COVID-19 Community Update #27 – June 30, 2020

Pittsfield Families,

Though our next planned Community Update isn’t scheduled until late July, we’d like to provide updates on a few items.

Reminder that headings in BOLD indicate that new or updated information is contained in that section.

Commencement.  Congratulations to our PMHS Class of 2020!  We are very proud of your achievements and are confident in your knowledge, skills, and talents that will serve you well in your post-secondary lives.

This year’s commencement included most of our traditional graduation elements, except that it took place at Northeast Delta Dental Field (Fisher Cats Stadium) in Manchester with masks and social distancing on Friday, July 26, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our outdoor ceremony was held outdoors on a gorgeous summer evening; we thank our students’ families for your support and positivity that contributed to a successful and memorable event for our newest graduates.

Finally, a suggestion for our graduates and your families: take look at this five-minute college (although I think it works for high school graduates too!) graduation speech by writer and business consultant Patrick Lencioni in which he gives advice on two things to avoid as graduates in the year of the coronavirus pandemic:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=patrick+lencioni+graduation+speech&docid=607997326922680246&mid=93B5A264150BD4477A9393B5A264150BD4477A93&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

Drake Field and Other District Property.  Drake Field is currently being abused to a greater extent than is has experienced within memory.  A significant amount of trash is being left on the field, in the grandstand, and at other locations on this wonderful jewel.  You are respectfully requested to do what you can to maintain the beauty and inviting nature of Drake Field and other district property.

During a typical time, our custodians visit Drake Field one time each week to monitor and maintain the Field. Recently, our custodians have increased their visits to two times each week, and even that is not enough to keep Drake Field consistently clean.  Believe us, our custodians have plenty to do anyway; the district does not have the resources to pick up after inconsiderate Field users any more frequently.  Even at that, it’s just plain unreasonable for partiers at Drake to expect someone else to clear up after you’ve used the field.

Please, enjoy Drake Field to the fullest. But, please also pick up after yourselves.  Thanks!

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.

Meal service will continue throughout the summer. If you have been receiving meals, but do not wish to do so any longer or will be away from your home during the summer, please contact Derek Hamilton via email (dhamilton@pittsfieldnhschools.org) to modify your service schedule.

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!

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.  A state-wide Task Force organized by the New Hampshire Commissioner of Education is due to present its report with recommendations for the fall sometime today.  It is anticipated that the recommendation will likely suggest that school districts create flexible plans for the fall that will include possible continuation of remote learning, full-on return to school, and a hybrid return to school that will feature a modified schedule which will permit recommended social distancing.

Of course, the safety of our students and staff remains as the district’s highest priority as we review the recommendations of the Task Force and make plans for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that getting back to normal as soon as possible is important for students and families.  However, we also know that it is impossible to create an entirely risk-free environment.  These and other factors put us in a challenging position as we look ahead to our planned opening day on August 28.

We thank the many parents and family members who completed our recent district survey on our next steps. The district has scheduled several work sessions – with administrators, faculty, and School Board – during the months of July and August to integrate the best information and recommendations from public health officials with the guidance of the Task Force and the directions provided by families in our survey.

We recognize the frustration that you may feel in not having a solid idea of what school will look like in the fall and appreciate your understanding and support as we work with the latest information and recommendations. We’ll provide as much information as we can as soon as plans are developed.

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 and SAU Offices.  Reminder that we ask that our school and SAU offices not be visited if at all possible.  If you do visit, know that the district has instituted entry temperature checks and health screening in compliance with guidance provided by public health officials at the state and national levels.

You are respectfully advised to please email individuals with whom you would like contact rather than coming in to the schools or SAU office. 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 are being developed; some on-site programs will be provided; dates for our on-site programs: July 13 to August 6
  • K-Camp – annual program for incoming kindergartners cancelled this summer; an alternative, shorter program for August is being considered; families will be contacted later in the summer
  • PES Summer School – our teachers have made recommendations for students to attend a pre-school-opening summer session; this session is scheduled for August 10 to August 20; our hope is that all our students will be prepared to get a good start to our new school year; information will be provided to families
  • PMHS Competency Recovery Programs – on-site competency recovery programs for students in need will be underway soon; info has been provided to qualifying students
  • PMHS Summer Academies – cancelled this summer

The district will is following CDC and state-level guidelines for on-site programs.

Our next planned COVID-19 Community Update will be distributed on Thursday, July 23.

Until then, we wish you the best for a great summer vacation!

Sincerely,

John Freeman, Superintendent of Schools

Derek Hamilton, Dean of Operations