COVID-19 Community Update #19 – May 7, 2020

Pittsfield Families,

Haven’t we been fortunate to have some great weather this week!  We hope that you are enjoying it, whether indoors or out.

Reminder that we will be discontinuing our Monday communications at this time as we’re finding that very little is changing at this point between our Thursday messages and Mondays.

Also, we’ll be putting the titles of any new info in bold to help you focus on new information.  We’ll be keeping some old information on our Thursday messages as some information may be relevant as we move toward the end of our school year.

Below you’ll find today’s messages:

Attendance.  Our teachers are 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.

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.  Virtual 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. In place of our annual Exhibition Night this June, 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 tomorrow, Friday, May 8.
To get on board for 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 21.  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!

Next School Year, 2020-2021:  Our next school is scheduled to get underway with our students on in late August.  What will it look like?  Well, we just don’t know yet.  Our New Hampshire Commissioner of Education is forming a task force to develop recommendations for local school districts regarding the fall and eventual re-opening of our schools.  The Commissioner expects to provide this guidance to school districts by the end of June.  We expect to have more information about our next school year at about that time.  In the meantime, we’ll be living with uncertainty about re-opening and the 2020-2021 school year.

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.

Retention:  Parents may be wondering about the achievement of grade level competencies and whether students may need to be retained in a grade.  We’ve learned from speaking with leaders from other New Hampshire school districts that remote learning has infringed on grade level learning for many, if not most, students.  Our teachers have adjusted their plans and curriculum content in response to our remote learning challenges.

  • Grades K-7: if teachers are recommending retention for any students in these grades, parents would have been notified by now.  If parents have not yet been notified, students and parents may assume that students will be promoted to the next grade.

It is our intent – and that of most schools nation-wide – to meet our younger students “where they are” in the fall; this means that we will be adjusting our curriculum and competency expectations next year (and possibly for another year, depending on school status next year) to ensure that students will progress through our curriculum and achieve competencies that build on prior learning.  We’ll all need to adjust our expectations in a transition back to on-site learning in our schools.

  • Grades 8-12: these grades are different from the earlier grades in that progress in courses and the awarding of course credit is dependent on achievement of course competencies.  a number of eighth grade students and their parents have been advised, beginning earlier in the school year, that students may be in danger of retention due to incomplete achievement of competencies.

 

Students in grades 9-12 will be granted course credit if required competencies have been achieved; for some students, this may require additional work next year on this year’s courses.  It is not entirely unusual for some students to need additional time to complete competencies during the summer or early fall.

 

Of course, carry-over in courses is less than ideal and requires students to assume a larger than usual work load.  Because of this, students in grades 8-12 are strongly encouraged to make every effort to complete current course competencies before the end of this school year next month.

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
  • Check Out for Seniors: our check out process for seniors will be a bit different this year; look for check-out forms – which will require the return of equipment, settling of accounts, etc. – in the coming weeks.
  • 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.

Finally, we wish all our Pittsfield moms a very Happy Mothers’ Day!

Sincerely,

John Freeman, Superintendent of Schools

Derek Hamilton, Dean of Operations