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Superintendent Email Update: June 8

DPS Coronavirus Update

Monday, June 8, 2020

11:15 PM


Hi Folks,


We are in the home stretch of the remote learning school year, and these last two weeks will be filled with end of year occasions and preparations for transition.  Congratulations to the Class of 2020 on their vehicle diploma ceremony on Saturday!  The unique event, and the town sponsored “rolling rally” in the late afternoon were a huge success.  Thank you to Principal Jim Forrest and all the faculty and staff at Dedham High School for coming out and supporting the graduates and their families through this carefully choreographed ceremony.  And special thanks are also due to the many parents and community members for their exhaustive planning, and other school faculty and staff for coming out to salute the seniors on their parade through town later on Saturday afternoon.  These were very special events that they will never forget!  If you are interested in seeing pictures of the ceremony and/or video of speeches and the actual awarding of diplomas, please visit our Graduation 2020 website and the Dedham TV website.  Also, Governor Charlie Baker, in partnership with WGBH, will deliver a commencement address to the Class of 2020 as part of a celebration for graduating seniors that will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9. In addition to the Governor’s remarks, the event will feature a speech by students, congratulatory messages from local celebrities, and a performance by members of the Boston Pops Orchestra.  The Governor’s message can be viewed on WGBH Channel 2.


As the nation continues to process the long overdue impact of systemic racism on the experience of our citizens of color across the nation, I am encouraged by the hundreds of thousands of people across the country who are mobilizing to have their voices heard.  Our principals have organized opportunities to discuss their feelings with a number of virtual meetings this week, and I look forward to joining them with our parents and students.  Please refer to your school electronic newsletters for information on how to join these meetups.


I was also forwarded a truly remarkable statement from Dedham Human Rights Chairperson Joe Borsellino.  The collective statement from the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (the highest court in Massachusetts) through Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and all the other justices addressing racial disparity.  Please take a moment to read this message and appreciate the collective unifying message conveyed by these justices.  It is a powerful statement.


Through Dedham’s connections with the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, we recently learned of a great opportunity for students to learn how to manage stress during this challenging pandemic.  This self-guided course was developed by Dr. Jennifer Greif Green at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development and is designed for middle and high school students. The course, called Stress and COVID-19: A Course For Teens In School, is freely available to school districts.  This interactive course provides a series of tips and coping strategies on topics related to technology use, relaxation, sleep, establishing routines, and exercise.  Dedham’s Directors of Counseling (Dr. Ashley Dube), Wellness/PE (Mark Carney), and Health Services (Gail Kelley) have previewed these materials and determined they are excellent resources for our Gr. 6-12 students.  


At the conclusion of the online course, students will be invited to participate in a brief (approximately 10 minute) research study that Dr. Green is conducting to better understand teen stress and social connections. This parent letter provides information about Dr. Green’s research study.  Participation in this survey is voluntary.


Do you, or does someone in your family, play a band instrument?  I learned that the Dedham School of Music's Community Band Director, Jenn Allen Zevos, is producing a virtual performance of "Stars and Stripes Forever" in preparation to release on the 4th of July, and they want members of the community to help out!  Sheet music is linked right here!  Video submissions are due by June 22nd to  Online rehearsals are via Zoom (link = on Thursday, June 11 and June 18 at these times:

7:00-7:30 woodwinds

7:30-8:00 brass 

8:00-8:30 percussion


Last night, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released preliminary guidelines for school districts regarding the possibility of limited in-person special education services during the summer.  This guidance supplements the Initial Summer School Re-Opening Guidance provided last Thursday.  As a district, we are working to interpret this most recent information to determine how and if we can comply with these regulations.  At this time, we are planning to provide extended school year special education services in a remote learning format while we sort out what is possible in a limited fashion through other means.  I will keep you posted as we work through these complicated regulations. 


All my best,


Mike Welch