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2020 RAMS Summer Reading Grades 6-8

posted Jun 29, 2020, 7:58 PM by Jessica Beattie

Summer Reading

Our staff have put together a fantastic Summer Reading Resource for students in grades 6-8. Please take a look at the following link, and assist your child in continuing their learning over the summer months!!

RAMS Summer Reading Guide



2020 RAMS Summer Reading Grades 6-8

posted Jun 29, 2020, 7:55 PM by Jessica Beattie

Summer Reading

Our staff have put together a fantastic Summer Reading Resource for students in grades 6-8. Please take a look at the following link, and assist your child in continuing their learning over the summer months!!

RAMS Summer Reading Guide



Grade 5 to 6 Parent Information

posted Apr 23, 2020, 8:25 AM by Jessica Beattie

Dear Grade 5 Families,


We want to apologize that the Grade 5 Informational Zoom was limited to 100 participants. This was not something that we had anticipated happening with our district account. We will be hosting a second zoom on Monday, April 27 at 3:00pm. This session will not have a participant cap.  Please use the link below to enter the meeting.


We know that the transition to middle school, although exciting, can be anxiety provoking as well. During this challenging time, we will do our best to provide as many opportunities to connect with your students prior to them entering RAMS next year.  We are currently planning zoom events to introduce our teachers, a student meeting with the principals, and a “virtual” tour of the middle school.


Below are the slides that were presented along with a recording. Additionally, we have included the slides from Mrs. Camp’s 2:00-2:30 Special Education informational session.


Zoom Meeting Link for Monday, April 27 at 3:00 PM

Welcome to RAMS

RAMS Special Education Overview


Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.



Sincerely,


David Jordan     Jessica Beattie Kelly Camp

Principal     Asst. Principal Student Services

jordand@holliston.k12.ma.us     beattiej@holliston.k12.ma.us campk@holliston.k12.ma.us


RAMS Remote Learning Week 3

posted Apr 4, 2020, 2:02 PM by Jessica Beattie   [ updated Apr 9, 2020, 1:11 PM by Dan MacLeod ]

Dear Families,


Please use the links below to access the RAMS Remote Learning Curriculum for April 5 - April 11, 2020.  As a reminder, expect an email from me every Saturday at 5:00PM with the week's activities. We will also post all activities on our school webpage each week.  Knowing that parents/guardians are getting inundated with emails from a variety of sources, most learning communication will go straight to the student. Please make sure that they check their email and Google Classroom regularly.  Note that Friday April 10th is a holiday. The volume of work provided reflects the shortened week.


Please view with your child:

  • RAMS Remote Learning Video (Week 3)- featuring Mr. Jordan & Mrs. Beattie

  • Topics Discussed:

    • Holliston Public Schools Remote Learning Plan

    • Essential Curriculum- Necessary activities

    • How much time should students be spending on each class?

    • All Main Course Assignments need to be completed 

    • Shift to Credit/No Credit

    • Teacher Feedback on Assignments

    • General Reminders for students

    • Recommendations for next year

    • Nature’s Classroom Cancelled 


RAMS Remote Learning Curriculum: Check out our new Remote Learning website!


Resources:


Nurses:



Troubleshooting Technology:


Please do not hesitate to reach out to your teachers.  The work that they are putting together is fantastic. Thank you for all of your patience and support as we pull this all together for the students of Holliston.


Warmest regards,

David Jordan

Principal


RAMS News April 1, 2020

posted Apr 1, 2020, 1:17 PM by Jessica Beattie   [ updated Apr 1, 2020, 2:05 PM ]

What You Can Find in this edition of RAMS News

April 1, 2020


-RAMS Remote Learning

-Term 2 Report Cards

-Course Recommendation Information-Grade 7 & 8

-Family Resources

-RAMS Staff Video

-Calendar


RAMS Remote Learning

Below you will find the links to our first two weeks of Remote Learning and all videos and resources to assist you.  We will continue to launch each week’s learning plan to include an informational video by Mr. Jordan and Mrs. Beattie, each Saturday at 5:00 pm. As a reminder, this will be emailed to both parents and students, and will also be posted on our school webpage.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us should you have any questions.

RAMS Remote Learning Plan: Week 1

RAMS Remote Learning Resources: Week 2


Term 2 Report Cards

Our Term 2 Report Cards will be released later tonight through BrightArrow. If you are having trouble accessing them, please email mcnamaram@holliston.k12.ma.us for assistance. 


Course Recommendations

Current Grade 7 ONLY

Grade 7 teachers will begin to make course recommendations for the 20-21 school year in the areas of Science and Math by April 10.  We will send out more information once we near this date.


Current Grade 8 ONLY 

Just a reminder that course selections were due in PowerSchool for the 20-21 school year as of March 27th. If you have not done so already, please be sure to have your child sign into PowerSchool and complete the class course selections for 20-21. 

Please note the HHS override process.



Family Resources

We want to recognize that during these challenging times, the Holliston Community has a variety of resources that can be helpful to you and your family. As always, we as educators are also happy to be that bridge for families in need and connect you to any Holliston resource that may be beneficial. If you are in need of assistance, please reach out through the links below or contact us at any time and we would be happy to connect you.  beattiej@holliston.k12.ma.us or jordand@holliston.k12.ma.us


HollistonCommunityAction.org

Holliston Youth and Family Services

Holliston Food Pantry


RAMS Staff Video

A RAMS Staff Production


Calendar

April

1 Term 2 Report Cards released via Brightarrow

4 Release of week 3 Remote Learning Plan @ 5:00pm

10 Recommendations for Grade 7 Students in PowerSchool

11 Release of week 4 Remote Learning Plan @ 5:00pm

25 Release of week 5 Remote Learning Plan @ 5:00pm


Surprise from RAMS Staff

posted Mar 29, 2020, 7:12 AM by Jessica Beattie

Dear Families,


A surprise that is certain to brighten all of your spirits on this rainy Sunday. A special thank you to all of the staff who were able to participate, to Mr Kwas for presenting us with this idea, and an even bigger thank you to Mr. Cotter who pulled it all together!!


Enjoy our take on 90’s TV.  We look forward to sunny days where we are all together again with our students, but until then here is a look into our lives.  Enjoy and be well!



A RAMS Staff Production



Regards,

RAMS Staff


RAMS Remote Learning Week 2 (3/30-4/4)

posted Mar 28, 2020, 4:59 PM by Jessica Beattie

Dear Families,


Please use the links below to access the RAMS Remote Learning Curriculum for March 29 - April 4, 2020.  As a reminder, expect an email from me every Saturday at 5:00PM with the week's activities. We will also post all activities on our school webpage each week.  Knowing that parents/guardians are getting inundated with emails from a variety of sources, most learning communication will go straight to the student. Please make sure that they check their email and Google Classroom regularly.  We heard from 85% of students last week at least once. That is fantastic, but we are hoping during this week two to not only get to 100% but also increase the number of reciprocal connections with each student.


Please view with your child:


RAMS Remote Learning Curriculum: 


Resources:

  • RAMS- At Home Routine for Families (this is an example to help families shape their students’ day, not required)

  • Netiquette 

  • Lunch is available to any family in need from the Miller cafeteria loop Monday through Friday from 11:30 - 12:30.

  • RAMS News 1st & 15th of the month will continue


Troubleshooting Technology:


Please do not hesitate to reach out to your teachers.  We had a very exciting first week, having heard from almost all RAMS students.  Thank you for all of your patience and support as we pull this all together for the students of Holliston.


Warmest regards,

David Jordan

Principal


RAMS Enrichment Learning- Starting 3/23/20

posted Mar 22, 2020, 9:34 AM by Jessica Beattie

Dear Families,


We are very excited to roll our RAMS Enhanced Learning Activities out to students.  Please watch our video on RAMS Enhanced Learning Activities.  It will walk you through how to utilize the curriculum framework that we will be using as a school over the next few weeks.  Please expect an email from me every Saturday at 5:00 PM with the week's activities. We will also post all the activities on our school webpage each week.  Additionally, students and families should start receiving email and Google Classroom communications starting on Monday. Knowing that parents/guardians are getting inundated with emails from a variety of sources, most learning communication will go straight to the student.  Please make sure that they check their email and Google Classroom regularly.


Please view with your child:


RAMS Enhanced Learning Activities: 

  • Week 1 (3/23-3/27) Curriculum 

    • This link provides the entire menu of learning and all of the guidelines for students and families.  This is our most essential document each week.


Resources:

  • RAMS- At Home Routine for Families (this is an example to help families shape their students’ day, not required)

  • Netiquette 

  • Lunch is available to any family in need from the Miller cafeteria loop Monday through Friday from 11:30 - 12:30.


Troubleshooting Technology:


Please do not hesitate to reach out to your teachers.  I know that they are very excited to connect with your children on Monday.  Thank you for all of your patience and support as we pull this all together for the students of Holliston.


Warmest regards,



David Jordan

Principal


RAMS News March 15, 2020

posted Mar 15, 2020, 2:28 PM by Jessica Beattie


What You Can Find in this edition of RAMS News

March 15, 2020


-RAMS Update

-RAMS Track and Field Registration

-HHS Course Recommendations-GR 8 ONLY

-2020 Spring MCAS Schedule

-RAMS Admin Podcast-NEW

-Calendar


RAMS Update

We know that this is a very challenging time, and we want you to know we are in this together. We are determined to keep you up-to-date with the everchanging information within the community and here at RAMS.  Below are links to several documents we have already sent out, and resources that you may find helpful as we navigate this unchartered territory together.


Students and parents stay tuned for potential Distance Enrichment Learning opportunities for students, occurring on or around March 23, if cancellations were to go past the 20th.  Please be sure to complete the internet access survey below.  Information gathered from this survey will allow us to create a learning space for your student, and make sure you and your child have familiarity with their school email and Google Classroom access.


RAMS Family Communication: March 16-20 

Internet and Access to Device Survey  *PLEASE COMPLETE IMMEDIATELY*

Parent letter: How to talk to students about Coronavirus


RAMS Track and Field Registration

Track and Field registration is currently open for Grade 7 & 8 students. Starting tomorrow, March 16 at 9:00am we will open it up to Grade 6 students. Please use the link below to register your child. Once we reach capacity, registration will close and a waitlist will be created.

RAMS Track & Field Registration 2020


HHS Course Recommendations-Grade 8 ONLY 

Due to school not being in session, we are extending the deadline for course selections to March 27th. If you have not done so already, please be sure to have your child sign into PowerSchool and complete the class course selections for 20-21. Although email is a helpful way to contact school counselors and teachers regarding course recommendations, we are currently working to find additional ways to grant access to students and families. I hope to have additional information regarding our efforts by mid-week.


MCAS Schedule Spring 2020

It is that time of year! Please use the following link to view the Spring 2020 MCAS Schedule for Robert Adams Middle School. Please make note we made one revision in May.  Grade 6 will be completing Math sessions 1 & 2 on May 5 & 7.


RAMS Admin Podcasts-NEW Foreign Language and PBL

Starting this month and running through the end of the school year, RAMS Admin will be taking an additional approach to sharing pertinent information relative to RAMS through the way of Podcasts. On a regular basis, we will be recording Podcasts on a variety of topics that will be shared not only through our RAMS News, but are also found on iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, and Buzzsprout.  Please be sure to subscribe under any of the following apps to receive our podcasts regularly. 

             


Click on the link below to listen to our second Podcast, on the topic of  Foreign Language and PBL from Principal, David Jordan, French Immersion, Kelly Lamberto, Spanish, Blanca Beltran 

Podcast-Foreign Language & PBL


Calendar

March

16-20 No School

20 No School/Professional Development Day

23 Potential Distance Enrichment Learning Plan for students 


Coronavirus Updates

posted Mar 12, 2020, 7:31 AM by Dan MacLeod   [ updated Jun 27, 2020, 8:21 AM ]

Coronavirus Update #16-   Fall Reopening (June 25, 2020)

Dear Holliston Parent/Guardians and Staff:

     Today, Governor Baker’s office and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released their initial guidance about reopening schools this fall.  We applaud the level of thought and care that went into the development of this guidance, and share its goal of the safe return of as many students as possible to in-person school settings in order to best meet students’ academic, social, and emotional needs.

     Over the coming days, we will be reviewing the guidance to begin to understand how it impacts what we can do in Holliston.  We also acknowledge that these initial guidelines do not address every topic and that there will be additional guidance coming throughout the summer.  The full document can be found here, but here are some key components:

  • Current medical research supports a safe in-person return to school - with preventive measures in place - as infection and transmission rates are lower for children than adults.
  • Preventive measures include masks/face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
  • Masks/face coverings will be required for all students in Grade 2 and above and for all adults; they are recommended for students in Grade 1 and below.
  • Based upon current medical research, and in conjunction with other preventive measures, a minimum physical distance of three feet has been established.    

     It is essential to note that this plan acknowledges that districts will require adequate state and local funding in order to be able to safely reopen school in the fall.  Specifically, the plan indicates that we will require, at a minimum, level-funded budgets plus DIRECT state/federal aid to school districts to fund the additional costs that will be required to make it possible to safely reopen.  I am grateful to Commissioner Riley for acknowledging this fiscal reality.

     Districts will need to develop three separate plans - one for return to full in-person instruction with safety requirements, one for full remote learning, and one for hybrid learning that combines in-person and remote learning.  Based upon the current medical situation, the expectation today is that students will return to full in-person instruction when classes resume; however, that is subject to change based upon how the medical situation develops.

     We acknowledge that there are likely to be more questions than answers at this time, and we will continue to communicate with you in the coming weeks and months. 

     Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Respectfully,

 

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


Coronavirus Update #15-   Fall 2020 Update

Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff:

Today marks the beginning of the final week of school for the 2020-2021 school year, and what a year it has been! This fall, we dealt with our first public health crisis – EEE, that upset our plans for outdoor PE classes, recess, and fall sports. Today, we enter the fourth month of isolation to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has taken the lives of almost 120,000 Americans including two deaths here in Holliston. The disruption of our school year has been unprecedented and significant. Despite Herculean effort on the part of Holliston’s educators, it is undeniable that remote learning has not and cannot replace the in-person education experience.

While some restrictions on our everyday living are slowly being lifted, educational leaders from across Massachusetts are being encouraged to develop alternative plans in the likely event that 100% in-person, in-school instruction will likely not be possible at the beginning of next school year. To assist us in this planning, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is supposed to publish guidelines for school districts to follow when planning for the fall. Initially, we were told that those guidelines were expected to be published today, June 15, but in a conference call late last week, the commissioner said that “preliminary“ guidelines would “hopefully be published next [now, this] week, followed by more detailed guidelines coming in early-to-mid July.“ While this news is frustrating, we all have to recognize that, in Massachusetts, these decisions are being informed by the best scientific and medical minds in our country and that a lot will depend on the exact trajectory the virus is taking when school Is scheduled to reopen in late August.

I know the frustration the families are feeling, facing the idea that next school year may look different than “normal“ but without any idea as to what the exact differences will be. With that in mind, I would like to offer a few concepts that are highly likely to pervade the next school year:

  1. Students and staff will likely be required to wear masks and practice physical distancing throughout the school day. Parents should expect that it will be their responsibility to provide their students with masks.
  2. The availability of morning and afternoon bus transportation may be limited in order to implement physical distancing requirements.Students and staff who are exhibiting any physical symptoms of illness will be expected to stay home.
  3. The practice of giving your child some Tylenol when they wake up with a little fever and sending them off to school will not be tolerated, as it now could have life-threatening consequences to others.
  4. It is virtually certain that there will be some school days when some students will be required to stay at home and actively participate in remote learning. It is likely that some students will experience this more than others, as we accommodate and adjust our programming to meet individual student’s learning needs.
  5. Remote Learning may look quite different next year than it did this year.  For example, in the scenario where some students are in school and some are not, the opportunity exists to live stream lessons as they occur in the classroom, where in today’s model that is not possible.
  6. Schools and districts may have to adjust their instructional model, moving back-and-forth from 100% remote, to hybrid, to 100% in-school, depending on the status of the virus.  For example, if we were to open under a hybrid model (with some students coming to school and some students remaining at home) at the beginning of the school year, we might have to move to a 100% remote model if Massachusetts experiences a second wave of the virus.  Similarly, when a vaccine is available and the danger passes, we could move to the 100% in-school model.

These past months have been difficult for all of us.  What was once easy is now difficult, or still not possible.  This has required us all to demonstrate high levels of patience and understanding as we adjust.  When school opens in the fall, I am confident that we will all need to show the same high levels of patience and understanding as we work to bring as many students back to school as possible.  

As the state publishes clearer information about their plans for the fall, the Holliston Public Schools will communicate those plans to you as soon as possible.  

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Coronavirus Update #14-  Planning for Fall 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff:

            It has been over two months now since our students and teachers have been face-to-face in their classrooms.  Over that period, our students, parents/guardians, and staff have shown remarkable resilience in the face of constant change and frequent challenges.  We are incredibly proud of the Remote Learning Plan that our educators developed and even prouder of the efforts of our staff to constantly update and adjust that Plan in an effort to meet the ever-changing needs of our students in this remote learning setting.  While it is inarguable that remote learning does not approach the quality of instruction that takes place in our classrooms every day, nonetheless, Holliston’s teachers and staff are working tirelessly to minimize the gap between these two very different models of education.  As they always do, Holliston’s teachers are giving it their all, while juggling the extraordinary demands of working at home during a pandemic, and we are deeply appreciative of their efforts and proud of their results.

            One month from today, June 18th, will be the last day of the 2019-2020 school year.  While we remain committed to adjusting our current practices to ensure the best possible educational outcomes for the remainder of this school year, we are also focusing our attention on planning for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.  Today, the Governor is scheduled to announce his plan for re-opening Massachusetts, but this plan will NOT include much, if any, information about how schools will re-open.  However, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has formed a large 30-person working group that has been tasked with developing a re-opening plan for Massachusetts’ schools.  Unfortunately, this plan is not scheduled to be released until the middle-to-end of June, at the earliest. 

           It would be irresponsible, however, to sit idle and wait for that plan to be announced.  So, the Holliston Public Schools has formed its own team to begin to study the options and develop an understanding of how each of these options would be implemented.  The team will initially consist of: the entire senior leadership team of the Holliston Public Schools (Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Director of Student Services, Business Administrator, Director of Technology, as well as the four building principals); Holliston’s Fire Chief (who also serves as Holliston’s Emergency Management Director); Holliston’s Police Chief and the HPS School Nurse Leader. Initially, we are focusing our planning and brainstorming on the issues related to the four most likely scenarios:

  • Business-As-Usual;

  • Full-Opening with Social Distancing/Safety Protocols and Equipment Required;

  •  Hybrid Model where only 50% (or some portion) of our students could be physically present in our schools at one time and the remainder would be taught remotely; or

  • 100% Remote model, similar to our current situation. 

During Phase I of our planning for the fall, we are brainstorming the implications of each of these models on all aspects of our work, such as:

  • Student and staff schedules;

  • Health and safety protocols; 

  • Technology needed by students and staff;

  • Professional development of our staff;

  • Necessary curriculum, instruction and assessment adaptations; 

  • Student transportation;

  • Medical staffing and equipment;

  • Special education services;

  • Extra-curricular activities;

  • Building cleaning requirements;

  … just to name a few.

            Following our initial brainstorming, our thinking will be shared with our teaching and professional staff in early June for their feedback, discussion and further refinement.  Our goal is to have a draft of this work completed when the state announces its plan in mid-to-late June so that we can make revisions based upon useful guidance from the state.  Additionally, once the draft plan is developed, we will be formally soliciting feedback from parents/guardians in late June or early July and throughout the summer in order to inform further adjustments to the plan.  We then will be ready to spend the remainder of the summer finalizing our preparations for school opening in whatever form it is expected to take. 

            It is highly likely, however, that the plan announced by DESE in late June will still be built upon a number of assumptions regarding the expected status of the virus when school is scheduled to open on September 1st.  As a result, we will likely not know for certain what opening day will look like until mid-to-late August.  In addition, even after we open schools in the fall, we are going to need to be prepared to toggle between the various scenarios in response to potential changes in the virus in the area.

            We recognize that this is not welcome news for either our parent/guardian community or our staff, each of whom needs to be able to develop family plans for the return to school.  If we could make the Holliston Public Schools an island of certainty in the center of all of this uncertainty, we would.  But, that will likely not be possible.  As we draft this letter on Sunday, May 17th, the Governor is slated to share his initial plan for re-opening Massachusetts tomorrow, yet none of us knows with ANY certainty, what that plan will entail.  Whether it’s a state-wide plan to reopen our economy or Holliston’s plan to reopen school in the fall, that plan is driven by the then-current status of the virus. 

            It goes without saying that all of the HPS administrators and staff eagerly anticipate the time when we can safely return to our school buildings and resume face to face instruction with all of our kids. We will continue to prepare for all possible scenarios and share the status of our planning efforts as the end of the school year approaches and over the course of the summer as well.  

Respectfully,

 

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.                                                   Peter J. Botelho, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools                                                    Assistant Superintendent



Coronavirus Update #13-  HPS to Remain in Remote Learning Mode for the Remainder of the 2019-2020 School Year

Dear Holliston Parents/Guardians and Staff:

Governor Charlie Baker announced that all Massachusetts school buildings will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.  While many of us expected this announcement, the reality that teachers and students will not physically be returning to their classroom for the remainder of this school year elicits a number of powerful emotions, including anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, sadness and loss.  This is a normal reaction to the loss of normalcy we are all experiencing.

Over the course of the coming weeks, every one of us, parents, staff and students, will feel many if not all of these emotions and probably more.  For this reason alone, it is critical that we continue to focus our efforts on our Remote Learning work to ensure we remain connected with each other and to minimize the impact of this new reality on our students and their growth.  While our school buildings are closed, the 2019-2020 school year is not over!  We will continue to execute and adjust our Remote Learning efforts to meet the needs of our students for the remainder of the school year.  I encourage and expect all students to engage in those activities to the extent they are able. 

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be announcing decisions regarding the status of our traditional end-of-year activities and other important issues that arise as a result of this announcement.  In the meantime, please continue to keep your families safe during this pandemic.

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Coronavirus Update #12-  Stay at Home

A Stay-At-Home Advisory from the Holliston School Nurses

As the weather gets nicer and the Stay-At-Home Advisory continues, it is tempting to gather outside, especially on the Rail Trail.  The nurses want to remind everyone that the Stay-At-Home Advisory from Governor Baker states that you should only leave your home to address essential needs.  However, if you do decide to leave your home for some fresh air and exercise, it is important to follow everyday preventative measures and the following physical distancing tips:

  • Do not leave home if you are symptomatic

  • Wear cloth or fabric face coverings in public spaces

  • Only visit parks, trails and recreation areas that are open. 

  • Stay at least six feet from others at all times. 

  • Do not gather in groups

  • Do not go into a crowded area.

  • Avoid gathering with others outside of your household.

  • Do not shake hands or hug

  • Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to use if soap and water are not available.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/parks-rec/visitors.html?deliveryName=USCDC_2067-DM25771


Coronavirus Update #11-  April Vacation Changed & The Revised Last Day of School

Dear Holliston Parents/Guardians and Staff:

The Holliston School Committee has voted to change the 2019-2020 (current school year) calendar as follows:  April 21, 22, 23 and 24, 2020 are no longer School Vacation Days; they are now designated as Remote Learning Days.  As a result of this change, the last day of school for students in Grades K-11 has changed from Wednesday, June 24, 2020 and will now be Thursday, June 18, 2020.  The last day of school for seniors will remain May 29, 2020.

Since all residents of Holliston (and the Commonwealth) will be under a stay-at-home order during the week when April school vacation was scheduled to be held, I recommended that the Committee make this change.  Most families have built their stay-at-home routines with the time for Remote Learning built in.  Given that there are few, if any, options, for safe ways to travel, visit with friends or connect in person with remote family members, I felt that the time would best be used continuing the momentum we are building with our new Remote Learning Program.  Moreover, the ability to end the school year earlier in June made this choice even more attractive.

Teachers will be issuing complete Remote Learning Plans for the week of April 21-24 and our expectations for student participation will be the same for these days as it is for all Remote Learning Days.

Thank you for your continued understanding and flexibility as we adjust to new issues as they present themselves.

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


Coronavirus Update #10-  Remote Learning Plans


Dear Holliston Parents/Guardians and Staff:

Three weeks ago yesterday, on March 12th, I cancelled school in Holliston for Friday, March 13th and the week of March 16-20th due to growing public health concerns related to the CoronaVirus.  On Sunday, March 15th, Governor Baker cancelled school across Massachusetts through early April. On Monday, March 23rd, we began Week one of our two-week Enhanced Learning Program. This program was designed to meet several objectives:
  • To assess the digital readiness of our staff and families for future remote learning;
  • To re-establish connections between students and their teachers;
  • To assess our students social-emotional wellness; and
  • To offer students high-quality learning activities that were aligned with then-current DESE advisories that assigned work should be limited to preventing academic regression by reviewing previously-taught material and reinforcing skills already taught this school year and applying and deepening those skills.
On Wednesday, March 25th, 8 days ago, Governor Baker announced a further state-wide cancellation of school, this time through Friday, May 1st.  On Thursday, March 26th,  the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) issued their first set of written guidelines regarding Remote Learning.  These guidelines encouraged districts to continue to set the social-emotional wellness of their students as their highest priority, but allowed districts to locally determine the appropriateness of teaching new content moving forward.  

After considerable discussion, we have concluded that Phase 2 of our Remote Learning Plan will allow teachers to add new content to their remote learning instruction beginning Monday, April 6th.  At Placentino and Miller, where skill development in reading, writing and mathematics have always been the core work our teachers do, this focus will continue. At RAMS, teachers will continue to explore curriculum content through the school-wide lens of “Personal, Local, Global” with the emphasis on deeper, applied learning and deep conceptual understanding continuing to drive the work. New content will be introduced judiciously while reinforcing important concepts and skills. 

The changes for Holliston High School students will be much more pronounced:
  • HHS will be moving forward in curriculum content beginning Monday, April 6th.  Teachers have been asked to be alert to the differentiated needs of their class and offer all necessary accommodations;
  • HHS will work on a fixed class schedule beginning at 9:00AM and ending not later than 11:50AM M/T/Th/F where each period will meet twice per week for a class period not to exceed 50 minutes.  On the days when the student is not meeting with their teacher, they will be assigned independent work that should require no more than 50 minutes to complete. With this schedule, each student will meet with their Period A teacher for up to 100 minutes per week and have up to 150 minutes of independent work assigned to them.  
  • Students are expected to complete the work assigned to them and teachers will provide students with feedback on their submitted work.
Additional details can be seen in our comprehensive Remote Learning Plan.  You should expect to hear additional details from your school principal by Saturday, April 4th.

In the past three weeks, we have closed school, developed an initial plan for PreK-12 remote instruction, implemented that plan, modified the plan based on feedback and are now preparing to roll-out that revised plan.  This has been exhausting work that has required administrators and teachers to put in an extraordinary number of hours to develop and execute these plans. In addition, this work has required a level of flexibility and collaboration between administrators and teachers far beyond the already-high levels Holliston typically sees.  Everyone has rolled up their sleeves and pitched in, putting roles and responsibilities to one side, working together to make this happen. I am intensely proud of this work and profoundly proud of the teachers and administrators of the Holliston Public Schools who have worked together to make this happen. I also want to express my personal appreciation to the leadership of the Holliston Federation of Teachers for their flexibility and commitment to ensuring the students of Holliston are well-served through this shutdown.

I thank you for your continued patience and support as the Holliston Public Schools retools and redesigns itself to meet the unique changing needs of our community. 

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools


Coronavirus Update #9-  Privacy, Nurse and Food Service Info

Dear Holliston Parent/Guardians and Staff:

               One week after Governor Charlie Baker closed schools across the state to slow the spread of coronavirus in our communities, Holliston Public Schools rolled out a comprehensive set of Enhanced Learning Opportunities for students to use as a vehicle to get re-connected with their teachers and classmates and re-engage with their academic work.

This past Wednesday, Governor Baker announced that schools would remain closed through Friday, May 1, 2020.  Then, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released a set of guidelines for districts to use as they develop plans for this extended shutdown period.  On Friday, March 27, we wrapped up Week 1 of our Remote Learning Program, with Week 2 beginning today, Monday, March 30th.   This success can only be attributed to the hard work, time, and talent that our district’s entire team has invested in this effort. It is truly a remarkable accomplishment, made even more remarkable when you consider that each of these employees were adapting to their “new normal,” – including working from home, meeting remotely, as well as juggling their responsibilities to care for family and friends, to name a few things.

               During Week 1, many of our teachers reached out to students using the tools available through Google Classroom or commercially-available products such as Zoom or FlipGrid.  Because many families are working in close quarters, we wanted to be explicit about our expectations of students and their families regarding student privacy.  I have attached a document to this email that outlines those expectations with instructions to follow-up, no later than Friday, May 4th if you feel you are unable to meet those expectations.

This week, while staying connected with their students and rolling out Week 2 of our Remote Learning Program, Holliston’s teachers and administrators will be conducting a comprehensive re-assessment of our current program, assessing it against the DESE guidelines and reviewing it for appropriateness knowing that schools will now be closed through at least May 1st.  

At a minimum, we will be looking at the following areas of our current plan and reviewing it against DESE’s new guidelines and our own goals for student learning, including:

·     Providing meaningful and productive learning for approximately half the length of a regular school day;

·     Providing students the opportunity to connect with one or more educators multiple times per week;

·     Provide students with time each day for physical activity based on recommendations from educators;

·     Provide additional time daily for enrichment activities such as the arts;

·     Ensuring teachers are providing valuable feedback on student work completed at home;

·     Reviewing the appropriateness of our current focus on “reinforcing skills already taught and applying and deepening those skills” to minimize the impact that this now-extended closure will have on all of our students, but particularly, on the ability of HHS students to qualify for academic credit for Term 3, Term 4, Semester 2 and courses 3 terms in duration; and

·     Reviewing any proposed revisions that we consider to our current program against the legal and moral imperative that “students have equitable access to learning opportunities during the closure, keeping in mind the variety of technology, health, disability and language challenges” and other unique circumstances facing many of our students during this extraordinary time.

Any changes to our current plan will be shared with parents/guardians at the end of next week with Phase II of our Remote Learning Program going on-line on Monday, April 6.

Holliston Public Schools is not just focused on serving the academic needs of our students during this time. Our talented nurses are working hard to keep Holliston healthy and our incredible School Food Service employees are working hard to feed families-in-need.   Important information from our School Nurses and Food Service staff are attached to this email.

In closing, I want to assure you that the Holliston Public Schools is committed to putting together the most comprehensive, compassionate and flexible plan for remote learning possible to accommodate families during these unprecedented times.  It’s important to acknowledge that Holliston, our Commonwealth, our country and our planet are not experiencing an education crisis - we are experiencing a public health crisis that is impacting our public education system.  Our decisions must be and will be driven by the needs of our students -- all of our students.  We must accept the fact that we will not have the same educational outcomes this June that we have always had.  We must accept the fact that the recovery period from a mandated 2-month school closure will last well into the 2020-2021 school year.  At the same time, we must, and we will, find a way to minimize the impact that this COVID-19 crisis will have on our students’ futures.  We will not, however, achieve this goal by sacrificing those students who are already struggling to catch up to their peers or who are unable to connect with our offerings due to challenges they or their families are facing during this public health crisis.  That is not who we are as a community.

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Holliston Student Privacy Expectations and Consent

Holliston School Nurse COVID-19 Update April 2020

Holliston Food Service April 2020 Newsletter


Coronavirus Update #8- School Closure Extended Through May 1, 2020

Dear Holliston Parents/Guardians and Staff:

At 3:30 this afternoon, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that he was extending his state-wide school closure order through Friday, May 1, 2020.  This means that the Holliston Public Schools will continue to be closed through that date. The earliest date for school reopening is now Monday, May 4, 2020. 

We anticipated that the shutdown period would be extended and the plans we developed to keep our students engaged with learning activities were designed to be expandable to meet the needs of our families and students for a longer shutdown period.  In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that it will be issuing specific guidelines for districts to follow for the remote learning opportunities we provide. Once these guidelines have been shared with us, we will review our current Enhanced Learning Opportunities program and make any adjustments needed to ensure compliance with these new state guidelines.  If modifications to the plan are required, we will share those changes with students and parents as soon as possible.

In the meantime, even though many expected that the school closure period would be extended, it is a hard reality to face.  We recognize that for many staff, parents and students this new reality will only serve to increase anxiety, concern and a yearning for the return to normalcy.  Unfortunately, there is no substitute for the face-to-face, in-person schooling experience and no amount of technology or creativity can ever replace the connections that our students establish when they are physically present in school.  Nonetheless, we will do everything we can to establish and maintain meaningful connections with your children during this extended shutdown period. We can not recreate the school experience that existed in February. We are, however, doing everything we can to adapt that model to meet the unique social, emotional and educational needs of our students while we are unable to be together. 

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as Holliston Public Schools adjusts to these remarkable, unpredictable and unprecedented events.  

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


Coronavirus Update #7- Food Service News

Dear Holliston Families:

Holiday Dreams, partnering with Pepperoncini’s of Milford, Anthony's on the Green in Holliston, and the Holliston Public Schools, will offer lunches to families-in-need beginning Wednesday March 18, 2020 through the end of the school closure period.  This program is designed to assist all Holliston families who may have a need, regardless of whether or not you have a child attending the Holliston Public Schools.  As is the case throughout Massachusetts, we will be using a "grab-and-go" method of distribution in line with the Governor's instructions on social distancing.

Curbside pickup will be available at the Miller Elementary School, 235 Woodland Street from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM to any family who does not have any member of their household who is in quarantine or is showing any symptoms of COVID-19.  For those unable to leave their homes, a volunteer will deliver lunch to your doorstep. If you are in need of delivery please email: foodservice@holliston.k12.ma.us by 9:00 PM the night prior.  Please provide the following information: your family name, the number of people in need of lunch and your street address.  This information will be kept in the strictest of confidence.

This lunch program will be available on the following days:

  • Wednesday March 18, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020 (excluding Saturday and Sunday, March 21st and March 22nd)
  • Beginning Monday, March 30, 2020, we will go to a three-day per week model (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) where we will distribute/deliver lunch for two days at a time.

Community volunteers and employees of the Holliston Public Schools Food Service program will be staffing this program.  At this time, community volunteers are not needed.  Should this change, we will inform you.  Also, unfortunately, we are not able to accept food donations of any kind. 

For families in need, this lunch program will likely not serve all of your needs.  In these cases, the Holliston Pantry Shelf is ready to help with expanded food delivery services. Please contact them directly for assistance.

Finally, this email is being sent through the distribution system of the Holliston Public Schools and will only reach a subset of our community.  Please distribute this information widely.

All community agencies are working together to support the Holliston community.

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


Coronavirus Update #6- School Closing Extended through Monday, April 6, 2020

Dear Holliston Parents/Guardians and Staff:

On Sunday evening, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered ALL schools in Massachusetts be CLOSED through (and including) Monday, April 6, 2020.  This means that the Holliston Public Schools will be CLOSED THROUGH MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2020.  The earliest date we will be re-opening will be Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

Central Office and Building Administrators have been working throughout the weekend to begin to plan for this likely announcement.  Our expectation is that we will begin to provide enhanced learning activities for our students beginning Monday, March 23, 2020.  Parents received preliminary information from building principals earlier this weekend and you should expect more information will be forthcoming in the coming days.

In the meantime, it is critical to remember that these are NOT snow days.  The reason the Governor took this extraordinary action is to promote thoughtful social distancing to limit exposure to the Coronavirus for our students and their families.  Please take these recommendations seriously.

Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.  Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to react to this rapidly changing set of circumstances.

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools



Coronavirus Update #5- School Cancellation Notice Beginning Friday, March 13, 2020

 Dear Holliston Parent/Guardians and Staff:

I am writing to inform you that, while there are still no Coronavirus cases reported in Holliston, there are a large number of school districts in our area that are closed tomorrow and next week.  Many of our staff members have children who attend these schools, which will understandably result in an abnormally high level of staff absences. I have concluded that it is unlikely that we would have an adequate number of staff members present to be able to ensure a quality school day tomorrow and over the course of the next week.

As a result, the Holliston Public Schools is cancelling school for Friday, March 13th, Monday, March 16th, Tuesday, March 17th, Wednesday, March 18th and Thursday, March 19th.  Friday March 20th is a scheduled Professional Development Day for teachers. There will be no school for students on that day as well.  A decision regarding the possible cancellation of the PD Day for teachers will be made next week.

The Holliston Extended Day Program will be closed and will not re-open until Monday, March 23, 2020, at the earliest.

In accordance with the current advisories issued by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Holliston must make up a total of 5 school days lost to either weather or health related conditions.  This means that the last day of school will now be Wednesday, June 24, 2020. All total cancelled days beyond 5 do not have to be made up.

Further information will be shared over the next few days should it become apparent additional school cancellations are required. 

I sincerely appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we progress through this unprecedented set of circumstances.

Respectfully,

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools



Coronavirus Update #4- March 12, 2020

Dear Holliston Parent/Guardians and Staff:

On March 10, 2020, Governor Baker announced that executive branch employees should discontinue all out-of-state work-related travel, cancel conferences or hold them virtually, and not attend external work-related conferences, seminars, or events. While schools are not part of the executive branch, the Governor also urged employers and other large organizations to "limit or eliminate non-essential travel" and "limit or eliminate large events where possible."  

In light of this advisory, I am taking several steps to limit possible exposures, particularly from outside elements.  Effective immediately:

1.      All after-school events, concerts, and exhibitions scheduled to take place between March 12, 2020 and Friday, March 20, 2020 are cancelled.  Cancellations are likely to be extended beyond March 20th, but that decision will be made mid-next week.

2.      I am respectfully asking parents who are scheduled to volunteer in our schools between March 12th and March 20th to cancel those plans. 

3.      Any previously-approved use of our school buildings by outside organizations is cancelled for that same time period.

For staff, I am cancelling all attendance at external professional development seminars and conferences through March 19th.  At this time, the Professional Development Day, scheduled for March 20, 2020 will proceed as planned.

As of today, our plans for our middle school and high school spring athletic season are not being changed, in order to allow time for the MIAA and/or Tri-Valley League to make some initial determinations.

As expected, as we receive increased reports of either confirmed or suspected cases of Coronavirus in some MetroWest communities, public and private institutions are being asked to curb all but essential elements of their operation.  This announcement is aligned with that objective.

Still, this issue continues to evolve at a rapid pace with even more restrictions a distinct possibility. Parents and staff should now begin to consider developing contingency plans should more fundamental changes to our overall operation become necessary.

Respectfully,

 

Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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