Superintendent Updates

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June 18, 2021

Hello GPS Community,

The last day of school has arrived for our students. After a very difficult year of remote learning and a return to in-person learning with restrictions that have placed hardships on everyone, we want to congratulate all our students and families for accomplishing a great deal under trying circumstances. I particularly want to thank our administrators, educators, and all staff for the incredible work they’ve done while working our way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the summer approaches, it comes with optimism and hope for a brighter future. The administration of the Greenfield Public Schools will be preparing for the 2021-2022 school year, starting next week. There is much to do to meet the challenges that lie ahead. During the summer months, I will update you on our progress.

The School Committee received the names of the finalists for the permanent position of Superintendent of Schools. They are Bernard Audette, Jennifer Culkeen, Christine Debarge, Thaddeus King, and Carole Learned-Miller. A brief summary of their biographies was sent to our GPS Community on Thursday, June 17th. We have also posted their resumes for anyone interested in reading them on the Superintendent Search web page.

Each of the candidates will be visiting our district for a day on July 6, 7, 8, 12, and 13 to meet with administrators, educators, staff members, parents, and community leaders. Be on the lookout for a survey next week to register your interest in meeting with the candidates. At the conclusion of each day’s visit, each candidate will be interviewed by the School Committee in a public session. The School Committee will deliberate at their July 14th meeting and vote on their choice to take on the leadership of the district.

Wishing you all a happy and safe summer!

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


June 3, 2021

Hello GPS Community!

Three items for your information below:

Congratulations, Class of 2021!

We are coming down to the end of what has been an extraordinary school year and our Seniors at GHS are very excited about their graduation on Saturday, June 5th. Per orders of the Board of Health, this is a ticketed event, open to a limited number of guests with all physical distancing protocols followed. There will be a video of the event for those of you who would like to watch it from home. Those without a ticket will not be able to attend. 

Last Week of School activities

The last week of school is the week of June 14th. All of our schools have planned ways to help students learn the significance of the Juneteenth holiday, signed into law in Massachusetts in May. Check out your child’s school newsletters and communications from the principals for the details of the observances, along with other end-of-the-year activities. Please understand that typical events for the end of the year will be different this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions. We thank our families for your understanding.

Our last day of school will be Friday, June 18th. It will be a half-day for students. The observed Juneteenth Holiday for the Greenfield Public Schools will be on Monday, June 21st. All school and district offices will be closed on that day.

Family and Community Survey

The Greenfield Public Schools is partnering with TMS, an education management firm, to conduct an independent survey of expectations, experiences, and school-to-home communications. The feedback and insight provided by you will help inform the school leadership team and school committee as efforts are made to strengthen the school system.

As a parent or guardian, teacher, staff member, student, or resident of Greenfield, you have a valuable perspective on the state of Greenfield's public schools. Your input is extremely important.

The survey opens today and closes Sunday evening. It takes just a few minutes to complete and your input is critically important. 

Click here to take the survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/GPS2021survey

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


May 21, 2021

Good afternoon GPS Community,

This has been a week of rapid changes by the state regarding mask-wearing in public schools. As a result, the Greenfield School Committee met on May 21, 2021, to revise their current face coverings policy to reflect these changes. Click here to read the updated version. The revisions allow for the following exemptions to mask-wearing at school:

  • for students only, while outside (recess, physical education, youth sports, and outdoor learning environments) per the DESE guidelines, published May 17, 2021;

  • for athletes on spring teams in active play outdoors, on the bench/dugout, indoors at low-risk sports where 14 feet or more of distance are consistently maintained between each participant (per MIAA guidelines, published May 17, 2021);

  • spectators, chaperones, coaches, staff, referees, umpires/other officials who can meet the district’s 6-foot distancing guidelines outdoors only (per MIAA guidelines, published May 17, 2021).

Adults must continue to wear masks outdoors if distancing cannot be maintained, per the May 17, 2021, DESE guidelines. Visitors, spectators, volunteers, and staff must wear masks indoors during athletic events per the May 17, 2021, MIAA guidelines.

In response to the peaceful protest regarding equity, equality, race, and social justice at GHS last week, Principal Patenaude has been working closely with students to get their input into how to move forward. The students have plans to continue their work by engaging with both faculty and students and are making plans to participate in an upcoming faculty meeting.

We have also reached out to the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton, which is providing support to districts across the Pioneer Valley in the areas of social justice and equity. We have engaged in some preliminary discussions regarding professional development for staff members and community engagement. We will share more details as they become available over the summer months.

I would like to remind our families that there is a half-day of school for students on Friday, May 28, 2021. This early release day will afford our teachers some professional time to work together on ensuring smooth transitions for students as we look forward to the 2021-2022 school year.

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


May 14, 2021

Hello GPS Community,

This has been a busy week in the Greenfield Public Schools. As you know, we did have a couple of positive cases of COVID-19 within our school community, but thanks to everyone’s work at following our Daily Four protocols, we have not seen any further spread. Although the CDC is making recommendations regarding vaccinations and mask-wearing, the GPS Facecovering policy remains in effect for all staff and students in our schools and on our grounds. Thank you all in advance for continuing to follow our protocols. While we as educators teach, we also learn from our students. On Friday morning, May 17th, a group of students had a conversation in the form of a peaceful protest with our high school principal, Ms. Karin Patenaude, about equity, equality, race, and social justice. The students were thoughtful in their approach, identifying several issues they wish to see addressed and it was a mutually beneficial discussion for the adults and the students. The students have also made a commitment to actively engage in finding solutions to their concerns. I also met with them to hear their ideas about ways we can resolve some of the concerns and issues they have identified. In the coming days, we will be meeting with the students again, will be reaching out to Community Action and Stand Up, and working with the high school leadership team and our students to continue to meet the students’ needs. Look for a public announcement next week on the details of our approach. The School Committee met on Wednesday evening and reviewed several policies that are in need of an addition to the policy manual or revisions to existing policies. You can read the policies that were adopted or are under review by going to our website, gpsk12.org, and clicking on the School Committee meetings page. The policies are included in the 5/12/21 meeting materials. The Committee will be meeting in a special session on Tuesday evening, May 8th, at 6:00 pm, to continue this important work. Sincerely, Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


May 10, 2021

Greetings GPS Community, 

The month of May is in full swing and with it, several things to share with you. We appreciate everyone’s vigilance with The Daily Four, as it really makes a difference in our schools. Another way to protect our school community is through participation in the GPS Pooled Testing program. If you have not yet signed your child up for pooled testing, click here to register. Thank you.

The City of Greenfield is winding down their COVID-19 vaccine program, but there are still slots available for anyone age 18 and over to receive the Moderna vaccine at the John Zon Community Center on Pleasant Street. You can register through the state’s COVID-19 system, https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/locations/greenfield-senior-center. No insurance is required or asked for and no IDs are required (if an 18-year-old looks young they may need to verify their birthdate). If you have trouble registering through the state website, you can call or email 413-775-6411 or vaccine.clinics@greenfield-ma.gov for 5/12 and 5/14 clinic dates.

The Greenfield School Committee will meet on Wednesday, May 12th, at 6:00 pm. The meeting will be held via a Webex link. You can find the agenda and packet here: https://www.gpsk12.org/gps-district/committee-meetings.

Kindergarten registration is in full swing! Our Registrar, Sierra Rother, will be available for some special hours over the next couple of weeks, beginning Tuesday, May 11th. If you have a child who will be the age of 5 by September 1st and haven’t yet registered for Kindergarten, these special hours will give you an extra opportunity to do that. You can find more information on that by clicking here.

The Greenfield Public Schools are hiring! We are a great place to work and learn and we have a variety of positions available in many areas: teachers, instructional assistants, substitute teachers, and instructional assistants, cafeteria staff, crossing guards, and custodial staff. You can find more information on our website at https://www.gpsk12.org/gps-district-wide/administration/employment. Come join our teamwork in your community and be a part of what makes Greenfield a wonderful place to be!

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


April 29, 2021

Hello GPS Community,

We are now back to in-person learning in all our schools! Thanks to the hard work of our administration, faculty, and staff as well as our transportation providers, things are going pretty smoothly. GHS and GMS families should be aware of the new traffic patterns at both schools for drop-off and pick-up. Please remember that GHS students should not arrive at school until 7:10 am and GMS students should not arrive until 7:45 am, as we do not have supervision available ahead of those times. Thank you for your cooperation.

We also want to remind the broader community that school grounds are off-limits to the general community for personal use during school hours. This includes our playgrounds and outdoor athletic facilities. Our overall safety protocols require that these areas be open to students and staff only. We thank the community for your understanding and cooperation with this district policy.

As you know, we are continuing our downward trend in Massachusetts regarding the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, statewide. As more people are being vaccinated, we are beginning to see some loosening of restrictions by Governor Baker. One of those areas is with regard to mask-wearing. Please be advised that the GPS policy on face coverings is still in force in the district and will remain that way for the remainder of the school year. We want to end the year strong and appreciate our families’ help with ensuring that students have masks available for all places and at all times except meals and supervised mask breaks.

One way in which we can continue to keep our community safe is through pooled testing at school. Our school nurses have worked tirelessly to get this program in place and we have learned from the state that they will fund this program through the end of August. Staff and students will have the opportunity to be tested once a week.

Now, our nurses have created an easier way to register for both pooled testing and BinaxNow testing (in case your child experiences symptoms of illness at school). If you haven’t registered your child yet, please click on Greenfield Pooled Testing to complete our new electronic consent process.

If you are having any concerns about your child’s comfort with COVID-19 testing, please watch this adorable video of a 2nd grader demonstrating how to do a nasal swab. He’s an expert at showing just how easy and painless it is! Also, feel free to reach out to your school nurse with any questions or concerns you may have.

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


April 22, 2021

To our GPS Community:

I hope that everyone has been enjoying the April break. We have certainly had a wide range of weather!

As we prepare to return to school next week and to welcome our GMS and GHS students on Wednesday, April 28th, I want to remind everyone of The Daily Four, the keys to our success. These steps are important both in school and in the community.

  1. Wear a mask – With vaccinations becoming more widespread, it’s easy to think that we no longer need masks. We are still operating under a mask mandate per the School Committee’s policy and state regulations. Click here to read the policy. Even though hope is on the horizon, wearing a mask is our best protection – both in school and in the community.
  2. Wash your hands (and use hand sanitizer) – This is another easy, yet effective way to protect yourself and others against the COVID-19 virus. The CDC recommends 20 seconds of washing – the equivalent of singing “Happy Birthday” two times. Teaching our youngest learners the “happy birthday” method will help them know the 20-second rule and can be a fun activity at home. We also provide hand sanitizer in our schools for extra protection for students and staff.
  3. Stay apart – The recommended distance, person-to-person, is 6 feet. Our distancing protocols in school provide for this amount of space between our students. Furniture has been arranged to allow for that and stickers are on our hallway floors to ensure everyone keeps that distance. Many places in our community use similar floor markers, one-way aisles in stores, and other cues to help remind us of keeping a proper distance. Research has shown that physical distancing is an effective preventative measure.
  4. Stay home if your child or someone in your household does not feel well – We are doing everything in our power to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, but we need the help of our families to keep our schools safe. We can’t stress enough the importance of everyone’s efforts in this regard. The CDC has a list of symptoms that you can check. Be sure to check for these in your household daily before children leave for school. Click here to read the list. If anyone in your household has these symptoms, get tested immediately and quarantine until you get the results.

Together, we can make these final weeks of school a valuable learning experience for all our students. Thank you for doing your part to help keep our schools safe!

A special note to our GMS and GHS families: Our bus contractor, F.M. Kuzmeskis, has published preliminary bus routes for the return to in-person learning on April 28th. There are still some adjustments that may need to be made prior to then, so be sure to check back up until next Tuesday for any last-minute changes. Please make sure your child arrives at the stop, with a mask on, 5 minutes ahead of the scheduled pick-up time. Masks are required on all our buses. Click here to see the routes.

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


April 16, 2021

To our GPS Community:

Our first two weeks of in-person learning went pretty smoothly. I want to express my deep appreciation to all our administrators, faculty, staff, and transportation providers for the extensive work in preparing for students’ return to our school buildings and for making sure everyone was warmly welcomed and settled in.

On Wednesday, April 28th, GMS and GHS will welcome our 5th through 12th graders back to in-person learning. Preparations are underway for what we anticipate to be a smooth opening. Both GMS and GHS have some welcome back events scheduled for their students on Monday and Tuesday, April 26th and 27th. Check your emails for the details for each school. We anticipate that bus routes for GMS and GHS will be made available early during the week of April 19th. We will make sure everyone knows how to access that information as soon as it becomes available.

As we head into the April vacation week, we want to remind everyone of our “Daily Four” and to be sure to practice those actions throughout the vacation week: (1) Wear a mask, (2) Wash and sanitize your hands, (3) Keep apart (6 feet, person-to-person), and (4) Stay home if you don’t feel well. We understand that everyone is COVID-weary and that the availability of vaccines is giving us hope, but it is important that we all stay vigilant during the April vacation week, particularly if you have plans to travel. Together, we can be sure that our schools continue to be safe places for our students to learn and grow.

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


April 2, 2021

Hello GPS Community,

After a lot of hard work by all our administrators, faculty, and staff, we look forward to welcoming our PK-4 students back to in-person learning on Monday, April 5, 2021. Children in grades PK and K will be coming to school in the mornings only on April 5 and 6, with an early release in the afternoon. All children in grades 1-4 will have a full day of school on those days.

Bus routes for the elementary grades have been posted to our website, which you can find by clicking this link: https://www.gpsk12.org/gps-central/administration/2020-2021-bus-routes Please bear in mind, as is the case with any opening of school, that there may be some glitches in the first few days as we get routines of drop off and pick up of children established. Your patience and cooperation are greatly appreciated.

Families of students at GMS and GHS are reminded that we need your information about whether or not your children are returning to school and, if so, whether or not they will be using bus transportation or some other means to get to school and back each day. Please be sure to fill out the in-person survey link by Monday, April 5th. Here's the link: https://www.gpsk12.org/gps-central/administration/gps-person-learning-survey After that day, the survey will close.

If you have any questions about the specifics by school, please feel free to reach out to your children's principals for more information.

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


March 29, 2021

Hello GPS Families!

Our GPS Virtual Tour is up for viewing. You can find it, along with a list of FAQs about the return to in-person learning, on our website page dedicated to in-person learning at https://www.gpsk12.org/in-person-learning.

In order to get bus routes planned and published by week's end, we need your help to complete our survey about your intentions regarding your student's return to school on this same web page. Please complete the survey by Tuesday, March 30th, at noon.

Thank you for your cooperation. Our PK-4 students will be released from remote learning on Thursday, April 1st and Friday, April 2nd at 11:55 am. Students who are attending in-person will also be released at that time on these dates. This will allow teachers time to prepare their classrooms for students' return on April 5th.

The School Committee approved a revised mask policy at their March 25th meeting. You can find the details on this policy by clicking here. These revisions are in response to recent updates to the guidance from the state on mask-wearing.

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


March 26, 2021

Hello GPS Community!

I want to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to attend our public forums on the return to in-person learning on March 24 and March 25. We have established a new web page on our site for In-Person Learning, where you can find links to the recordings, in case you were not able to attend. Here’s the link to that page: https://www.gpsk12.org/in-person-learning. You can also get to that page from our main website by clicking the “for FAMILIES & COMMUNITY” and clicking on the In-Person Learning link in the menu. We will continue to update this special web page with information about our in-person learning plans on a frequent basis over the next few weeks, so be sure to check back often. We will keep our families informed of updates via our School Messenger system.

We have launched our follow-up survey for families to let us know whether or not you will be choosing to return to in-person learning in April per our plan and how you will be arranging for transportation to and from school. It is important that we receive these surveys back no later than Tuesday, March 30th, as we need this information to finish setting up our classrooms and determining bus routes. Here is the link to the survey: https://forms.gle/UBFXJqH3caTNMbyz5. You can also find the survey link on our new In-Person Learning web page.

Our administrators, faculty, and staff are hard at work getting everything ready to welcome our students back to a friendly and safe environment and we look forward to seeing our students back with us in April!

The School Committee voted on a change to the school calendar for next week in order to give our PreK - Grade 4 teachers time to prepare their classrooms. Students in grades PreK-4 will be released from online learning at 11:55 on Thursday, April 1st, and Friday, April 2nd. There will be no online classes or lessons to complete so teachers can come to school and get their classrooms ready for students. All PreK and Kindergarten students will only have a half day on the first two days of school, April 5th and 6th. Students in grades 1-4 will have full days on those days.

The Greenfield School Committee appreciates the time and effort being made to prepare for a return to in-person learning. As all our efforts are focused on this issue, there will be no subcommittee meetings until after the next full meeting of the School Committee on April 14, 2021. At that time, we will address the schedule of subcommittees for the remainder of the spring.

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


March 22, 2021

Dear GPS Community,

On Thursday, March 18th, the Greenfield School Committee approved a plan for reopening our schools. Following the Commissioner of Education’s plan to begin the process in April, we will be welcoming our Academy of Early Learning, Discovery at Four Corners, Federal Street, and Newton Street Schools students back on Monday, April 5th. Greenfield Middle and Greenfield High Schools will be welcoming their students back on Wednesday, April 28th. You can find the details as we have them to date by clicking this link. These dates required that we apply for a waiver from the Commissioner to allow our fifth grade students to return to school with our middle school students. That waiver was granted on March 18, 2021.

On Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m., and Thursday at noon, the Greenfield Public Schools will host virtual public forums to answer questions and address concerns related to the reopening of schools. In an effort to make these forums as efficient and productive as possible, please submit your questions in advance. Our moderator will read questions aloud and school administration will answer the questions.

Click on this link to submit your question: https://forms.gle/p4M8tdwuoLnDn9jB9

You may register for one of these webinar forums by clicking the link below:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GbwrFP0TQByys5_cEBlFPQ.

Once you have registered for the webinar, you will receive an email confirmation with instructions for logging into the session. If you are unable to attend, the webinars will be recorded and shared later.

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools


We are continuing with planning for a return to in-person learning for our elementary students in grades PK-5 on April 5, 2021. Our In-Person Learning (IPL) Command System is addressing needs for physical distancing within the guidelines provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

On March 10, 2021, the Greenfield School Committee adopted a Face Coverings policy that addresses the requirements for mask wearing in schools during in-person learning. You can find a copy of that policy by clicking this link. This policy, as amended by the DESE Commissioner of Education, includes all staff and students in grades PK and up.

Our families should also have received information about our upcoming pooled testing program, along with links to grant permission for that testing. If you have any questions about this COVID-19 testing program or did not receive the email with the information, please be sure to contact your school nurse.

I want to thank all of our families for sharing your initial thoughts with us regarding in-person learning during our recent survey. I realize that it was difficult to complete without more details of what in-person learning will look like. More information will be forthcoming soon about those details and we will follow up with another survey soon that will ask you for more information about your plans. Keep an eye out for email notifications from our Student Messenger system. If you have not received notifications about these updates, please be sure to check your information in PowerSchool or call your child’s school to ensure that we have your correct email address listed.

As we work our way to reopening our schools to in-person learning, we want to remind everyone that it will take everyone’s collaboration to ensure that our schools will be healthy and safe environments for teaching and learning. You will soon be seeing signs up around our school buildings reminding everyone to be sure we are practicing “The GPS Daily Four.” Now is a great time to start practicing these healthy habits!

Sincerely,

Dr. Judith Houle, Interim Superintendent of Schools