Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee

October 7, 2021

COVID Case Update

As of today, October 6, 2021, Masconomet has the following number of reported COVID Cases:

New Covid Cases for September and October 2021

 SeptemberOctoberTotal
High School Students15015
Middle School Students213
Faculty101
Totals18119

Our case numbers have been trending downward since the opening of school:

New COVID Cases by Week, 9/8 – 10/6

 New COVID-19 Cases
9/8/21 – 9/15/218
9/16/21 – 9/22/216
9/23/21 – 9/29/213
9/30/21 – 10/6/212
Total19

COVID Testing Programs Update

On September 21st, Masconomet, in conjunction with the Tri-Town School Union, started a Test and Stay Program for students who are unvaccinated, in-school close contacts of a COVID-19 positive individual.  Once Dr. Morrison and I realized that we could not rely on resources from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, we decided to implement a testing center at Masconomet High School for all Masconomet Middle and High School Students and for Tri-Town Union students in grades 3-6.  Combining what was potentially 8 testing sites (6 for the TTU and 2 for Masco) into one central location allowed us to maximize what resources we had and get our program started as quickly as possible.

For the first two weeks of operation, this site was staffed from 6:50 to 8:30 AM by the senior leadership from both the Masconomet Regional District and the Tri-Town School Union, including Masconomet’s Asst. Superintendents Jeff Sands and Patty Bullard, Asst. Director of Student Services Brad Denton, Director of Information Technology Vin Ruocco, and me, and Superintendent Scott Morrison, Asst. Superintendents Steve Greenberg, and Matt LeCava, Nurse Leader Brianna Posanka and Admin Asst. Katie Glynn from the Tri-Town Union.  Our local public health departments supplemented this administrative staff with Public Health Nurses Julia Lobel and Joan Fitzpatrick, who conducted the actual testing.  I’d like to thank all of these individuals for going way above and beyond the normal call of duty to get the testing center up and running.

By the end of the first week, Dr. Morrison and I were able to make our concerns known to leadership at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and CIC Health, the company hired by DESE to run the school-based testing programs in Massachusetts, and received the staffing from CIC necessary to operate our testing center without a reliance on Masconomet or Tri-Town personnel.  On Monday, October 4th, we were able to turn the primary responsibility for operating the testing center over to personnel from CIC Health with one administrator from either the Tri-Town or Masconomet in attendance to provide support.  In the almost three weeks the Test and Stay Program has been in operation, sixteen Masconomet students have been able to continue to attend classes during the period after their in-school exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual.

Working with CIC Health, we have also been able to institute a Symptomatic Testing Program for Masconomet and the Tri-Town Union.  Personnel from CIC Health are now stationed at Masconomet High School during the school day and are ready to test any symptomatic individual from Masconomet Middle or High School or at any one of the Tri-Town Elementary Schools.  This past Monday, I sent families a link to an online consent form.   https://www.cic-health.com/consent/ma?district=Masconomet  Completing the consent form is required for students to participate in both the Test and Stay and Symptomatic Testing programs.  Completing the online form ahead of time will allow students to enter either program without having to wait until we receive parent consent.

Finally, the simplest way to remain in school after any exposure to COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.  Fully vaccinated individuals who are close contacts of a COVID-19 positive individual are exempt from any quarantine or testing protocols as long as they remain asymptomatic.  Vaccines are widely available in Massachusetts.  Go to https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/ to find a vaccination site near you. 

DESE Mask Mandate

On Monday, September 27th, DESE Commissioner Jeff Riley announced the extension of the mask mandate for students in Massachusetts K-12 public schools through November 1st.  The Commissioner also announced that schools that have reached 80% vaccination rate in both staff and students may allow vaccinated individuals to attend school unmasked.  This could take effect as soon as October 15th after a school certified to DESE that it had reached the 80% vaccination threshold. 

Masconomet has been in the process of gathering vaccination data for staff and students through the month of September.  Student information is currently being imported from the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS) and is updated on a weekly basis.  District staff have been asked to provide a copy of their immunization card to our Human Resource Department.  The table below shows Masconomet’s vaccination rates as of October 5, 2021.

Masconomet Vaccination Rates as of October 5, 2021

Group Vaccination Rate
MS Students (1)68.74%
HS Students (1)79.14%
All District Staff (2)80.79%
All MASCO76.22%
* – Methodology follows DESE Policy on Vaccination Thresholds dated September 27, 2021. (1) Source: Direct data feed from Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS) (2) Source: Survey of District Employees requesting Proof of Vaccination Status 

Another factor in our ability to allow vaccinated students to attend school without masks is the Boxford Board of Public Health’s Emergency Order Requiring Face Coverings.  I’ve inquired with the Boxford Board of Health as to whether their Order would supersede DESE’s 80% threshold.  On October 4th, I received a letter from Dick Taylor, the Chair of the Boxford Board of Health, informing me that the Board of Health has approved an exemption from the Emergency Order Requiring Face Coverings for Masconomet as long as the following conditions are met: 

  1. That Masco receive written approval from DESE allowing unmasking of vaccinated students and staff. We will require a copy of  that written approval.
  2. That, as made clear in the DESE Communication of 27 September 2021, unvaccinated students and staff shall continue to be required to wear masks.  We will require your confirmation that this will be done and how you will enforce this requirement.

Enforcing the requirement that unvaccinated students continue to wear masks is going to be an issue going forward.  On our October 1st conference call with DESE, superintendents asked DESE for guidance on how we could enforce this requirement without violating student privacy rights by identifying unvaccinated students.  We were told to expect more information from DESE on this as we get closer to October 15th

Congratulations to High School Guidance Counselor Nick Ely

Masconomet High School Guidance Counselor Nick Ely was awarded the 2021 Yale Educator Award.  The Yale Educator Recognition Program recognizes outstanding educators from around the world who have supported and inspired their students to achieve at high levels. Matriculating students to Yale University are invited to nominate high school educators for this award, and a committee composed of Yale admissions officers reviews the nominations individually and designates recipients.  Of this year’s 305 nominees, who represent 38 states and 17 countries, 50 teachers and 21 counselors were selected to receive the award. Mr. Ely was nominated by Justin Crosby of the Class of 2021.  Congratulations, Mr. Ely!

Parent Consent for Test and Stay and Symptomatic Testing Programs

Dear Masconomet Parent/Guardian,

As I begin this update on the status of our testing programs, I need to emphasize that the simplest way to remain in school after any exposure to COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Fully vaccinated individuals who are close contacts of a COVID-19 positive individual are exempt from any quarantine or testing protocols as long as they remain asymptomatic.  Vaccines are widely available in Massachusetts.  Go to https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/ to find a vaccination site near you. 

For the past two weeks, Masconomet has been hosting a shared “Test and Stay” Program with the Tri-Town School Union.  Test and Stay allows unvaccinated students who have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 while at school to stay in school if the unvaccinated student is not showing symptoms. Instead of needing to quarantine and miss school, these unvaccinated students take a daily rapid test while they remain in school as long as they are not symptomatic. Students participate in Test and Stay for at least five days after they may have been exposed.  Our Test and Stay program has allowed 16 Masconomet students to continue to attend school after being identified as close contacts since the program began on September 21st.  

In the next few days, we will be expanding our testing program to include symptomatic testing.  Symptomatic testing is used when any student, vaccinated or unvaccinated, is showing symptoms of COVID-19 during school; students should not come to school if they are feeling sick while at home. Some symptoms of the virus look identical to other illnesses like the cold or flu, and this test tells us whether any symptomatic student has COVID-19 or not. This is a rapid test, and we receive the results of this test within 15 minutes. If a student has minimal symptoms and tests negative, they can remain in school.

Parent consent is required for student participation in both the Test and Stay and Symptomatic Testing programs.  Having prior consent is especially necessary for symptomatic testing as it allows us to test a student without having to wait for a parent to come to school to provide consent.  Our testing provider, CIC Health, has created an online form in order for you to provide your consent for your child to participate in these programs.  The form can be accessed through this link:  https://www.cic-health.com/consent/ma?district=Masconomet

Please note that the consent form asks for consent to participate in all three testing programs offered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, namely “Test and Stay,” “Symptomatic,” and “Routine COVID Safety Checks,” formerly known as “pooled testing.”  At this time, Masconomet is only participating in “Test and Stay” and “Symptomatic Testing.”  If it is determined at a future date that “Routine COVID Safety Checks” are implemented, we will re-send a communication to families to determine who may want to opt-in/opt-out of that specific program.  Said differently, although you are providing consent for all three testing programs when you complete the consent form, we are not doing “Routine COVID Safety Checks” at this time and will reconnect with families to determine their consent for that program if/when it is implemented.

Thank you in advance for providing your consent for your child to participate in our symptomatic and Test and Stay programs.  Participating in these programs will ensure your child misses a minimum amount of learning time if they develop COVID-like symptoms, or are identified as an in-school close contact, and we are continuing to provide the safest environment possible for all students and staff.  If you have any questions about these programs, please review the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s COVID Testing Page for more information.

Sincerely,

Mike Harvey

Superintendent

Testing Program Update, 9/16/21

Dear Masconomet Community, 

As I begin this update on the status of our testing programs, I need to emphasize that the simplest way to remain in school after any exposure to COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Fully vaccinated individuals who are close contacts of a COVID-19 positive individual are exempt from any quarantine or testing protocols as long as they remain asymptomatic.  Vaccines are widely available in Massachusetts.  Go to https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/ to find a vaccination site near you. 

The Masconomet Regional District applied to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s “Test and Stay” and “Symptomatic Testing” Programs on Wednesday, August 11, 2021.  We received notice that we had been accepted to these programs on Thursday, August 12.  The “Test and Stay” Program allows a student or staff member who was a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual in school to continue to attend school as long as they submit to a daily rapid COVID Test, remain asymptomatic and follow additional health and safety protocols while in school.  The “Symptomatic Testing” Program allows any staff member or student who develops COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to take a rapid COVID-19 test to assist in deciding whether the individual should remain in school or be sent home for further evaluation.

DESE has awarded the contract for running all Massachusetts Testing Programs to an outside vendor, CIC Health.  CIC Health is now in the process of hiring the staff necessary to provide the services promised by DESE.    In signing up for the Test and Stay and Symptomatic Testing programs, DESE promised to supply the resources necessary to run the program with minimal support from us.  We would be provided a Program Coordinator as the primary point of contact for the district, the personnel necessary for conducting the onsite testing of students and staff, the necessary materials, including the testing kits, and the necessary training for our staff on any aspect of the program, including the administration of the actual rapid tests and the software for collecting parent permission for testing students.  We applied to participate in these testing programs based on this level of support offered by DESE as we do not have the personnel or the resources in-house to conduct these programs on our own.

As of today, September 16, 2021, we have had minimal response from CIC Health regarding the details of the testing programs we signed up for in August.  This is despite repeated emails and phone calls from Masconomet to both CIC Health and to DESE over the past several weeks.  At 5:00 PM on September 15, I received an email from CIC with the subject “COVID Testing Welcome Email and Program Coordinator Introduction.”  This email contained two email addresses for our Program Coordinators.  This morning, I sent an email to both of the supplied addresses asking for immediate assistance and am waiting for a response.

Once we hear from our Program Coordinators, there are many details that will need to be worked out before we are able to begin our Test and Stay Program.  We will need to collect permission from parents to be able to test students.  We will also need to ensure that CIC has sufficient personnel assigned to us to conduct the daily testing of students and staff at Masconomet that is part of the Test and Stay program, and that we have the necessary supplies and routines in place to conduct this testing.  In order to have all of this in place, I anticipate that it will take several weeks before we are able to implement our testing programs.  

I will provide updates as more information regarding our testing programs becomes available.  I understand and share your frustration that this is not getting done sooner.  We are doing everything in our power to implement this program as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

Mike Harvey

Superintendent

Volunteer Opportunity: Masconomet Regional School Committee

The Masconomet Regional School Committee and the Boxford Select Board are seeking a Boxford resident to fill a recently vacated position on the School Committee.  The selected volunteer will fill this open position until the next general election, which will be held in early May 2022.  

The School Committee is responsible for establishing educational goals and policies for the schools in the district consistent with the requirements of law and statewide goals and standards by MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), reviewing and approving budgets for public education in the district, and selecting and evaluating the Superintendent.   

The appointment will be made by the Boxford Select Board and Boxford Representatives to the Masconomet School Committee.

Interested residents should submit a letter of intent by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, September 21, 2021.  Please send all materials to: Masconomet Regional District Administration Office, 20 Endicott Rd, Boxford, MA 01921, Attn: Carolyn Miller, or by email to Ms. Carolyn Miller at cmiller@masconomet.org

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee, September 1, 2021

Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year!

The Masconomet Regional District officially kicked off the 2021-2022 school year this morning with the return of our faculty to the District.  We began the morning meeting as an entire staff in-person for the first time in two years.  Our morning program included a slideshow of faculty members’ favorite summer pictures, recognition of our faculty who earned Professional Status and Master Teacher Status this year and remarks from the Superintendent.  Our keynote speaker was Dr. Chris Willard, a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in mindfulness practices with students.  Dr. Willard’s talk provided our faculty with some tools for managing their own stress and that of our students.  He also discussed the concept of “post-traumatic growth,” or the growth that individuals can develop after experiencing a traumatic event.

Our 7th and 9th grade students will report to school on Thursday, September 2nd for orientation.  All students will return to school on Wednesday, September 8th.  Information regarding High School bus schedules is available at: https://www.masconomet.org/domain/67  Middle School bus information can be found at:  https://www.masconomet.org/domain/107

Mask Mandate Information

On August 25, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley issued the following guidance to all public K-12 school districts in Massachusetts relative to the wearing of masks in school:

Effective immediately, public school students (age 5 and above) and staff in all grades are required to wear masks indoors in schools, except as noted below. Masks are not required when outdoors. All visitors are also expected to wear a mask in school buildings. 

  • The mask requirement will be in place until at least October 1, 2021. The Commissioner will revisit the requirement in the near future to revise it as warranted by public health data.
  • Students and staff who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, and students who cannot wear a mask for behavioral reasons, are exempted from the requirement.  Documentation will be required in order to substantiate a medical or behavioral exemption.  Families who wish to seek an exemption based on medical reasons should contact their school nurse.  Families who wish to seek an exemption based on behavioral reasons should contact Asst. Superintendent for Student Services Patty Bullard. 
  • There are no other grounds for an exemption from the DESE mandate.  Students who arrive at school without a mask will be offered a disposable mask to wear.  Continued refusal to wear a mask may lead to discipline as per the school’s Student Handbook.
  • The mask requirement applies when students and staff are indoors at school, except when eating, drinking, or during mask breaks.
  • Mask breaks will be scheduled for students in both the Middle and High Schools.
  • Masks may also be removed indoors when necessary to participate in elective classes, such as the use of wind instruments in band. When traditional masks cannot be worn, districts should consider additional mitigations, such as the use of instrument masks (masks with a slit or hole cut for the mouthpiece) or bell covers, along with physical distancing or outdoor classes as feasible.
  • Masks are required for any sports-related activity for student-athletes and coaches when indoors, in alignment with guidance provided by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).
  • Masks should be provided by the student/family. Disposable masks will be made available for students who need them.
  • By federal public health order, all students and staff are required to wear a mask on school buses.

Commissioner Riley has stated that the mask mandate will be in effect at least through October 1, 2021.  At that time the Commissioner will decide as to whether the mandate will be continued based on public health conditions.  If the public health conditions support relaxing the mask mandate, the Commissioner has stated that schools where over 80% of both staff and students are fully vaccinated would no longer be subject to the mask requirement.  Anyone who is 12 or older is currently eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.  Vaccines are the best way to protect against yourself, your family and the community from COVID-19.  Becoming vaccinated also provides students and staff with the benefit of not having to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual as long as they remain symptom-free.  Vaccines are free for anyone who lives in Massachusetts.  For information about vaccine appointments, please go to https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/ 

COVID-19 Protocols

Masconomet’s Protocols for COVID-19 can be found at:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pbeM2sQ2a8HcaDVkIpGmDQD-V1uo2Ild/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=105645892378663609837&rtpof=true&sd=true  This document will be updated as we receive new information from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Test and Stay Program

Masconomet has been accepted into the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s “Test and Stay” program for the 2021-2022 school year.  We are now waiting to be assigned a Program Coordinator from CIC Health, the company chosen by DESE to run this initiative.  Once it is up and running, this program will allow unvaccinated students and staff to avoid having to quarantine if they are a close contact of a COVID-19 individual as long as they remain asymptomatic and submit to daily COVID Testing for at least five days.  CIC Health will be responsible for collecting permission from students and staff who are willing to opt into this program and will be conducting the testing onsite at Masconomet.  This program will not be running for the opening of school next week.  We will send out more information on participation when we receive it from CIC Health and DESE.

Drama Class Changes

Ms. Rachel Furgiuele, our Drama Teacher, resigned her position at Masconomet over the summer.  We have attempted to hire a licensed educator to fill the position, but have not been able to secure an individual who can commit to the position.  Middle School students who elected Acting & Stage Craft in grade 7 will be enrolled into the Chorus class that meets during the same period.  We’ve reassigned a current teacher to teach the Middle School Public Speaking course.  High School Students who had signed up for Drama classes will be rescheduled into other courses or study.  We will continue to advertise for an educator for this position.

Congratulations to Ursina Amsler

Middle School Art Teacher Ursina Amsler has been named the Massachusetts Art Education Association Middle Level Art Educator of the Year Award for 2022.  Congratulations to Ms. Amsler for this well-deserved recognition of the great work you do every day with our students.

Masconomet Opening Update, August 25, 2021

Dear Friends,

On August 24th, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved the request of Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeff Riley to grant him the authority to issue a state-wide indoor mask mandate for all staff, students and visitors in all K-12 schools in Massachusetts.  I expect that the Commissioner will issue this mandate in the next few days, and that the mandate will be accompanied with instructions for schools to implement it.  When the Commissioner issues this mandate, all schools in Massachusetts, including Masconomet, will be required to follow it.  The BESE vote also granted the Commissioner the authority to remove the mandate for middle and high schools that have reached 80% vaccination rate for staff and students as soon as October 1st.  I will be sharing more information around expectations for wearing masks in our schools as soon as we receive more guidance from DESE. 

As part of its COVID mitigation plan, DESE has also announced that it will continue and expand on its COVID testing programs for this year.  For the 2021-2022 school year, Masconomet has applied for and been accepted into two of these state testing programs:  “Symptomatic Testing” and “Test and Stay.”  In “Symptomatic Testing,” students or staff who develop COVID-related symptoms while in school will be given a Binax-NOW rapid antigen test to determine whether they may safely remain on site or need further diagnostic testing to confirm if they have COVID.  In “Test and Stay,” unvaccinated students and staff who are identified as close contacts of a COVID-positive individual and are not exhibiting COVID symptoms will be tested in school for up to seven days after exposure using the Binax-NOW rapid antigen test.  These students and staff will be allowed to continue to attend school as long as they test negative and do not exhibit COVID symptoms.  I will be forwarding more details about these programs, including the forms for collecting consent to participate, as we receive it from DESE.  For more information on the DESE’s COVID testing programs please go to https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/testing/

Finally, I cannot emphasize more the importance of getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19.  Being vaccinated will provide our students with the fewest number of COVID-related restrictions in school.  Vaccinated students who remain asymptomatic are exempt from quarantining or testing if they are identified as close contacts of a COVID-positive individual.  Reaching an 80% vaccination rate for students and staff will also allow us to relax the mask requirement as soon as October 1st.  The most recent Update from the Boxford Board of Health shows that we’re very close to meeting this 80% target at both Masconomet High School and Masconomet Middle School, but still have some way to go.  “As of August 17, in Boxford, 77% ages 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated and 92% of ages 16-19, In Topsfield, 71% of 12 to 15 and 96% of 16 to 19 years. In Middleton, 56% of 12-15 years and 72% of 16-19 years.”  Vaccinations for anyone age 12 and over are free and are readily available.  To book an appointment, please go to https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/

I’m looking forward to the return of all students to Masconomet on September 8th!

Sincerely,

Mike Harvey

Superintendent

Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 2021-2022 school year.  We will begin the school year full-time, in-person for all students.  We will welcome our 7th and 9th grade students for orientation on Thursday, September 2nd.  All students will begin classes on Wednesday, September 8th.  Our Middle and High School Administration will be contacting you later this month with specifics regarding our orientation programs and opening of school.

On July 31st, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeff Riley provided Massachusetts School Districts with guidance relative to opening schools for the 2021-2022 school year.  This guidance was developed in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).  After reviewing the DESE and DPH-issued guidance with our local public health officials from Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield, the Masconomet Regional District will be following these procedures to begin the new year:

  • Unvaccinated staff, unvaccinated students, and unvaccinated visitors are strongly recommended to wear masks indoors, in alignment with the statewide advisory on masking.  We will have masks available for those who need them.
  • Fully vaccinated students and staff may be unmasked while indoors.
  • Any staff member or student who prefers to wear a mask in school will be supported in this choice.  
  • Any individual at higher risk for severe disease from COVID or with a household member who is at high risk is encouraged to mask regardless of vaccination status consistent with the updated DPH Advisory on Face Coverings and Masks.
  • By federal public health order, all students and staff are required to wear masks on school buses at this time.  We will have masks available for students who ride the bus and do not have a mask of their own to wear.
  • All staff and students must wear masks while in school health offices.

We will also follow forthcoming guidance from DESE and DPH regarding contact tracing and quarantining for close contacts.  We expect that this guidance will allow those who have been fully vaccinated to be exempt from needing to quarantine if they are a close contact.  We will also continue our mitigation strategies around ventilation, hand hygiene, and requiring individuals to stay home when they are not feeling well.

Please remember that all of these guidelines regarding masking, close contacts and quarantine are subject to change based on any new guidance issued by DESE and DPH.  We will continue to regularly meet with our local public health officials from Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield to review any new guidance from DESE and DPH, evaluate our local conditions, and make changes to our procedures as warranted. 

Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Masconomet Regional School District has been committed to ensuring the health and safety of all of its students and faculty.  In order allow us to continue to provide the safest environment possible, I encourage all eligible adults and students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  There are over 900 vaccinations sites across the state and the vaccine is free for everyone.  For more information on the vaccine, including the locations of vaccine sites, please go to: www.mass.gov/covidvaccine.

Take care and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Sincerely,

Mike Harvey

Superintendent

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee, June 23, 2021

Summer Programming

While the 2020-2021 school year is winding down, we are getting ready to start our summer programming.  Our Credit Recovery Summer School Program will be open to students who need to replace credits lost due to academic performance.  This program will be offered remotely this year.  Guidance staff will be in contact with students who meet the eligibility criteria for the Credit Recovery Program.  Our Extended School Year (ESY) Program will also be in place for students whose IEPs require summer tutoring or more extensive programming.  The ESY programs will be in-person, four days per week for 6 weeks.

Asst. Superintendent for Student Services Patty Bullard and Mathematics Department Head Denise Tenanty have submitted a grant proposal to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education under the Summer Acceleration Academy Grant Program for a Mathematics Acceleration Academy.  Unfortunately, the grant does not provide for an English Language Arts component at the middle and high school levels.  Per the DESE, Masconomet is eligible for a total of $29,500 in funding.  The program will serve a total of 48 students, composed of rising 8th grade and rising 10th grade students.  Our plan is to run this Acceleration Academy during the first two weeks in August.  There will be two one-week sessions for groups of 12 students per session.  Students will be invited to attend based on pre-determined criteria. 

Acceleration Roadmap Documents

In early June, DESE released the “Acceleration Roadmap” documents.  These documents are a planning template for school districts as they approach the 2021-2022 school year.  The documents are built on the philosophy of “acceleration,” where “all students receive access to grade-level work with targeted scaffolds to make it accessible.”  This approach is in contrast to “remediation,” where “students mainly receive work better suited for earlier grades, based on the misconception that they must master all past concepts before accessing grade-level work.” (Acceleration Roadmap, p. 5).  The Acceleration Roadmap provides three priorities for schools as they implement this plan: 

  1. Fostering a sense of belonging and partnership among students and families.
  2. Continuously monitoring students’ understanding.
  3. Ensuring strong grade-appropriate instruction with just-in-time scaffolds when they are needed. (Acceleration Roadmap, p. 6)

Our Department Heads have been working to develop a District plan that follows the “Acceleration Roadmap.”  Department and Professional Learning Team meetings have been dedicated to sharing information between grade-level teams regarding the standards that were taught during the past school year.  We also held a meeting with our Department Heads, seventh grade teachers and curriculum personnel from the Tri-Town Union to discuss the curriculum that was taught to our incoming seventh graders. 

Using the Acceleration Roadmap as a guide, we’ve developed draft District Goals for next year, and have been developing activities to meet these goals.  For example, we’re developing programming on building relationships among students and families, including programming for faculty on mindfulness in the classroom, and Project Adventure activities for Middle School students.  Our Department Heads conducted a survey of the faculty regarding their levels of comfort with looking at student work, and using the scaffolding techniques that are necessary for accelerated instruction.  We’ve also committed to have approximately 25 faculty members work 700 hours over the summer to update our curriculum, and develop assessments and lesson plans.  The funds for this curriculum work are part of our general operating budget. 

Happy Summer!

Finally, I’d like to wish everyone a happy, safe and healthy summer! Enjoy the well-deserved rest. Our seventh and ninth grade orientations will be held on September 2nd and all students will return to classes on Wednesday, September 8th. See you in September!

Congratulations to Masconomet’s 2021 Retirees

As we come to the conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year, I would like to recognize five members of our faculty who are retiring this month. Congratulations to all of our retirees and best wished as they enter this next phase of their lives.

Peter Delani

After 29 years in the Masconomet Regional School District, Pete Delani is retiring.  Pete first worked in business for two years after graduating from UMASS-Amherst.  He then left the business world to go to UMASS-Boston for his Master’s Degree in Education and complete his student teaching at Wakefield High School.  He then worked for two years at Newmarket Junior/Senior High School as a Middle School Social Studies Teacher.  In the 1992-1993 school year, his first year at Masco, Pete taught Social Studies and was an Assistant Football and JV Baseball Coach.  In his second year, he was promoted to Varsity Baseball Coach, a position he held until 2006.  In 1998, Pete was appointed to the role of “High School Dean of Students,” a half-time role that he split with his social studies teaching position.  He also was nominated for the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Award in 1999.  In May of 2000, Pete was appointed as a full-time high school assistant principal.  He held this position for seven years until he was appointed to the position of Interim High School Principal in May of 2017.  One year later, Pete was appointed to the position and has served with distinction as our High School Principal for the past three years.

In his 1993 Masconomet Application’s Personal Statement, Pete wrote:  “I operate on the basic belief that life is meant to be enjoyed to its fullest and we as people need to seek and create challenges for ourselves and those around us.  I bring that belief and what I consider a dynamic approach to my classroom teaching.”  For the past 31 years, Pete has lived these words through challenging himself, his colleagues and his students to live life to the fullest and to challenge themselves to be better. 

Maripaul McGinn

Maripaul McGinn is retiring after ten years of service (four years as contracted service provider) as the Speech and Language Pathologist for the Masconomet Regional School District.  Prior to working at Masconomet, Maripaul worked as a Speech and Language Pathologist in several capacities, including in her own consulting company, the Northshore Education Consortium, Northeast ARC-Early Intervention Program, Waltham-Weston Hospital, Northshore Children’s Hospital and the Lawrence Public Schools.  Maripaul is passionate about her work and brought her knowledge and training of the Social Thinking Curriculum based upon Michelle Garcia Winner’s work to Masco. Thank you Maripaul, we wish you all the best as you retire.   

Christina Stohl

Christina Stohl’s career at Masconomet began in September of 2010, when she joined the High School as a Special Education Program Coordinator.  Prior to coming to Masconomet, Christina worked for 8 years as a Special Education Teacher in the Lynn Public Schools.  Christina brought her knowledge and skill in Mathematics to Special Education. Over the years she co-taught in several math classes. Christina also created curriculum for a new course, Topics in Algebra, her Master Teacher Project. This course provided students with a modified Algebra course that was skills based. Thank you, Christina, for your hard work and dedication to our students at Masconomet.

Denise Tenanty

Denise Tenanty was hired as the Mathematics Department Chairperson at Masconomet in September of 1989.  Prior to coming to Masconomet, Denise was a Mathematics Teacher at Saint Mary’s High School in Brookline, Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Brighton, Don Bosco Technical High School in Boston, and Silver Lake Regional High School in Pembroke.  In all Denise has been a teacher for 40 years, 31 of them at Masconomet.  In her time at Masconomet, Denise dedicated herself to ensuring the students of Masconomet has the best mathematics education possible.  She is known for her tireless dedication to her department and the District.  She demonstrated an incredible capacity for working long hours, and was always willing to step in and take on an extra class when the need arose.  Denise’s impact on Masconomet will be felt long after her retirement. Thank you, Denise. We wish you the best in your retirement.

Elizabeth Thomas

Elizabeth Thomas is retiring after 9 years with the Masconomet Regional School District.  Betty was hired as a Tutor in the High School Special Education Department in September of 2012.  Before coming to Masconomet, Betty worked as both a Paraprofessional and a Teacher in the Alternative Program at Browne Middle School in Chelsea.  She also worked in the financial services and banking industry for 21 years. Betty loved working with our students and supporting them in any way she could and they  loved her.  She particularly enjoyed having lunch with her colleagues. Betty, we wish you well and thank you for caring so much for your students.

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee, June 9, 2021

Updates to COVID Guidance from DESE

On May 27th, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released “Updates to DESE COVID-19 Guidance.”  In this document, DESE outlines that although many of the health and safety protocols for the general public ended on May 29th and that the State of Emergency in Massachusetts will end on June 15th, schools will be required to maintain their core mitigation strategies, including wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing through the end of the school year.  The one exception to this is that individuals are not required to wear masks while they are outside.  This document also states that schools should prepare for a return to full time, in-person learning in September with no health and safety requirements in place.  This includes physical distancing.  Districts will not be able to offer remote learning as an option for students to participate in school beginning in September.

Panorama Survey

On Monday, June 14th Masconomet Middle and High Schools will be administering the Panorama survey to all students in grades 7-11 during WIN Block.  This survey is designed to measure students’ perceptions of their strengths relative to four social-emotional domains:  “Self-Management,” “Self-Awareness,” “Growth Mindset, and “Self-Efficacy.”  Results will be reported on a grade-by-grade basis and will be used by administration and faculty to develop and implement programming to address identified areas of need in the four social-emotional domains.  This survey was originally administered to students in grades 7-11 in the spring of 2019.  Students in the Tri-Town Union’s elementary schools will also take a similar survey in their own schools this month.  If parents have questions regarding the survey, they should contact their building principal. 

Congratulations to the Class of 2021

I’d like to offer my congratulations to the Class of 2021 and my thanks to High School Principal Pete Delani, Assistant Principals Katie DiNardo and Alyssa Schatzel, HS Office Staff Ann Curley, Cathie Daly, and Marcia Kilgallen, Senior Class Advisor Paul Massicotte, Music Department Head Randy O’Keefe, and Assistant Superintendent Jeff Sands and our Information Technology and Facilities Teams for their work in making the Commencement Ceremony a great success.

8th Grade Move-Up Day

Earlier this week, we announced that we have arranged for the tent on the football field to remain in place through June 21st.  This will allow us to hold our 8th Grade “Move Up” Celebration under the tent.  It will also allow us to accommodate three in-person guests per student for this event.  Thanks to Asst. Superintendent Jeff Sands and Middle School Principal Phil McManus for your work in making this happen.  Dr. McManus will be in touch with families with additional details later this week.

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Masconomet on June 23rd from 3:00 to 6:00 PM

Masconomet Regional School District has partnered with Curative to provide a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for staff and students 12 and older to be offered at Masconomet High School.  Curative is a national biotech company that provides vaccination and testing in Massachusetts and across the nation.  Locally, Curative runs the Danvers Doubletree Vaccination site.   The Pfizer vaccine will be administered to all registered participants.  The Pfizer vaccine is approved for emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA for individuals 12 and older.  Please follow this Link to complete your Curative patient registration. Completing the registration will enter the patient into the system for both first and second dose appointments. Please go to https://mascosuper.school.blog/2021/06/02/covid-19-vaccination-clinic-at-masco-june-23-2021-300-pm-to-600-pm/ for more information.

Thanks to Middleton Town Meeting

On Saturday, June 5th, Middleton Town Meeting approved both the Masconomet Regional District Budget and the Warrant Articles regarding our proposed Amendments to the Masconomet Regional Agreement.  Thanks to the voters of Middleton for their support!

Tiered-Focused Monitoring Report

I’m pleased to announce that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has completed its audit of our Special Education and civil rights programs and found that we are in compliance in all areas they audited and no corrective action is required at this time.  Thanks to Patty Bullard and the Student Services Department for their work in preparing for this audit.