Reminders about End of the Year Tasks and Celebrations and Information Available Thus Far Regarding Summer Planning

May 27, 2020

Dear families,

We hope that you enjoyed a nice long weekend in observance of Memorial Day and that the recent beautiful weather has allowed for some refreshing time outside. We are writing with an update about what we know so far regarding schools’ upcoming summer programming and to offer a few reminders about end of the year tasks and celebrations.

Current Summer Information

Due to the evolving dynamic of phased re-opening in Massachusetts, the state has not yet confirmed a decision about when schools will be permitted to offer onsite instruction. We anticipate that guidance regarding summer programming will be communicated at the State level by next week (first week in June) and that guidance surrounding fall programming will likely be communicated later in June. Please be assured that during this period of uncertainty Milestones has been tenaciously involved in forward-thinking planning to best prepare for our students and staff. Below are highlights of the information we know thus far, and we will provide a follow-up update to families with more definitive information as soon as further guidance is confirmed.

Summer Vacation:

  • As previously scheduled, Milestones’ last day of school for the current school year will be Wednesday, June 17th.
  • Our students’ summer programming will take place from Monday, July 6th
  • Friday, August 21st. Every year Fridays during the months of July and August are half-days (12:00pm end times).
  • Our fall programming will begin Tuesday, September 8th.
  • Task Force Planning to Best Support Our Students: (1) A task force began meeting at the State level earlier this month to plan for schools’ statewide reentry and recovery protocols, and the Executive Director of maaps (Elizabeth Dello Becker Russo) was appointed to serve on that Committee to advocate for the needs and goals of private special education schools. (2) In addition, maaps developed its own reentry and recovery task force to guide practices for both day and residential special education programs, and Milestones’ CEO (Kim Rockers) was appointed to that leadership planning team. (3) Kim Rockers, Kirsten Esposito Balboni, and Gillian Warwick have participated in weekly meetings throughout the spring led by DESE that cover current best practices and guidelines for special education leaders during remote learning. (4) Furthermore, Milestones developed our own internal multidisciplinary task force that is meeting regularly to tailor reentry recommendations for onsite learning within our setting. Throughout these groups, we are regularly reviewing state and federal guidance as well as literature on international school models, and we are conducting localized planning. Despite uncertainty, within Milestones and as part of our educational community we are preparing as much as possible for our students’ safety and high quality programming.
  • Contingency Planning: Following State guidance, Milestones has been diligently developing multiple potential schedules for programming. This advanced planning will enable us to be highly prepared and adaptive once State approvals and health/safety guidelines are confirmed. We have been informed that MA will likely provide all day schools (i.e., public, private, and special education day programs including Milestones) with the same authorized date for re-opening, and schools’ reentry to onsite instruction will likely include a “phased-in” process to meet health and safety guidelines. We are pleased to share that planning for the unique needs of special education students is being regarded as a primary focus for urgency. However, we are realistically anticipating that MA will direct summer learning to include either a period of continued remote learning or a hybrid model for instruction (i.e., partial onsite learning and/or provision of services and partial remote instruction if safely able to do so). We understand that advanced planning is integral for families, students, and staff, and we will keep you abreast of all new developments at the earliest opportunity.

Spring Reminders and Celebrations

  1. Submitting Yearbook Photos by Wednesday, June 3rd: Our Yearbook Committee is currently seeking pictures from families for our 2019-2020 yearbook (see attached flyer). We have enjoyed seeing your photo contributions thus far! The Committee is specifically requesting (a) 1 individual photo of every student and (b) photos from students’ and families’ remote learning period. Students may also submit photos with their Milestones peers from earlier in the current school year (at school or outside of school) if they would like to have them considered for the yearbook. Please email photos to Gillian Warwick: gwarwick@advancingmilestones.com by June 3rd.
  2. Annual Consent Forms and Physical/Dental Forms by Friday, June 5th: If you have not yet completed your student’s annual consent form for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year (sent electronically through Docusign) and submitted any outstanding physical or dental documentation, we ask that you please do so by June 5th. Milestones is required to have these materials on file for all students prior to the start of each school year. If you have any related questions, please notify Brittany Asselin: basselin@advancingmilestones.com and she would be happy to provide assistance.
  3. Annual Moving Up Day and Graduation Celebrations: Each year Milestones takes great pride in celebrating the achievements of our graduating seniors and all of our students as they transition up to new grades. Although this year’s remote platform has necessitated creativity and flexibility, we are pleased to offer modified celebrations this spring to recognize students’ hard work and accomplishments. Case managers will be in regular communication with families in the coming weeks about your student’s specific celebration, and the attached flyers include “Save the Date” dates/times for each of our classes up through grade 12. Students who are remaining at Milestones will also have the opportunity this spring to virtually “visit” new classrooms to meet faculty they will be working with in July and beyond, and parents of 5th and 8th graders will have a designated opportunity to virtually “meet” your student’s upcoming teams. View the Graduation 2020 flyer here.

Please feel free to notify your case manager if you have any questions regarding these activities.

We know that the spring is traditionally a very busy and exciting time for school communities, and we continue to appreciate the vast support, patience, and adaptability of our students and families during this unprecedented period. Thank you for all that you do!

Kind regards,

Kim