Covid-19 Update: March 27, 2020

March 27, 2020

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Dear families and staff,

This has been a significant week in terms of developments in Massachusetts surrounding the grave challenges of COVID-19. It has also been an important week within Milestones for rolling out our extended resources for virtual learning to best support our students.

· Achievements and Gratitude: During this pandemic, we wanted to be sure to take time to reflect upon the sincere pride and gratitude that we have for our students, parent/guardians, and faculty. To our students: our staff have been so happy to reconnect through phone calls, emails, and online learning platforms. We have loved “seeing” our students! To our parents/guardians, we truly appreciate your collaboration in helping our students navigate learning from offsite, and we have been touched by the positive feedback you have shared with our team regarding how Milestones has responded during this public health crisis. And to our faculty: *we have had 100% staff participation *in our meetings and initiatives, which is an awe-inspiring level of professional dedication that continues to highlight just how strong and special the Milestones community is.

· Extended Closure: Since Governor Baker’s press release on Wednesday evening, Milestones has participated in several meetings for both public and private school leaders led by the Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), special education division leaders at DESE, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and maaps.

Through these forums, we received confirmation that the Governor’s order on 3/25/20 does mandate all Massachusetts public and private schools with the exception of residential programs for students with special needs to stay closed at least through May 4th, 2020. Therefore, as per Governor Baker’s order, Milestones’ temporary closure (as a special education day program) will be extended at least through May 4th, 2020. (Our anticipated re-opening date as of today, would be Monday, May 4th). The Governor’s order was enacted as a result of the significant increase in the incidence of COVID-19 in Massachusetts and the related priorities of ensuring safety for school communities and supporting our medical facilities and providers to manage the impact of the spread and treatment for those who are most vulnerable.

· Guidance Surrounding Remote Learning: Given this extended closure, school leaders and special education leaders have been provided additional guidance yesterday and today about the State’s most up to date expectations and recommendations for remote learning in the weeks ahead. Milestones is very pleased that the plans we have initiated thus far align with the State’s present guidelines and recommended best practices, so together with our students and families’ involvement we are well on our way! While we understand that remote learning is not a traditional school day, Milestones’ faculty are working tremendously hard to provide effective programming to your children. Next week, our leadership team and faculty will meet for further planning, and we intend to incorporate additional input from parents/guardians. In the meantime, please continue to keep up the great work with encouraging your student’s participation and collaborate with your case manager if you have questions surrounding your student’s individual schedule and available resources. For more information, please see the attached letter from Kirsten Esposito Balboni (Principal) and Gillian Warwick (Special Education Administrator). They describe that parents can expect a “third implementation” of Milestones’ resources for students.

· MCAS: The State has asked for continued patience regarding the MCAS as they work through regulations at both the federal and state level. DESE will issue formal guidance to schools after they receive confirmed plans and approvals.

Again, we want to thank our families, students, and faculty for their positive energy as we all negotiate in these uncharted waters.