COVID-19 Community Update #23 – June 4, 2020

Pittsfield Families,

Well, it’s been quite a spring, hasn’t it? We are very thankful to our families for your support during this challenging time.  We hope that our Pittsfield families are remaining healthy and are looking forward to a positive, if unusual, summer school vacation.

This week’s updates follow; reminder, bold titles indicate new information is contained in the bold sections.

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 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

Links for participation in these remote activities will be provided by email to families with students who will be participating in remote end of year celebrations the day before activities are scheduled to be held; links will also be posted on school websites.

ESY Letters.  ESY – or “extended school year” is a program component that is provided to qualifying special needs students.  This year’s ESY letters will be mailed home to parents of qualifying students this week.  Please call Jessica Bickford at PMHS with any questions about ESY.

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.  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, student-issued computers will not 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.

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 (see Survey Participation Request below).  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.

Parent Surveys.  We will respectfully request parents complete a brief survey about your child/youth’s experiences with remote learning.  Your perspective will help us to evaluate our work of the past few months and to plan for the fall.  Parents can expect to see these surveys by the end of next week; your help will be appreciated.

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
  • 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): to 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!
  • Photo Opportunities: Saturday, June 6
    • Seniors and families schedule time for professional photos at PMHS
  • 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.  Unfortunately, the district’s plans for summer programs is disrupted by the pandemic; here’s the latest:

  • Drake Field Summer Program – cancelled this summer
  • Extended School Year Programs for Special Needs Students – individual plans to be developed; some on-site programs will be provided
  • K-Camp – annual program for incoming kindergartners cancelled this summer; an alternative, shorter program for August is being considered
  • PES Summer School – plans being developed for a shorter program to be provided in August; various formats being considered
  • PMHS Competency Recovery Programs – plans being developed for on-site competency recovery programs for students in need
  • PMHS Summer Academies – cancelled this summer

The district will follow CDC guidelines for on-site programs; more info will follow as planning progresses.

We close by wishing you all the best for a very positive, productive close to our 2019-2020 school year.

Sincerely,

John Freeman, Superintendent of Schools

Derek Hamilton, Dean of Operations