The latest announcements from the Principal and the PTO...

Principal’s Update

Good Evening Memorial-Spaulding Families,

Greetings on this cold January evening. I have a few brief items for you this week.

Air quality at our school has been a topic of concern over the past few weeks. Earlier this month the mechanical engineers and air quality/balancing company returned to our building in order to increase fresh air flow into several classrooms. At this point I understand the work has been completed and a “dashboard” will become available shortly that will outline air specifics/details for each classroom and teaching space. You can access that information on the district website HERE.

FORJ (Families Organizing for Racial Justice) is looking for a coordinator. Should you be interested in learning more about this position, please click HERE.

Parent Information Night for incoming kindergarten families will happen on the evening of March 10, 2021. I will pass along more information as it become available.

Boston City Singers Youth Chorus is currently holding online auditions. If you have a child who loves to sing (or would like to learn), I highly recommend this organization. For more information click HERE.

NPS Elementary Family Forum happening TONIGHT @ 7:30 pm. Topic: Supporting your child during the 2020-21 school year. Click HERE for information and login details.

Happy Inauguration Day! Enjoy your evening.

Tom

New Year’s Eve Hat Contest Winners!

A big thank you to all of the students who worked so hard on their New Year’s Eve hats, and congratulations to the contest winners! 

Kindergarten – Lucy Mouw and Yara Genead

1st Grage – Ingrid Eriksen

2nd Grade – Dominik Sosa

3rd Grade – Ellen Fos

4th Grade Annabelle Kolidas

Check out all of the creative hat entries here:  https://memorialspauldingart.tumblr.com/

NPS ELEMENTARY FAMILIES GROUP


NPS Elementary Families is a recently formed group of approximately 200 parents of K-5 students across the Newton Public School district.  They work with elected officials and the local medical and scientific community to advocate for informed decisions regarding in-person education during this pandemic. This last week, a group of over 50 physicians and scientists, all Newton residents and many with directly relevant specialties including infectious disease, pediatrics, pulmonology, emergency medicine, pediatric psychiatry, and occupational medicine sent a letter to City Councilors, the School Committee, HHS Commissioner Youngblood, and Mayor Fuller urging the city to create a COVID/school reopening taskforce. This group, along with these physicians and scientists, see this as the most viable path forward to resolving the issues that are halting a safe return of Newton students to their classrooms. Please click here for a copy of this letter. In addition, Deborah Youngblood, HHS Commissioner, gave a public health update specifically related to schools at the City Council’s most recent Program and Services Meeting (January 6). Click here for the NewTV broadcasts of that meeting. Commissioner Youngblood’s comments begin at the 1:15 mark.

To be added to our mailing list, please click here: Register For Elementary School Group

Principal’s Update

Dear Memorial-Spaulding Families,

The M-S team has been hard at work augmenting our learning models based on parent feedback and new requirements from the Board of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for live, synchronous instruction (delivered either in-person or remotely). The changes are designed to increase direct staff contact time with students, maintain consistency and independence for our students, and build upon structures we already have in place. We are focused on keeping the student to staff ratio small enough to allow for meaningful engagement and connection whenever possible. 

These changes will start on Tuesday, January 19.

Overview of changes for K

  • The schedule for In-person days is 8:20 am – 2:00 pm (implemented January 4) 
  • Two specialist classes (art, PE, or library) were added for each cohort on their at-home days (from 2:00-2:30 pm)
  • Guided Learning blocks, with a kindergarten aide, will be added from 2:30-3:00 pm on students’ at-home days. 

Overview of changes for Grades 1 & 2

  • The schedule for In-person days is 8:20 am – 2:00 pm (implemented January 4) 
  • Two specialist classes (art, PE, or library) were added for each cohort on their at-home days (between 2:00-3:00 pm)
  • Guided Learning blocks, facilitated by a grade-level team member, have been added in the mornings and afternoons on at home days. Student’s weekly schedule will now include their Guided Learning blocks and added special times.

Overview of changes for Grades 3, 4 & 5

  • A Guided Learning block, facilitated by grade-level team member, has been added to each at home day.
  • Both cohorts will participate in synchronous remote learning with their classroom teacher from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Expectations for Student Participation, K-5

As part of the Hybrid Learning model, students are expected to attend, and actively participate in Morning Meeting and all of the teacher-assigned, synchronous and/or asynchronous learning activities. Additionally all students must engage in all classes on all days (both in-person and remote days). They cannot selectively opt out of certain classes, including those in the specialist areas. (Consistent absences from or lack of participation in specialist classes will be reflected in the student’s mid-year and/or end-of-year progress report.)

Classroom teachers will share the schedule changes for their class with families. Please be sure to note the additional ‘live’ teaching time for your child(ren). 

We are grateful for your partnership as we continuously seek to improve teaching and learning for all of our students during this very different, unusual school year.

All the best,

Tom Morris, Principal


Principal’s Update

Good Evening Memorial-Spaulding Families,

I trust you have had some time to relax and enjoy the December school break. Given the intensity of this school year, I completely disconnected from school-related work over the holiday – and encouraged all staff members to do the same. We will look forward to greeting cohort A tomorrow feeling refreshed and ready to go!

Reminder: All students in K-2 will stay until 2pm starting tomorrow (Monday, January 4). This will allow more in-person time with the teacher. As a result, the at-home cohort will now have their 2pm virtual live instruction with a specialist or other school personnel. DESE (The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) has issued mandates regarding the amount of live (virtual or in-person) we must now provide for students. We must have our new plan in place by Jan.19th. We will be working to meet those expectations between now and the 19th. Stay tuned for more information.

Did you travel out of state over the vacation? If so, you must abide by the Mass Covid-19 Travel Order. In that document you will find that children age 10 or under are not required to have a Covid test (“Testing for children, 10 years and younger, who are traveling with an adult from their household is not required.”)
However – any child (regardless of age) must have a recent negative covid test or must follow quarantining guidelines before returning to school. This is important information – please make note of it.

Thanks to Leah Kolidas who spearheaded our winter coat drive! She was able to donate 38 new and gently used coats to Boston Area Healthy Families. Leah partnered with a school in Dedham who donated an additional 27 coats! Many thanks for the generous donations from our families to make this happen.

Air quality at Memorial-Spaulding has been a recent topic of discussion and concern. In December we were presented with two air testing reports that contained very different/conflicting information. As you can imagine, this caused quite a bit of concern and worry. Our staff met with the Director of Facilities, as well as the Assistant Superintendent for Operations. Given the level of concern (and mismatched information), the City performed extensive maintenance work on the unit ventilators in classrooms. Additionally, they hired an independent air quality testing/balancing company who performed the tests on Tuesday and Wednesday before the December break. (While testing for fresh air intake, they can adjust the dampers to allow for greater air flow.) Josh Morse, Newton Public Building’s Commissioner, was on hand for the entire two days and he welcomed questions from staff about the state of our air quality and how it is being improved. I know many teachers (and some students) asked hard questions and I believe they were provided with answers and/or explanations. This past week I received a preliminary report from Josh Morse that indicates all spaces in our school are now in compliance with expected “fresh air intake” for 100% occupancy. Once the report is finalized, it will be uploaded to the district website.

Sonja Spears, Head of the Newton Police Task Force – and a social warrior, will speak this Thursday, Jan 7 @ 7pm. More information available HERE

I wish you and your family an extremely healthy, prosperous and happy 2021.

All the best,

Tom Morris, Principal

Thanks for Being a Light!

Thanks to everyone who helped spread cheer this season by being a light in our community!  We had a successful week, delivering 1,420 luminaries to brighten the spirits of 71 homes.  A huge thanks to all who participated and to all of our volunteers who helped make this happen!

Sign ups are closed for this event, however, you are still welcome to make a donation.

Watch a little video of some of the luminaries!

Wishing you and your family cheer & light this holiday season!

New Years Eve Hat Decorating Contest

Memorial Spaulding New Years Eve Hat Decorating Contest is Here! Use one of the templates provided or create your own! Submit at the following link by December 21st and check back to vote until December 23rd. Winners by grade will be notified. Let’s ring in the new year in DIY style!
http://memorialspauldingpto.org/new-years-eve-hat-contest/

Lost and Found

Even in this strange year there are lost and found items! Take a look at this picture. If any of these belong to your kiddo you can call 617-559-9600 and schedule a time to stop by.  You will ring the front bell and they will bring the bin out to you. 

Principal’s Update

Greetings M-S Families,

I hope you are having a delightful weekend. I have just a few brief items to highlight this week.

We are currently working to plan for K-2 time at school (2pm dismissal) which will begin after the break (on January 4th). See district communication on this matter HERE.

There have been several questions about attendance throughout the course of the day, especially during remote learning times. In short, attendance is required for all remote programming provided by NPS – including specials (Art, Music, PE and Library). See district statement HERE.

As Covid-19 cases rise in Newton, I continue to receive questions/concerns about how we are maintaining our 4 Pillars of Health at Memorial-Spaulding. We have been working very hard to ensure we are abiding by these requirements. As an example our custodian now has an electrostatic sprayer which is used after school hours to disinfect surfaces throughout the building. We, of course, rely on parents to keep us abreast of any health issues that arise within your family – and to keep children home when they are not feeling well.

Are you planning travel out of state between now and January 4? Please remember to adhere to the Mass Travel Restrictions. This is an important way to keep us all safe – and keep schools open.

Did you know Newton now has an ordinance requiring residents to remove snow from sidewalks? I received this information from the city last week and thought I’d pass it along. Details HERE

Some PTO sponsored events coming up! Parent Trivia Night (there will be a teacher team!), Memorial-Spaulding Winter Coat Drive, New Year’s Eve Hat Making Contest.

Enjoy the coming week – and stay healthy.

Tom Morris, Principal

Memorial Spaulding Coat Drive

This year we are collecting coats for Boston Area Healthy Families, an organization that helps teen parents and their young children. They especially need baby bunting type snowsuits, but also toddler coats, and coats for the parents. We are trying to collect as many new coats as possible, but will also take clean, gently used ones. New mittens and hats are also welcome! You can help in one of the following ways: Donate money towards the purchase of a new coat by sending money via Venmo to a Memorial Spaulding parent who will purchase new coats on your behalf (Venmo username: @Leah-Kolidas) or drop off a new or gently used coat at the school. There will be a plastic tub at the front door Monday 12/14 – Friday 12/18. If you would prefer to have a coat picked up from your front steps or if you have any questions, please reach out to Leah at Leah.Kolidas@me.com. Thank you in advance for your generosity! http://memorialspauldingpto.org/memorial-spaulding-coat-drive/