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District Email Update: May 16, 2021

DPS District Update

May 16, 2021

 

Hi Folks,

It has certainly been a whirlwind of a school year and it is quickly coming to an end with only 25 school days left before summer break!    I cannot stress enough how proud we should be as a District for the patience, flexibility and relentless dedication of our staff, students and families as we managed this year.  A reminder that our last day of school for students PreK–11 will be on Monday, June 21st with a half-day of school for all students.

There are a lot of updates and details to share below.  These last five weeks will be loaded with MCAS testing, transitions, and celebrations in our schools.  I know you will be receiving information directly from your respective schools, and as always, you can find more information on any of these updates by visiting the Dedham Public Schools website at www.dedham.k12.ma.us

 

Year End Celebrations

Year-end celebrations, moving-up ceremonies, field trips and events are filling the calendars.  All DPS events will be planned in accordance with State, local and DESE guidelines keeping COVID safety in mind.   Event dates and planning are being coordinated across the District to do our best to avoid conflicts between schools, as well as to best manage space and distancing requirements.   School principals will be sharing details directly with their schools as events are finalized.  

 

Celebrating the DHS Class of 2021

This year has presented a challenging series of public health recommendations and guidance documents for schools.  This guidance continues to change each day and week, and we want to make sure we can safely and proudly recognize our DHS Class of 2021 students as they graduate this spring.  Dedham High School will be holding a traditional, outdoor graduation ceremony on June 5th at 11:00am on Memorial Field.  Families will be invited to join the event, as guidelines at this time will allow us to accommodate up to 6 guests per family.  Seniors will also be able to enjoy many Dedham traditions again this year, including the Senior Clap Out on May 24th, as well as a Class Night on June 1st, limited to students only, but live-streamed to families.   Additional information on all senior class events and guidelines can be found on the DHS webpage.

 

Summer Programming & Learning

Principals, educators and counselors have been actively working to evaluate and identify students facing significant learning gaps and the District is working on plans to help address these gaps for interested students and families over the summer break.  We have been meeting with community summer camp providers to see if we can complement their offerings as opposed to conflicting with what is currently available for students.  All traditional Dedham Public Schools summer programs (Avery Institute, Special Education Extended School Year (ESY), English Learner and TItle 1 programs) will continue to be available.  Details for additional partnerships with community providers are still in discussions and development, but if you have significant concerns about your child’s learning and have not yet spoken to their classroom teacher or administrator, please reach out.   Identified students and families will be surveyed this week to better understand how to match needs with programming.  We want to ensure that all our Dedham students are able to successfully start the 2021-2022 school year with confidence in the Fall.

T.R.E.K – the summer program designed for students entering DMS as 6th graders in the Fall, will run this year from June 23rd – July 9th.  Information about the TREK program can be found here.  Deadline for registration is June 1, 2021. 

 

Ongoing COVID-19 Updates:  Vaccines, Testing & Quarantine Reminders

Last week, the FDA and the CDC granted emergency use of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12-15 years of age. Now anyone 12 years of age and older who lives, works, or goes to school in Massachusetts is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, people under age 18 can only be given the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine which is a safe and effective vaccine given in two doses at least 21 days apart.

 

Appointments to get the Pfizer vaccine are available for anyone 12 years of age and older.  You can use VaxFinder.mass.gov to search for appointments at pharmacies, health care providers, and other locations in our community.  When your children are vaccinated, we are asking parents to provide vaccination record updates to the school nurse as soon as possible.  This can be done via email or through the SNAP portal, all accessible via our Health Services webpage : www.dedham.k12.ma.us/healthoffice

While COVID cases continue to trend downward in Massachusetts and in Dedham, I need to stress that the virus is still present in our community and we continue to require mask wearing, hand washing/sanitizing and social distancing for all members of our school community when on school grounds.  Dedham continues to run COVID Pooled Testing for students and faculty/staff in all of our schools each week.  If a student is not currently participating in testing, they can still be registered to join.  We recognize that with changing quarantine guidelines, there are many misconceptions regarding what will happen when positive pools are identified, so I encourage you to read this latest update from our Pooled Testing program, which addresses these questions.  Program details, FAQs, links and more can be found on our District COVID webpage.

 

Thanks to Our Elementary PTOs for Dedham Cultural Week

Last week all of our Elementary families were invited to celebrate the incredible diversity of cultures across our District, with a Virtual Cultural Celebration Week coordinated by our Elementary PTOs.   The weeklong series of events included cultural performances, a Town-Wide Cultural Stories Flip Grid  (Password : Dedham-Cultures), a Town-Wide Cultural Celebration Cookbook and a Flag Scavenger hunt for families!  A huge thank you to all of the parents and volunteers who made the week-long celebration possible!

 

DPS Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Update

On Monday, May 17th Dedham Town meeting members will review and approve the Town budget, which includes our school budget for FY2022.  The DPS FY22 Budget Book, which provides detail into the school operating budget and spending allocations for the coming year, can now be accessed on our main District website

 

 

Dedham Fine Arts Events

Dedham students will be showcasing their Fine Arts talents at the end of this year in a variety of virtual events.   A full summary of event details can be found here, and we encourage families to check them out!   

The Dedham Performing Arts Company will be hosting a COFFEEHOUSE performance on Dedham TV or live online on Tuesday the 25th at 7PM.  The COFFEEHOUSE will feature student performances, as well as a performance from the Dedham Faculty Band featuring Ms. Yankee, Ms. Whittemore, Mr. Iozzo, Mr. Nilsen, Mr. Bergman, and Mr. Wurman.

DPS will once again this year host a Virtual Art Show in June, featuring art pieces from students all across the district in grades PK-12!  Links to the show will be featured on all school webpages.

 

Dedham School Committee Updates

Dedham Public Schools welcomes our newest two Dedham School Committee members, Cailin McCormick and Christopher Polito.  They were officially sworn in on April 28th, and we look forward to working with them in the coming years.    We also want to thank outgoing School Committee members Steven Bilafer and Lisa Laprade for their many years of service and efforts in support of our District, staff and students.       

 

School committee meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of every month, starting at 7:00pm. At each meeting, I provide an overview of the latest District news and efforts underway as a Superintendent Update for the committee. The latest update and an archive of past updates are available on our District Website at www.dedham.k12.ma.us/SuperintendentUpdates

 

DMS Students Making an Impact

Kudos and thanks to science teacher Sean Bowles and his three DMS science classes who collected dozens of bags of litter from around Memorial and Gonzales Field.   The students took action as part of their study of how civilization and humans impacted the planet, following a discussion on ways in which humans can start small and make choices throughout the day that will lessen our planetary impact.   

 

 

I will continue to provide additional information over the next few weeks.  Thank you for your continued support of the Dedham Public Schools.

 

All my best,

 

Mike Welch