Framingham Public Schools

Saturday: May 9, 2020

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Introduction

As you can imagine there have been many questions raised with each phase of our journey into Remote Learning. It began when we closed our schools in mid-March, while we waited for guidance from the Commonwealth, and through several extended closure announcements.


We've compiled quite a long list of Q&As and are sharing them with the community since they may be helpful / beneficial to others. These are also posted to the Framingham Public Schools website.

TEACHING AND LEARNING

How is the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) responding to the needs of students and families in the wake of Governor Baker’s school closure announcement?


Commissioner Riley (DESE) views the state’s response to COVID-19 as having four phases:


  1. The initial school closures, with a focus on students’ and families’ immediate needs, such as safety and food;

  2. The initial remote learning recommendations (Issued by the DESE on March 26th), before anyone knew how long schools would be closed;

  3. The remote learning update (Issued by the DESE on April 24th) following the announcement that schools will not reopen this school year; and

  4. Reopening school, a process that will take shape in the coming months.


What has changed with remote learning expectations now that school buildings are closed for the remainder of the school year?

On Friday, April 24, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) released additional guidance on remote learning that builds on the initial guidance that was released on March 26, 2020 with a deeper focus on two areas:


  • Further defining the recommended elements of a quality remote learning program, including a focus on teaching the content standards most critical for student success in the next grade level, and

  • Encouraging districts to move all students towards successful engagement in remote learning, with a focus on addressing fundamental needs.



This guidance is designed to both affirm work already underway and provide additional ideas and strategies with an intentional focus on the standards that will be most critical to student success in the next school year, coupled with increased attention to student engagement.


While the DESE is not expecting teachers to cover all grade level standards this year, the DESE is now asking districts to go further than before, focusing on the prerequisite standards most critical to student success in the next school year, coupled with increased attention to student engagement to best support our students’ learning.


Our teams of administrators, union leadership, and teachers have been working collaboratively using this new guidance as we continue to shift our approach to teaching and learning at this extraordinary time in education. As referenced in their guidance, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released prerequisite standards for English Language Arts; History and Social Studies; Science, Technology, and Engineering; and Mathematics. Those documents can be reviewed here for grades K-5 and grades 6-12. Therefore, all grade levels and content areas can expect to move curriculum forward as necessary in alignment with these documents beginning no later than May 18, 2020.


How will students be graded?

Grading at the high school level will be aligned with the communication from Principal Banach as outlined here.


Students in the middle schools will be moving into Trimester 3 shortly. For Trimester 2, students will receive grades for the work they completed that was assigned prior to the school closure. For Trimester 3, students will receive a grade similar to Credit/No Credit. Additional information is forthcoming.


I have heard that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is requiring districts to track student engagement. What does that look like for Framingham?

Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently released their latest guidance regarding remote learning due to COVID-19. This document, Strengthening Our Remote Learning Experience, outlines several key practices to support teaching and learning during these challenging times with a goal of moving “all students toward consistent engagement in remote learning, with a focus on connectedness and on the content standards most critical for success in the next grade.”


The guidance further clarifies that fundamental to reaching this goal is the need to “[d]evelop a system for identifying and supporting students not effectively engaged in remote learning. We recommend that districts and schools:


1. Collect information to understand each student’s level of engagement in remote learning.

2. Provide supports to further engage all students, with a focus on meeting foundational student

needs.”


The Office of Teaching and Learning, Office of Technology, and the Framingham Teachers Association have collaboratively developed a plan for collecting and tracking student engagement which will serve as a measure of a student’s participation in remote learning. This information is for internal planning purposes only. School and district leaders will use this information to identify students and families that may need additional support during remote learning, as well as to develop plans for next year related to curriculum, instruction, and intervention.


Engagement tracking is separate from Semester 2 grading at the high school since participation can come in many forms including (but not limited to):


  • Participating in a video conference;

  • Participating and/or contributing to a virtual discussion;

  • Completing work in IXL, iReady, Imagine Learning, Elefante Letrado, etc.;

  • Performing activities or tasks as submitted by the student;

  • Participating in a small group session;

  • Emailing with a teacher about a question or other related topic from the course;

  • Turning in an assignment from the calendar; and

  • Any other type of participation the teacher feels is appropriate.


Semester 2 grading at the high school level is more explicitly aligned with work completion, as explained in this document from Principal Banach.


If you have any questions, please reach out to your child’s teacher or principal.


How will we know if our child is meeting requirements to move to the next grade? I don’t think I have seen information on what the requirements are.

Unless there is a specific reason that a child should be retained in grade, students will be able to advance to the next grade level. No student will be held back due to lack of opportunity to access the curriculum during the COVID-19 closure. We are very mindful of the impact this closure has had on the curriculum. The Office of Teaching and Learning in collaboration with department heads, coaches, and teachers, is keeping track of which standards have been taught this year and which standards will need to be addressed next year. We are also looking at ways to monitor student engagement during the school closure so we can properly plan for any necessary remediation and intervention for students in the fall.


Can parents request that the district retain their child for the coming school year?

Decisions about retaining a child are very serious. The most recent guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education stated, “with the extension of remote learning through the end of the school year, we want to expand on this recommendation to encourage districts and schools to promote students to the next grade level, an action supported by research.” That being said, all decisions regarding retention should be held in partnership with school personnel. Parents should reach out to their child’s teacher and Principal to discuss any concerns about their child’s academic or social/emotional performance so that progress and interventions can be discussed. Individual analysis of a student’s academic performance over time should be considered in any retention conversations.


Now that school will remain remote for the remainder of the school year, is there thought to adding any teacher led live learning to the remote learning program?

We are regularly meeting with district departments, principals, and union leaders to do everything we can to support student learning during the COVID-19 closure. We all recognize the social and other benefits of live videos with back and forth communication. While some students can participate in live video lessons, we have a significant number of students who will not be able to participate in such sessions. We have made great strides in providing technology to families, but there are other barriers that are harder to overcome including supporting families that are trying to manage working from home while also helping their children access their remote learning. This is especially challenging with the younger grades. We are mindful of these obstacles and are, therefore, carefully considering all ways in which students can learn in a remote setting to make sure we offer opportunities that are accessible to as many students as possible.


Given the extended school closure, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has just issued guidance to districts on content delivery expectations. DESE noted, “We generally recommend that schools and educators deliver instructional lessons intended for all students in an asynchronous format (e.g., record a video of the lesson as opposed to asking students to tune in at a specific hour to watch it "live"). Benefits of this approach include:


  • Freeing up educator time during the school day to provide synchronous ("live") support to students who may need extra support.

  • Accessibility for all students and families who may have conflicting commitments or responsibilities during the school day.

  • Ability for students to watch lessons multiple times as needed while completing assignments.


We will continue to review our own practices and improve how we deliver content to the students of Framingham which will begin to move beyond the deepening of content knowledge previously taught to now advancing learning in State-designated content standards. Our teams will be making adjustments and updates to our remote learning plan. We will also be discussing the strengthening of “teacher-led live learning” and other remote learning solutions with our administrative teams and teacher union leadership.


What about the MCAS test?

The state has announced that MCAS will not be given this Spring 2020.


Can I still request a Chromebook for my child?

Yes, we are still shipping chromebooks to families in need and working with families to secure internet access through local service providers or through the distribution of “hot spots,” as available.


What if we are having trouble accessing the remote learning websites? Is there a help desk or should we ask the teacher?

We would suggest you reach out to your teacher who can contact whomever is appropriate to solve the problem. Sometimes if it is a file sharing question, the teacher can resolve immediately.


I am having difficulty at home accessing remote learning because I do not speak English and do not understand how to work with my child at home. What resources are available for me to work with my child?

There are several ways that families who do not speak English can support their children during remote learning. Families who need assistance in Spanish and Portuguese may directly contact the Language Assessment Office staff through What’s App:


Portuguese: Ana Furtado 508-561-3340 and Virginia Bertelli 508-561-3231


Spanish: Ivonne Anzola 508-561-3558 and Claudia Diaz 508-561-3873


For other language supports, families may contact the Translations’ office (translationcoordinator@framingham.k12.ma.us) and request an interpreter in their native/home language. Families can also access the resources below or contact their child’s school for support in academic remote learning:


My child had an IEP meeting scheduled before schools closed. Will it now be held virtually?

Once Governor Baker announced that we would not be returning to our school buildings for the remainder of the year, we began planning procedures for virtual IEP meetings. Virtual IEP meetings started at the end of April. We are trying to prioritize meetings because we have some meetings, like transition meetings, which need to occur prior to students shifting from preschool to elementary, elementary to middle, and middle to high school. We are also beginning to schedule annual review meetings where the IEPs have expired, initial evaluation meetings as long as the testing and reports have been completed, and re-evaluation meetings as long as the testing and reports have been completed. If anyone has a question about a virtual IEP meeting, please reach out to the Special Education Team Evaluation Coordinator (SPED TECs) at the school and the special education liaison.


What summer school or summer programming options will there be?

On April 21, the Governor shared his decision for schools to continue with remote learning through the end of the school year. While we wish we could end the school year together, back in our buildings, the safety, health, and well being of our students, families, and staff are our primary focus.


Spring is when we begin to plan and coordinate our summer programming, including:


  • Special Education Extended School Year (ESY);

  • Summer Scene (Artists, Athletes, and STEAMers);

  • RISE;

  • RISE for ELLs;

  • Camp Invention;

  • PreK Summer Program;

  • PreK Summer for ELLs;

  • Summer Institute (formerly FHS Summer School);

  • Framingham Youth Theatre; and

  • Club Exitos and Club Sucesso


With the current guidance, we are moving forward in creating remote summer learning programs in an effort to ensure some form of summer programming is available to students. Our intent is to take the safest course of action for all of the students and families that we serve.

ACCESSING THE SCHOOL BUILDINGS

My child left some of her personal belongings at school. Are we able to retrieve those items?

In response to the Governor's announcement that schools will be closed for the remainder of the year, we have developed a plan to retrieve students' personal belongings from our school buildings. Students will not be permitted inside school buildings to retrieve these items. Rather, we will gather the items for families using the information that they provide to us. We are working closely with the Framingham Department of Public Health and our school and district leaders to develop a plan.


We are currently gathering students’ belongings at each of the schools. This process will be completed over the coming weeks. Once we have collected all of these items, we will communicate with families about the process for picking up their belongings.


All families will be able to pick up their child’s belongings, regardless of whether or not they completed the survey that was sent out in April.


I am a teacher. I left some of my personal belongings at school. Will I be able to retrieve them? What about packing up my classroom?

In response to the Governor's announcement that schools will be closed for the remainder of the year, we are developing a plan to allow teachers to retrieve personal belongings from our school buildings and pack up their classrooms. The district is actively working with the City’s Department of Public Health to develop a plan and schedule to allow all staff access to their school to retrieve personal belongings and/or pack up their classrooms while following safe social distancing guidelines. We will update you with details as they develop.

FRAMINGHAM HIGH SCHOOL & THE SENIOR CLASS

When is the last day for seniors at Framingham High School?

Under the Student Learning Time regulations, 603 CMR 27.05, seniors may be released up to 12 school days before the school’s regularly scheduled closing date (e.g., the date that would have been the 180th school day). Even as districts are continuing remote teaching and learning through day 181 or 185, they can maintain the originally scheduled release date for seniors, as long as it is no more than 12 school days before what would have been day 180 for the current school year. In Framingham, 12 school days prior to the originally scheduled 180th day is Monday, June 1, 2020, and that will be the last day for seniors.


I am a graduating senior. How will I get my cap and gown, and my diploma? What about the materials I have borrowed from the school (textbooks, instrument, graphing calculator, chromebook, etc) and need to return?

In response to the Governor's announcement that schools will be closed for the remainder of the year, we are developing a plan to safely recognize and celebrate our graduating seniors. More details will follow in the coming days from the high school administration directly.


We are also developing a plan to ensure you receive your transcript, academic records, transcript, diploma as well as your cap and gown. We are considering a few options and will communicate with you once we have determined the best way to get these items to you. Similarly, we are working out a system for collecting items from you that need to be returned.


We paid for a full year of bus fees. Will that be refunded?

Yes, after the School Committee’s May 6th vote, bus fees will be refunded on a prorated basis. We ask for your patience as staff working remotely will be processing those reimbursements.

DESE PHASE 4: REOPENING SCHOOL

What is the re-entry plan for when schools are able to open?

Ensuring all students are safe and feel supported about the reopening of school is at the forefront of our minds. We are working in collaboration with local and state agencies including the City’s Department of Public Health and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to make sure we have a comprehensive plan in place and are ready and prepared to address the wide range of students’ needs as we welcome them back to our buildings.


We are developing plans to ensure the mental health and physical safety of students are addressed, including re-acclimating students to the behavior expectations of our schools, increasing the social emotional and mental health support offered to all students, developing protocols for any necessary health screenings, and addressing social distancing requirements.


What about 5th Grade and 8th Grade promotions and transition support?

School principals are working collaboratively on creative ways to celebrate students’ promotion to the next grade level while ensuring appropriate social distancing measures are in place. More information will be forthcoming as details are finalized.


How is the kindergarten assignment process impacted?

The Kindergarten registration deadline was extended to May 8, 2020 to support families impacted by COVID-19. All registrations were moved to a virtual platform. Parent Information Center (PIC) Registrars contact families via phone call, email and text message to inform them that they have a pending registration and direct them on the next steps to finalize registration. Families can submit required documents by either taking a picture of them or scanning and uploading the documents.


Children who need to have the language assessment testing are contacted by the Bilingual Department to conduct a virtual language testing assessment. Once testing is complete, the Bilingual Department informs families of their program options. The Bilingual Department then sends the School Choice Form to the family and the PIC Office Manager to review for completion.


What if a family misses the May 8th deadline, how do they register?

The Parent Information Center (PIC) manages a website dedicated to Incoming Kindergarten families with all the questions & answers that they may have. https://www.framingham.k12.ma.us/Page/8349


The PIC website contains messages informing families that we are working virtually and families can call us.


When will the Kindergarten lottery take place?

  • The lottery will take place the week of June 1st, 2020.
  • Families will receive an email notification on their Kindergarten placement by June 12th, 2020.


How will the economy impact our schools when they reopen? What is the City of Framingham’s Government doing to plan?

All municipalities are dealing with ever changing budget challenges. While budgets are imperative to the work we do and to how we serve our community, never have we witnessed such commitment to preserving the health and wellness of humanity. Budget conversations pale by comparison to the conversations that have been taking place as we watch the ebb and flow of COVID-19 cases in Framingham and around the world as the looking glass into our future - a future that none of us imagined earlier this fall when the FY21 budget seemed to be the most important conversation of the day.


We began our FY21 budget planning last fall when the hopes of the long awaited Student Opportunity Act (SOA) promised millions of new resources to support our students and fill long standing structural gaps. The new reality is that we are seeking to simply deliver services while knowing many of the new initiatives cannot happen for now. In recent days, FPS has shifted to focusing on a level service budget with no new initiatives (unless required by law) in order to meet the enrollment growth, contractual obligations, and daily opportunities and challenges that a system of education has in a unique district like ours. The Mayor’s new budget submission for FPS is understandable in the wake of all that is happening in our economy. The FPS team has been working non-stop to analyze the impacts of the currently projected $3.3 million and ever changing budget gap, and we will continue to work with the School Committee, our district and school level leaders, our federal and state legislators, and our union leadership to minimize the impact to students and our community.


City Council and School Committee Meetings are ongoing, with budget planning discussed at all meetings. Visit the City Meeting Portal for schedules, and the School Committee’s Website.

STAFF CONCERNS

Is the district planning anything to honor the service of retirees?

Yes, we are planning a way to honor our retirees while also complying with the pandemic guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone.


I am a paraprofessional. When will I find out about my placement for next year?

We will try to let everyone know prior to the end of this school year about assignments for the coming school year, but student needs always guide decisions so changes may be made over the summer.


I am a teacher. What will happen with evaluations this school year?

This MOU has been developed collaboratively by the district and Framingham Teachers Association (FTA).


Now that we have experience with engaging teaching and learning from home, is the district considering “Blizzard Bags” in lieu of having to make up snow days in the future?

Before the pandemic, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) no longer allowed the "Blizzard Bag" option. Here is the notification from Commissioner Riley and here is an article from a division of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA).

RESOURCES

Where can I access food for my family?

Families looking to access food resources can click here for updated information on where they can access food. Families in need of emergency food should call the Emergency Food Line established by the city at (508) 532-5479. Families experiencing extreme hardship should notify their school counselor. The district is working with the City of Framingham, the Department of Public Health and local agencies to connect families to food serving agencies.

Food distribution sites are available Monday - Friday, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the following locations:


  • Cameron Middle School - 215 Elm Street, Framingham, MA 01701

  • Barbieri Elementary School - 100 Dudley Road, Framingham, MA 01702

  • Fuller Middle School - 31 Flagg Drive, Framingham, MA 01702

  • Woodrow Wilson Elementary School - 169 Leland Street, Framingham, MA 01702


On Wednesdays, at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School from 10 AM to 1 PM, Jewish Family Services in partnership with Daniel’s Table distribute bags of groceries and toiletries to families.


My family is feeling anxious and under a lot of stress because we cannot leave the house. I do not have much support. What should I do?

The COVID-19 health crisis has been stressful for all of us. It is normal to feel a sense of anxiety due to the uncertainty we are experiencing. We also appreciate that not everyone can work from home and are grateful to the essential workers who continue to work outside the home. This may create additional stress for you and your family. There are various ways for families to cope with stress and stay healthy. Examples include creating a sense of predictability with a routine, providing developmentally appropriate and reassuring information to your children, and taking news breaks. If you or someone in your family becomes sick, call your healthcare provider. Check in with your healthcare provider, school social worker, or school nurse if stress or anxiety becomes overwhelming for you or your children. We care about supporting you, your family, and our community to stay safe and healthy. We are all doing the best we can, and in time, we will get through this together.


There are many local resources that you may find helpful during this stressful and anxiety-filled time. Here are a few, but you can access many more in the

Health and Wellness Family Resource Guide.


Wayside Youth & Family Support Network

Wayside is continuing to provide a range of services, including counseling, psychiatric emergency services (PES) and support groups. Please click the link

Wayside Youth & Family Support Network for more information.


Genesis Counseling Services

Genesis provides substance abuse and addiction services. For more information visit http://www.genesiscounselingservices.org/ or call 508-620-2992.


Crisis Support

  • Advocates Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) 508-872-3333.

  • Advocates 1-800-640-5432

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

  • TYY- Hearing & Speech Impaired 1-800-799-4889

  • The Trevor Project (LGBTQ) 1-866-488-7386

  • Samaritans 1-877-870-4673 (Talk or Text)

  • Voices Against Violence is offering help by phone at 508-826-8686 or 1-800-593-1125 or online chat at rc.chat/voices.

  • Call to Talk 508-532-2255 or Text 741741

  • Child-At-Risk Hotline at (800) 792-5200 between 5:00 p.m. and 8:45 a.m.


The City of Framingham’s Emergency Operations Center is open to answer questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including information about food resources, testing sites, and ways to slow the spread of the virus. The center will be open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


To connect to the Emergency Operations Center, please call: (508) 532-5800.


The Statewide 2-1-1 Helpline is for residents to get up to date information on COVID-19 prevention, testing, and referrals to local assistance. Callers dialing 2-1-1 will hear an automated menu of options. Callers press 2-6 for coronavirus or visit www.mass211.org.



  • SAMHSA - “Coping With Stress During an Infectious Disease Outbreak”, a guide for older kids and adults


How should I talk to my child about COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing?

Children look to adults for guidance in stressful times. How we manage our own fears and worries when children are present can influence their mindset and responses. To the greatest extent possible, when we as adults project calm and confidence in front of children, it helps to reduce their anxieties. Many children find it calming to know that there are behaviors within their control to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19:

  • Remain calm and reassuring

  • Make yourself available

  • Monitor television viewing and social media usage

  • Maintain a normal routine to the extent possible

  • Be honest and accurate

  • Know the symptoms of COVID-19

  • Review and model basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices for protection


Remember to keep explanations age appropriate

  • Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should balance COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that their schools and homes are safe and that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps people take every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as “adults are working hard to keep you safe.”

  • Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 comes to their school or community. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to prevent germs from spreading.

  • Upper middle school and high school students are able to discuss the issue in a more in-depth (adult-like) fashion and can be referred directly to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control.


Social distancing is the practice of deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19. Social distancing in the context of school-aged children looks like: No kid playdates, parties, sleepovers, or families/friends visiting each other's houses and apartments. We need to try to create distance between family units and between individuals. But even if you choose only one friend to have over, you are creating new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that all of our school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent. It’s important to remember that someone who comes over looking well can still transmit the virus.


Resources (English):


Resources (Spanish):


Resources (Portuguese):


I was laid off. Is the City offering any income assistance?

The City of Framingham is offering an Emergency Income Payment Program. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Framingham will provide relief of rent, mortgage, and/or utility payments for two (2) months to alleviate the burden for households that have lost their employment and primary income as of March 10, 2020. Click Here for More on the Emergency Income Payment Program

OTHER

We paid for a full year of bus fees. Will that be refunded?

Yes, after the School Committee’s May 6th vote, bus fees will be refunded on a prorated basis. We ask for your patience as staff working remotely will be processing those reimbursements.


What if my question was not answered here?

If you have a question that has not been addressed in this communication, please reach out to the Office of the Superintendent of Schools at rtremblay@framingham.k12.ma.us or to the Media & Communications Manager rsantos@framingham.k12.ma.us.

Framingham Public Schools

The mission of the Framingham Public Schools is to educate each student to learn and live productively as a critically-thinking, responsible citizen in a multicultural, democratic society by providing academically challenging instructional programs taught by highly-qualified staff and supported by comprehensive services in partnership with our entire community. For news, updates, and announcements, follow Framingham Public Schools (@FraminghamPS) on Facebook, Twitter, and (@framinghamschools) on Instagram. You can also join the conversation using #FraminghamSchools.