Dear Parents and Guardians,
After a joint conference call with the Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, and an additional call with the Massachusetts Lighthouse Superintendents (which make up most surrounding districts), I have made the difficult, but I believe, responsible decision to close the Holbrook Public Schools for the next two weeks (effective Monday, March 16h through March 27th). At that time, I will collaborate with local town officials and school personnel to access the status of COVID-19 in Holbrook and to make the most informed decision for the (hopeful) re-opening of our schools. These are uncharted waters and unprecedented times and there are no easy answers. I recognize that some will say, “there are currently no identified cases of COVID-19 in Holbrook”, which is true, but to that point, we are being told, as school officials, to cancel trips (domestic/internationally), avoid large assemblies and postpone sports tryouts (to name just a few sanctions). In addition, we had over 150 students absent today across K-12 as anxieties are heightened around health and safety. I also have an abundance of staff members who come to work in Holbrook from many different towns.
This afternoon, parents and guardians of students at the John F. Kennedy School will receive work packets and a comprehensive list of suggested, research-based resources for online learning apps and programs. At this time, students are not obligated to complete work at home, but, for parents and guardians who wish to have options for continued learning we wanted to make these resources available. At HMHS a google platform space has been created for teachers and staff simply for online learning. This will be a safe space for teachers and staff to communicate, post activities, upload resources and to simply stay connected with kids. Again, it is not mandatory for students to access and participate in these options, but they will be provided for those who wish them. Once we send out the invitations to this space for our faculty and staff on Monday, teachers will be able to post optional google hangouts, activities and resources for students. As not all staff can access Wi-Fi, there may not be specific activities for every classroom, but there will be options across contents and grade levels to choose from. Our director of curriculum will also be adding learning opportunities.
Throughout the closing (beginning on March 16th) we are planning to offer a “grab and go” lunch program for students and families who qualify for free or reduced lunch at school. The program will run Monday through Friday for both weeks. To distribute lunches, we will be using Door 3 between the hours of 11am-12pm.
This has not been any easy few weeks for anyone within our community, and this decision was a difficult one to arrive at for me as an educator and leader. That said, I have always promised to hold the safety and well-being of our students, staff and faculty as my top priority and I believe this is the right call. I wish to thank all of our stakeholders for your continued patience and support.
Julie S. Hamilton
Superintendent of Holbrook Public Schools