PPS and Special Education Updates

Welcome Back!

Although certainly not business as usual, school is back in session. Remote, hybrid, virtual, web streaming - a whole new language to describe what is going on in schools. Teachers at the middle and high school are using a variety of live streaming/synchronous, instructional applications, taped lessons/asynchronous, group work, and paper and pencil/books/printed material to deliver their lessons. Classes are following a regular schedule. At the high school, given the number of students and staff, appropriate social distancing is maintained through a hybrid approach - students are in the building two days each week and remote three days a week. For the small group of students with IEPs whose disabilities make remotes learning particularly challenging, these students may attend in person four days a week and one day remote. The addition of the "Greenwich Remote Learning School" (GRLS) is the biggest change in the way we are providing service to elementary students. If the student is in the GRLS, their general education class and teacher are part of that school - with its own unique schedule. However, students with IEPs will have their special education and related services provided by their home school and the home school Assistant Principal will chair the PPT meetings. Although this plan was added closer to the opening of school, we do believe it will provide more consistent service to our remote students with IEPs.


We are continuing our phase in of the strategies used in Facilitated IEP meetings, although we are making some adjustments to accommodate remote/virtual PPT meetings.


Unfortunately, we have had some last minute resignations, retirements and requests for ADA accommodations from staff. We are working as quickly as possible to find quality staff to fill all of our vacancies.


Thank you all for your patience and support as we launch into a new and very different school year.


Our goal is to publish an update every two weeks. If you have any questions or concerns or topics you would like us to include in the newsletter, please send them to me at mary_forde@greenwich.k12.ct.us.

Update on Staff Professional Learning

This year, the BOE approved additional professional development days for staff returning to the 2020-2021 school year. All GPS staff were required to participate in state mandated workshops such as "Bullying and Cyberbullying" and the "Department of Children and Families (DCF) Mandated Reporter Training". Newly hired PPS staff and those new to the PPS administrative role were required to attend additional training surrounding the IEP document. This included technical and procedural overviews, a demonstration of how to navigate through an electronic IEP document, and how to use the IEP document to clearly communicate PPT decisions. Select staff participated in a half day offering of "Physical and Psychological Management Training (PMT, Inc.) Refreshers" as well as have the ability to participate in a full year's curriculum and coursework towards Orton-Gillingham Classroom Educator Certification.


All GPS staff were invited to join social-emotional learning (SEL) offerings such as "Supporting Students' Mental Health and Building Resilience", "Implicit Bias: An introductory look at bias in the school and classroom setting", "Overview of our Second Step Program", "Trauma Informed Teaching: How to help students cope and learn during a pandemic", "PBIS: Integrating mental health and positive behavior in the age of COVID", and "Self-Care and Mindfulness for Staff". "Virtual Behavior Data Collection" and "ReThink (Behavioral Health platform)" were offered to Special Education teachers and instructional assistants, while the mental health departments had the opportunity to participate in a grief, bereavement, and collective loss workshop, hosted by Family Center's Center for Hope. PPS Certified Staff had the additional opportunity of attending "Multidisciplinary Reports" in order to expand on their skill set in developing and delivering cohesive reports to families and school teams. Many of these offerings were offered both synchronously and asynchronously, allowing them to be utilized and revisited by school teams throughout the remainder of the school year.

IEP Implementation Plans and Permission/Acknowledgement Form

Implementation Service Plans (IEP ISP) : You will receive a phone call to discuss any changes to an IEP that must be made due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This could be a change in service delivery location, time, accommodations, etc. This change will not be made in the IEP as it will only be in place during the time of the current remote/hybrid model. If you were not contacted about proposed changes or did not receive a plan, no changes to your child's IEP are required at this time.


Remote/Hybrid and Cross Cohorting Permission forms:

Message from Dr. Jones

Dear Special Education Families,

Some of our families have reached out with concerns about the form they are being asked to sign from your Special Education Team. The intent of the form was to provide information, not to cause frustration or concerns about services. We apologize for any confusion this form has caused for some of our families.

Please know that:

  1. If the form is not signed, your child will continue with services as agreed upon between the school district and families.

  1. The form was to let families know that in remote and hybrid sessions, which are happening or could happen at some point in 2020-2021, there may be people behind a student viewing a screen from another student’s home. While we ask for all parents to honor confidentiality, a small group of special education students working online together could be seen by other families who also have a child in that particular group.

  1. For face-to-face sessions, the District wants families to know that we will do our best to limit cross-cohorting. However, in some smaller buildings, there may only be one speech therapist, for example, so this teacher may see all students for speech. The District will work to minimize cross-cohorting as much as possible for face-to-face sessions.

  1. Also, as a reminder, there should be no video or audio recording of remote teaching without the permission of the educator.

We hope that the additional information above helps to alleviate some of the concerns you may have, and helps families understand that we are here to partner with you. We continue to work to provide the best instruction possible during a time which may require different approaches to how we deliver face-to-face, hybrid, and/or remote instruction.

Dr. Jones
Superintendent
Greenwich Public Schools

Social Emotional Learning


Social Emotional Learning (or SEL for short) is part of the daily schedule for all students both remotely as well as in person. Schools are provided with a daily mindfulness activity and one other activity each day to support the social & emotional learning needs of our student body. Mindfulness is defined as, "paying attention to your life here and now with kindness and curiosity." Mindfulness lessons are no more than 3 minutes but have been shown to reduce stress, ease transitions and help students to attend better throughout the day. Other SEL activities include learning about our district norms, gratitude exercises and other positive psychology activities.


In addition, schools Prek-8 have access to the Second Step program (secondstep.org.) Second Step is a research-based, teacher-informed, and classroom-tested program which teaches students concrete and explicit ways to enhance their social and emotional well being. Some of the units covered include: empathy, problem solving, communication, emotion management and more. Classroom teachers are expected to incorporate these lessons into their weekly schedule.

Parent Workshop Opportunity

For the 2020-2021 school year, the district Behavior Support Team is excited to offer parents weekly "Parent Video Chat" sessions. This is an opportunity to connect virtually with other parents in our community and with mental health professionals to learn effective parenting strategies. Parents will be able to share resources and discuss many relevant topics such as establishing positive routines at home, managing challenging behaviors, how to cope with stress and foster resilience, etc. The link to the website page is : https://www.greenwichschools.org/teaching-learning/social-emotional-learning-events



Please find below details about our next Parent Chats:


SECONDARY

ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY IN SPANISH

Please CLICK HERE for the flyer in English and Spanish.

PreSchool Update

We are pleased to update you on our preschool community. All classes are settling into their new routines and learning their classroom schedules. Our students are quite resilient and are adapting nicely to the new environment due to our safety precautions. Children have been “mask heroes” and have tolerated wearing the masks better than we ever dreamed. If your child continues to need support in this area please email your classroom teacher for strategies.


We are in our first preschool curriculum unit “All About Me” and certainly developing the norm of “Taking care of self and others”. Many of the routines in the classroom lend themselves to support the unit. Washing away the germs off our hands to stay healthy and taking care of our belongings for example. Children are gaining independence and self esteem with their new abilities. We are excited for this year and know your children will continue to learn and grow at their developmental pace as we move forward.

Preschool Parent Chat

From Amy Denicola Hickman and the Preschool Team


Dear Families-

We realize that raising a preschool child can provide you with many challenges. It is our hope to support you by providing regularly scheduled “Preschool Parent Chats” giving us all the opportunity to share successes and challenges we are experiencing at home.


My role is to facilitate and support you in developing strategies to help you and your child. We will provide you with lots of resources and ideas that are easily used at home.


Kristi Castellon, our school psychologist, will join us as well to provide her expertise especially in the area of social and emotional development.


Come listen to other parents who are dealing with many of the same challenges and find ways to make life easier at home!


Topics can include, but are not limited to:

*What can I do to support my child with Covid, mask wearing and social

distancing?

*Why won’t my child go to bed?

*Why will my child only eat chicken nuggets and fries?

*How can I get my children to stop fighting?

*Why can’t we seem to get out of the house in the

morning?

*How can I support my child’s learning at home?


Please join us!

Thursday, October 1 10:00-11:00 AM

Join with Google Meet

meet.google.com/wmy-xqpq-xyx

OR


Thursday, October 1 7:00-8:00 PM

Join with Google Meet

meet.google.com/oiy-hizh-ewi


Please RSVP 203-698-7796

beth_forger@greenwich.k12.ct.us

Please let us know if a Spanish translator is required at the meeting.

Conference Opportunity

The following conference is being made available to parents at no cost. If you are interested in participating, please contact Sharon Scofield (Sharon_Scofield@greenwich.k12.ct.us) in the Greenwich PPS Office with your name and email address.


Lives in the Balance hosts an annual CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH CONFERENCE in Norwood, Massachusetts, and it's open for registration too! Because of the pandemic, it, too, will be virtual for 2020, but will still be held on October 22-23, featuring Peter Vermeullen, Christopher Willard, Danna Thomas, and Dr. Nzinga Harrison as keynotes. If you can't join in live, your registration gives you access to the recording.

Community Resources

We understand that the transition back to school during these uncertain times can be challenging. In addition to GPS mental health staff being available to provide ongoing support, there are a plethora of community resources accessible to students and families. If you have additional needs that may not be met by the services listed below, please contact District Social Worker Kristen Mulhearn at 475-232-8475 for assistance.


Crisis:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255)

www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org


211 - If you or your child is in crisis, dial 211 (or 1-800-203-1234) for mobile crisis assistance. COVID screening questions asked, then determination made if a clinician will meet you in person or virtually. *No fee. No insurance necessary.

Access resource guide at https://www.211ct.org/


Respite/Crisis:

Kids In Crisis (KIC) - 203-661-1911

24/7 helpline. Respite limited to 6 residents to ensure social distancing. Residents must get tested prior to intake. Remote learning only during 2 week max stay. Outreach meetings conducted virtually or by phone.

https://www.kidsincrisis.org/


YWCA Domestic Abuse Services - 203-622-0003

24/7 hotline. Free, confidential counseling services (currently virtual).

https://ywcagreenwich.org/what-we-do/domestic-abuse-services-for-victims/


Counseling Services:

Child Guidance Center of Southern CT - (203) 324-6127

Counseling for kids up to age 18 (all virtual). No current waitlist. Range of insurance accepted (sliding scale offered).

https://childguidancect.org/


Family Centers (203) 629-2822

Counseling for kids and adults (all virtual). Approx 2 month waitlist. Range of insurance accepted (sliding scale offered).

https://www.familycenters.org/


Jewish Family Services (203) 622-1881

Counseling for kids and adults (all virtual but will be starting some in person sessions on case by case basis). Most insurance accepted (sliding scale offered). No current wait list.

https://jfsgreenwich.org/


Case Management:

Department of Human Services (203) 622-3800

Supports include (not limited to): financial, employment, navigating resources.

Located at Town Hall. Appointments are currently virtual and by phone.

https://www.greenwichct.gov/538/Human-Services


Food:

GPS Breakfast & lunch will continue to be provided during the school week Monday-Friday to ALL students 18 years or younger. Filling in the Blanks will also be distributed this way.

Food Pick Up Locations and Times

Neighbor to Neighbor (203) 622-9208

Food pantry. Currently located at 100 Arch St. Referral needed. No appointment necessary. Hours of operation: Mon - Sat 8:30 - 12:30, Wed & Thurs 3:30 - 5:30. Clothing room closed.

https://www.ntngreenwich.org/


In-person Distance Learning Support:

Boys & Girls Club (203) 869-3224

Learning pod in person support program.

https://bgcg.org/


Community Centers Inc (CCI) (203) 869-1276

New address effective October 15th: 2 St. Roch’s Ave, 2nd Floor, Greenwich

Starting Monday Sept 21 - Learning Pod in person support for What’s Next Program participants (high school students).

Individual tutoring and support for elementary and middle school students.

https://www.ccigreenwich.org/