6-18-21 Final Superintendent Weekly Update

6-18-21 Final Superintendent Weekly Update
Posted on 06/18/2021
Dear Families:
It's the Friday night of summer and CONGRATULATIONS!!!
You and your family made it through this eternal pandemic year of schooling. You have been teachers, video tutors, and parents to your children and we, the Natick Schools in partnership with you and their FABULOUS teachers did more than survive in the pandemic, we pushed forward, were resilient and made progress. 
We thank you for your partnership; we know the year was not perfect and there were many opinions about most aspects of school operations but we kept our community safe and our children in school for the entire year. I wish you a summer of rest, healing and I am assigning everyone the homework of getting OFF your computers and phones and getting back to socializing, resting, exercising and being outdoors.
It's time to heal from our collective trauma. I'll be moving my grad to college, and my daughter has her first real job...and I will be on my motorcycle and swimming as much as I can with my husband. I hope you all find the things you want to do this summer, too!
Assistant Superintendent Luff and I visited all the schools the past three days (see below for the Ben-Hem Clap out honoring "graduating" 4th graders!)

Click on the images to enlarge
The kids were full of smiles and life and chatted us up about why I call your homes on the phone or that they have seen me on TV, or if we liked Dinosaur Poop or if we were the teacher's parents (we had a good laugh on that one and realized how much older we both look post-pandemic!) But the truth of it is, the end of school felt very different this year--kids did not want to go--one K boy said, "I feel like it can't be over yet!" and honestly, while the adults were tired and saying "I can't believe it's finally over!" the kids were still excited to learn and in most of the classes we visited, we saw lessons happening right to the end, blended with just the right amount of fun/social time. As we talked to all faculty in the past two weeks, they indicated that the small class sizes of remote academy and of hybrid cohorts bonded them with their kids this year like no other year. The kids said the same. We are strengthened as a community despite our separation.  
If you would like to share a COVID practice that you feel was a "silver lining" for the district and feel it should continue, please write me a note: annolin@natickps.org and call it "Silver Linings." 
Have a great start to a well-earned summer break.
Return-to-School Plan (DRAFT)
I share a DRAFT return-to-school plan here:  Natick Public Schools Return-to-School DRAFT Plan.
Below, I ask for your feedback (and will ask you in an ongoing manner as we move through summer and fall) about your priorities for supporting our students and helping them thrive. In addition, I am working with town administration to discuss their recovery and American Recovery Plan Act funding to determine what other supports for our town and school community would be beneficial as we move beyond surviving the pandemic to thriving after it.
At this time we anticipate a five-day per week full school day return to pre-pandemic school, athletics, clubs, after school activities, ASAP, Early Risers, arts and performances. HOWEVER, the department of education and our local board of health caution that if there is a change in health data in July and August we will adapt. There has been no decision yet about whether masking and/or pooled testing will be required in elementary schools PK-6 (grades for which no vaccine is yet available).  
Masking and pooled testing will be in place for indoors in summer school of any type per local health department guidance.
Return-to-School In August/Use of Relief Monies
We need your input on "What priorities and needs would you like us to consider as a school system as we return to school and support students post COVID?". To gather your feedback, we're using a tool called ThoughtExchange. All of our voices matter, so your participation is crucial and valued.
Click here to participate: https://tejoin.com/400660467
You'll be asked to respond to one open-ended question, consider and assign stars to some of the ideas shared by others (20 to 30 is ideal), and learn what's important to the group.
Your thoughts and stars are confidential. You can come back as often as you'd like to participate and, in fact, we ask that you do come back to star some of the new ideas shared since you first participated. The ratings will help us understand the most important areas to focus on and join the community in a collaborative sharing dialogue.
If you need technical help, please call ThoughtExchange at 1-800-361-9027 ext. 4 or email help@thoughtexchange.com.
Thank you in advance for your help and input.
(For more information about ThoughtExchange visit: https://www.thoughtexchange.com)
Listening Sessions: Dyslexic Student Experiences
We have heard from a handful of families given the recent release of the Department of Education's recent updated dyslexia guidance. As a learning organization, we seek to hear from families whose children are currently in NPS or the age equivalent (even if you have matriculated to another school or town).
Let us learn from your experiences as we work to digest guidance. Email Dr. Nolin at annolin@natickps.org if you are interested. 
Our school committee partners have offered to also participate (as we have done in the past with our joint office hours) so please let us know your group listening session preferences in the email you send.
Pooled Testing
Student Performance
Hundreds of chorus students of all grades from Kennedy and Wilson Middle Schools have come together to create our first ever virtual choir recording.  In an extraordinarily difficult year they have learned to perform and record as individuals. These individual recordings have been combined into a single Virtual Choir Performance
The accompanying video includes some student photos from our year at school and virtual meeting footage of students who were able to join voluntary recording sessions after school. This video was created to share the accomplishments of our students with parents, faculty, and staff. We respectfully ask that this video not be posted or shared publicly. 
We are happy to present “Better is One Day”! And, while our chorus had an odd year of online instruction turned outdoor instruction, we eventually were able to have choral ensembles together if only since March --better is one day, and each day got better and better as we made it through this year!
Check Out Our Summer Learning Guide
We are happy to share the 2021 Natick Summer Learning Guide!
Our summer learning guide connects families and K–12 students with summer learning resources for reading and math. In addition, this guide shares district-provided and freely available resources for Natick parents to help kids experience enriching and fun educational opportunities during the summer months.
Reminders (Mark your Calendars)
District Soft Closure
The district (school and central offices) will "soft close" from June 28–July 2.
Offices will be closed to the public and will reopen on July 6, after the holiday, which is observed on Monday, July 5 this year. Please plan to see us before, or after, that week.
Summer Webtool Maintenance
The District's online webtools, educational tools and services will be shut off from August 13 -30 as we prepare class lists and databases for school to reopen for the year.

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