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Response to COVID 19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States federal agency information:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html 

Massachusetts government information:
https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 


HPS Distance Learning Resources 


May 3, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians of Harvard Students,

I hope your family enjoyed the beautiful weather over the weekend. My family biked, gardened, and walked our dogs, as it was helpful to step away from the remote learning, put the technology and assignments aside, and marvel at nature in this beautiful town that we share.

Today, we begin a new week and our transition from Phase 2 to Phase 3 for remote learning. There will be only a few adjustments to the schedule you have experienced together with your children in the past few weeks. In the remaining thirty-one days of the school year, we will continue to improve and adjust our practice, plan the end of year events, and begin to collaborate on summer services and the eventual reopening of school as detailed below;

-       We will continue to put the health and well-being of our students and staff as the first priority. We recognize that any remote learning plan will not replicate the school day, but we will connect virtually and provide engaging and challenging lessons. Teachers will prioritize the standards students need to successfully transition to the next grade level.

-       Starting May 8th teachers will send out assignments on Friday by 6 PM. The students will have 9 days to turn in their assignments for complete/incomplete. Teachers will provide feedback and expect a reasonable effort for completion. Students or parents are encouraged to email their teacher if turning in work or participating is a hardship due to the pandemic or other life issues.

-       Bromfield students will receive two grades at the end of the year; a semester grade from the first half of the year and a pass/fail for the second half of the year. The GPA will be calculated with the first semester grade only. A passing grade is needed for the second semester for full credit.

-       Hildreth elementary students will receive a complete/incomplete for the last marking period, but there will be no final report card. Instead teachers will be reaching out to families to offer a time to discuss their child’s progress for the year and to share plans for filling any gaps next year.

-       Hildreth elementary students will have at least two virtual/video connections with their teachers each week.

-       Teachers will continue to be responsive to parent and student emails during the week. Please understand that they may not respond to emails sent to them over the weekends or on holidays.

-       We will continue to plan for end of the year events such as graduation, step up day, 5th grade celebration, desk and locker clean out, and more.

-       We will develop a re-entry plan that is sensitive to the anxiety, stress, and physical safety of the Harvard Public Schools community. 

These adjustments were informed by the over 200 parents/guardians and 266 students who shared their feedback with us on the recent survey and the Commissioner’s guidelines for Phase 3. Our hope is that by providing clarity for assignments and grading, detailing continued communication, and planning for end of year events and re-entry we relieve some of the stress associated with these uncertain times. 

Families and teachers are experiencing life stresses that is new and challenging. Please know that our teachers miss teaching in their classrooms and interacting with your children in person. They know, like you do, that nothing replaces the learning that happens when they are all together, but they are committed to ensuring your child/children’s long-term success. They will meet students where they are individually when school reopens, and they will care for them and bring them back up to their grade level expectations. As I was reminded by a colleague, students across the globe have been out of school so catch up will be necessary everywhere. Our teachers and students are more than up for the challenge!

Until this opportunity to interact in person exists, please take care of the safety and well-being of your family and communicate any concerns or questions to the teachers, Principals, or me. We are here to help.

Sincerely,

Linda G. Dwight

Superintendent, Harvard Public Schools



March 31, 2020

Dear Families of Harvard Students,

May this message find you and your families healthy and well during these days of extreme distancing measures. We are in the third week of our school closure, and we sorely miss educating your children and spending the days with them. Instead, we are creating ways to stay connected remotely and still inspire them to access and apply knowledge, think critically and creatively, and communicate effectively as our vision statement highlights. Now, more than ever, we must collaborate with you, the parents or guardians, as you have become active partners in their education.  

We are moving as a district from our Phase 1 plan to our Phase 2 plan. Our Phase 1 plan followed the Education Commissioner’s recommendations to focus on the social connection with students and to provide home engagement opportunities for them to continue learning during the first part of the school closure. As the closure was extended another four weeks, we are moving the district to Phase 2 beginning April 6th. In Phase 2 we are making some significant changes, but keeping the balance of academic achievement with personal well-being at the center of our plan and following the Commissioner’s updated recommendations. You will find his letter attached. Here are the main differences between Phase 1 and 2:

  • The regular education curriculum will move forward at a reduced pace. Teachers are considering their normal 5 day a week schedule of lessons and paring them down to 2 days’ worth. They will teach this new material in a variety of ways. 
  • There will be a limited number of assignments related to the new learning that will be required. These assignments will be assessed by the teacher as complete or incomplete and tracked for grade level or course credit.  
  • The teachers will communicate a summary of the week with you by noon every Monday so that you know what your child has as required learning and, if appropriate, a schedule of special education services.
  • The teachers will continue to provide additional extension, enrichment, and review resources that will be optional. These resources will be part of the weekly communication from teachers. 
  • Students will be supported in their work by the teachers, special educators, district tutors, and learning assistants, as needed. If your child receives additional services, those teachers will also share information each week. 

We envision the Phase 2 plan still accommodating a variety of family circumstances including working parents, multi-children homes, and more. We also took your feedback into consideration as we developed this plan. We are striving to include non-device based activities wherever possible. However, due to the limitation of the current situation, we will need to use technology to allow for distance communication and some learning activities. If you need support with the technology, please reach out to your teachers or Principal. 

In the recent feedback form many of you shared that you are using this unexpected family time to enjoy more board games, family dinners, nature hikes, and more sleep. One family wrote, “We have been enjoying the slower pace! Kids are getting enough sleep, we are getting out into nature, leisurely dinners without commutes or sports, board games...General family connection.” We hope that all of our children look back at this time of their lives and see adults making sacrifices to keep them safe while helping them learn and enjoy opportunities that may not have been possible with the regular routines. We can provide this for them as we partner together. 

As always, please contact the teachers, the Principals, or me with any questions or concerns. 

Sincerely,

Linda G. Dwight

Superintendent, Harvard Public Schools

DESE_Letter_to_Families_COVID19_3.30.20


March 26, 2020

Dear Families of Harvard Students,

By now many of you will have heard that the school closure has extended until at least May 4th. The Governor made this announcement yesterday in his press briefing. We have been anticipating this decision and planning for the next phase of our home engagement with students and parents. While planning, we have been mindful of the variety of circumstances families find themselves in during this unprecedented time. Some of our families have two parents still working outside of the home while others have moved their offices into the home. Some have sick family members who require additional care. Some have increased financial concerns and stress. With all of these different circumstances, the capacity for structured learning time and access and mastery of the curriculum varies per child and per family. 

For the past week, we have followed the guidance from the Commissioner of Education, Jeff Riley, and provided extension, enrichment, and review of curriculum that had already been taught. The focus was on providing learning opportunities and maintaining a connection between teachers and students. The assignments were optional and ungraded. This approach was a surprise to some who have wondered why the district did not move the curriculum forward or provide remote lessons for students. Commissioner Riley, along with other educational leaders in MA, had decided this first approach was best for a short-term closure. 

Now that we know there are over five more weeks to the school closure, we are planning to pivot to Phase 2. In Phase 2, there will be a forward movement of the curriculum at some slower pace with recognition that we will not be replicating full school days. The students will be required to demonstrate their understanding by handing in some completed work to their teachers for feedback and complete/incomplete grading. The teachers will present new concepts in a variety of ways, providing support and guidance. 

We are again requesting your patience as we finalize the details of Phase 2 and will share the plan with you at the beginning of next week. Teaching remotely and providing distance support is new to all of us. Just organizing communication has been a learning experience. We appreciate the support and collaboration you have shown to us as we continue to strive to provide the very best educational experience for your children. We are truly, more than ever, in this journey together. Please reach out to us with your questions and feedback. 

To help us gather more input from parents we have developed this brief form. Please provide us with your thoughts as we move forward. Feedback Form

Sincerely,

Linda G. Dwight

Superintendent, Harvard Public Schools

 


3/18/20

Dear Families of Harvard Students,

The teachers, support staff, and leaders have been preparing ways to provide connections to students and families and to support continued learning. We have collaborated with the Department of Education and leaders from other districts with attention to equity and access, and with an understanding that families within our district have differing home circumstances.

With all of this in mind, each teacher has prepared some resources and activities for your student to complete independently. There will be options for students. Please discuss the amount of work to be completed during the course of a week with your children. Teachers will provide recommendations, and then feedback for any completed activities. They will begin this week by contacting you with the specifics. Between Wednesday afternoon and Friday, you should receive an email from them.

In order to streamline our communication with you, we are creating a link on our main website at psharvard.org. Here you will find communication organized by grade/teacher. Teachers will update this weekly. This will be especially helpful if you have several children across grade levels. We want to make these resources as helpful as possible and not add to the stress of any family.

We recognize the hardships on families at this uncertain time especially with the change in routines. Please utilize the services of our counseling department, if needed (HESTBS). Also, please contact the school nurse by e-mail (cnigzus@psharvard.orgdfrench@psharvard.org) if any member of your family contracts the COVID-19 virus. Your family’s health details will be kept confidential, but the information will help us in planning the reopening of school.

The school buildings will be fully closed starting Wednesday, March 18th at 3 PM. This closure provides every employee the social distancing needed to help slow down the spread of COVID-19.  Please note that HES Parent-Teacher conferences will also be postponed until our return to school.  During the closure, please reach out to your child’s teacher via email with any questions related to the classwork or to the Principals and me for any other issues.

We will remain closed through April 6th with a tentative return date of April 7th. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we plan for continued learning during this school closure. We will continue to monitor information from the CDC, Department of Health, and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and keep you informed on plans for returning to school, including if April break will be impacted and if we become aware of confirmed COVID-19 cases that may have impacted your children at school.

We wish your family health and wellness.

Sincerely,

Linda G. Dwight, Ed. D.

Superintendent, Harvard Public Schools 




 03-16-20

Dear Families of Harvard Students,

Yesterday Governor Baker announced that all Massachusetts Public Schools will be closed until April 6, 2020, with a potential return on April 7, 2020. This is a result of evolving data and newly released guidelines from the CDC. The Harvard Public School District will continue to monitor this rapidly changing landscape concerning the Coronavirus. 

To support continued learning, students may come to pick up personal items or materials if needed today, March 16th until 3 PM or Tuesday, March 17th between 8 AM and 2 PM. If you do come in, we ask that you still practice social distancing and do not linger in the buildings. 

We are working with teachers and staff to provide resources and materials for families to continue learning and remain connected to teachers during this closure. Further details will be posted on the district website and sent out to families by Wednesday. 

We are aware that some families rely on the school for free or reduced lunch services. Chef Paul and his staff are contacting families and providing meals as needed. If you would like to help families with food insecurity we recommend donating to Loaves and Fishes https://loavesfishespantry.org/donate-now/

These are unprecedented events and we are working to meet the needs of families as best as we can. As we do, please be patient and work with us to make the best of this situation. We found this letter from a parent expresses this hope well: https://www.caraparker.com/post/please-show-the-teachers-some-patience-and-grace

Finally, parents please help us by stressing the importance to children of all ages of practicing social distancing and limiting playdates.  While we do not have any confirmed cases of COVID 19 in our school community, we are aware of parents waiting for test results and we will update you as we learn more. Please resist any travel plans such as what might occur during regular school vacations.  Collectively families, schools, and communities can slow the spread of COVID 19 by following all CDC recommendations.

Regards,

Linda G. Dwight, Ed.D.

Superintendent, Harvard Public Schools