UPDATES & RESOURCES
March 30, 2020
Dear NEC Families;
I hope that you are all staying healthy and are doing OK at this stressful time.
As you know, schools across MA are now closed through the end of April, with the earliest return date being May 4th. Given this extended closure, the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has issued new guidance for schools and for special education.
Our focus for the first two weeks was on providing you with information and support. Our staff is now working on providing you with more individualized learning plans for each student so that we can follow DESE’s guidance to provide students with FAPE (a free and appropriate public education) while protecting the health and safety of students, families, educators and service providers.
Our priority remains health, safety and connection, but we will now increase our focus on learning and skill development.
Over the past two weeks our staff has worked to stay in touch with you, give you access to resources, and make sure that all families are safe and able to meet basic needs.
By April 6th, each of you will receive an Individualized Learning Plan for your child, with a range of ideas about how you can support learning during this period. Our teachers and specialists are working hard to use a variety of on-line tools such as Classroom Dojo, Google Classroom, and Zoom so that they can do “live” lessons for their students, conduct individual learning sessions or check-ins, or post videos and recommended resources.
Remote learning is new for all of us, so please be patient as we learn. There are also some worries about confidentiality, so please read the following expectations:
- NEC special education staff will be connecting with you as family and students to provide special education services remotely.
- To the extent that this distance learning activity provides confidential student information, all participants agree, by participating in this distance learning activity, to refrain from disseminating any confidential student information about other student participants with any third parties. By participating in this distance learning experience, consent to this request is hereby provided.
- It is expected that online interactions as ZOOM or Google Meet live instruction will not be videoed as this risks confidentiality as stated above. In addition, students are expected to follow all the guidelines in our safe technology usage policy.
The instruction that we are providing will not be equal to what our special education staff provide during our school day. IEP’s will be a guiding document to provide these services but were not written considering an online platform. Special Education staff are learning as we go in changing our entire instructional model to meet the needs of our students. There will be a learning curve and we will get better as we move along. Our special education team is a dedicated group of educators and they are ready to take this challenge on as a team. We appreciate your support as we move forward together.
Again, please feel free to call me or any member of your child’s team if you are in need of further assistance or support. Also, now that we will be moving to additional on-line learning, please let us know if your student will need to borrow a chromebook.
March 26, 2020
NEC Families and Staff;
As you have probably heard, Governor Baker has ordered all schools closed until may 4th. I know that this will be difficult, but health and safety is the number one priority. I will be attending several meetings today and tomorrow with the Commissioner and Regional Special Education Leaders, as well as with the NEC Leadership Team, and we will begin making plans for how to best support your children’s education over the coming month. I will send a lengthier message on Monday outlining some of our plans, and you will be hearing directly from your child’s team as well.
Again, please let us know if there is anything you need. Our NEC family will stay strong through this difficult time!
March 24, 2020
Dear NEC Families;
I hope that you are all safe and healthy. I know that for many of you this is an extremely stressful time.
By the end of this week we should have more information about whether school closures in MA will extend beyond April 3rd. This seems likely, so I would recommend that you start to prepare yourself and your family for that possibility.
Although we are all concerned about your children’s academic progress and IEP goals, our first priorities are your physical and mental health.
I know that your child’s teachers, specialists and counselors have been reaching out, but please feel free to contact me directly at 978-232-9755 ext. 1253 if you are not getting the support that you need. If I can’t help you, I will try to find you the right community organization to help. There are lots of places that are offering support to families in need at this time.
Here are some general resources that may be particularly valuable:
If your family needs help with food, housing, or other basic needs you can contact the United Way: https://unitedwaymassbay.org/resources/need-help/
Northshore Food Pantries: https://essexcountyhungerrelief.org/find_food?town-served=All
Our Neighbors Table (serves: Amesbury, Boxford, Byfield, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, South Hampton, and West Newbury): https://www.ourneighborstable.org
If you are concerned about homelessness/shelter: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/find-emergency-family-shelter
Filing for unemployment: https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-unemployment-and-coronavirus-covid-19
If your family needs help with mental health support: https://www.nami.org/getattachment/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2020/NAMI-Updates-on-the-Coronavirus/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf
If you are looking for more free education activities: https://www.wgbh.org/distancelearning
NEC Website and Facebook Pages are being regularly updated with resources and ideas:
I will send another update later this week or next week when we have more information from the state.
March 16, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians;
As you likely have heard on the news, there have been some changes since I wrote to you on Friday. Given the Governor’s directive to close school for three weeks, we will now be closed through at least April 3rd. It is possible that this will be extended again. I will keep you posted. Regardless of how long we are closed, the last day of school will be June 23rd.
Personal Belongings and Medication:
If your child has personal belongings or medication at school that they will need during the next three weeks, please contact me, your Principal, or your School Nurse to arrange to come in to pick it up. If you are unable to pick it up, we will do our best to get it to you.
Many companies are offering free internet services to families during this time and/or free educational activities. Your Principals will be sending more information, and we are trying to create a listing on our website. If you don’t have a computer or table that your child can use, we have some that you can borrow during this period. Please let your child’s Principal know.
Breakfast and Lunch:
Many cities and towns are offering free breakfast and lunch to all children whether or not they are eligible for free and reduced lunch. If you need breakfast and lunch for your children you can get it in the town where you live or through NEC. You can check the website or Facebook page for the town where you live. Here are the specifics for some of our most common towns:
In Peabody: Contact No Child Goes Hungry at (617) 281-6494
In Salem: Starting Monday, March 16th, breakfast and lunch will be available to all children under the age of 18, regardless of which school you attend, from 9:00 am-11:00 am, Monday through Friday, at a variety of school locations. See the Salem Public School website or Facebook page or call the Food Service Department at 978-740-1230
In Lynn: Beginning Monday, March 16th there will be free grab-and-go lunch at Classical, English, Lynn Vocational, and Marshall Middle School between the hours of 11 and 1.
In Danvers: You can pick up lunch at the DHS Atrium between 11 and 1.
In Beverly: You can pick up bag lunches at the High school between 10:30 and 12:30, or between 11:30 and 12 at Apple Village, Goldway Park, or Holcroft Park.
In Gloucester: Meals will be available between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm Monday through Friday at the O’Maley Innovation Middle School. Meals will be given out at the side door next to the cafeteria; look for the sign.
If you live in a different city/town or are unable to get to the listed site, we have drivers who can deliver food to you. Please email me or your Principal by the end of the day on Tuesday, and we will begin delivery on Wednesday.
Please remember, that although this is very difficult, the reason for all of these closings is to keep everyone healthy. Please limit your child’s contact with people outside your home. I will continue to update you regularly and share resources. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
March 13, 2020
Dear NEC Parents;
After a great deal of consideration and consultation with our member districts, we have decided to close all NEC Schools until March 27th as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in our region.
I know that this creates a great hardship for students and families, and I don’t make this decision lightly. You will be hearing from your child’s teacher, counselor, or principal on Monday with some more details about how we can support you and your child during this unexpected break from school. We are working on plans to provide you with learning opportunities for your children, phone support from our nurses, teachers, clinicians, and specialists, and food if needed.
Administrative offices will be open at all schools from 8-12 during each day of this period, and school leaders will be checking email and phone messages regularly. Please feel free to call or email if you are in need of support.
The uncertainty of this pandemic and the conflicting messages we are all receiving from the media create a lot of stress and anxiety. Please don’t panic.
Here are some facts:
- There have been no known cases of COVID-19 in the NEC Community….the actions we are taking are to protect everyone’s health and prevent further contagion.
- We have excellent cleaning and sanitizing procedures in place.
- The best way to stay healthy is to avoid crowds, wash your hands, and clean surfaces with soap and water or sanitizing wipes.
If your children are anxious, we suggest a simple message like “Lots of people all around the world are getting this virus….and it spreads very fast. Because it’s a “new” virus, people got very nervous. The way it spreads is if someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes, the germs travel to people who are near them or land on surfaces that other people touch. That’s why staying away from crowds and washing your hands a lot helps. For most people it just feels like getting a bad cold. But for some people who are old or sick it can be more serious. Lots of schools are closing and events are being cancelled so that the germs will stop spreading so fast and we can all get back to our normal routines.”
Please keep checking your emails regularly, as we will send you updates throughout the two week period. Hopefully we will be able to resume our normal schedule on March 30th.
Fran Rosenberg March 16, 2020