and working with Tom Driscoll, our Director of Digital Learning, to engage students in interactive lessons, virtual meetings, and small group activities. We greatly appreciate the support from families/guardians throughout this process.

For families of K-5 distance learning students who have not yet picked up their child’s Chromebook and at home learning materials, please contact your child’s school. If you have questions about your child’s distance learning experience or need support with technology, please contact

6. RIDOT Update, Silver Creek Bridge

Please see the links below for information released by RIDOT regarding an update on the Silver Creek Bridge:

RIDOT Silver Creek Bridge September Update

RIDOT Silver Creek Bridge Travel Advisory

BWRSD Back To School

Visit our website link above to view more information about the following: 1. BWRSD Reopening Plan 2. BWRSD Distance Learning Plan 3. Parent Resources for Google & Seesaw Classrooms 4. COVID-19 Information 5. BWRSD Community Updates