Gill-Montague District News

"Challenging and Supporting Every Student"

Student Support Updates May 22, 2020

Extended School Year Programs for Eligible Special Education Students

May 22, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Caregivers:

We hope this letter finds you and your family well. We know these are uncertain and challenging times. There is nothing about social distancing and facing a pandemic that is easy, including your child being unable to be with their teachers and friends. Typically, at this point in the school year, all of our extended school year plans are in place, student groups are formed, and staffing assignments have been made. The district has delayed making a determination about summer hoping that the outlook for in-person instruction would improve. While we wish we could guarantee that schools will be open this summer; we must be realistic based on the Governor's prohibition on in-person instruction and the school closures currently in effect for the remainder of the school year. While we are awaiting further guidance from our Governor, we are planning remote extended school year services, based on your child’s IEP and student specific Remote Learning Plan (RLP).


If your child attends an out-of-district program, the determination regarding whether or not your child has extended school year services will be offered in person or remotely will be made based on guidance from the Governor’s Office, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the school/program your child attends. If you have specific questions about what your child's out-of-district school/program will be offering this summer, please contact Pupil Services Director Dianne Ellis at 413 863-4001

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As we work to put forth summer service plans, we may need to update your student’s remote learning plan to accommodate changes in the family’s schedule and the availability of our special educators and support staff. We also may find that students and families simply need a change in their remote learning routine in order to maintain effectiveness or they need to take a break from remote learning.


Please review and complete the attached planning sheet* that indicates your decisions regarding Extended Year Services. Family input is necessary for scheduling services and optimizing the benefit for your student. Once you complete and return this form, district personnel will be in contact with you to update changes in your student’s remote learning plan to reflect the agreed upon extended school year services.


Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation as we work through these challenges together.


Sincerely,

Dianne Ellis
Pupil Services Director


* the district will also be sending out the ESY forms in hard copy if families are not able to complete this process electronically.

Remote Learning & School Attendance

Massachusetts general laws for public school attendance are still in effect despite the Governor's order and emergency school closure. The compulsory Massachusetts attendance statute, General Laws, Chapter 76, Section 2 requires that children, ages 6-16 attend school.


Given our extraordinary circumstances, we are trying to balance flexibility for students and families while also meeting legal and educational requirements for children. Our Gill-Montague remote learning plan provides student instructional days, Tuesday through Friday with self-directed student learning and teacher collaboration and planning for each Monday. The Massachusetts Department of Education requires that school districts teach critical content standards to best prepare students for the re-opening of school in the fall. Additionally, the district is expected to evaluate methods of student engagement and attendance during this time of remote learning. In order to consider being “in attendance,” students are expected to interact and respond to their teachers each week. This may include any of the following:

  • Online form, question, survey
  • Chat participation (directly with teacher or as part of a teacher facilitated group chat)
  • Email
  • Voicemail
  • Video/Google meets

Attendance is not based on assignment completion. Families will be contacted if students do not complete the check ins. All teachers are asked to report to building principals or academic deans if students and/or families of young children are not checking in (for attendance), communicating with school staff, and otherwise engaged in academic learning. We recognize the many challenges families face at this time. We are here to support you as we navigate together through remote learning, providing for continued education for each student, and meeting compulsory school attendance requirements.

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We are proud of our English Learners!

On Friday, May 15, 2020 the district received ACCESS testing results for our English Learner students. ACCESS stands for "Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners." It's a test that's given to students from kindergarten to grade 12, to assess their progress in learning English. Individual student score reports have been printed out and sent out in the mail this week for families to review. Access evaluates levels of proficiency in the language development domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, with respective composite scores in oral language, literacy, and comprehension. Students are required to have a literacy composite score of 3.9 and an overall proficiency score of 4.2 to meet state standards for exiting English Language Education services. We are very pleased with ACCESS results for so many of our EL students as they have improved their overall language proficiency levels! Great job! We have numbers of students achieving performance levels that exceed the state threshold for proficiency. Congratulations to these students and their families who support them for their strong efforts. We would also like to credit our teachers and faculty for helping them realize this growth.


ACCESS is a challenging test and for our English Learners with slower than expected progress, the district will be working with these students and families to evaluate their results and to further improve identified language development areas.

Internet Access and Protections Against Services Being Suspended Over Coronavirus Pandemic

The information below includes some options available to families for discounted home internet access to support student learning opportunities.


Federal Communications Commission: Chairman Pai Launches the KEEP AMERICANS CONNECTED PLEDGE – Pai Calls on Broadband and Telephone Service Providers to Promote Connectivity for Americans Impacted by the Disruptions Caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Chairman calls on company to pledge the following:

  • not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
  • waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
  • open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them."


This information is excerpted directed from:

https://www.setda.org/priorities/equity-of-access/digital-equity/programs/


please click on the link above to learn more.

Special Education Update & Family Informational Sessions Offered

Remote Learning Plans:

Our special education teachers, related service providers, and support staff have been hard at work teaching remotely and collaborating with colleagues on student specific remote learning plans (RLP) for our students with disabilities. These plans were sent via email in some cases as well as in hard copy by postal service articulating special education service delivery approaches, resources, accommodations, instruction, and service delivery times. We encourage families to be in regular contact with the school and if you have any questions about the RLP to please be in contact with your student's liaison.


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.


We want to offer our continued guidance and support during this time of extended school closure. In working together, we will get though this!


Dianne Ellis

Pupil Services Director

Community Resource Information and Events

Gill-Montague shares community resource information that may be of interest to our families as a public service. These programs are not sponsored or specifically endorsed by the district.

Treehouse Heroes @GCC


We are sharing the word about a new program, Treehouse HEROES@GCC, created especially for youth 14-18 years old, who have lived experience with foster care and/or adoption. I am the HEROES Director and am very grateful for this opportunity to reach out to the Gill-Montague and Erving School Communities to share information about this wonderful program with you and to invite qualified youth in your family and care to participate.


Created in collaboration with Greenfield Community College (GCC), HEROES@GCC will launch virtually at the end of May and continue into the summer and next year. We had hoped to start in person at GCC but have changed our plans during this time of the COVID pandemic. HEROES@GCC, will offer young people social connection, interactive education and learning opportunities, as well as inter-generational mentoring, and provide them with a safety net during these hard times. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that many youth in foster care are facing additional challenges including social isolation and interrupted family visits. We are also aware that many youth can face unique challenges to accessing educational resources and enrichment opportunities. Our approach in programming will be to respond to these educational and emerging needs and interests by having a varied and engaging program that builds a sense of community.


HEROES@GCC offers virtual programming in the following learning areas to engage and excite youth:

1. INTER-GENERATIONAL STORYTELLING, including creating inter-generational digital stories, videos and podcasts, and building related skills.

2. HEROES SCOUTS, focusing on curriculum based outdoor related adventures, skill building, and environmental awareness such as identifying local wildlife, trees, survival skills and environmental protection.

3. 411 LIFE SKILLS featuring fun and interactive workshops to build real life “survive and thrive” skills including: fundamentals of leadership, healthy eating habits and stress management.


We are very eager to launch HEROES@GCC and to provide youth who have experienced foster care with meaningful learning opportunities and hope to start the program during the first week of June. To get there, we need your help. Please spread the word about the program with qualifying youth you know. Please reach out with any questions. Attached is a flyer and application for HEROES@GCC to share with youth and for your reference. Applications can be emailed to me via MSantiago@treehousefoundation.net or mailed to Maryellen Santiago,

Treehouse Foundation, 1 Treehouse Circle, Easthampton, MA 01027.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or call my contact number at 860-993-5697. It’s my sincerest hope that you and your community are healthy and safe throughout this unimaginable COVID-19 pandemic.


Sincerely,

Maryellen Santiago

Director, Treehouse HEROES Youth Leadership Project

Cell – 660.993.5697 | msantiago@treehousefoundation.net


  • For more information please click on the informational flyer
  • For an application to apply for this program please click here
  • To find out more about the Treehouse Foundation please visit there website at

http://www.treehousefoundation.net

Community Action Programs & Family Center

Community Action Family Center located at 90 Federal St., in Greenfield offers a range of resources for Gill-Montague Families. This includes, but is not limited to, early childhood activities, support groups for new moms, diapers, formula, and basic needs (food, clothing) and community supports and connections. Being a parent is a tough job, made much more challenging, with Covid-19 and emergency measures. You can check out the Family Center and their current offerings at their website.

https://www.communityaction.us/family-center


Community Action also offers Nurturing Fathers groups, fuel assistance, WIC, HeadStart, youth & teen programs, training, and more.

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