Monday, April 6, 2020

Monday April 6 Blog Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone!  I hope all of you are well as we embark upon our 4th week of distance learning here in Gorham.  I will be continuing to provide updates to folks this week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then will be looking to go down to two days per week next week in an attempt to once again reduce the "digital material" that is mounting up on all of us!  Here's what I have for today!

Operation Feed Gorham

Serving now on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays each week from 11:00 - 1:00 p.m. Open to all families in need to complete the survey...if you need food, stop by one of our locations during times listed above or email


*  Village Elem.
*  Great Falls Elem.
*  GMS
*  GHS

Upcoming Gorham School Committee meetings

The Gorham School Committee has three meetings coming up within the next few weeks.  The first is this week Wednesday (April 8) at 7:00 p.m. when the School Committee will hold their "Regular" meeting for the month of April.  Granted there isn't much "regular" about it since it will be via zoom, but the fact that it is occurring on the 2nd Wednesday of the Month is at least a bit comforting to know that some routines are coming back online!   You can CLICK HERE for the agenda for April 8 which includes a link for the zoom meeting at the top.  One small change from the three previous meetings we have had via zoom is that we will be setting up the "waiting room" so folks will enter the waiting room when they first come in and then be moved into the meeting when ready.  This is to help improve meeting security and prevent "zoom bombings" (yes a new term).  We ask that folks who join the meeting make sure that their actual name is listed on the screen.  If no name is listed you will not be allowed into the meeting.  If you'd like to just listen in, you can call into the meeting, or you can also view it live stream on GOCAT.

The other two meetings will be held next week.  The first will be a budget workshop meeting on Monday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. and the Second will be a Special meeting to approve of the proposed FY 21 budget that will be held on Wednesday, April 15th at 7:00 p.m.  You can CLICK HERE for the agenda for April 13 and CLICK HERE for the agenda on April 15th,  both of which have the zoom links at the top.

In order to view all School Committee meeting packet materials you can CLICK HERE.

Narragansett Kitchen Item On TOMORROW NIGHT'S Town Council Meeting

You can review my blog post from Friday for details, but just a reminder to those of you who are interested that the Town Council will once again be bringing up the topic of the Narragansett Kitchen project on their meeting tomorrow night.  You can CLICK HERE for their full agenda (which also includes information at the top for how to login to their meeting and/or for how to provide written comments to the Town Council.

As a quick recap...this item was originally brought before the Town Council on March 10 but when motioned to discuss by Counselor Hartwell no other counselor seconded the motion so it "died" on the table for lack of a second.  It seems that some counselors may still want to talk about this item, which is why it has popped back up on the radar.  Here are the key points to consider:

1.  If the council votes to add an item for this project on the June Referendum (assuming we can even have a June Referendum) then we will NOT be able to meet the timelines required to have the kitchen operational to open school next year.  This would then require us to operate a "satellite" kitchen for the Narragansett site, costing additional $, additional time, and reduce the overall quality of the program to the point that it may have negative fiscal impacts on our overall school lunch program.

2.  The funds being used for the construction of the kitchen are within the amounts already approved by voters in June, 2019 ($2.8 million) as part of the Narragansett Modular Expansion Project.

3.  Additional funds required to move equipment from the existing kitchen to the new kitchen so that we do not have to purchase additional equipment come from already approved FY 20 CIPS funds which were also approved by the School Committee, the Town Council, and by voters in June, 2019.

I would strongly urge those of you who wish to send in testimony to the Town Council on this topic to do so today or tomorrow ( by 4:00 p.m. tomorrow) using the email address of:

Zoom & Other Video Conference Meetings 

As you may already know there has been some concern raised recently regarding zoom meetings, or any meeting for that matter that involves video with students and teachers in larger groups.  Of course, this issue is a "double-edged sword" sort to speak in that on one hand we want to have these meetings to ensure our students are able to socially engage with their peers and with their teachers and to know that there are teams of folks all around that are here to support any student or family in any way possible.  Video conference meetings are helpful to be able to see one another, to smile and laugh together (We can all use a lot of that for sure) and to just "be" with one another.  On the other hand, however lots of issues can arise.  We have "zoom bombings" occurring where folks who clearly have too much time on their hands are hacking into zoom meetings all over the country with profanity, sexual content or rude/racists remarks which none of us find useful at all.  We also have the issue of folks taking pictures of screens where student names may be listed or their image shared and families sharing these images without knowledge that maybe that student or their family don't want those images shared.   It is certainly a bit of a conundrum and one we are trying to balance here in Gorham along with our counterparts across the state and country.

On the safety end of things, we have provided additional training to staff on zoom meeting safety.  We have made sure folks know to do things like add passwords, use the waiting room, only allow the host to share their screen, and make sure every student on the conference has their name listed appropriately so we know who is in the meeting or not.  Additionally, we have made clear to staff who may be using zoom that they can always mute or turn the cameras off of all participants and/or end the meeting and reset if they have to in order to ensure students are not exposed  to these issues unnecessarily.  We will also likely be encouraging the staff that can to move more towards use of Google Meets, which requires that individuals login with their Gorham Schools issued email addresses.  Of course this will only help for those grade levels who have school issued email addresses, which not all do.

On the photo and recording end of things, we are encouraging staff to only take a photo of a conference if they are sure all students have approved the use of their image on social media using the forms we send out each year.  Additionally, we ask staff to make sure names do not appear on the boxes of children when taking such photos just as an added layer of precaution.  For families, we ask that you try not to take photos of your child's screen showing their peers unless it is done at such a distance that you couldn't make out names or faces of the students online.  This is just a courtesy as we know not everyone is keen on having their image or the images of their children "out there" in internet land.

We are starting with these simple actions and requests initially while I continue to work with members of the district leadership team on development of video conferencing guidelines that can be shared more broadly among students, staff and families.  In the meantime, if you are aware of any issues involving the misuse of technology I would ask that you immediately reach out to let your child's teacher and building principal know so that we can follow up quickly.  Just like we don't tolerate these kinds of behavior in "regular school" we also will not tolerate these behaviors in "distance school" and we need your help to make sure we can appropriately address these issues as they may occur.  More to come on this topic as we move through the week.

Attendance Starts Today

Teachers across grades K-12 will be taking attendance today and tomorrow.  We are asking teachers to take attendance on Monday (and for some HS teachers on Tuesday) of each week using the rubric below for the Tuesday - Friday (or Wednesday - Monday for some GHS Teachers) of the previous week.

  • Students participate in 80-100% of activities or assignments provided.
  • Counts as fully present.
Present but referred to RTI
  • Students participate in 40-80% of activities or assignments provided.
  • Counts as fully present, but will be referred to RTI for additional support/intervention.
Not Present/Absent
  • Students participate in 0-40% of activities or assignments provided.
  • Counts as absent. 
  • Will be referred to RTI and SEL teams for additional support/intervention.

As you can see, attendance is based primarily on participation in activities or learning assignments and not on "seat time" or other synchronous methods of measurements.  If you have questions about how attendance will be recorded and what it may mean to your student(s) please reach out to your classroom teachers or building principal.

Thought Exchange Reminder

Just a reminder that we are trying to collect information from students and parents on how things are going to inform future changes to our system and to help us find that "balance" we are all still searching for!  Here's how you can share your thoughts - and remember...go back in and rate the thoughts of others at least once or twice more this week!

Text the 9-digit code…394-317-079

Student (6-12)
Text the 9-digit code…873-732-568

Letter from Dr. Tin

Our School district physician, Dr. Tin has so kindly written a letter he'd like to share with all of you again this week.  Please CLICK HERE to view.

In Closing...

I saw this visual online the other day and it made me think about a favorite quote of mine hanging  up on the wall in my office.  The quote is by Neila Connor and it says:  "What comes out of you when you are squeezed is what is inside of you."  I'm not sure I agree with all aspects of the visual I share below...but boy it made me think of that quote which is one I try to live by day in and day out!  ENJOY!

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