BBRSD Weekly District-Wide Update
September 25, 2020
An Open-Letter to Our Educators from Superintendent Zanghi
Dear Teaching and Support Staff members,
As we near the end of our second week of reopening schools, I want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank each one of you for your dedication and commitment to our students and families. There is no way around it - this is difficult work. Every week, you are planning lessons for both the students who appear before you in each cohort as well as the students who are learning online. You are reaching out to parents to smooth the transition back into the classroom. You are looking out for the wellbeing of your students, our students, and signs that assure you that they are okay. And all the time, you are thinking about, worrying about, and questioning how we can possibly go on under these circumstances. It is a sentiment shared by educators faced with teaching in any of the available learning models across our districts, our nation, and even internationally. We can find an educator pretty much anywhere in the world and recognize the commonality in our challenges.
As I’ve traveled through the three schools these past two weeks, I’ve heard teachers and administrators reminding each other that every school year begins with some bumps and a fair amount of exhaustion. This year, however, has moved us to think beyond what we have experienced in the past and to find new answers to circumstances we have never before encountered. I recognize your feelings and honor your ability as professionals to continue, day after day, to find those answers not only for yourself but more so, for your students. I feel fortunate to be able to work with your Association leaders amicably and respectfully and to meet one another in compromises that allow us to move forward. It is not that way everywhere.
Today, I ask our parent community to join with me in supporting each of you as you work with their children in partnership and to find ways together with you to problem solve concerns that arise during these next weeks and months. I hope that when you go home at the end of each week, you find ways to rejuvenate and to allow yourselves to embrace your family and friends in ways that bring you joy and peace. You are our essential workers and your well-being matters to all of us in the community.
Finally, as the cold and flu season arrives and the runny noses with it, there is some chatter that symptoms are likely attributable to colds or allergies and don't need testing to confirm. There may not be enough guidance to parents about what to do with their kids who may be having cold or allergy symptoms, which unfortunately do overlap with COVID19 symptoms.
Therefore, I would like to pass along to parents the DESE protocols for responding to COVID scenarios http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop/protocols.
Jeffrey T. Zanghi, Superintendent of Schools
Curriculum and Grants Department
Google Classroom For Families
We hope that many of you were able to take advantage of Google Classroom training this past Thursday night hosted by Wesley Swenson from Tahanto. If you missed it, there is another one coming next week!
Please join Mr. Swenson on Tuesday, September 29th at 4:00pm for a live Zoom session as he navigates through the Google platform. You will be able to ask questions and get tips on supporting your children at home.
Below is the Zoom Link:
Topic: BBRSD Parent Tech Afternoon
Time: Sep 29, 2020 04:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 964 1043 0966
Computer Science Course Introduced to Seventh Graders
This year, seventh-grade students are taking their first computer science course thanks to a grant sponsored by the Education Development Center (EDC) in collaboration with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, and the University of Massachusetts - Boston. It is the next step in creating a pathway for our students to explore and achieve levels of competence in Computer Science skills, having already added Computer Science at the high school level. Next year, we will be expanding coursework into eighth grade.
Why focus on Computer Science? The District recognizes that Computer Science is the foundation of workforce expectations. Students will not only be able to build their skills but to become aware of how Computer Science applies in all areas of college and career choices. This opportunity also speaks to equitable access by enabling all of our students, including underrepresented and high needs students, to participate in the coursework.
As part of this grant, the EDC will also be partnering with a newly established Berlin-Boylston District Stakeholders Council comprised of educators, parents, and community representatives, to guide the direction of this project, to ensure that expectations related to equity are met, and to continue to build student and staff capacity within the program.
Carol Costello, Director of Curriculum and Grants
Food Service Update
This is a reminder that we are now able to offer a FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH FOR ALL STUDENTS.
Yes, you read that correctly, lunch and breakfast will now be free for all students. This is through a new USDA program (Seamless Summer Option, or “SSO”). The program lasts until December 31, 2020, or until federal funds are exhausted.
The weekly remote meal ordering form is attached below, and these meals are free as well.
The BBRSD Business Office is hiring! We are in need of an Accounts Payable/Receivable Clerk in our office 12 hours per week. To apply please go to https://www.schoolspring.com/job.cfm?jid=2966332
Robert Conry, Director of Finance and Operations
Pupil Personnel Services
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education asked that we share this letter for parents of students who receive special education services. http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/sped/back-to-school-letter/
Universal Mental Health Screener
One of the many challenges for students and families since the pandemic began has been meeting the social-emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs of our students. During the spring of 2020, our school Psychologists began researching how to best evaluate and support students emotionally once they were back in school. Their research led to a recommendation for a universal mental health screening for all students, followed by tiered interventions.
Please read the following message from our Psychologists about Universal Screening:
So much has changed for our students and families since our quick exit from the school buildings in March and the counseling staff would like to be able to support students that may not have been identified as needing support before COVID-19. The BASC-3 BESS online screener (25-30 questions) is widely used nationally by over one million children each year in the United States. The screener helps to identify children at risk for internalizing behaviors (anxiety, depression), personal adjustment (rapport with adults, trust, decision making), and self-regulation (self-control, impulsive, etc.), which will help us determine more in detail how this global pandemic has personally impacted our students and identify students who may be at risk socially or emotionally upon returning to school. We will be using this screening tool this year for all students in our district. The results will allow us to develop additional interventions, such as classroom presentations, small group short-term counseling, individual counseling at school, and outside referrals to additional providers as needed. If the psychologists see any concerns with a student, they will be in touch with those parents directly to talk about any needed support.
At the elementary school, parents will be asked to complete the screener due to their child's age and students in the middle and high school will respond to themselves, during their 8th-period support block. You will receive an email invitation to complete the screener during the second week of October. Please feel free to contact us with any questions. We hope to have all students participate, however you may choose not to have your child participate by sending an email to the school psychologist at your child’s school:
Tahanto: Dr. Kim Trainor firstname.lastname@example.org
Berlin Memorial School: Ms. Linda Checola email@example.com
Boylston Elementary School: Mrs. Kelly Wong firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Molnar, Director of Pupil Personnel
Chromebooks have been deployed to both A and B Cohorts as well as Fully Remote students. Thank you to the parent and teacher volunteers who made it possible to get this job done. If your family is still in need of an additional device, please contact your building principal and we will try to get one ready for your family.
A few people have asked about protective covers or cases. I would recommend a simple neoprene case. Our Chromebooks are between 11 and 11.6-inch models, so something that would fit at least 11.6 inches is the way to go. For example https://www.amazon.com/amCase-Chromebook-Samsung-Notebook-Neoprene/dp/B00DUN2PBQ (Not a recommendation on brand or vendor, just an example.) These are small and light enough to still fit inside your child’s backpack, but provide a little added protection against being punctured or crushed.
Details on our insurance program for the Chromebooks are still not finalized. We will send something home to all families once we have the plan in place.
Paul Mara, Director of Technology
Boylston Elementary School
Dare I say, "we're settling in"? Much of the day to day routines here in the building are normalizing and wrinkles are being ironed out. The staff is working so hard and the kids are AMAZING! Our hybrid days are still a work in progress. We're moving beyond introduction activities and now focused on the beginning of the year assessments.
An area we are really focused on right now is our Remote Bridges specials. We've had a few meetings this week but don't have a resolution...yet. We are committed to making this a successful school year for everyone! It's been a great start with even better days ahead!
We were able to add to our team this week. You may have seen Mr. Alter supervising arrival and dismissal by the 4th/5th grade wing this week. He is our newest paraprofessional, spending his time supporting our sub separate program (Bridges) and in the Kindergarten.
While you welcome Mr. Alter, we also celebrate and congratulate Ms. Lubarsky (2nd-grade teacher) who announced her retirement after 18 years at BES! Her last day will be next Wednesday. Mrs. Rollins (a frequent substitute) will fill in for her while we conduct our search for a new 2nd-grade teacher.
Our wonderful PTO is starting back up. They've asked me to share their upcoming meetings (see below). All the meetings will be held virtually. It is a great way to be involved in your child(ren)'s education and be a part of our school community. Come with those big smiles and creative minds. We're thinking outside the box this year! All are welcome regardless of cohort or remote models.
Ace Thompson, Principal
Welcome Mr. Alter, a new paraprofessional here at BES!
Mrs. Lubarsky will be retiring on September 30. Mrs. Rollins will be filling in while we search for a new grade 2 teacher.
BES PTO Schedule
PTO meetings will be held via Zoom. All are welcome!
Berlin Memorial School
Another week in the books. Just a few notes for you, but they are important, so read on.
As many of you know, Julia Brodmerkle, our amazing Grade One teacher, is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her first child! With her due date right around the corner, I am pleased to share that Lisa Torgersen, our current Kindergarten paraprofessional, will be filling in for Julia during her absence. Lisa, who is a certified teacher, already knows these children well, and we are confident that she will do a great job in Julia’s absence.
Remote Work & Attendance
When we closed schools last March, our initial weeks were spent trying to do what we could do for kids without adding anything else to stress out already stressed-out families. As we start the new school year, the rules are different. As teachers, we are asked to take attendance each day for all students – both those physically here and those at home.
We are going to be entering Week Three of the new school year and students will have work to do each day when they are at home. It is important that this work be completed because we want kids to have a chance to practice things they learned on “in-school” days, and a chance to prepare for the learning that is coming up. Work at home is how we gauge attendance. If your child isn’t engaging on “remote” days, they will be marked absent.
This is new to all of us, and we want to support parents any way we can. If you are having trouble accessing learning on remote days, please give us a call here at school so we can help.
Our Parent Group, LINK, Inc, will have their first meeting of the year on Thursday, October 1st. We are going to try to take advantage of this beautiful fall weather by meeting in the side parking lot here at school. The meeting starts at 7:00 – hope to see you there.
A Note from Nurse Ana
You can find Nurse Ana’s update by clicking here.
Dates to know –
October 1 – LINK, Inc. Meeting 7:00 in the School Parking lot
October 12 – Columbus Day – No School
October 19 – School Pictures for Cohort A (and remote students)
October 22 - School Pictures for Cohort B (and remote students)
John Campbell, Principal
Ms. Torgersen will be filling in for Ms.Brodmerkle, who is anticipating the arrival of her first child!
See Nurse Ana's Newsletter here
Tahanto Regional Middle/High School
Tahanto Today September 25, 2020
Dear Tahanto Families,
Congratulations to Senior Rachel Donoghue for being named a Commended Student in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Rachel placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2021 competition by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).
Tahanto School Forms Due 9/30/20
All parents and guardians are required to fill out school entry forms. Please click on the link below to access all forms. Forms include Student Entry Packet, Health Screening Form and Extra-Curricular Release Form. These forms are due by 9/30/20 all forms can be submitted electronically except for the Extra-Curricular Release Form, which must be completed and returned to the main office.
We know that attendance procedures during our hybrid model of learning can be confusing so we are hoping that this email helps to clarify attendance requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. Regardless of what mode we are in, hybrid, fully remote, or all in, attendance is treated the same way.
According to The Massachusetts Department of Education, “Schools and districts must take daily attendance whether a student is in person or remote.” Consequently, “Parents/caregivers are responsible for ensuring their child attends school every day, whether for in-person or remote learning. Schools and districts must continue to investigate extended absences and make and document reasonable efforts to locate the student and determine the reason for nonattendance.”
School districts must take attendance for every student, every period regardless of the mode of learning. If your child is absent from school whether your child is remote or in person, please follow the same procedures:
Call (508)869-2333 x 2303 to report your child absent. If your child is absent due to a medical appt. (doctor or dentist) please bring a note to the main office from the doctor’s office the next day your child is at Tahanto.
If your child is going to be late to school for either remote learning or in-person please still call the above number and make us aware of this. Remote attendance will be taken within the first 10 minutes of class.
Each student has 3 parental excusals that can be used during each semester for absences that are not subject to a doctor’s visit. To use parental excusal please write a note and have your child bring the note to the main office on the next day your child is in person at Tahanto.
If we do not receive a call notifying us of the absence, the secretaries in the main office will be contacting parents/guardians.
I have attached a document that explains our attendance policy in detail from our 2020-2021 Student Handbook.
If you need further clarification or need to ask a question specific to your child’s attendance, please do not hesitate to contact Sue Boudreau at (508)869-2333 or send an email to email@example.com.
Parent Technology Workshops
Sept. 29, 4:00 p.m.
Wesley Swenson, a mathematics teacher at Tahanto, has been gracious enough to not only create online asynchronous workshops for staff and families on our website, www.bbrsd.org but has also offered his time to synchronously present two workshops for parents. These workshops, which are identical in content, offer parents a chance to navigate Google Classroom and basic Google tools with support in real-time. There will also be an opportunity for questions during each session. Click here for more details and Zoom links!
TAHANTO VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE
Date: October 8, 2020
2 Sessions: 12:30p.m.-2:30p.m.OR 6:30p.m.-8:30p.m.
Click the link below for more information!
Live streaming-Notice to Parents
Teachers may choose to live stream their instruction to students who are learning remotely. This means live video and audio coverage of a class would occur. Teachers have been instructed that the video is directed at them or their instructional tools. However, student voices and/or images may be heard and/or seen on the live stream during class instruction.
Teachers who choose to live stream will post a sign on their classroom door alerting students that audio recording will occur.
A disclaimer will be added to the Google Meet and/or Zoom when a class is being live-streamed.
Week of 9/28/20-10/2/20 ODD WEEK (High School Only) *
Cohort A (Last name A-LeB) you are at Tahanto in person on Monday & Tuesday and remote Wednesday-Friday
Cohort B (Last name Lee-Z) you are remote Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and at Tahanto in person on Thursday & Friday
* Odd weeks are for high school classes that meet every other day and show on your schedule as meeting (7,8,10 or 6,8,9)
Please remember that whether you are in person or remote your classes will follow the same schedule. The school day runs from 7:35 a.m. until 2:15 p.m.
How to Access Schedules
Select the www.bbrsd.org website
Under Tahanto - Select "For Students"
Select Powerschool Login
Username and password login will appear. If you forgot your username or password, please send Mrs. Esposito an email to have it reset at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you are logged in click “ my schedule” located on the left side of the screen and choose Matrix view to view your schedule.
Select the www.bbrsd.org website
Under Tahanto - Select "For Parents"
Select Powerschool Login
Username and password login screen will appear. If you forgot your username or password or need to create one, please send Mrs. Esposito an email to have it reset or setup at email@example.com.
Once you are logged in click “ my schedule” located on the left side of the screen and choose Matrix view to view your schedule.
What Do I Need to Remember to Bring To School Everyday?
Charged Laptop/Chromebook. If you need to borrow a Chromebook from Tahanto please contact Mrs. Boudreau at firstname.lastname@example.org
Filled water bottle(s)
Backpack with a notebook and a pen/pencil
Lunch if not buying one from school
A HUGE SMILE
Check your school email prior to 7:35 a.m. for your Google Classroom invite from your teachers
Charged Chromebook and/or computer ready to go!
Follow your schedule throughout the day
A HUGE SMILE
Drama Club 2020-21
The first meeting of the Drama Club will happen on Wednesday, September 30 in a Google Meet. Drama Club is open to students grades 6-12.
Use the class code https://classroom.google.com/c/MTc2MjQ0NDY0MjI1?cjc=aya2qir to join the class online.
Then, join Mrs. Gustavson and other interested students in a Google Meet using the class code in the banner or this link: https://meet.google.com/lookup/f3uf6a2ua6
Mrs. Gustavson will be doing practice readings of monologues and dialogues online during the drama club meetings on Wednesday. If you have any questions, please send me an email to email@example.com.
School Nurse Information
From the School Nurse:
A reminder: All students in Grades 7 and 10 are required, by the state, to have an up to date physical on file in the Health Office. Please send one in with your child, or you can email or fax the physical as well.
Medications: If your child will need medication during the school day, we will need a doctor's order, co-signed by parent/guardian. Any form the primary care physician uses is fine. You can drop off that medication at any time.
Health office fax: 508-869-6202
I just have to add that this week has been so good! The kids have fallen right into the new ways and have been great with all the new rules. We truly do have the best students. Thank you parents for all you have done during this hard time as well. The results show.
Tahanto Safety Information Video
Please click on the link below to view the bus, hallway, classroom, nurses’ office, and lunch safety information and changes for the 2020-2021 school year.
Tahanto Arrival and Dismissal Information
Please understand that these procedures for arrival and dismissal have been put into place based upon DESE and CDC guidelines for safe school re-entry.
Arrival (Students will not be allowed in the building until 7:20 a.m.)
7:20-7:35 Buses arrive at Tahanto
7:25-7:35 Student drop-off and students who have parking spaces
Please note that no student can be dropped off by a parent/guardian prior to 7:25
Once in the building students will report directly to their first scheduled class of the day
2:05-Seniors who drive personal vehicles
2:10- We will begin dismissing those students who are taking the bus by bus number
2:15-Students who are being picked up by parent/guardian (parents/guardians will not be able to line-up for pick-up until 2:15)
All students must leave the school campus (unless participating in fall athletics) by 2:30 p.m.
We have reached the opening of the Fall 1 season. I would like to thank the Tahanto Community, School District, School Committee, Administration, Parents, Coaches, and Student-Athletes for their continuous support during this difficult time.
As we start moving forward with the approved MIAA Fall 1 Calendar Season, please remember it's going to take a collective effort by all to provide our student-athletes with a positive athletic experience.
This update includes the links to the Midland Wachusett League COVID Protocols and Procedures Handbook, The MIAA modification of play rules for each individual sport, The Midland Wachusett League Statement letter, and information pertaining to the first meeting/practice of Tahanto sports teams.
We have been placed in a Geographical Pod with West Boylston, Clinton, Ayer, Trivium, South Lancaster, and St. Bernard's. Schedules will be posted by early next week. Competitions will start October 5th, with golf matches eligible to start a week earlier.
These modifications were designed with the intent to enhance our safety, and get our student-athletes onto the playing fields. These rules and regulations must be followed. We will be under the microscope.
The climate and circumstances might have changed but the goal remains the same; provide a positive, memorable experience for our kids through the competition of athletics. Regardless of the obstacles, I'm excited for the start of the season for our student-athletes here at Tahanto.
Once again, a reminder, families will be responsible for getting their student-athletes back to the campus for practices, home games, and buses for away games if they are in remote learning. As always, please check to be sure that your son/daughter's physical is up to date and on file with the school nurse.
Please make sure that student-athletes have COVID related supplies (masks, sanitizer, plenty of water) in their personal gym bags.
Look to the athletic website for more updates. The coaches are posted on the front page.
The Tahanto Booster Club is kicking off its 2020 Butter Braid and Cookie Dough Fundraiser. All Tahanto fall teams should be receiving a form from their coach but you can click on the link below if you need another copy.
The Tahanto athlete that sells the most will receive a Tahanto sweatshirt courtesy of the Booster Club. Orders are due by October 13th and can be placed, with a check written out to the Tahanto Booster Club, in the marked bin in the table outside the front office. Items will be frozen and need to be picked up after school on October 26th.
You can also support the Booster Club by donating to our Venmo account! Go to www.tahantoboosterclub.org for more info on what the Booster Club does for student-athletes at Tahanto. An online option for the Butter Braid fundraiser is available if you wish to provide MCM Fundraising with your email address. Contact the Booster Club at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set that up for you.
For the latest information regarding fall athletics please click on the link below
Diane Tucceri, Principal
Sally-Ann Stukuls, Assistant Principal