Student and Family Update
Posted March 16, 2020
Good evening, Clipper Families.
I appreciate your patience as we chart our course. As promised, I am writing today to share more detail. This message will provide responses to some general questions, introduce information about teaching and learning, and review information about internet access and instructional technology.
To reaffirm, schools will be closed until April 6, 2020. If it is determined at any time that our closure will be extended beyond April 6, you will receive a communication to that effect. The Commissioner of Education is still maintaining that schools will not be open beyond our scheduled 185th day, which is June 26, 2020 for Falmouth students. At this time, there is no expectation that schools will reopen during April vacation or operate on Saturdays.
School buildings and campuses will be closed beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until which time schools reopen. All school-related activities are cancelled through the reopening of schools on Monday, April 6. We ask that everyone observe the “social distancing” recommendations and please do not gather on school grounds. For further information, please go to www.falmouth.k12.ma.us/FAQ for frequently asked questions. We will update this page daily with new questions/answers from our community.
Teaching and Learning
Many families have inquired about what educational resources and programming can be made available to students and their families during this time. First, I want to ensure that our community knows that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) does not count time engaged in remote or online learning towards meeting the state requirement for “time on learning.” DESE does, however, expect that K - 12 public school districts provide learning opportunities that review, support, and reinforce content and skill learning across all grade levels to date. In response, the Falmouth Public Schools’ Office of Teaching & Learning has facilitated the creation of Continuity of Learning Plans.
A Continuity of Learning Plan is a collection of ideas, tasks, and links to learning resources that can support students and families to maintain a connection to their school communities and engage in a learning routine. These plans will be made available on the Office of Teaching and Learning’s page of the district website. A link for quick access will be added both to the alert that you see when you visit our site as well as on the COVID19 response page. By accessing the Continuity of Learning Plans via our site, students and families can use the translation feature within the web browser as well as the accessibility features they have set within the web browser.
At present, I anticipate that the Continuity of Learning Plans will be published on the site on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. If paper materials are preferred or required by grade level, an announcement will be shared with details about pick up locations and times. Announcements will be made through scheduled phone calls and system-distributed emails like all other school and district announcements.
DESE has shared that it will, at present, postpone MCAS testing. Additional guidance is anticipated and will be shared upon receipt. Further, the college board issued an advisory about moving AP exams to the end of May.
Internet Access and Instructional Technology
Comcast recently announced that they have made their internet essential services available for free to qualifying families. Students in grades 6 through 12 should currently have access to their Chromebooks at home. We are making Chromebooks available to students in grades 3 through 5 for use at home as well. Principals at our elementary schools and Morse Pond will be sending communications directly to families at these grade levels to share details. Please watch for this correspondence via recorded call and/or email on Wednesday for an expected pick up on Friday. If you have any trouble with your device during this period of closure, you can send an email to email@example.com to make contact with Falmouth Public Schools IT staff for support.
Parents/Guardians of students in grades 3 - 5 will receive a Chromebook User Agreement that will need to be signed and returned to the school upon pick-up, which will be managed using a “drive through” strategy, so students and their families do not need to exit their vehicles in order to secure the device.
Our Chromebooks are valuable learning tools, and we want to support sustained access to these devices during our school closure in support of our Continuity of Learning Plans.
The Office of Student Services is dedicated to providing supports for our students’ unique needs during the school closure. More specific guidance will be forthcoming in regards to service delivery, evaluations, timelines, and Home/Hospital Tutoring as provided by the DESE’s Office of Special Education Programs. For students in out-of-district day or residential placements, families should follow the attendance recommendations of the individual school or facility.
During our school closure, counseling services will be available on a check-in basis. If your child is in crisis and poses a threat to themselves or others, please call 911. In addition, families are encouraged to contact Falmouth Human Services for immediate behavioral health supports. If your child is seeing a Gosnold counselor, services will continue with weekly check-ins.
We appreciate your patience as we determine options that allow us to meet our students’ needs as we sail forward. For resources about COVID-19, how to talk to your kids about COVID-19, social distancing, and other related information, please go to our webpage “Coronavirus Information” at falmouth.k12.ma.us/COVID19.
As always we are here to support you and encourage you to reach out if you need assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be safe and well.
Lori Duerr, Ed.D.
Falmouth Public Schools