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Schools Closed on Thursday, October 8th

posted Oct 8, 2020, 3:40 AM by Dan MacLeod

Dear Families:


Due to power outages and roads remaining blocked with trees and wires down, school will be closed today. Eversource indicating many houses are out of power, so we will not be able to be remote. We were hoping power might be back overnight, but I am hearing that roads are not cleared and power has not been restored. Sorry for the late notice. Stay Safe!

Dr. Susan E. Kustka

Interim Superintendent

School Start Date Update (September 12, 2020)

posted Sep 12, 2020, 6:50 PM by Dan MacLeod

September 12, 2020

Dear Families:

Starting on Wednesday, September 16th, PreK-3 will begin a staggered start towards daily, in-person instruction. Grade 2 and Montessori Ages 6-8 at Placentino and Grade 3 at Miller will begin in-person instruction on September 16th.  Grade 1 will begin in-person learning on Thursday, September 17th.  Kindergarten will begin in-person learning on Friday, September 18th and Preschool will begin in-person instruction on Monday, September 21st.

In grades PreK-1, while they await to begin in-person instruction, students will meet with their teachers remotely for a series of activities and virtual orientations. Teachers will start the day at 8:45 for a whole class meeting and will then virtually meet with smaller groups of students throughout the day to orient them to the classroom, review arrival procedures, and to explain what they should expect for their first In-person day. The purpose of these interactions is to help orient students to the classroom and school environment while also building relationships with their teacher and classmates.

Starting on September 21st, Grades 4-12 hybrid students will begin a staggered start towards daily in-person instruction. The district is aiming to begin in-person instruction by cohort in Grades 4 & 5 and Grades 6-8 on Monday, September 21st.  Then on Tuesday, September 29th, we will aim to begin in-person instruction by cohort at Holliston High School in Grades 9-12.  In order to reach this timeline, the district will be doing everything in its power to recruit and hire for open positions, and to deploy administrators and other non-teaching staff to support supervision and safety needs in creative ways. Below you will see additional detail by grade level start dates. We appreciate your patience and understanding, as we forge ahead during uncharted times in education.

However, should staffing needs not be resolved so that proper safety protocols are able to be ensured, it may be necessary to delay the in-person start dates for grades 4-12 a bit longer, but this is not our intention at this time. Should this need to occur related to safe staffing needs, we will communicate this to families as early as possible. We are not alone, as many school districts are competing to find additional staff for safety positions and/ or to fill positions created from late resignations or leaves of absence related to Covid-19. 

As you know, we have asked for parent volunteers to support the in-person start dates, and there are still about 25 open school positions, and many bus monitor openings. These are available for new hires to apply for or volunteers to temporarily fill, to aid this process. Here is the survey link for volunteers and the Schoolspring link to apply for a position. As stated the other night, “It takes a village to raise our children/ educate the students” of HPS, and they/we need you.

Sincerely,

Dr. Susan E. Kustka

Interim Superintendent


Full In-person 


Wednesday, September 16thIn-Person Learning Schedule:

  • Grade 2 and Montessori Ages 6-8 will begin in-person instruction at Placentino.

  • Grade 3 will begin in-person instruction at Miller.

Thursday, September 17th:  In-Person Learning Schedule

  • Grade 2 and Montessori 6-8 will continue with in-person learning

  • Grade 3 will continue  in-person instruction at Miller.

  • Grade 1 will begin in-person learning

Friday, September 18th: In-Person Learning Schedule

  • Grade 2 and Montessori 6-8 will continue with in-person learning

  • Grade 1 will continue with in-person learning

  • Grade 3 will continue  in-person instruction at Miller.

  • Kindergarten will begin in-person learning 

  • Preschool will continue to meet with their teachers remotely as described.

September 21st:

  • Preschool will begin In-person learning (joining grades K-2)


Hybrid Model Grades 4-12


Wednesday, September 16- Friday, September 18

  • Grades 4-12 would all begin hybrid remotely 

    • Grades 4 & 5 hybrid would be remote for the first 3 days

    • Grade 6-8 would be remote  for the first 3 days

    • Grades 9-12 would be remote  for the first 3 days

Monday, September 21 

  • Miller Grades 4 & 5 and RAMS Grade 6-8 hybrid will aim to begin in-person learning by cohort.

  • Holliston High would remain remote for the week

Tuesday, September 29

  • Holliston High School in grades 9-12 will aim to begin in-person learning by cohort. 

  • All schools are in full hybrid mode.

Family Q & A Session- August 25, 2020

posted Aug 26, 2020, 10:02 AM by Dan MacLeod   [ updated Aug 26, 2020, 10:02 AM ]

Here is a link to the recorded session.

Fall Reopening Subcommittee Updates - July 16, 2020

posted Jul 19, 2020, 5:36 PM by Dan MacLeod


Hello Families and Staff,
 
 
We are excited to let you know that the district subcommittees have begun meeting, and we have added a parent and a teacher representative to each group, to help with our reopening planning.
 

As a reminder, if a family member has not completed the brief family survey regarding fall reopening, we ask that you do so no later than the end of the day on Friday, July 17, 2020, to help us in the planning process. A staff survey will be coming out shortly.

The following lists indicate the makeup of each of the five subcommittees. Thank you again to all who volunteered.

 

District Reopening Subcommittee Rosters

 

Teaching and Learning

 

Special Ed, 504, ELs                 

  

Peter Botelho

Assistant Superintendent

Kelly Camp

District SSD

Dan MacLeod

Director of Technology

Kim Condon

HHS SSA

Karen Archambault

HHS AP

Nicole Murray

RAMS SSA

David Jordan

RAMS Principal

Miller SSA

Miller SSA

Erica Linares

Miller AP

Carol DiCrutalo

Placentino SSA

Jaime Slaney

Placentino Principal

Mary Perry

Placentino, ECC

Hilary Bresnahan

Parent

Cindy Burrow

Parent

Brook Doire 

Teacher

Leslie Diamandis

Miller/Placentino Teacher

Student Supports & Health/Safety

Facilities, Operations, & Transportation

Lynne Bowler

District Nurse Leader

Keith Buday

Business Manager

Chris Cook

HHS AP

Nicole Bottomley

HHS Principal

Jess Beattie

RAMS AP

David Jordan

RAMS Principal

Jen Olsen 

RAMS Nurse

Dave Keim

Miller Principal

Cheryl Lassey

Placentino AP

Cheryl Lassey

Placentino AP

Catherine Harkin

Placentino Nurse

Amanda Rivera

HHS Teacher

Brielle Chadsey

Miller Teacher/Counselor

Tina Hein

Parent

Tereza Rodriguez

HHS Nurse

  

Deborah Kemmerer

Parent

   

Personnel & Staffing

Susan Kustka

Interim Superintendent

 

Dave Keim

Miller Principal

Nicole Bottomley

HHS Principal

 

Jaime Slaney

Placentino Principal

Jess Beattie

RAMS AP

 

Kimberly Collins 

Parent

Jaime Cutone

RAMS/District Teacher Rep

   
 

Dr. Susan E. Kustka

Holliston Interim Superintendent

508-429-0654 x1 

kustkas@holliston.k12.ma.us

 


It is the policy of the Holliston Public Schools not to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, color, homelessness, sexual orientation, age or disability in its educational programs, services, activities, or employment practices.


370 Hollis Street

Holliston, MA 01746

508-429-0654

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

posted Jun 27, 2020, 8:19 AM by Dan MacLeod   [ updated Jun 27, 2020, 8:23 AM ]

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

posted Jun 18, 2020, 1:18 PM by Dan MacLeod

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

posted May 18, 2020, 10:30 AM by Dan MacLeod

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

posted Apr 27, 2020, 1:44 PM by Dan MacLeod   [ updated Apr 27, 2020, 1:48 PM ]

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

posted Apr 27, 2020, 1:42 PM by Dan MacLeod

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

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