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Superintendent Email Update: June 15

DPS Coronavirus Update

Monday, June 15, 2020

10:30 PM


Hi Folks,


And so we have reached the last week of this incredibly challenging academic year.  Our final day of formal schooling will be Friday, June 19.  I know that many of you are in need of this break, and I think we all need some time to unplug and recover from what has been an unexpectedly stressful and undesired three months.  I am happy to know that there will be events scheduled this week to recognize student efforts for their years of hard work at each level of their schooling.


I am also aware that this Friday, June 19 is also a prominent day in the history of our country, and is the anniversary of an event that many of us may not have learned about during our days of schooling.  June 19th is known as “Juneteenth”, which commemorates the date in 1865 when union soldiers under the command of General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and all those enslaved were now free.  This is a day that has previously been recognized as one for great celebrations and remembrances of this historic day, and another opportunity for all of us to learn a bit more about its significance.  The Juneteenth website goes on to explain that “...this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.”  Please take a moment to visit the website and learn a bit more about this remarkable piece of our nation’s history.


I was on an afternoon video conference last Friday, June 12 with DESE Commissioner Jeff Riley discussing upcoming guidance from the department regarding plans for the opening of school in the fall.  He again reiterated the intent to release DRAFT guidance this week for school districts across the state, and I will relay this information as soon as it becomes available.  After we review this information, we will put together a committee of educators, parents, and district administrators to review this guidance and begin putting together our plan for what school will look like in Dedham this fall.  The Commissioner also said there will be FINAL guidance for schools’ fall reopening released on or about the last week in July.  I will keep everyone posted.


Please take a moment to review the fantastic work done by our Fine Arts educators to put together a Virtual Art Show of student work.  SO MANY of our students from Grades K-12 have their work featured in these presentations, and you will be very impressed by their efforts.  Congratulations to all students who have their work recognized, and thank you to our Fine Arts Department educators for putting so much time into assembling these presentations for all of the district to see.  Well done!


As we begin to think about our summer learning, I am also pleased to reveal our district’s summer learning website under the oversight of our Office of Curriculum and Instruction.  The link is accessible to families on the DPS website in the "Students" dropdown menu. The site contains, by gradespan, all of the district's summer work documents and resources.  In addition to this resource, I want to highlight a wonderful resource created by our district’s school librarians called the DPS Black Lives Matter Bookshelf.  This site will also be posted on the Summer Work website.  There are excellent student resources here organized by grade level.


Today I learned that at his press conference this afternoon, Governor Charlie Baker announced a two-day ‘pop up’ COVID-19 testing initiative—this Wednesday-Thursday—for anyone who has attended a recent large gathering.  The new website went live at noon. It contains details including locations for testing.


I also learned today that The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) announced the members of a MIAA COVID-19 Task Force Sub-Committee.  Their press release states that “Under the leadership of MIAA President Jeffrey Granatino, Task Force members were appointed to determine appropriate measures for a safe return to MIAA athletics in alignment with guidelines set forth by Governor Baker, MA Department of Health (DPH) and MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).”  If you are interested in more information about how sports might happen this fall, you can continue to visit the MIAA COVID-19 Task Force webpage on the MIAA Website HERE.  


As mentioned last week, just another reminder that as we begin to prepare for the transition to summer, our “Grab and Go” meals program will continue after the last day of school (Friday, 6-19).  Beginning next week,  distribution days will be adjusted to Tuesdays and Thursdays only each week.  This will be easier for our food service workers and distribution volunteers, and hopefully more convenient for patrons also.  


All my best,


Mike Welch