Superintendent Weekly Update
March 12, 2021
Dear Mohawk Trail & Hawlemont Families,
The past week has been a whirl-wind as we accelerated our timeline for our full in-person Return to Learn across both districts. I want to say THANK YOU to the families who quickly completed our surveys indicating their return plans and ride these waves with us. And to our administrators, educators, and school staff who remain flexible and dedicated to our students. You are ALL greatly appreciated!
Here's what's happening this week!
* MTRSD Return to Learn: Phase III
* School Committee Update
* COVID-19 School Planning Task Force & Vaccine Clinic Updates
* Community Corner: Colrain Broadband, Girls on the Run
* MTRS Spotlights
* School Spotlights: Sanderson Academy, Colrain Central
MTRSD Return to Learn: Phase III
Last night we presented our updated Return to Learn plans for Phase III: returning elementary students in Kindergarten through Grade 6 via the full in-person model at our virtual town hall. Thank you to everyone who participated, asked so many great questions, and watched along via Facebook and Vimeo.
Our DLT has been planning for a transition between hybrid and full in-person returns for many months and was well underway with the planning process; having discussions with staff and negotiating with our union; assessing our facilities, etc. However, the Commissioner's recent announcement greatly accelerated our plans for moving to the next phase.
DESE's new mandates eliminate the hybrid model option for all schools. With a phased-in approach, DESE is requiring elementary students to return to full in-person learning (five days per week) by April 5; with middle school students to follow by April 28. There's no indication yet from DESE on the timeline for high school, but have indicated that districts should be ready to transition to a full in-person model for high school within a two week's notice of their decision.
With that said, we expect there's more information to come from the Commissioner's office in the days ahead. I will continue to communicate this rapidly changing situation as we learn more. Please remember to stay tuned regularly to your email and our website for updates.
For our elementary families returning via our full in-person model, below is a graphic which outlines the major area where you will see changes in your child/ren's school day including:
* a change in minimum physical distancing observed in school (between 3- and 6-feet)
* lunch procedures
Please be sure to review our Return to Learn Phase III plans (found on our COVID-19 Information page HERE) for all the details. If you missed our virtual town hall, you watch the replay on the Mohawk Trail Regional School facebook page (www.facebook.com/mohawktrailregional) or district's Vimeo channel, www.vimeo.com/mtrsd
If you have any school-specific questions, or you have not yet indicated your plans for how your child/ren will continue learning with us, please reach out directly to your building principal.
MTRSD School Committee Updates
At their meeting on Wednesday evening, the MTRSD school committee voted to approve advisory as a graduation requirement for Mohawk Trail Regional School students. The new graduation requirement would not impact the Class of 2021, but would begin with a phased-in approach starting with the Class of 2022. This credit/no-credit class is currently embedded within the school day and provides students with social-emotional and academic supports; college and career readiness; and more. Advisory offers a great way to strengthen connections between students with their peers and adults at MTRS as they blaze their trail to graduation and life beyond our walls. To hear what students and staff at MTRS say about the program, be sure to read my Feb. 27 newsletter which highlights this new program offered at MTRS this year.
Additionally, the school committee will host another meeting next Tuesday, March 16 to hear public feedback and discuss our Return to Learn Phase III full in-person plans. The school committee wants to remind the public they must sign-up for public comment with Patricia Donohue at email@example.com in advance of the meeting.
COVID-19 School Planning Task Force & Vaccine Clinic Updates
Gov. Baker today launched a new (and hopefully improved!) vaccine preregistration system to provide those currently eligible for vaccination with an opportunity to schedule their appointment. This comes after his announcement last week shifting K12 educators up in the vaccine priority status, making them eligible on March 11 to schedule their vaccines.
Of course, this has been incredibly frustrating for so many of us in Western Mass as those eligible struggle to find local availability. Donna Weber, our district's nurse leader, has been working tirelessly with our friends at FRCOG to arrange for a vaccine clinic specifically for our district staff on Monday, March 15. I am so grateful for all the work that has been happening behind the scenes to help get our staff vaccinated.
Moving into our next phase of providing full in-person instruction across the district, we MUST remain dedicated to our FAB FOUR and practicing all mitigation strategies in order to keep our school communities healthy and safe.
The COVID-19 School Planning Task Force monitors state, local (county), and district COVID-19 cases each week and discusses potential impacts to our school community. Once again we've seen a small dip in the caseloads across the state, Franklin County, and in the district. You can review the latest dashboard at www.mtrsd.org/covid-19-information.
Stay tuned to the FRCOG website regularly for local updates and information about COVID-19 vaccines.
The FAB What? The FAB Who? The FAB FOUR is PRACTICED BY Y-O-U!
Wear your mask; wash your hands; practice physical distancing; and stay home when you are unwell!
Community Corner: Colrain Broadband
Girls on the Run - Grades 3-5
**This is not a school/district sponsored event.
MTRS Surprise Graduation
Congratulations to Mohawk Trail Regional School students Brett and Killian on their recent graduation! Last week our staff held a physically-distanced surprise hallway celebration to wish these two incredible students farewell. Thanks for blazing your trails with us--you will be MISSED!
DID YOU KNOW . . .
Science Ted Talks & Chat
Writing, Writing, Writing
Chronicles of NERDia
Hiking, Fishing, and Hunting
Conspiracy Theories and Strange History
The College Application Process
Arts & Crafts... and so much MORE!
Can't wait to hear about this round of activities from our students!
MTRS Spotlight: Young Entrepreneur Hosts "Ye Olde School Store"
MTRS student Christian Kunesch, grade 9, decided to expand on idea he had last year as a middle school student to create his own school store. Prior to last year's school closures due to COVID-19, Christian teamed-up with some friends and with the help from one of their teachers, applied for a small grant to make their idea a reality.
Christian received the grant and returned to MTRS this year to fulfill his entrepreneurial dreams of having his own school store. With some help from Justin Rathbun, his Academic Support teacher, Christian designed and opened his mobile school store, complete with a website and online ordering. You can check out his website HERE. You can see from the cart below, Christian has items in stock and is ready to fulfill those orders!
GREAT job, Christian!
School Spotlight: Sanderson Academy
Sanderson sixth graders are studying the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia including an examination of important architecture and inventions (like the wheel!). According to Sixth Grade Teacher Kristen Schreiber, the unit included a focus on ziggurats, an important religious structure located in the heart of the city. Using what they learned about ziggurat architecture, students completed a STEAM marble-run project. Check out some of their work below!
I wonder how far those marbles traveled...?
School Spotlight: Colrain Central
Inside... outside... Colrain Central School Kindergarteners in Grace Ahrensdorf's class are having fun in the snow while it lasts and enjoying their individual classroom stations. Each Tuesday they work hard on Ms. Aiken's art projects and look forward to Thursdays when they enjoy a good library book (or two) with Ms. Genie.
FREE Workshop Next Week: Creating Family-Life Balances in a Pandemic
Sharing this important and timely topic for our district families hosted by Leann Loomis, director of pupil personnel services. Click on the HERE for full event details!
March 15, 2021 / 7 PM
Early Childhood - PK-1
March 16, 2021 / 7PM
Secondary Grades 7-12
March 17, 2021 / 7PM
Elementary Grades 2-6