Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Please see the attached letter regarding the district's decision to postpone the teaching of the Human Sexuality Units during this period of remote learning, K-12.

Also, as an update on graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020 I would like to thank Mr. Loprete, the high school administration, and the senior class advisors and officers for working collaboratively in planning the very best events for our students.

Mr. Loprete and I have been meeting regularly with town health and safety officials in order to determine the best plans for our graduates. As recently as last Thursday afternoon we received updated guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education pertaining specifically to graduation ceremonies and we now need to take this latest information into consideration.

The group plans to meet tomorrow, May 27, 2020, and we hope to have additional details to communicate to the parents later this week.

For all other transitional grades our teachers and principals are also well aware of the importance of celebrating and recognizing our students and there are many things in place and in development as well for those students.

I hope that everyone is doing well and we continue to appreciate the support and efforts of our students, teachers, parents, support providers and our entire North Reading School Community.

Be well,

Dr. Daly

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Good morning,

I hope that this email finds you well and that you’ve been able to enjoy some of this very nice weather these past few days. Michael and I wanted to write to you this morning to update you on some information from the School Committee meeting last evening, May 4, 2020.

School Calendar

Our school calendar was amended and approved last evening. Our last day of school for students will now be June 19, 2020. The previously scheduled half-days on May 22nd  and June 5th will now be full remote learning days. We will still have no school on Memorial Day, May 25th.

Graduation activities are still being planned at this time as we await more information from Governor Baker on May 18th which will greatly influence our options. Please stay tuned for more information and details. Thank you to Mr. Loprete, our Senior Class Officers,  town officials, and the high school team for their great work on this plan.

Budget

As many of you know, last night was our budget workshop. Due to the unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19 and the impact on state and local finances we currently have a budget deficit from our modified level services budget of about $811,025. In order to close this budget gap there have been many suggested cuts and budget closing measures.
Despite these challenges, we have remained committed to our goal of keeping our employees whole during this period of closure. To that end, we recommended to the School Committee that our employees be paid their regular salaries through June 19, 2020.
Among the measures suggested during the workshop to close the budget gaps are to eliminate several new positions, to not fill some positions due to retirement, and to potentially postpone the start date of both the Assistant Superintendent and the Director of Facilities positions. While these are all difficult cuts and decisions we are trying to do our best to prevent cuts that will directly impact classrooms whenever possible. Our plan is to keep you informed of these and any other budgetary decisions as we continue to move forward in these uncertain times.

Refunds

Given the extreme hardships that many families are facing, last evening we also developed a plan to provide refunds to families for services that have been modified during this period of closure. This includes a full refund to students who paid a user fee for spring sports as well as some partial refunds for bus services, before school care, full-day Kindergarten, and full and half-day Pre-Kindergarten.
For those families who are eligible for the refunds you will be receiving a brief form via email to complete for each service. We anticipate that these emails will be sent later this week.
Since the district, in accordance with guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and other local districts, is continuing to partially pay for the continuation of services for transportation, athletics, and other services we will certainly welcome any donations in lieu of refund from those families who are able to provide such a donation at this time. 

Thank you all for your support of our students and school community!

Be well,

Dr. Daly​

Monday, April 27, 2020




Around the Schoolyard
Updates from the Schools

Although our school buildings are closed now through the end of the school year, the essence of our “schoolyard” still exists and is present each day through the community of teachers, students, families, and staff working to ensure that each child’s experience is the very best it can be in this challenging time.

Ideas for Class of 2020 Seniors

I continue to be so impressed with the outpouring of support and creative ideas that have been shared by so many members of our community with respect to the graduating class of 2020.

Mr. Loprete, Mr. Hehn, the Senior Class Advisors, and the Student Class Officers have been meeting regularly to plan memorable events for this spring and there are many great ideas that will make these events a success. This group and other important contributors continue to work together with a singular focus: to provide an opportunity to conduct as many of our senior events as possible with the framework of a SAFE senior event. A SAFE event is one that successfully meets these criteria: Sensible within given health and safety guidelines; Accessible, so that all can participate; Feasible in that the event can be reasonably conducted; and Every senior student is included.

As you can imagine, we need to be sure that the planning of the graduation ceremony and other Class of 2020 events is done in an organized and sanctioned manner and so we ask that anyone with ideas or suggestions for help follow the proper channels and share their thoughts with Christie Perrone and the Parents Association who will serve as primary contacts for community ideas.

The best way to contact this group is via email: NRHSPA@gmail.com

If you’re driving down Park Street you will see a wonderful banner with the student names proudly displayed. There are lawn signs to celebrate the class of 2020 and other ideas planned in the near future as well. Please understand the importance of the need for all events and ideas to flow through the proper channels and to receive approval not only from the school administration but also from the local Board of Health, Police, Fire, and town administration as well during these unprecedented times.

Refunds

We are also aware that there are many questions about spring events, programs, activities, and services that have not continued as planned due to the extended school closures. Our Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, Michael Connelly, and his team have been working on this communication and in the coming weeks more information will be forthcoming and shared with impacted families.

Remote Learning
My thanks to everyone involved in making our remote learning plan a success. Our teachers and educators have worked tirelessly to create lessons in this new environment and have found innovative ways to teach and support our students. Students have held to the schedules and completed their assignments, and parents and families have supported them every step of the way. We’ve handed out nearly 400 Chromebook devices to families in need and helped all of our students continue to learn remotely during this extended closure. It is important for all students to follow the remote learning plan and for everyone to recognize the flexibility that is built into the plan, by design, in order to meet the unique needs of everyone in this challenging time. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has identified the grade level standards that are most important for our students to understand and these “power standards” will be our focus for the remainder of the school year.

Support

As I shared previously, the most important idea that we can convey to anxious students is that this spring of 2020 will certainly be different but it will be special in its own way. Everyone in the North Reading Public Schools community is committed to recognizing and celebrating the important milestones of our students’ lives and although it may look different we will certainly find a way to provide these important and memorable experiences for our students.






Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Good afternoon,

Earlier today, Governor Baker announced that public and private schools (not including residential special education schools) will stay closed through the end of the school year.  We agree with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education who wrote that, "this is a necessary step to keep everyone as healthy as possible."

While perhaps expected, news of this extension may still be difficult for our students and families, especially our seniors. I can assure you that Mr. Loprete and I are connecting on this topic daily and we will work with our class officers to provide memorable opportunities for our students while maintaining the safety guidelines and restrictions communicated by the Commonwealth.

I ask our parents and community to help to assure our students that the schools are very much attuned to the social emotional needs of our students and that we are aware of the many questions that remain. Please communicate to the children that we will be working to come up with solutions that will meet the needs of all of our students and that while we do not have answers to every question at this time we will have a solid plan in place in advance of upcoming dates and events.

As reiterated by the Governor, all students enrolled in our schools must continue with our Remote Learning Plan through the end of the year in June. Our plan is designed to be flexible for a wide variety of needs and any questions or concerns should be communicated to the child's teacher or principal. 
Given these circumstances, if you have a need for a Chromebook loaner for your child please complete/resubmit this form so that we can contact you to make arrangements.

Also, for those families with students who are interested in participating in our "grab and go" breakfast and lunch program, please complete this form.
In the coming weeks I will update you with new information solidifying our last day of school and any other calendar updates related to this closure. For now we are scheduled to continue our remote learning plan through June and we look forward to continuing this new learning path with our students.

Please stay safe and be well.

Dr. Daly

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Social-Emotional Impact of School Closure

The last several weeks have been unprecedented times for our students and staff as well as all of the families in our community. While much of my communication to date has been about the logistical implications of our school closure, I am writing this week to discuss some of the more social-emotional aspects of our current situation.

Seniors

Last week I joined others on social media and “tweeted” my senior picture as a sign of solidarity with our North Reading High School Seniors. I promise that even though it is black and white we did have color way back then!

Transitions at all levels are challenging and we’ve heard from our students that this school closure has been particularly difficult for our seniors. As a teacher for over a decade who worked primarily with seniors I came to better understand the emotions and feelings that bring our students together in their last year of high school, especially as we approach the final months. There is a bond that students have and the spring of senior year provides so many opportunities for ceremony, some formal and others informal, that has been especially difficult for our students in the Spring of 2020.

Mr. Loprete and I have been in constant communication throughout our closure and he has many great ideas on how to support our students. He is communicating directly with students in the senior class to connect with them on a personal level and I appreciate his thoughtfulness on this important aspect of our students’ well-being.

Transitions

We are also aware that our students in grades 5 and 8 are also experiencing some anxiety about the transitions to the new buildings. Much like our seniors, the students in grades 5 and 8 have ceremonies, both formal and informal, as they finish up their final days in their current buildings and grades.

Our administrative team is actively discussing the importance of recognizing the need to provide opportunities for these students to also experience some of the ceremony that they would typically have in the spring. We may need to be creative and think outside of the box but I am confident that we will ensure that there are many special and memorable moments that we can provide our students in order to support them with the social-emotional foundation they will need to move forward.

Support

Our teachers, administrators, students, and families have been so wonderful in reaching out with ideas and suggestions to support all students. There are many questions that remain, but as we move forward I continue to suggest that our school community connects with building principals on ideas so that we can continue to have a coordinated approach.

The most important idea that we can convey to anxious students is that this spring of 2020 will certainly be different but it will be special in its own way. Everyone in the North Reading Public Schools community is committed to recognizing and celebrating the important milestones of our students’ lives and although it may look different we will certainly find a way to provide these important and memorable experiences for our students.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dear North Reading Public Schools Community,

Last evening the North Reading School Committee voted to accept the recommendation to take only Monday, April 20, 2020 and Friday, April 24, 2020 as vacation days next week.  This means that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of next week will be remote learning days. Each school will be sharing more information soon about what those days will look like at each level.

The School Committee also decided not to change our end of year date at this time as we may need to use some or all of the additional three (3) vacation days in the future if the school closure is extended beyond May 4, 2020. If we do not use those additional three (3) vacation days we would end our year three (3) days earlier. Once we have more information about whether there is to be an extension of the school closure we can identify additional breaks and a last day of school.

Our Remote Learning Plan is now in its second week. We continue to offer structured learning for our students that is flexible in order to meet the unique challenges that our students and families are facing. However, it is important that all students engage with this work to the best of their abilities. During this period of closure it is expected that all students follow the Remote Learning Plan and communicate with the teachers regularly to discuss any questions or concerns. We are confident that we can best meet the needs of all students if we follow this plan and communicate regularly when there is a need for flexibility.

Additionally, the leadership teams at all three levels are discussing a timeline and the supports that we would need to have in place in order to move into Phase 2 of our Remote Learning Plan. This phase would allow for the introduction of new content and so we would ensure that students have the supports from their teachers and related support staff to adjust to these new concepts. Most likely all other aspects of the Remote Learning Plan (schedule, etc.) would remain the same in Phase 2. Schools would also communicate more information about how grading and assessment will look during Phase 2 and we will continue to be fair and flexible with our plans. More information will be coming soon from your Principal.

As always, thank you for your support and all that you do with our students each day.

Dr. Daly

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good morning North Reading Public Schools Community,

Thank you all for your patience and hard work in week one of our Remote Learning Plan. Our teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and related service providers are all working so hard to create and implement this plan and I truly appreciate their efforts. Our Digital Learning Team has never been so important and they have truly risen to the occasion, and I would like to thank Dr. Downs for his leadership in organizing professional development, supports for teachers, and for working with me to distribute devices to those families in need.

I also am so appreciative of the efforts of the students and families who are following our plan each day.  I understand that there are also families who are facing challenges helping their students complete the assignments, share devices, and meet the needs of all student learners in their homes. As a parent of three boys under ten years old, each with his own learning challenges, I am experiencing this first hand as well. I believe that our plan is designed to be flexible to accommodate the unique needs of each student, and our teachers are all supportive of this need for flexibility.

Next week will be a continuation of this Phase 1 of Remote Learning. During Phase 1 we have come to a consensus that there will not be new content, homework, or graded tests/quizzes as there is so much that we need to adjust to in this new Remote Learning Plan. This is consistent with what most every other district in the state is doing at this time.

 On Monday, April 13th our School Committee will decide what the April Vacation week will look like this year. It will be my recommendation to take Patriots' Day as well as the Friday as vacation days because everyone needs a break. At the same time, I will recommend that we have a Tues/Wed/Thurs Remote Learning week so that we can continue the work we have started and, more importantly, have three days of vacation that we could use as needed later this spring. I will communicate the results of the School Committee decision as soon as possible following our meeting.

At the secondary level we will soon finalize and communicate how we will determine third quarter grades. Next week our administrators and teachers will also continue to think about what a Phase 2 of Remote Learning could look like and how this will work for ALL students. Phase 2 would begin, at the earliest, after Patriots' Day.

As I've communicated with our staff, it's important to remember that we are not trying to replicate school and it is likely that we may not reach the same place we would normally reach by the end of the year. That is not our goal right now. Our goal is to continue learning and engaging students in structured ways while being mindful of the situation we are in and providing a lot of flexibility. Our goal is to stay healthy and to be flexible enough to adjust if either we, or our students, are not able to meet the demands of what we are asking.

Be well and have a wonderful weekend,

Dr. Daly