March 25, 2020
Following is a letter from Dr. Paul Austin that was issued to the Hingham Public School's community.
Dear Hingham Schools Community,
Earlier this afternoon, Governor Baker announced an extended school closure through April, noting the earliest possible date we may reopen is Monday, May 4, 2020. With this announcement, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is adjusting their previous stance on pausing instruction for our students. Given this announcement, the district is already taking steps to ensure the smooth transition from our current academic engagement activities to a more robust Remote Learning Plan.
As with previous communications, given the amount of information to cover in this communication we will address each item individually.
Transition to Remote Learning
The district’s leadership team has been actively planning for the potential of an extended closure beyond this initial three week period. Tomorrow, the leadership team will begin to formalize these plans, which are on track to launch on Monday, April 6, 2020. For the remainder of this week and next, our focus will be on providing the necessary professional development to prepare our faculty, communicating our plan to the community, and revising the district’s expectations for student engagement. Although it feels like it has been months since we have seen our students, we are just seven school days into this new way of life, and the number of challenges it has presented for our schools is immeasurable. We have effectively been asked to transform public education overnight, and while we are equal to that task, we ask for your patience while the district works to ensure the smoothest transition possible.
Remote Learning and Students with Disabilities
This past weekend the United States Office for Civil Rights released a document clarifying its expectation that districts find individual ways to engage students with disabilities in remote learning. The Hingham Office of Student Services, under the leadership of Dr. Suzanne Vinnes, will be working with our educators to find accessible pathways for every student to engage in remote learning. Parents/guardians of students eligible for special education and related services can anticipate a communication from Dr. Vinnes at some point next week as the district begins our transition. Similarly, students eligible for accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 should expect a communication from Heather Rodriguez, Director of School Counseling, outlining the district’s plan to ensure proper accommodations for students with Section 504 plans.
While a digital environment cannot fully recreate the important human contact of a traditional classroom, we are working to provide opportunities for authentic learning and connection, within the parameters of federal and state guidelines. It is important for families to understand that the typical school day cannot be perfectly replicated through remote learning, and in our efforts to shift to on-line delivery of instruction, we need to be sensitive to the needs of all students, families, and staff. We understand the hardships this remote learning environment places on families, and we recognize that partnering with parents and guardians will be more vital than ever. The district is committed to working in tandem with parents/guardians and to provide the necessary resources to help facilitate learning in the home environment.
Academic Engagement Activities (Week Three)
As the district prepares for our transition to remote learning on April 6th, next week faculty across the district will again distribute new academic engagement activities for the week of March 30th. We ask your continued cooperation in contacting your teacher/s if you have not yet received these activities.
Counseling Resources (REMINDER)
Our Counseling Department has developed a number of resources for you as we head into the second week of the COVID-19 school closure. These resources were attached to that communication and have been posted to our website COVID-19 page:
Should you have any questions about the materials, please contact Heather Rodriguez, Director of School Counseling, or your student’s counselor.
Harbor Media Resources (REMINDER)
Harbor Media has developed some online resources for families and students during the school closure. If you’d like to access these resources they can be found at:
United Way of Plymouth County (REMINDER)
We wanted to let you know that the Family Center in Brockton, operated by the United Way of Plymouth County, is open and can be reached at 508-857-0272 with a modified schedule:
Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.. Their Community Resource Specialists can help connect families to resources for basic needs and are available to support families and students in a variety of ways; please reach out to them directly if they can be of support.
COVID 19 Resources Webpage (REMINDER) Our COVID-19 resource webpage is up and running and can be accessed by navigating to htps://hinghamschools.com and clicking the “COVID-10 Resources and Communication” link under “District News” (top right of screen). If you have any feedback about the page or suggestions for items to include on it, please contact Dr. James M. LaBillois, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food Service Meals During School Closure (REMINDER)
“Grab and Go” lunches are available for any Hingham student in need. Meals may be picked-up daily (Monday - Friday) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the picnic tables outside of the Hingham High School Cafeteria. (Please use the 41 Pleasant Street entrance and stay to the right and follow the driveway until you see the cafeteria on your left.) When you arrive, a school nutrition employee will bring the meal(s) out to your car. Please note that meals must be consumed off-site. If anyone is unable to physically pick-up a meal, please email Kim Smyth, Director of Food Service, at email@example.com who will arrange a drop-off to your home.
General Considerations (REMINDER)
Please remember this statewide closure is designed to mitigate the spread of COVID 19. We want to remind everyone in our community to practice social distancing, stay at least 6 feet away from others, and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Social gatherings and playdates are also discouraged. A reminder that all school facilities including playgrounds are closed until further notice. And, as you have been hearing from multiple sources, handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water is another great defense to keep you and your family healthy.
District Points of Contact (REMINDER)
In order to streamline the district’s communications with the community we have designed district points of contact to address any concerns or questions that may be raised.
[List of District Points of Contact]
Should you have any feedback on the district’s communications plan or the content of the communications, please let any member of our leadership team know. Should there be any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact the appropriate point of contact.
Hingham Public Schools Leadership Team