COVID 19 Update #16 May 23
Hello Georgetown Friends,
I hope your Memorial Day weekend is off to a good start! Even though we are not in school for our remembrance ceremonies, I hope you will have time to remember the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms with your children. We are moving into the homestretch of the school year and I am urging all of you to stick with remote learning for the next few weeks. I know with the nicer weather coming and the releasing of the stay at home orders from Governor Baker, it will get harder to remain focused. I know because I can feel a little of that urge myself but there is still much to do to end this year and continue planning for the fall. When we return on Tuesday after a three day weekend, there will be 19 days remaining in the school year, four days left for the senior class and 15 days until graduation but who’s counting? While the closing this year is unlike any other year, we are looking forward to enjoying several special celebrations with our families. At the Penn Brook School grade levels are planning to share a video tribute to their Celebration of Growth and the 6tth grade moving on ceremony is being planned remotely with all of the special features that usually come with that celebration. At the Middle High School, they are putting together a video celebration of award and scholarship winners and of course we are going to be holding our exciting drive by graduation and parade through town. Keep your eyes open for an end of the year Rolling Rally with a slightly different twist. Instead of the faculty driving through town, the faculty will stand outside of their schools, socially distanced, and families can drive by waving and cheering so our students and staff can have one last time to see each other before the year officially closes. A very different end to the year but one in which we can take pride that we survived it and we made the best out of a challenging situation that was beyond our control. I am pretty darned proud of all of us!
A few announcements and reminders for your information.
1. Picking Up Personal Belonging Scheduled for Next Week
This is just a friendly reminder that next week is the time for parents to come by the schools and pick up your child’s personal belongings according to the schedule that was posted and sent out to you. We ask that you wear gloves and masks and adhere to the signage and taped areas to ensure proper social distancing. Just a reminder not to bring your children and if it is absolutely necessary they will have to remain outside of the door until they can reunite with their parents. The playgrounds will be off limits. If you have any questions, please contact the Principal and if you have multiple children in the same school, you can pick up all of their belongings at once. Thanks for your cooperation in ensuring everyone can stay safe and retrieve their belongings.
If you have not already heard we have a unique, creative and safe
way to celebrate our amazing senior class as they graduate from high school. In meeting with the senior class officers, they identified three priorities that they would hope for to end the year. These were to have an in person/ not virtual graduation , a ceremony their families could attend and a prom. With this in mind, we, along with the community, will deliver a live outdoor graduation on Saturday June 13 at 10 am in the parking lot of the Saint Mary’s Church. The students will be together as a class and seated six feet
apart. They will have matching masks with the school logo. The ceremony will include the same format as always but there will be some differences in the way the crowd will watch the ceremony to be in compliance with the Governor’s orders regarding gathering in groups. In order to do this, families must remain in their cars throughout the ceremony. They will be parked strategically in the parking lot and to assist in their viewing and hearing of the ceremony, there will be a big screen set up, each car will be able to hear the ceremony through their radio thanks to a transmitter. it will also be live streamed and taped by GCTV. We are encouraging families to decorate their cars ( the School Committee Chair said they will pick a winning car) and the police and fire departments will lead a parade through town celebrating the graduates! More Information will be coming out from the school but I just wanted to give you the highlights. We have so many people to thank for bringing this together. It has been a true community project because we want to give the senior class a send off they will never forget!
3. Flags of Recognition and Accomplishment
When you head by Harry Murch Park beginning on Tuesday May 26 th, check out the display of senior flags at the end of the park. Thanks to a group of senior parents and financial support from the Georgetown Light Company, each of our seniors is featured on a flag with their picture and name on it. It is going to be a wonderful recognition of their hard work and a job well done.
4. Warning Signs of Stroke
One of our parents who has been a stroke victim reached to me and asked if I might mention the warning signs in one of my updates because in his case if it was not for the quick action of his family, his situation might have gone differently. Due to his personal circumstances he has joined Tedy Bruschi’s team and runs marathons to raise awareness. Here is what he asked me to share.
May is Stroke Awareness month and I thought it may be a positive idea to have you share about this in
one of your updates. There have been several articles noting the increased risk of stroke in Covid 19
patients and awareness of the signs is a key towards saving a life and/or a successful recovery. The
important piece for me is to raise awareness of the signs of a stroke. I have included a jpeg that you may
use/attach to one of your updates. #BeFast is the knowledge people need to make a difference. There are
many out there, that given the current circumstances, may NOT go to the hospital when they really need
to. Even if this reaches one person and they can recognize the signs quickly, it can make a big difference.
5. Budget FY 21
As you can imagine with the pandemic and its effect on the economy due to the closure, there will be a significant impact to the federal, state and local economies. I have been involved with local and state leaders and legislators as well as local and state education leaders and the budget forecast at this time and it can go either way up or down is dire. They are expecting $6-8 billion dollars in revenues and as much as a 20% reduction in local aid for next year. In Georgetown, the budget for FY 21 was built based on the state budget prior to the pandemic so we are all bracing for that to change. We are being told that the legislature and state government are “ going back to the beginning” to put together a new budget based on the new projected revenues. As of right now, the schools are scheduled to get a 2,5% increase over this year’s budget but that will not allow us to keep everything that we have and will require making cuts to programs and personnel. If the prediction of a dire budget comes true and state aid comes in 10-20% less, then the town is going to have some very tough decisions to make for the town and not just the schools.
We are currently wrapping up the finances for this year and determining the cuts that will have to be made to get to the 2.5%. The School Committee will be discussing this at their meeting on June 11th. In addition, we are waiting for guidance on if schools will be able to open in September and , if so, with what modifications and that will have a further impact on the school budget. The biggest challenge is the lack of answers which is no one’s fault but it is difficult to plan when there are so many moving parts including not knowing what this virus is going to do next. I will keep you posted on the budget developments as they transpire and we will appreciate your advocacy and support for our schools. The awful irony of this situation is that this is the time to invest in our schools and not the time to cut services in order to meet the needs of this new normal yet the revenues are going to make it challenging for us to give our students what they need when they need it most. More to come and wish the news was better.
6. Remote Learning Surveys
Sometime in the month of June, you will be receiving a survey asking for your feedback about remote learning and we urge you to complete it so we can use the information to make improvements should we have to continue remote learning in the fall or return to it if there is a second wave of the virus in the fall/winter. When we were thrust into remote learning within a two week period, we put together a system that in essence changes the way school is delivered. We did our best, learned a lot and can see the need to make some changes before next year comes. The summer will afford us time to focus on this but the majority of the summer is going to be spent trying to find a safe way to open our schools in the fall if that is at all possible. We are first and foremost following the guidelines of the public health experts and we expect much more guidance in June and July. We will be making a number of plans so that we will be ready for the fall and whatever that will bring.
7. Happy Retirement Mrs Bakas
I am delighted to share the happy news that Mrs. Bakas, kindergarten teacher at Penn Brook and formerly from Perley, will be retiring at the end of this school year to enjoy some well deserved time for herself and with her family. Donna has devoted over 20 years to the little people of Georgetown and her calm and loving way of taking students under her wing and making them feel safe and proud of themselves will be greatly missed. I know you join me in wishing Donna a long, healthy and joyful retirement and many new adventures to come. Thank you Donna!
Enjoy the long weekend and no remote learning on Monday. Carol