Weekly email: November 20th

Weekly community email
Good afternoon everyone,
I hope that you have had a good remote learning week and have adjusted to yet another challenge this year.
We have now started Q2 and it is more important than ever to maintain clear communication between families and teachers. Whilst the mode of school has changed, our message has not and we remain focussed on the three foundational pillars of the model approved by the School committee in August:
  1. Maintaining the Health and Safety of all students and staff in the building
  2. Providing supports for social and emotional learning for all students
  3. Providing the best learning opportunities for all students that we can in the circumstances
Please know that you can reach out to us at any time for support and that students and families should email their teachers in the first instance. No matter what the obstacle, we will try our best to work with you and find a way around it.
Below are notices and upcoming events for the week ahead. As a reminder, there will be a school committee meeting on Nov 24th at 7pm. Details are on the town website.
Have a safe weekend
Health and Safety
The Department recognizes that the upcoming Thanksgiving and winter holidays may pose a challenge to districts in their efforts to limit students’ and staff’s exposure to COVID-19. The Department encourages district and school leaders to remind staff and students about the best practices that the Department of Public Health has outlined:
  • Limit gathering size: Indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people, and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people.
  • Individuals should stay within their household: For a lower-risk celebration, people should limit in-person holiday gatherings to only people they live with or limit the gathering to a small group of individuals with whom they are regularly in contact.
  • Avoid travel: Anyone considering travel should review and abide by Massachusetts travel orders, and people who want to travel to another state that is not a lower-risk state should be aware of the quarantine requirements involved with such travel.

The holidays will necessarily look different this year, and DESE appreciates all that educators, students, and families are doing to limit their risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Social and Emotional Learning
  • CREW: Continues to be an important part of a students day and the expectation is that everyone attends from 8:30-9. Crew is an opportunity to participate in small group discussions with a peer group and a teacher leader. It is a vital and reliable space for SEL supports for all students in this uncertain year.
  • The HPS School Committee adopted an anti-racist focus for the district at the start of the academic year and for the past two weeks, advisors have been working with all students in CREW on the topic of White Privilege and Equity. You can see some of the resources we have been using here: Link
  • Thanksgiving break: This is a vital time for students, families and teachers to switch off and rest. Staff have been asked not to set work over the break and I hope you are able to help support students in getting off screens and also switching off from school.
  • Student Council meeting: All students have been invited to an open meeting on December 2nd - 3pm. Please check your emails.
  • Linked to the importance of student voice, if you have the opportunity, have a look at : I am Greta - A powerful Documentary online at the moment: Link
  • National Honors society assembly - There will be a live Google meet in Mid-December for NHS inductees. NHS advisors will be emailing students with deadlines and requirements in the next few days.
  • Winter Athletics update: here for the latest news.
  • Graduating Class fundraiser: Link
Teaching and Learning
  • Please see these tips about how students and families might find easier ways to participate in remote learning:Link
  • Thank you to everyone who provided Q1 feedback. This will be shared at a SC meeting after the Thanksgiving break. It will also be shared to the website
  • SA staff continue to provide many opportunities for live learning and live check-ins and office hours as part of the scope and sequence of developmentally age appropriate learning. Depending on the theme of skills being explored in any one subject, students might be asked to complete a variety of tasks. Some of these might involve live teaching, and live meets. Some of these tasks may involve individual or collaborative tasks away from the screen. Thank you for continuing to provide staff with the trust and support to provide the best learning opportunities we can at the present time. Also, please do reach out to teachers directly with any academic concerns as early as you can. If we are aware of issues, we can help. Letting us know about issues on the last day of the marking period is a little too late.
  • Thank you for continuing to help us set Q2 expectations for students:

All students should be online from - 8:30-11:50 and checking into and participating/ following directions in each academic class.
Logging in, completing the attendance task and logging out does not constitute attendance.
Students should be in live check-ins/ classes or doing asynchronous class work between 12:20-3

  • Office Hours and check-ins: These are specific live blocks of time for teachers to work with students. If a student is asked to attend, the expectation is that they attend. A no-show means that a teacher is not helping a student in need.
  • Grade 11 January 2021 MCAS: Students and families who responded to several opportunities to communicate a desire to take these exams in January will receive info next Weds in relation to preparation, supports and a provisional schedule for testing. Students in Grade 11 not taking the MCAS at this time will be able to do so in the Spring.
  • PSAT - Depending on COVID, we are hoping to hold these for all Juniors in Mid-January. We will offer this to the current Sophomores in the Fall of 2021/2. Please be on the look out for an email from Dawn Sacks.
Chris Buckland
Smith Academy