Back to School Night Details, COVID Protocol Guidance, Family Letter from DESE, Speaker Series, and Nut-Free School Meals

September 25, 2020

Dear Families,

As an end of the week update, we are providing details regarding Back to School Night and resources from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). We are also inviting families to an upcoming virtual speaker series presentation and offering a helpful clarification regarding our cafeteria options.

*1) Virtual **Back To School Night Details:* We look forward to meeting with parents/guardians at our virtual Back to School Night on Thursday evening (October 1st) from 6:00-7:30pm. Please see the attached letter (BTSN 2020 Letter) from our school principal that includes instructions and login information for joining our virtual meetings.

*2) Nut-Free Ingredients in School Lunch Menu Selections:* We received an inquiry regarding whether school lunch options that are offered by our building’s cafeteria (Rita’s) contain nuts. We have confirmed that there are no nut ingredients in our “school lunch” menu options, as Milestones is a nut conscious school. The cafeteria does, however, sell separate individual a-la-carte items, which are not part of our “school lunch” selections that could contain nut ingredients (ex: granola bars, nutrition bars etc).

3) Virtual Speaker Series Presentation led by Adam Glick (LICSW) on Wednesday, October 21st (12:30-2:30pm): Milestones is delighted to host a free virtual speaker series presentation on the topic: *”Understanding Gender Identity: Working Effectively with Transgender and Non-Binary Clients.” * This presentation is open to Milestones’ parents/guardians as well as members of the community, and the attached speaker series flyer (Speaker Series Fall 2020) provides a detailed description. *To register, please email: **RSVP.Events@advancingmilestones.com

4) Special Education Family Letter from DESE: This week DESE circulated a “Back to School” letter to both public and private schools to share with families who have students who receive special education services. Attached is this notification (Back-To-School-Letter) for your review. Please note that although the letter is dated as 9/3/20, DESE confirmed to special education school leaders today that they intend to revise the date of the letter on their website to avoid any confusion because it was distributed to schools for the first time this week.

*5) Supplemental Guidance from DESE Regarding COVID Response Protocols and Schools’ Decision Making:* The Milestones community is continuing to do an excellent job following our health and safety requirements regarding onsite instruction and communicating with our school nurse anytime staff or families have health-related questions or updates. Thank you for your diligence, responsibility, and ongoing partnership. Attached is an updated COVID response guideline document (DESE Protocols 9/14/20) that has been issued to schools this month by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which will be used by schools as a helpful decision making and communication tool. This guidance serves as a supplemental summary to the protocols that have been previously issued to schools in preparation for our fall reopening, which Milestones has also shared with our faculty and families. Key take-aways for families and staff continue to include:

  • Milestones’ COVID response team leader is our School Nurse, Lyn Ross. If any student or staff does not meet all daily health attestation questions when they are scheduled to be onsite, the student or staff must stay home remotely and the family or staff should contact Lyn for guidance regarding required next steps. The school nurse will direct when an individual is safely cleared to return to school. Please note that attestation questions include both confirming that individuals are not experiencing COVID-related symptoms and that individuals have not been in close contact with individuals who have tested positive in the past 14 days. Lyn can be reached by email including on evenings and weekends at: lross@advancingmilestones.com lross@advancingmilestones.com or by phone Monday-Friday from 7:30am-3:00pm at: 781-895-3200 ext. 137.Please note that Lyn can also serve as a knowledgeable resource for families to provide helpful information regarding testing and medical matters, and all faculty are expected to notify Lyn if they observe or are informed of any signs of illness in our school community.
  • *Encouraging Immediate Notification to Lyn Ross: *The state continues to emphasize the importance of schools being notified by families and staff at the earliest opportunity if a member of our community may have been exposed to COVID-19, as this early notification may allow for a faster response than contract tracing communications initiated by local Boards of Health/DPH. Families and staff should please notify Lyn Ross at the earliest opportunity if potential exposure has occurred.
  • Milestones Will Communicate Schoolwide While Respecting Privacy: As indicated in Milestones’ comprehensive reopening plan, if Milestones experiences an exposure, we will notify all employees and families (even those who are not defined as a “close contact”) about the exposure, while maintaining confidentiality. If this occurs, Milestones will also collaborate with the Waltham Board of Health (or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health if communication occurs after the Waltham Board of Health’s business hours) and DESE to confirm our safe and appropriate next steps.

Thank you for your attention to these updates, and our faculty looks forward to seeing many of our students more frequently as we resume full onsite instruction on Monday!

Have a great weekend,
Kim