COVID-19 Community Update #17 – April 30, 2020

Pittsfield Families,

We are hope that all our Pittsfield families are doing well this week.  Again, we recognize that remote learning is providing another stress in our usually busy lives.  Our teachers are working to minimize the heaviness of the lift required by our Pittsfield parents.  It’s a challenge to strike a balance between the responsibilities of our educators to provide learning opportunities and the reasonableness of the demands of our programs.  Your support, positivity, hard work, and understanding are all greatly appreciated.

Today’s news:

Attendance.  As has been our practice, the district is taking daily student attendance during our check-in’s with students and through student participation in learning activities.  Non-attendance will result in significant “learn loss” according to education researchers, with some students potentially erasing all gains made in the first portion of the academic year; our younger students are particularly vulnerable.  As always, students are strongly encouraged to maintain good, responsible attendance.

CARES Act.  You may be familiar with recent legislation to provide funding to local school districts to support students during remote learning.  It looks like our district will receive more than $200,000 for this purpose.  Among planned use:  technology needed to support remote learning, meals for students, summer programming to support struggling students, and other program components.  This support is greatly appreciated.

End-of-Year Transition Celebrations.  Virtual versions of several end-of-year transition celebrations are being planned.  Our general aim is to include all the traditional elements of these celebrations to the greatest extend possible.  Celebrations are scheduled as follows:

  • Kindergarten – Monday, June 8
  • Fifth Grade – Tuesday, June 9
  • Sixth Grade – Wednesday, June 10
  • Eighth Grade – Thursday, June 11

Exhibition Night. Our very popular and well-attended annual Exhibition Night, scheduled for Thursday, June 4, will not be held this year.  In its place, our students will be presenting a virtual Celebration of Student Learning, which will be scheduled during the short week of May 26 to May 29.  Our celebration will be a toned-down version of our usual Exhibition Night, which we look forward to renewing in the spring of 2021.  Watch for details.

Field Day.  PES PE teacher Brandon Balser (Thank you, Mr. Balser!) has registered PES for participation in the National Open Field Day, which will take place next week, on Friday, May 8.  For more info on this fun event:   https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cXZJTyZPiSc7uYJUSHJRuxrGapPIYXILGOowTpUw_wo/edit?ts=5e9dee60.

Last Day of School.  The Pittsfield School Board has established Friday, June 12, as the last day of school for our 2019-2020 school year.  We plan to wrap up new instruction on Friday, June 5, and utilize the week of June 8 to June 12 to provide small group and individualized support for competency strengthening and course completion.  We’ll have more info as we get closer to these dates.

Learning Materials.  Learning materials pick-ups are scheduled for every two weeks.  Our next pick-up will take place on Thursday, May 7.  Remember also that all pick-ups are scheduled for PES, regardless of the grade.  Materials not picked up will be mailed to student homes on Friday; an exception would be for tech equipment or other large materials, which will be delivered by school bus during daily food delivery runs.

Meals.  The district is providing meals to all students upon request.  Meals are delivered between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. daily or between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon for families who opt to pick up meals at PES.  In addition to lunch, meals include breakfast for the following day.  Be assured that the district and our food service contractor are utilizing meal delivery best practices to minimize the danger of potential danger of exposure to the virus.

Weekend meals are also being provided upon request.  At present, the district is providing about 200 meals to students on a daily basis, with our Friday meal count at around 600 meals, which include weekends.

Families who receive meal deliveries are requested to leave a cooler or box at your door to minimize personal contact.  Derek Hamilton is coordinating food deliveries; questions and requests should go to Derek vis email (dhamilton@pittsfieldnhschools.org).  Thanks to our outstanding food service staff for supporting our students in the pandemic!

Our PES and PMHS food pantries continue to function during the period of remote learning, offering personal toiletries in addition to food items.  Please contact Mike Curtin via email (mcurtin@pittsfieldnhschools.org) to arrange for service from our food pantries.

Good news about our food deliveries:  the state has received a waiver from the Department of Agriculture to continue our food distribution through the entire month of June.

Moving to PMHS Webinar.  Due to our social distancing requirements, we will not be able to hold our usual in-person orientation for students and parents moving from PES to PMHS.  So, we will be conducting two orientation webinars to help ease the upcoming transition for both students and parents.  Mark your calendars for these two important events:

  • Grade 5 Move-Up Orientation Webinar: 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 19
  • Grade 6 Move-Up Orientation Webinar: 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 20

Access details will be forthcoming.

National Honor Society.  A virtual NHS Induction Ceremony will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13; congratulation to our new NHS inductees!

Personal Belongings.  Because of the continuation of school closure through the end of the school year, district staff are collecting all personal belongings of our students – from cubbies, classrooms, lockers, etc. – and ready belongings for pick-up by students and parents.  Pick-up for PMHS students is scheduled for Thursday, May 7, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at PES.

PES Class Placement.  As always, parent input regarding class placement for our next school year is appreciated and is given consideration as we develop our new class groupings.  This year, we’re not quite sure about what our school opening will look like for our students and families.  Our plan is to solicit input from parents and teachers, but hold off on class development until we have a better idea of what our 2020-2021 opening will require.  Stay tuned for updates.

Playgrounds.  In the interest of minimizing potential coronavirus spread, the Pittsfield School Board has closed the district’s playgrounds (Drake Field and PES), as well as the basketball court and tennis courts at Drake Field.  We are sorry for this inconvenience and look forward to the reopening of the district’s playgrounds.  Drake Field itself is remaining open with the caution that citizens practice safe social distancing while at the field.

Preschool and Kindergarten Registrations.  Families who would like to have your preschool children entered into the annual lottery for preschool slots are requested to complete a pre-registration form at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf63irLZKfIRr6DWQ65g9PFmVs2Klcc-ChVo5Co90AsweJ_gA/viewform

Families who are anticipating that a child in your household will begin kindergarten next year – reaching the age of 5 years old by September 30, 2020 – are also asked to complete the pre-registration form linked above.  If you know of other families who may be interested in kindergarten registration, and who may not be receiving this message, please pass along this information.

School Re-Start.  Of course, we don’t completely know what challenges we’ll be facing when we come to the end of August and the start-up of our 2020-2021 school year.  A broad range of approaches are on the table at present, depending on the status of the pandemic by late August.  Our state Department of Education is planning to provide districts with guidance on school re-start by the end of June, so we’ll just have to wait a bit longer before we can provide concrete plan for start-up in late August.

School Year.  We’ve had some questions about wrapping up our school year earlier than planned.  With our calculations of “school year” as defined by our state Department of Education, we will need time during the week of June 8 to conclude our school year and meet the requirements of our Department.

Seniors.  Regarding graduation and senior activities, we have surveyed seniors regarding some preferences and are working with our senior class advisors, who play an important role in planning for graduation events.  Key details regarding senior events:

  • Awards Night (virtual): Friday, June 5
    • Traditional line-up of Awards Night activities and presentations
  • Graduation Ceremony (in-person): as soon as can be scheduled
    • Seniors voted overwhelmingly to wait until all can be together for our traditional ceremony at PMHS
  • Last Day: the last day of school for our seniors is scheduled for Friday, May 29
  • Lawn Signs: we’re looking into providing lawn signs for senior families to utilize to demonstrate our pride in the accomplishments of all our seniors to replace our lobby stars for this year’s grads
  • Photo Opportunities: Saturday, June 6
    • Seniors and families schedule time for professional photos at PMHS
  • Pittsfield Post: our Pittsfield Post will be devoting several pages to our graduating seniors in an upcoming issue
  • Senior Parade: stay tuned for details
  • Senior Spotlight: see our district Facebook page for senior spotlights which include senior photos and brief biographical information on each of our graduating seniors

School and SAU Offices.  Reminder that we ask that our school and SAU offices not be visited; please email individuals with whom you would like contact.  We will do our best to respond to email messages within twenty-four hours during the week.

Summer Programs.  We’ve had questions about several of the district’s summer programs:  the Drake Field Summer Program, PMHS Summer Academies, and summer school.  We have been advised that guidance on summer programs from our state Department of Education will be provided to districts by the middle of May, so we’ll have more information on our summer programs in a few weeks.

Thank you for all you are doing to support the continuing of learning of our wonderful students.  Enjoy your weekend!

Sincerely,

John Freeman, Superintendent of Schools

Derek Hamilton, Dean of Operations