Earlier this week (on Monday, 3/23/20) I shared that Milestones will be offering students additional resource opportunities in light of our extended temporary school closure. Our team is delighted to share these further plans with you, and there are seven informative attachments to this memo. Please note that Milestones has also created a link on the homepage of our website that includes all of our school-wide notifications regarding COVID-19 for your ongoing reference.
1. Additional Resources for Continued Learning: Please see the attached letter from Kirsten Esposito Balboni (Principal) and Gillian Warwick (Special Education Administrator) entitled “COVID-19 Parent Letter: 3/25/20” that describes our most up to date increased opportunities and next steps for continued learning. Our faculty is very enthusiastic and eager to implement these initiatives. Our official rollout is Friday of this week (3/27/20) to give families a chance to digest this new information, but our faculty will be available starting tomorrow if there are students who are available for an early jump start. Tonight all parents will receive a separate communication from your case manager that will include an individual schedule for your student. Your case manager will be your point of contact to elaborate further on the offerings that are available for your student and to answer any related questions. In addition, we very much understand that parents/guardians are balancing a variety of work, school, and family related commitments at this time so you are encouraged to embrace these opportunities to the extent that the work best for your family.
2. “Expected Behavior” for Students’ Offsite Participation: At Milestones, our students are encouraged on a daily basis to follow their core values of: Safety, Respect and Responsibility. Our faculty will be reminding students to follow “expected” behavior when they are participating in online learning activities. It will be helpful if parents/guardians also preview and reinforce these positive expectations with your students. These expectations are included in the attachment “MDS Virtual Expectations.”
3. Technical Support for Offsite Learning: We recognize that parents/guardians may benefit from technical support with our online resources. We have attached two instructional documents entitled: “Letter from the Technology Committee: 3/25/20” and “Google Hangouts Tech 2020.” If parents would benefit from speaking to one of our staff members for trouble-shooting, we have included a contact list of Milestones faculty who are available to provide you live support.
4. Clinical and Behavioral Supports for Students Surrounding COVID-19: We have attached three resources that may be beneficial for helping students cope with the challenges and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. For talking with your student about COVID-19, our therapists have developed a “Social Story for COVID-19” and assembled a list of resources for “How To Talk To Your Child About COVID-19.” However, during this unforeseen time, we want to be prepared if some families need additional crisis level help. If students exhibit heightened behavioral or mental health challenges we have attached a: “Behavioral Crisis Resource” that can be used as a reference guide for identifying resources in your community that can offer a high level of support.
5. Media Update: As I have mentioned previously, guidance surrounding COVID-19 is changing very rapidly. This evening on tonight’s news Governor Baker and Commissioner Riley announced that Massachusetts schools will be extending their closure beyond April 7th. The sequence of this announcement is very unexpected because school leaders had not yet been provided this information. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has called a meeting for tomorrow with all school leaders from both public and private schools, and maaps has called a meeting for all private therapeutic day and residential schools on Friday afternoon. Our executive team at Milestones is scheduled to participate in both of these meetings, so I will update all of our staff and families with the information we receive by Friday evening.
Thank you, as always, for reviewing our information, and our case managers will look forward to being in touch with you this evening with your student’s individual schedules.