COVID-19 Community Update #21 – May 21, 2020

Pittsfield Families,

Monday is Memorial Day, our national holiday that honors the men and women who have died while serving in the military of the United States.  It is a day to recall and reflect on the many thousands of veterans who lost their lives serving our nation, and specifically recall family members, friends, and neighbors who have died while in the military.

For citizens of our country, it is also a day of appreciation, appreciation for those fellow countrymen and countrywomen who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States.

A national moment of remembrance occurs at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day.  We encourage you to take a few moments at 3:00 p.m. on this coming Monday to pause and reflect on the sacrifice made by so many of our servicemen and servicewomen; and to consider the many benefits that we enjoy today as a result of their willingness to lay down their lives in defense of the freedoms that we enjoy.

Because of this important and solemn commemoration, Monday has been a national holiday for many years.  Classes will not be held in Monday, May 25; students and teachers will return to our usual schedule on Tuesday, May 26.

Reminder, bold titles indicate new information is contained in the bold sections.

This week’s updates:

Attendance.  Reminder to students and families that our teachers are taking daily student attendance during our check-in’s with students and through student participation in learning activities.  Of course, 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 previously noted, the district is responsible for monitoring student attendance.  In situations where students and families have been absent and non-responsive, we are required to follow up.  We are working with the Pittsfield Police Department to conduct wellness checks under these circumstances and are making reports to the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth, and Families when necessary as required by law.

As always, we strongly encourage good school attendance and are very appreciative of Pittsfield families for your support of student learning and good school attendance.

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

  • Kindergarten – 6:00 p.m., Monday, June 8
  • Fifth Grade – 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 9
  • Sixth Grade – 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 10
  • Eighth Grade – 6:00n p.m., Thursday, June 11
  • PES Whole School Morning Meeting – 8:30 a.m., Friday, June 12
  • PMHS End-of-Year Assembly – 11:00 a.m., Friday, June 12
  • End-of-Year Staff Parade – 2:00 p.m., Friday, June 12

Access info will be provided as we approach these important transition events.  Also, see below for a list of senior events.

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 for next week, 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.

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 next week, on Thursday, June 4.  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.

Collection of learning materials for all students is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Monday, June 15, and Tuesday, June 16.  Textbooks, science and art materials, and other district equipment will be collected at this time.  Except for graduating seniors, no student-issued computers will be collected at that time; students will be holding on to computers through the summer in anticipation of a potential need to utilize remote technology when school gets going again in August.  More info will follow as we get closer to the collection dates.

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 and the summer months.  More details will follow.

Moving Out of Pittsfield.  Families who may be moving out of Pittsfield are reminded that families are required to return any district materials and complete a check-out process.  If you are planning to move out of Pittsfield, you are respectfully requested to initiate the check-out process by contacting one the district officials identified below:

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 has convened a task force to develop recommendations for local school districts regarding the fall and the 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.
  • Drake Field Posters: drive past Drake Field to see photos of our graduation seniors being celebrated on their individual posters on display
  • 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
    • However, it’s looking more unlikely that we’ll be able to conduct a traditional ceremony, even in August
    • We’re looking at additional options not previously considered; we’ll be working with seniors and senior class advisors to determine our next steps; stay tuned!
  • Last Day: the last day of school for our seniors is scheduled for Friday, May 29
  • 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: scheduled for 5:00 p.m., Saturday, June 6; details will be coming; all seniors and families are enthusiastically encouraged to participate
  • Senior Spotlight: see our district Facebook page for senior spotlights which include senior photos and brief biographical information on each of our graduating seniors
  • WMUR Graduation Special: WMUR has reached out to high schools for info on graduating classes in preparation for an hour-long special honoring the 15,000 New Hampshire graduates; PMHS will be participating in the special, which will be aired at 7:00 p.m. during the week of June 8; more info to follow

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 anticipate that the School Board may finalized decisions on summer programs this week.

Of course, Memorial Day also represents the unofficial start of summer.  Summer 2020 will be different from any that we’ve experienced, that’s for sure.  We wish you all the best for a fun summer nonetheless.

Sincerely,

John Freeman, Superintendent of Schools

Derek Hamilton, Dean of Operations