I’m not sure about anyone else, but these temperatures are a bit much at the moment. Hopefully everyone has found a way to enjoy the outdoors and stay safe in the extreme heat that has been thrust upon us. Please remember to take caution when it gets to be that hot outside and to be mindful of protecting (hydrating, sunscreen, hats, etc.) yourselves and those you hold dear.
I want to again thank those that provided feedback to our framework we shared the week of July 6th. If you didn’t catch it then, no worries, it’s attached to today’s update in its final version (Appendices A and B to come shortly). I need to stress once again, this is not the decision point people may be looking for at this time, but the roadmap that will help guide us on what those specific procedures/protocols will look like. Last week we received the guidance that was shared from our Governor. We all have opinions on what the guidance did and what the guidance did not provide for individual schools and districts. Our task now is to take our framework, the guidance from the State of New Hampshire, and the most current guidance from health officials (NHDHHS and the CDC) to create our specific procedures and protocols for the opening of the new school year.
You will see in the attached document a new section titled “Next Steps.” This section articulates what the timeline for the next steps look like for the new school year. These are complex conversations that require us to be attentive to all the information and guidance available over a wide range of topics as we work through those decisions. I can assure you of two things along this line, first and foremost, all specific procedures and protocols will be centered on student and staff safety and well-being, AND, two, there likely is nobody that wants to get this step completed more than the people that are working on it. This is precisely what has kept many, if not all, of those working on this up at night. To that end, we have established a very aggressive timeline to get this information out to our stakeholders expeditiously and your patience (as difficult as it may be) is greatly appreciated.
We are committing to having the Universal Procedures/Protocols that will apply in all buildings completed this week. We are also committing to sending all families and staff a query on their intentions for the new school year. This will be facilitated by each individual school site so that the Site Specific Procedures/Protocols are not delayed by the disaggregating of results through the central office. Once all of the Site Specific Procedures/Protocols have been completed, we will be presenting them to all of the School Boards and making them public for all stakeholders.
One thing that did come from the Governor last week was the granting of three days at the start of the new school year to ensure all schools/districts have suitable time to prepare for new procedures and protocols. This will have an impact on the school calendars. We are amending those calendars to reflect these changes and will have them posted on our websites this week (as soon as today if possible). You can access them through the link in the update below under the “School Calendars” section. Basically, what this all means is that students will not be starting their first day of school until Monday, August 31st. That is a change from the original calendar in which students were beginning on August 26th. Our staff will need the three additional days to be best prepared for the new school year and I wanted to get this information out to you now so that you were aware as well.
Shifting gears a little, we have upgraded Power School this summer and in doing so, we’ll need your assistance in updating contact and emergency information. In the coming days, you will receive a video on just how to do that. Please be on the lookout for that message so that all of your information is current and up to date. Thank you in advance for your attention to this important piece of information that will help us to serve you better moving forward.
Finally, I absolutely recognize that everyone is anxiously waiting for the specific procedures that will be implemented in our schools. I do realize that it causes a great deal of stress and anxiety wondering what it will be. Please know that I am not interested in making our students or staff test cases. These are our children, our neighbors, our colleagues and our friends. While I am the Superintendent of Schools, I am also a husband and father - first. I have been watching what has been happening in other parts of the state, region, country and around the world, like so many others have been as well. I have been tracking the data since the first case of COVID-19 in NH (March 9th) each and every day. Because of this, and as noted in a previous update, we will use the most current epidemiological data, health official guidance and State of New Hampshire directives as they relate to our schools and our communities to finalize all procedures and protocols. With all things that need to be considered, we will work tirelessly to make it the absolute best that we are able to make it, because we all want the same outcomes for our children/students. And if we have demonstrated nothing else, we have demonstrated that our staff, our families and our communities will do just that because...WE ABSOLUTELY GOT THIS!
Active Brain Ideas: If you have other thoughts or ideas on how to keep the brain active in the summer, please post them on this linked Padlet I created so that we can all share and learn from one another. All you need to do is double click on the wallpaper and a sticky note will pop up. Then you can jot down your idea, click on the wallpaper again to post it and those that visit can learn from your wisdom. You can also add comments to posts and like ones that interest you most.
Meals: Southwestern Community Services, Inc. began offering the Summer Food Service Program to our community’s youth June 29. All area students, including those from SAU 29 districts, are welcome to utilize the lunch program free of charge.
SCS is encouraging folks to take advantage of the curb-side pick-up at Keene Middle School. The program is available Monday through Friday from June 29 through August 21. The meals will be available from 11:30 AM until 12:30 PM.
For more information please contact Rhonda Hull, SCS Community Food Coordinator at 603.719.4240 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental Health & Cultural Awareness: Below are some resources that may be helpful as we begin our summer vacation.
- https://www.unicef.org/parenting/talking-to-your-kids-about-racism to help talk with your children, our students about racism. This article covers ages ranging under 5 years old, between 6-11years old, and 12+.
- https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/5-ways-stand-against-racism-and-injustice/37355 This article addresses acceptable ways to condemn racism. This seems especially timely as peaceful protesters pop up all over the country, even here in Keene.
- https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/how-white-people-can-talk-their-kids-about-racism/37361 This is a great way to start a conversation about racial issues with your kids. Racism thrives in silence.
- The 5 Signs to help you identify and support others who may be struggling more than usual at this challenging time, or at any time.
100 Different Ways to spend time in the summer with your kids, and most are free of charge!
Power School update:
We have upgraded Power School and in doing so we need to make sure we have all the latest data for your contacts and emergency contacts. We will be sending out a link to a video that will show you how to update your emergency contacts. As we get closer to the opening of school we will ask that you make sure all your information is correct for you and your students. We are putting in place an online registration to keep your important information up to date. Once we have it up and running we will send out a notice to all important links.
Reporting Abuse: If you see something, please say something. You can find guidance on the NH Department of Health and Human Services website.
- Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention - We’re here for you 24/7. You don’t have to be in crisis to call. Call our hotline at: 603-352-3782 or 1-888-511-MCVP
- National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
School Boards: Please use the links below to access the most recent school board meetings for your respective school district.
Chesterfield - CSB Meeting Video
Harrisville - HSB Meeting Video
Keene - KBE Meeting Video
Marlborough - MbSB Meeting Video
Marlow - MwSB Meeting Video
Nelson - NSB Meeting Video
Westmoreland - WSB Meeting Video
School Buildings: Building hours are 7:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for staff only. Visitors are advised to call the school office in advance of showing up to ensure that your needs are able to be met.
Central Office hours are 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
All buildings are closed on the weekend.
School Calendars: The 2020-2021 school year calendars can be found using this link: SAU 29 School District Calendars.
School Grounds: Outdoor facilities were opened on Monday, June 22nd. Playgrounds will remain closed as proper sanitization can not meet recommended guidelines. Organizations and teams wishing to use the facilities must arrange to do so through the facility use process. Contact your respective school district for further information. Users of the facilities shall continue to practice social distancing while on school grounds.
School Year 2020-2021 Opening: In order to best prepare for the return to schools we need to consider all possibilities to most effectively provide for our students, staff and families. More specifically, we need to be prepared for models that could look like the following:
- Being fully onsite as we were prior to the pandemic.
- Some form of being onsite and being remote.
- Being fully remote as we have been since the start of the pandemic.
The primary objective is to have a flexible plan in place for the three models of returning to school for the 2020 – 2021 school year.
Our timeline to help us fulfill that objective looks like this:
Special Education: Happy Summer!!! We are moving forward with the daily business of Special Education. This includes referral meetings, individualized education plan meetings (IEP meetings) and extended school year programming for those students that have qualified. As always, please reach out to the Student Services Offices at 357-9001 extension 230 or email email@example.com if you have any questions. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 3:30. Thank you!
Please contact your school for more information on times and where you should drop off the devices. Make sure you have the power cord with the device.
Help desk number, (603)352-0640 ext 3871, For help with the Home user and remote learning click here.
Vetted APPs and Websites: You can check the online vetted site here SDPC Look up the App and website by company. We have added more to the list as we get them back from the Vetting team.
Contact Information: Dr. Rick Matte is the lead contact person for all COVID-19 inquiries and concerns at all SAU 29 schools and districts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Sununu has also activated a 24-hour COVID-19 hotline for all related needs and supports. The hotline can be reached by dialing 211.