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Superintendent's Update: Monday, March 30, 2020


Dear Parents, Guardians, Students, and Staff –

I write to communicate the next steps for the Belmont Public Schools “Phase 2” Remote Learning Plan.

I understand that there is unrest toward the School Department’s response to the COVID-19 extended school closure.

As your superintendent I apologize  for the delay in communicating Phase 2 of our Remote Learning in Belmont. I take responsibility for the role of communicating  the hard work we have engaged in over the last week, in order to provide a more direct form of Remote Learning in Belmont. This email will provide more detail and a timeline for the next phase of this process given the announcement by Governor Baker last Wednesday to extend the school closure to May 4, 2020. Today the Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley has sent out guidelines for parent and guardians that you can see on our website.

In conjunction with our district leadership team, your invested Belmont educators, teachers, directors and principals have been working on the next phase of our plan for reinforcing skills, curriculum advancement, and new and meaningful learning opportunities remote learning. As educators, we wanted to make sure we sought and utilized the feedback of our educators before communicating our plan.  Our latest meeting was today.

The timeline for this rollout is as follows:

  1. Today we finalized our plans for Phase 2 Remote Learning framework and timeline.
  2. Tomorrow Principals will hold faculty meetings to outline the  framework of Phase 2 Remote Learning.
  3. Those specific details will be emailed by Principals to families tomorrow following the faculty meetings
  4. Principals will set times for staff to access their school and classrooms to gather needed materials during the remainder of the week.
  5. Educators will spend time working collegially to review, plan, and prepare for this work with the goal of contacting students and families starting this week and no later than Monday, April 6, 2020.
  6. The enrichment and re-teaching work provided students and families for this week should remain in place unless your otherwise students  teacher(s) is prepared to move forward with the Phase 2 plan.
  7. The timeline for Phase 2 will be in effect at least until May 4, 2020.

Please see the link to the Remote Learning Roadmap: Belmont Public Schools for details. BPS Remote Learning Phase 2

As you know we have been providing food distribution to our families in need each week.  I would like to thank our Food Service Director Dustin O’Brien and Assistant Director Gail Mulani for their incredible creativity and efforts. We also have a distribution strategy in place that will provide devices to all identified families today. See the bottom of this communication for the April 1, 2020 Food Service Plan.

I also would like to thank Director of Technology Steve Mazzola and his team for identifying and distributing devices to families this week for use during this extended school closure.

The community of Belmont has always been great supporters of the public schools.  This support has always been valued and appreciated by the faculty and staff in Belmont.  Please know that your  teachers, directors, and principals have been working hard and will continue to do so on behalf of their students.

At our last School Committee (remote) meeting there were several questions and comments raised by community members during the “Citizens Concerns” portion of the meeting.

Some questions that were asked at our School Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 24:

1. Will the next phase of engagement of differ by grade level?

a. Answer: Yes. We have utilized our elementary principals and educators for a K-4 framework and our secondary principals, curriculum directors and educators for our 5-8, 9-12 approach.

2. Are you going to use your school values in making these decisions?

a. Answer: Yes. We believe all students are capable of learning …… the Belmont Public School strategic goals this year, and over the past several years, have been centered on the social and emotional well- being of all the children we serve. To that end, we are aware that our reinforcement and advancement of skills, curriculum and content cannot be a replication of the traditional school day. However, we can provide more increased structure, inquiry, and learning remotely than initially proposed. We will attempt to provide a continuation of relationship building by making contact via online platforms to checking in on our students.

3. Do we have to go by the DESE or Commissioners guidelines?

a. Answer: On some things yes, and on others, no. We count on our state-wide professionals to guide and support our work. There are some guidelines we will follow and some we will extend further to meet the expectations of our community. This is evident in our Phase Two plan.

4. What is the full plan moving forward?

a. We set Phase One of our plan in motion by closing school (earlier than the state did) to ensure the safety of all students and staff, offering an initial approach that prioritized online educational support and enrichment.

b. We followed the Commissioner’s guidelines to provide support, re-teaching and enrichment for this initial three week time period.

c. Now we are in Phase Two of that plan, resulting from the Governor’s extension of school closure to May 4, 2020. We are complying with the Commissioner’s guidelines while also customizing our approach in Belmont to advance some skills and content that can be done remotely.

d. Our educators will use this opportunity to utilize and test remote learning tools that may benefit our district in the future.

e. Phase Three of our plan is to learn from this experience as educators and be prepared to be a flexible potential dual-mode district in the future as we could see our 2020-2021 school year in some way impacted by the continuation of this world wide pandemic.

5. What about grades and end of the year events?

a. Now that we are moving into our Phase Two Remote Learning work with a hopeful reopen date of May 4, we have been holding these discussion and plan to address the questions that confront us like grades, proms, graduation, end of the year events for all students transition from one grade to the next etc… in the coming weeks.

As your Superintendent, I can assure all members of our school community that our commitment to and support of our families, students, and staff during this challenging time remains steadfast.

Respectfully,

John P. Phelan
Superintendent of Schools
Belmont, Massachusetts

Food Service Update

The below will be emailed out today and another robo-call will be placed on Tuesday, 3/31 (free and reduced benefit families only).

MEALS DURING SCHOOL CLOSURE - WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1ST

MEAL KIT DRIVE-THRU HOURS: Our meal pick-up window for Wednesday, 4/1 will be 7:30AM to 10:30AM at Belmont High School (221 Concord Avenue). We want to emphasize this is a drive-thru service and advise families to stay in cars. We’ll load goods into trunk/backseat and they’ll be no person to person contact. Each meal kit will include multiple days of breakfast and lunch items.                                                                              

MEAL KIT HOME DELIVERY: All students who have had a meal kit delivered to their home on 3/25 have been placed on a recurring delivery and families do not need to e-mail us again. If you cannot make it to the scheduled meal pick-up on Wednesday, 4/1, please e-mail Dustin O’Brien (dobrien@belmont.k12.ma.us) no later than Tuesday, 3/31 with the names of all students, the current address and a phone number we can reach you. Deliveries will be made on Wednesday and packages will be left on doorsteps before 3PM.

BELMONT FOOD PANTRY: Please check the Belmont Food Pantry (located at 455 Concord Avenue) website for updates on hours.

BOSTON RESIDENTS: Please visit this website for emergency meal sites around the city and/or contact the Project Bread FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333.

MEAL KITS: Buffalo Chicken, Turkey, Roast Beef, Salami and Cheese on a Pretzel Bun, Supplies for make-at-home Ham/Cheeseburgers, Popcorn Chicken, Black Bean and Corn Salsa, Bagels w/ Cream Cheese, Muffins, Mini Eggo Waffles, Fresh Fruit, Orange Juice, Peach Cups and Assorted Snacks/Chips

NOTIFICATION FOR FAMILIES: Look for updates on the Belmont Food Services Twitter page: @BPS_Food_4_Kids

UPDATES WILL BE POSTED ON SCHOOL FOOD SERVICE WEBSITE






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