Milford School District Superintendent Announces Remote Learning

MILFORD – In response to Governor Chris Sununu’s order to close all New Hampshire schools for three weeks, starting March 16 – April 3, Milford school district superintendent Dr. Jessica Huizenga sent a letter on Sunday night, Mar. 16, to parents and school staff, communicating the plan to move to remote learning in Milford schools.

As stated by commissioner of the New Hampshire department of education, Frank Edelbut, the situation on COVID-19 will be re-evaluated by April 3.

“We ask for your patience, understanding and flexibility as we navigate this uncharted situation as a community,” the SAU letter read.

It further stated, “This past Thursday, the State Board of Education passed an emergency rule giving schools greater flexibility to move to remote instruction. This emergency rule outlines the expectation for remote learning, which can take place in a variety of forms, from online to traditional paper/pencil activities. According to this emergency rule, ‘A school district may conduct instruction remotely. The district shall create a plan that shall include procedures for participation by all students. Academic work shall be equivalent in effort and rigor to typical classroom work. There shall be an assessment of all student work for the day.'” 

Starting Monday, March 16, the Milford school district moved to a standard school day for all staff, from 8AM – 2:30PM; on March 16 and 17, the staff was set to participate in preparation and training for remote instruction deployment. 

School principals sent an informational email to parents, communicating specific details about remote learning plans/expectations, the deployment of Blizzard Bags, and/or information about online learning for Middle and High School students. Students will also receive a schedule to retrieve necessary materials from the school buildings.

It was noted that only parents or emergency contact would be able to pick up their child’s Blizzard Bag at the time of deployment. As for medication pick-up for parents, parents should contact the school nurse to arrange a time today, or tomorrow, Mar. 17, to pick up their child’s medication. 

Wednesday, March 18th will be the first official day of remote learning for all students in the Milford School District. 

“This first day of remote learning will be ‘supported,'” said the Huizenga’s letter to parents. “Staff will deploy remotely from the schools to ensure they have the technology and administrative support on our first day of online/remote learning. District staff will be available to support teachers in supporting students to successfully access their remote learning plans. Parents are encouraged to follow daily routines with their students. Sample daily schedules will be provided to assist with this.”

Also starting on Wednesday, Mar. 18, parents and students could expect staff to be available via email/online during those hours to support their respective remote learning plans. SAU and school building office hours will be from 8:00am – 3:00pm. 

The Milford School District Technology department will be distributing loaner Chromebooks to pre-approved families for students in need to participate in digital distance learning.

The Chromebooks will be available for pickup at the Middle School and High School buildings during the times designated for the pickup of materials necessary during this time (hard copies of lessons, textbooks,etc.). A responsible parent or guardian will be required to sign a release form.

The Technology department will be available for ongoing technical support during regular school hours.

The devices are only available for use during the current crisis and must be returned in good condition when schools return to normal operation.

A technology resources for parents is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWkPCi6noCI

A Google classroom tutorial for students and parents at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfgqtCi7hdo

Special education and related services: Special education teachers, related service providers, and school counselors will assist teachers in reviewing remote learning plans, planning and preparing for appropriate accommodations and/or modifications per student IEPs and 504s, and planning for students who will require support or assistance while learning remotely (i.e.: daily check-ins, etc.). 

The district addressed the issue of food services, stating in the letter, “We understand that food services may be of concern to families during this time. We are currently developing communications to families that outline the sign-up process, offerings, distribution plans/options that will continue our federally funded school lunch program. If you would like to take part in this, or would like more information please contact Maryanne Gallagher @ Maryanne.Gallagher@milfordk12.org We will also be partnering with SHARE as a resource for food for families. Social Workers will be a great asset to families in need of these community resources, please reach out to your school social worker, or school Principal if you are in need of assistance.”

Regarding access to buildings, the letter read, “we have broken down closures/staff expectations into four levels depending on the circumstances. Monday- Wednesday of this week we will be at a level one. From Thursday, March 19th through April 3rd, we will be operating at Level Two. (Normal: regular school day schedules; Level one: school closed for students only, Mar. 16 – 18; Level two: essential staff only, Mar. 19 – April 3 (this could be subject to change depending on guidance from local and state officials); Level three: buildings empty with exception of buildings and grounds; Level four: buildings empty (outside cleaning services are enlisted).

“Beginning Monday, March 23rd, all buildings with exception of the High School and JMS will be closed to non-essential staff, with exception of those days that buildings will be opened to replenish remote learning options (these dates will be communicated to parents and staff by the Building Principals)” the letter continued. “Milford High School will be utilized as the central hub of the district for Food Distribution. Special Education related services will be provided at either Jacques Memorial or Milford High School. Families whose students can be provided related services onsite, will be contacted by their child’s case managers.”

In closing, Huizenga said, “We understand there are many questions that remain unanswered; however, more detailed communication will be coming from your building principals over the next 24 hours. If there are any concerns you may have that are not addressed by your building principal, please reach out directly to them. We want to thank you for your support during these unique times.”