Coronavirus Updates

posted Mar 12, 2020, 7:15 AM by Winnie Carey   [ updated Mar 26, 2020, 5:19 PM by Dan MacLeod ]
Update #8- School Closure Extended until 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



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



Update #6- School Cancellation Extended Through 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


Update #5- School Cancellation Notice Beginning 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



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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