HPS 2021-22 School Year Information and Updates
January 3, 2022
Dear Hamden Public Schools Community,
I hope everyone had a safe and restful New Year. During the break, my staff and I monitored the changing COVID-19 landscape, especially as it relates to the Omicron variant. The following information represents a significant shift in how Hamden Public Schools will be managing COVID-19. The State Department of Education (CSDE) and Department of Public Health (DPH) have provided updated guidance taking into account the impact of the Omicron variant.
Recent guidance issued by the CT DPH advised shortening the recommended time for isolation. Individuals with COVID-19 should isolate for five days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving and they’re without fever for 24 hours, they should follow that by five days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter.
Hamden Public Schools is adopting the revised guidance. The attached table provided by the CT DPH will guide Hamden Public Schools through different scenarios connected to isolation, quarantine, testing, and a return to school, which may occur in school settings, considerations for each individual situation, and appropriate actions for individuals and schools to take in response. This guidance replicates the previous guidance in that it is clear that the positive individual may not return at the end of the isolation period if that person is continuing to be symptomatic. Such symptoms may include: fever, measured temp 100.4F or more, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell not absolute- please consult your physician. To best ensure the health and welfare of our school community, you may return on day six after symptom onset or test date, which ever occurs first.
The Omicron variant is also impacting contact tracing. The rate of COVID-19 spread is so high nationally, that all people should be employing the stringent mitigation strategies our schools continue to practice. As it relates to contact tracing the Connecticut Department of Public Health indicates the following:
Because individual-level contact tracing is a tool that becomes less effective when community transmission levels are high, DPH recommends that schools begin to refocus the activities of health staff away from the investigation of relatively low risk in-school exposures and toward the identification, early isolation, and clinical management of students and staff with active symptoms that could be related to COVID-19. At this time given: 1) the current very high level of community transmission throughout our state; 2) the experience of Connecticut school districts that have conducted in-person learning throughout the past two years of the pandemic, even in the setting of very high community transmission; 3) the infrequent conversion of close contacts; and 4) the need to prioritize available resources in PreK-12 schools, the position of the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is that routine contact tracing of individual exposures that occur inside schools or during school-organized and supervised activities can be discontinued (subject to the conditions and provisions indicated below) without posing a significantly increased risk of negative impact on in-school transmission of COVID-19 or access to in-person learning.
The conditions referenced include effective mitigation strategies, low evidence of in-school spread, and universal masking. DPH also made a recommendation to change our notification protocols. We typically send out notifications that an individual in the school tested positive. We will now send out notification that an individual in your child’s classroom (at the elementary schools) or on your child’s team (at the middle school) has tested positive. The High School community will continue to receive notification that an individual/s in the school has tested positive.
Regarding students with Section 504 or IEP plans: If there is a unique situation where a child has a current, documented medical condition and it is determined through the PPT/504 process that the child’s attendance in school, with reasonable accommodations may not be feasible, the PPT or 504 team will convene (along with documentation and consultation from the child's treating physician) to discuss and recommend programming needs.
At this time, student athletes competing in our High School and Middle School programs will follow current CIAC/DPH guidelines. We are expecting these guidelines to be updated soon.
Finally, Connecticut Public Schools currently do not have an option to move to remote learning. Only the Governor through Executive Order or the Legislature through law can allow for remote learning. Therefore, any day we are not able to staff a building and provide a safe learning environment for our children, that day will have to be made up. During this challenging time, building principals will continue to do their best to manage their staff to keep their schools open.
Again, thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these constantly changing circumstances and work to ensure that all of our students have safe access to in-person learning every day.
Jody Ian Goeler
Hamden Public Schools
- Safety Concerns- 12/3/21
- Thanksgiving Message-11/24/21
- Health Decision Making Tree info- 10/26/21
- Continued Mitigation Efforts & the HHS Incident review- 10/11/21
- COVID-19 Reminder- 9/8/21
- Welcome Back Letter 8/25/21
December 3, 2021
Dear Members of Our Hamden School Community,
I wanted to share with you my thoughts as Superintendent of Hamden Public Schools and perhaps more importantly, as a community member, a citizen, and a human being. I’m writing this on Friday, December 3rd, whereby all indications, our High School students should be in school, engaging with their teachers and friends and feeling the rewards of a diverse and thriving learning community. They should be celebrating the outstanding season of their football team after their impressive Green Bowl win on Thanksgiving morning.
Instead, our students and staff are home as a result of a threat made to the school. In the shadows of another school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan and working with our law enforcement partners, we determined closing the High School today was the correct call and would provide us the opportunity to fully investigate. According to media reports, there are 31 high schools in Michigan today similarly closing their schools. Tragic.
Since March 2020, our district has worked tirelessly to get our students back to school during a pandemic that has infected at least 48,856,194 and killed 788,778 of our country’s citizens. With all of our efforts to get students back into school, today we’re keeping our High School students home, not because of a virus, but a posting of a threat to their school. Again, tragic.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Hamden’s first superintendent of schools, who lead our district from its inception in 1912 to 1954. She was the last superintendent to lead Hamden Public Schools through a pandemic. While her challenges were significant, with leading her district through the Great Depression and two World Wars, her era was not defined by the availability and access to assault weapons and did not have social media to inflame and spread hateful, disturbing rhetoric and imagery directly to our children. Our students see and hear all of this, and it impacts their decision-making skills and jeopardizes their sense of security. Providing some context for what our challenges are in Hamden, recently in a meeting with Connecticut Superintendents, there was unanimity around growing concerns related to student violence, the role social media plays in escalating student conflict and adult outrage, the number of available weapons in our communities, and the absence of civil discourse. Hamden’s children deserve better; our nation’s children deserve better.
I also want to point out that, in the midst of the concerns related to student and staff safety and security and managing the complexities of the current national health crisis, I could not be prouder of the administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals in our district, who continue to serve our community. Day in and day out, they come to work to meet the needs of every child and work through the truly disruptive and challenging behaviors with which they are presented while keeping learning front and center. They too deserve our deep respect and confidence.
Let us work together to teach our children not to use violence to settle a disagreement. Let us together teach our children that rather than taking out their phones to record a conflict, to instead peacefully work to resolve conflict and demonstrate respect and forbearance to others. Let us together encourage our children to positively engage in our schools and our community. All of this begins with all of us modeling the behavior we want to see in our children.
We are working closely with police to fully investigate the threat that closed our High School today. What we have determined is that there have been rumors of a fight planned for today, and there was a screenshot of a threat to the school. High School administration is continuing to interview all of those who may have information related to either or both of these concerns. I remain optimistic that we will be in a position to open the High School on Monday morning.
Finally, as we prepared to begin this school year, we anticipated the need to add staff and add time for existing staff to meet the mental health, social-emotional, and academic intervention needs of our students. In addition to what we’ve already put in place, we’ve added additional security guards and continue to work with the High School administration in providing the personnel support they need. We will continue to make the appropriate adjustments as our needs change. I am also aware of many who believe metal detectors at the High School are necessary. While this security intervention has already been vetted by the public safety professionals on the District Safety Team, we will continue to discuss this at the next meeting. This Team has met monthly for the past eight years to ensure we continue to be proactive in our planning and response to all things related to student and staff security.
Thank you for your continued support, and for allowing me to share my personal reflections with you. Hamden is a strong community, and we will get through these challenging times together.
Jody Ian Goeler
November 24, 2021
Dear Hamden Educational Community Members:
First and foremost, I want to wish everyone a safe, healthy, relaxing, and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. I am truly thankful to all of you who have helped shepherd our community through the past 19 months of the pandemic. While COVID-19 has dramatically impacted members of our community in such unimaginable ways, all of us have been frustrated with the changeable nature of this pandemic and its further continuance in our lives. I share your frustration and hurt and I am deeply grateful for your patience, your constant focus on meeting the needs of all of our children, and above all your understanding and kindness during this time that has tested us at every turn.
As the holiday season is upon us, we need to remain vigilant and continue as a community to stay the course with practices that have been successful in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 such as, vaccinations, masking, and daily symptom screening – you know the drill.
While we’ve seen a greater number of infections over the past two weeks, we continue to be in a much better place than we were a year ago prior to the development of a vaccination program. At my meeting with the Department of Public Health yesterday, officials noted that vaccinations reduce the chances of becoming infected (and requiring hospitalizations) by seven to ten times. I am also proud to note that our schools continue to keep the larger spread of COVID-19 at bay.
We will continue to monitor trends and work cooperatively with QVHD and our district medical advisors. Additionally, through close partnerships between families and our school health offices, we have reduced quarantines from ten to seven days while furthering educational opportunities by adding virtual learning supports.
Please be mindful of the CDC’s recommendations around safe holiday celebrations and have a safe and happy holiday season.
With Warm Regards,
October 26, 2021
We are sure you can appreciate the challenges facing Hamden Public School Nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to dealing with traditional student illnesses known to us for decades, School Nurses are also our most important point of contact for COVID-19 related issues. When you consider that like many other public schools, we are witnessing an increase in the number of students who face significant medical challenges that require our School Nurses to provide regular care and support, school nursing in this day and age becomes even more challenging.
To ensure that School Nurses can perform their very challenging jobs in a way to which we have all become accustomed, our nursing staff has developed and shared with teachers a Health Office Decision-making Tree. This framework is designed to help teachers make decisions about when to send students to the Nurse’s office, when to provide care within a classroom for minor issues, or when to contact the nurse for consultation. This helps to ensure that School Nurses can prioritize attention to more challenging needs and that cross-contact between symptomatic students is minimized. This is an often used, yet seldom publicized COVID-19 mitigation strategy that is as important as all of our other mitigation strategies.
We believe it is important that you are aware of the Health Office Decision-making Tree if your child informs you that they may have had to wait to be seen by the School Nurse for a lower-level illness or injury. Each child’s medical needs are truly important. However, our teachers and School Nurses must adhere to the Health Decision-making Tree so that the more serious medical concerns remain the priority.
We appreciate your understanding and support as we all work together to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jody Goeler, Superintendent
Cc: Marsha Guglielmino, Hamden Public Schools Lead Nurse
October 11, 2021
Following are updates on the continuing COVID-19 mitigation efforts and the incident involving a dangerous weapon confiscated at the High School last Tuesday.
While we are hearing phrases such as “cautious optimism” related to news that COVID-19 rates are showing a slight decline across the United States and the state of Connecticut, last week we had 11 students and four staff cases with 150 students quarantining. Our ongoing community efforts to mitigate the risks of this terrible disease must continue without pause.
At our weekly Medical Subcommittee meeting, our public health experts speculated that the primary cause of our increase in cases results from children arriving at school with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Parents must keep their children home until we know for sure that such symptoms are not COVID-related. If your child, for example, has a runny nose and at least one other symptom, they should receive further assessment and consultation with a health care professional. That information then needs to be immediately shared with the school nurse. Our public health experts also emphasized the importance of vaccination for all who are eligible and spend time in close contact with unvaccinated children.
Performing daily health assessments and sharing any concerns, questions, and health updates with your child’s nurse will help ensure we keep any community spread out of our schools. If positive cases of COVID-19 continue to increase our schools, we may need to broaden our cohort quarantining practices to include full classrooms, teams, grade levels, and other groupings to ensure we prevent school spread. We will continue to monitor cases closely and update you on how we can keep our school community safe and move beyond this pandemic.
In regards to the incident at Hamden High School on October 5th, I wanted to share with you how our district responds both proactively and reactively to such issues. Our District Safety Committee, consisting of Hamden Public Schools staff, Police and Fire Department leadership/staff, meets every month to review and operationalize strategies related to school and district safety. Specifically, this Committee collects and reviews all school safety needs assessments, school safety plans, ways to more effectively fortify school building infrastructure, and add systems to enhance inter and intra-departmental communication. This Committee also plans and implements Community and School Safety Forums, which had occurred pre-COVID, to bring our community together to listen to and participate in safety-related presentations. We are planning such a Forum for late October/early November to discuss ways we can more effectively ensure we are keeping guns and other dangerous weapons out of our schools. Please look for more information on this forum early next week.
In addition, any time there is a significant event that threatens the safety and security of our staff and students, we convene an After-Action Review. In this case, the review will include district leadership, Hamden High School staff, and representatives of the Hamden Police and Fire Departments to offer insight and consideration into what in the response went well and to identify potential changes and improvements to our prevention or response framework. This review will be shared with and discussed at the District Safety Committee to help inform its work in improving District safety protocols and infrastructure.
Thank you again to those who’ve reached out to me and others sharing your concerns regarding this unsettling event. As I indicated in my update on last Tuesday, our school officials acted immediately upon the information provided. Sharing information with school personnel remains our most critical step in keeping our schools safe. As noted earlier, the District Safety Committee and the After-Action Review will follow through and plan what our next steps should be. That information will be provided at the next scheduled School Safety Forum.
Thank you for your attention and support.
Jody Ian Goeler
Hamden Public Schools
September 8, 2021
Just a reminder that while our District continues to implement comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation strategies based on the guidance of our public health advisors, we need to emphasize the critical importance of timely communication from families to your child's school. This helps reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and promote a healthy and safe educational environment in our schools.
If your child or anyone in your home is feeling ill, is being tested for COVID-19, or if your child has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or has received a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, please have her/him/them stay home until you can contact the nurse at your child’s school. During school hours, you can reach the school nurse by phone or email. On evenings or weekends, please contact your child’s administrator/principal via email. Contact information is available at www.hamden.org.
I hope this is helpful to you as we continue to work together to ensure we keep everyone safe, healthy and in school. Thank you.
Jody Ian Goeler
Hamden Public Schools
August 25, 2021
I hope you had an opportunity to find some time to relax and recharge over the summer. Back in May, as the school year was winding down, I was reasonably optimistic that my summer would be different than last July and August. With the available vaccinations and COVID-19 cases at the lowest point in months, it appeared as though we would be able to put the pandemic behind us. Unfortunately, it is still here and what public health officials have learned is that we still need to take precautions to protect ourselves and each other. Consistent with our approach dating back to March of 2020, we will adhere to public health guidelines and remain committed to health and safety as we continue to wind our way through this health crisis. According to local and State public health officials, getting vaccinated and continuing a layered mitigation approach to stopping the spread of this more contagious Delta variant remains the key to getting past this pandemic.
I have sent out several updates this summer regarding our policies for the coming 21-22 school year. To reiterate, everyone will be required to wear masks, vaccinated or not, and we will follow the CDC guidance of physical distancing of at least three feet between students. You will find more detailed information in the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Reopening Plan revised by our district’s various reopening and health/safety committees.
The subcommittee charged with revising health procedures related to Covid-19 response has continued to meet throughout the summer. This committee includes our District Lead Nurse, Marsha Guglielmino, staff from our School Based Health Clinics, representatives from the Quinnipiack Valley Health District and Cornell Scott-Hill, Principal Levy, Mayor Leng, and me in collaboration with our District Medical Advisor. Our subcommittee’s purpose is to refine and clarify the containment procedures, actions, and notifications included in the initial HPS Transitional Reopening Plan for use this year. Our committee will continue to meet weekly throughout the year to ensure we remain updated on and respond to current trends. We will continue to post information from these meetings on our district website.
We each must continue to monitor our health daily. Getting vaccinated, if your medical provider considers you eligible to do so, combined with the precautions that we have established around social distancing and masking, daily health assessments help mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Finally, as I noted in my last update, unlike last year, we are beginning the 2021-22 school year expecting we’ll have everyone back learning in our schools. With the expiration of the Governor’s Executive Order allowing for remote learning, Connecticut school districts do not have the authority to provide this option. Therefore, snow days will be snow days, and absences will be absences. In addition, last week Governor Lamont drafted Executive Order No. 13.D (“Protection of Public health and Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic – Vaccinations Required for State Employees, School Employees and Childcare Facility Staff”). In anticipation of this action, we conducted a generalized poll to see the percentage of staff in our district who are fully vaccinated. As of August 23, 2021-we are happy to report that 94 percent of our staff are fully vaccinated.
I’m pleased to share that over 1,500 of our students participated in the many summer programs we established to re-engage them into our schools and provide healthy, educational, and mindful experiences. It was so great to see and hear the sounds of happy children again. Having our children back in our schools is the best choice to support their learning, socialization, and overall well-being.
We are excited to see everyone on Monday. Enjoy your final days of summer.
Jody Ian Goeler
Hamden Public Schools
- February 27 Transition to In-Person Learning
- Secondary Student Engagement Survey During the 2020-21 School Year Recap
- February 11 Travel Advisory Information
- January 18 Returning to Hybrid Plan
- January 13, 2021 (revised)
- December 7- UPDATE LETTER FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT
- November 20 - REVISED Distance Learning Guide Released for Parents
- November 10 - Message to Community About Possible Move to Full Distance Learning
- November 2 Superintendent's Letter on Weather-Related Closings
- October 27 - Superintendent Goeler's Letter: COVID-19 Cases and School Closure
- October 16 - Mobile Meals and More
- October 8, 2020 - Food Services Letter for Hamden Families
- September 11 - Letter to Families from Whitsons: Free Meals at all Schools
- September 20 - Letter to Staff, Parents and Community Members from the Superintendent
- September 1 - Internet Connectivity at Home
- August 31 - Elementary Parents and Students - Back to School Video
- August 26 - Reopening Delayed Until September 15
- August 24 - Updates to FAQs
- August 12 - Hamden to Provide School Supplies for All Pre-K - Grade 8 Students
- August 12 - School Year Start Date Moved to September 8
- August 6 - Updated FAQs, One Page Reopening Plan Summary
- August 3 - Chromebook Returns and Reopening FAQs
- July 21 - Transitional Reopening Plan
- July 12 - Hamden Draft Transition Reopening Plan
- June 26 - Schools to Reopen in the Fall
February 27, 2021
Dear Hamden Families,
Earlier this week, Governor Lamont announced a new schedule for COVID-19 vaccination eligibility. Starting March 1, eligibility for the vaccine has been expanded to include anyone over 55 years old as well as those working with children in schools. As part of his announcement, the governor emphasized the importance of getting students back into school buildings as soon as it is safe to do so, and that vaccinating teachers was an essential component of making this happen.
There is more good news: There has been a steady downward trend in COVID-19 cases and infection rates in our area. This is due to the cooperation of our community members in adhering to the many safety measures that are in place all around us, such as mask wearing, social distancing and avoiding gatherings. As a Hamden resident and the superintendent of our school system, I am extremely grateful for all the safety efforts and personal sacrifices of our families and community members to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and minimize its devastating impact on all of us. I am especially grateful to our students and staff, who have done an excellent job following the safety protocols established to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in our schools.
With the hope that infection rates stay low and that more of us will be vaccinated, we are exploring ways to transition back to more extensive in-building learning experiences for our children, hopefully during this school year. We know from parent, student and teacher input, as well as national and international research, that students do better when in school face-to-face with their teachers and fellow students. As we examine these opportunities for more time back in our buildings, please rest assured that the first consideration is and will always be the safety of students and staff.
I will continue to update you as our plans evolve. Thank you for your support and your efforts to keep our community safe from COVID-19. In the meantime, please continue your good work in following all the protocols necessary to continue this downward trend in positivity and spread rates, and continue self-monitoring daily.
Jody Ian Goeler
Hamden Public Schools
February 11, 2021
Dear Parents and Care Givers:
According to guidelines from Governor Lamont, anyone who travels outside of Connecticut with the exception of NY, NJ or RI, and stays for longer than 24 hours, must either quarantine for 10 days upon their return or provide a negative PCR test taken no sooner than 72 hours before they leave that location, or immediately upon their return to Connecticut. Once the negative PCR test is provided to the school nurse or 10 days has passed since your return to CT, the student may then return to school.
To be clear, no student can return to school without providing either the negative PCR test, or quarantining for 10 days from the date of last contact in another state. Students who are required to quarantine due to traveling can attend school remotely during the duration of their quarantine period.
Please refer to the following link for additional information related to the Governor’s Travel Advisory.
January 18, 2021
Dear Hamden Public Schools Families and Staff:
I hope you had a restful and healthy weekend and observance of this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
This is just a reminder that tomorrow, Tuesday, January 19th, we will resume our hybrid programming and follow the same schedule prior to moving to full remote on November 23rd. To ensure everyone remains safe and healthy and we continue our success in mitigating Covid-19 transmission in our schools, please follow these important protocols. These actions should be taken by all staff and parents sending their children to school:
- Please complete a health assessment each morning.
- Please stay home if experiencing any symptoms related to Covid-19.
- If you stay home, please call the school nurse.
- If you are awaiting results from a Covid-19 test, please stay home and contact your school nurse.
While we will continue to monitor cases in our community and surrounding areas and be guided by our public health professionals, our ability to continue providing necessary in-school experiences for our children will rely upon our working together and strictly following the health protocols established.
Our Vaccination Task Force will continue to meet with health officials to ensure vaccinations for staff once available. Please anticipate continued updates. If any staff member has questions regarding vaccines, please consult with your health provider as soon as possible.
Jody Ian Goeler
Hamden Public Schools J
Dear Hamden Public School Staff and Community Members:
At last night’s Board of Education meeting, I reviewed with the Board, plans for returning to our hybrid program on Tuesday, January 19th following the same schedule in place prior to the move to distance learning.
As you may recall, in November, I recommended, and the Board of Education voted, to support our plan to move to remote learning beginning on November 23rd with a return on January 19th. The primary reasons for this action included:
- The significant upward trajectory of positive cases stemming from Halloween
- The significant increase in staffing concerns related to teacher/staff absenteeism
- The expectation that positivity rates will continue to rise precipitously as a result of the oncoming holiday season
Alerting our community ahead of time of the move to full distance learning provided families the opportunity to prepare and allowed for stable and predictable continuity of instruction. It also provided me the opportunity to prepare a more robust child-care program that would meet the increased demand to support families. I’m pleased that we were able to meet these objectives.
At the most recent weekly meeting with the Health Subcommittee, I again asked for member input as to whether or not we are ready to continue with our plan to begin the hybrid program on January 19th. I also met with area superintendents and consulted with State Department of Education officials, who supported our plan for going fully remote during this specific time-period. Support for following through with our plan to return includes the following observations:
- Staff positivity rates have stabilized
- While the spread rates are higher, they don’t show the dramatic increase we witnessed post Halloween
- The mitigation strategies employed prior to November 23rd ensured there was no student-to-student transmission in any of our schools
- With the exception of New Haven Public Schools, all area schools have remained either hybrid or full in-school, and the New Haven Board of Education voted to begin a hybrid program on January 19th
- School being held in-buildings provides a “Safety Net” for our children, especially our most vulnerable
According to our public health and medical advisors, if we continue our diligent mitigation efforts, we can maintain a safe and healthy learning environment for our children and staff. As we return on the 19th, it is possible that staffing issues may cause critical shortages in various schools. Unfortunately, that means there will be occasions when those schools need to move to remote learning for a period of time. Periodic moves to remote learning may also be necessary if daytime temperatures trend at or below 20 degrees (approximately), as our schools will not be able to maintain appropriate temperatures for teaching and learning. This condition results from the newly implemented air-exchange measures to meet CDC guidelines.
As I’ve said throughout the pandemic, there are no perfect solutions. However, with the input of our Facilities and Human Resources departments and public health experts, the most appropriate way forward remains moving back to our hybrid plan on January 19th, as originally approved.
In order to provide consistency in our instruction and operations, when we return to our hybrid model on January 19, all schools will use the schedules they had prior to our move to the fully-remote model.
For further information regarding the January 12th Board of Education meeting and access to the presentation, please visit our Website, www.hamden.org, and click on the Board of Education Meeting Agenda and Minutes page.
Additionally, to ensure we are able to continue providing children an in-school experience, it will be critical that we follow all Covid-19 mitigation strategies, including reminding families to engage in daily health monitoring, mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing. Please also review the appropriate materials – teaching and learning guides and Covid-19 related materials on our District website.
We all have a collective responsibility of ensuring we can continue the essential work of providing a public education to all students, which is best accomplished in our school buildings. Thank you for your support.
December 7, 2020
Dear Members of Our Educational Community:
I hope you are all remaining safe and healthy, as we are seeing so many of our friends, family and neighbors impacted by the surge of COVID-19. As anticipated, with many attending gatherings during the Thanksgiving holiday, we have seen a significant uptick in the number of cases of COVID-19. While in the beginning of the school year, we were experiencing spread rates between two and three cases per 100,000 people, this past week, New Haven County had 53.2 cases per 100,000 people with a 7.4% positivity rate. This increase in spread continues to impact our staff as well, as eight staff members tested positive last week and seven the week before. Please keep us updated if you or your child has tested positive to ensure we can accurately monitor spread in our community and provide you the support you may need during this difficult time.
Back in June, to prepare for the reopening of our schools for the 2020-21 school year, we established a Reopening Committee, to ensure our schools were safe and healthy for students and staff and to develop schedules that allowed for staying within social distancing guidelines. As part of the reopening process, the Medical Subcommittee continues to meet each week to review updated public health data and consult with our school medical advisors, Quinnipiac Valley Health District (QVHD) leadership and staff, and our school based health clinic partners at the Cornell Scott – Hill Health Center to discuss ongoing mitigation strategies, any changes to the person-density in school buildings that may be appropriate, and current data on COVID-19 rates in New Haven County and Hamden (posted on our website and updated weekly).
The revised Addendum 4 to the Connecticut Department of Education’s reopening plan provides the metrics for assessing whether students should be in school or learning remotely.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health and Education have developed Learning Model Indicators to inform school district decision-making on remote vs. in-person learning for Pre K-12 education.
The key leading indicator to support decision-making on the level of in-person education recommended by DPH and CSDE is:
- The number of new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population per day (14-day average).
Additionally, guidance in Addendum 4 of the CSDE’s Reopening Plan identifies three secondary indicators:
- Percent test positivity (# of positive tests / # of total tests, 14-day average),
- Number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population (14-day average),
- COVID-like and Influenza-like Illness (CLI and ILI) Syndromic Surveillance (14-day average).
At the level of 25 new cases per 100,000 per day or more, DPH recommends that district administrators, medical advisors, and local health departments discuss the appropriateness of an increase in remote learning, in the context of the additional considerations below:
- Design of the physical space;
- Cohorting and staffing;
- Compliance with self-screening;
- Ventilation (Central and Non-Central HVAC);
- Cleaning and Disinfection;
While we are in a full remote learning position at this time, my Teams are continuing to meet to evaluate whether or not it is possible to re-engage in the hybrid model at various or specific levels or across the board prior to January 19th. However, as a result of continuing staffing concerns and the Thanksgiving surge impact not yet fully realized, we are not prepared to alter our full remote plan at this time. We will continue to evaluate; if staffing, community spread, and positivity stabilizes over this period, we are hopeful we will be able to either fully or partially re-engage back to our hybrid plan.
I want to thank our principals for their outstanding school leadership at this time and extraordinary efforts with contact tracing, health and safety management and the Subject Area Directors for their Instructional leadership. In addition, I want to thank my Team(s) for their creativity in providing an appropriate level of school-based programming through this period and responding to the various ways this pandemic continues to impact our community. Our teachers and staff continue to do an outstanding job applying new ways of teaching and meeting the individual needs of their students and families. Right at School and the YMCA, as well as our food service provider, Whitson’s, continue to do an amazing job serving our community in these critical areas. Finally, I want to thank you for your support and patience as we continue to attempt to provide a program that provides continuity and coherence.
Our nurses are available at every school, and we encourage families to continue to communicate with them regarding all cases of COVID-19 that may develop in your household. The nurses will use this information to assist our local health department (QVHD) in its contact tracing and will allow us to continue our efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 within our community. In addition, as the navigation of the health care system has become more complex with this pandemic, our nurses will be available to assist you in any way they can.
Once again, if we all follow the public health appeals to avoid small and large gatherings, wear face masks in public, practice social distancing, and wash our hands frequently, we can positively impact the exploding numbers we are seeing and get our students back in school prior to the nineteenth of January.
Stay well and take care of each other.
From Monday November 23, 2020 - Friday, January 15, 2021, all students will be learning remotely in full distance learning. We will return to our Hybrid Model on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, after the Martin Luther King Day holiday observance.
To make sure student learning can continue during full at-home distance learning, we have put in place structures and protocols that help our teachers teach and our students learn at a distance. Current full-distance learning families should take particular note, since procedures for you change slightly when the entire district is learning remotely, on weather-related closing days or when all in-person schooling is cancelled as well be the case from November 23-January 15.
MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY
At tonight’s 7:00 PM Board of Education meeting, the Superintendent and his team will present a plan to move to a full-distance learning platform for K-12 beginning on November 23, 2020 and ending on January 19, 2021. The Board will be presented with the latest trends on Covid-19 community spread and its impact on staffing and operations. In addition, the Board will examine the best way to move forward in a proactive and coherent manner.
The agenda for tonight’s meeting can be accessed through the District website at www.hamden.org. On the agenda, you will find a Zoom link to the meeting.
With winter on its way, we can anticipate that snowstorms and difficult travel conditions may soon be here. In preparation, I would like to update you on the procedures we will be using this year in the event that inclement weather forces us to suspend in-person learning.
Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona has provided districts the option to change our past practice of delayed openings, early dismissals or cancelations when the weather makes for hazardous driving conditions. On a day when weather would normally cause us to delay opening, release early, or close schools entirely, classes may continue as Remote Learning Days (RLD) with all students participating in remote learning from home. Now that all our students have technology at home and teachers have created virtual Google Classrooms, students will be able to connect through their Google Classrooms at the normal school times, complete assignments and participate in class activities on Remote Learning Days.
Families will be notified of weather-related Remote Learning Days through early morning “robo-calls,” emails and information posted to our Website. (This is a good time to update your phone and email information with your child’s school if these have changed.) Local television and radio stations will also be notified and share the information on their stations: “Buildings-Closed: Remote Learning Day.” Twitter followers can also receive notice by following @HamdenSchools or @SuperHamden.
If it’s a snowy day and you are wondering if our buildings are closed for a Remote Learning Day but haven’t heard or seen any announcement, that means regular school hours and hybrid/distance learning will be held as normally scheduled. Finally, please note that when snow or ice appears certain, I will do my best to make the call earlier to ensure families have more time to make the necessary arrangements.
Accompanying this letter is a parent guide that provides more detailed information about the structure of the Remote Learning Day.
I wish you and your family a safe and healthy winter!
Jody Ian Goeler
Superintendent of Schools
Dear Staff and Community Members:
With all the challenges, obstacles and heartbreak this world pandemic has thrown our way, we have navigated into the seventh week of the 2020-21 school year! I’m sure you are aware that Covid-19 has reached the highest level of spread nation-wide since March, and with the cold weather and people moving indoors, it is predicted the spread will continue to increase. Even across Connecticut, including New Haven County, the spread is climbing.
As my notification yesterday indicated, I had to make the difficult decision to close one of our schools as a result of an individual who tested positive for Covid-19. Even though we do our best to cohort and continue to adhere to all health protocols, when enough staff members have close contact with an infected individual, we are placed in a position where we cannot staff a building safely and need to close the school through the quarantine period.
While there are a greater number of Covid-19 cases impacting our schools, to this point, there has not been a case that has come from contact within the school. All cases to this point are coming from the outside community, resulting in staff and students quarantining throughout many of our schools.
I applaud your efforts to protect everyone within our schools; however, we all must continue to practice these same safety protocols when we go home. As individuals may be asymptomatic, it is important to continue to wear masks and socially distance from your friends and everyone else outside of your immediate household and avoid gatherings. Unless you are certain, health officials advise that we must act as though everyone is positive. With the higher level of spread we are experiencing, these measures are more important than ever. With more virus in the community, the likelihood of contraction is greater as well.
I truly believe that our hybrid plan and the high level of observance to the health and safety protocols we’ve established has been instrumental in allowing us to keep our schools open. However, we have come dangerously close to not having the staff (due to quarantining) to open a school or two safely. While our principals have done an outstanding job arranging coverage, if we were to experience climbing numbers of staff on quarantine, we would need to consider closing those schools as well. The best way to prevent this is to continue to work together to follow the advice of our public health officials as we move into this most challenging time.
Please continue to stay updated through the information provided on our website. Stay well and thank you for all you are doing to ensure the well-being of others.
Jody Ian Goeler
Hamden Public Schools
Dear Hamden Public School Families:
We are thrilled to announce yet another opportunity for meal distributions here at Hamden Public Schools for children 18 and under. Beginning November 4th, 2020; Whitsons School Nutrition, Hamden Public Schools and First Student Transportation will be offering our mobile meal services to our full distance learning families in addition to our other distribution options.
What are Mobile Meals?
- Mobile Meals are breakfast and lunch meals prepared by Whitsons School Nutrition in Full Compliance with federal meal standards that are prepared and delivered right to your door through the collaboration with Hamden Public Schools and First Student Transportation.
Who are mobile meals for?
- Mobile Meals will be offered to any and all full distance learners in Hamden Public Schools
How do you sign up for these?
Sign-up is Very easy! Between October 19th and November 1st, we ask that everyone interested do their best to sign up for the meals by either calling the Food Service Office at 2032301010 or emailing the management team (all contact information down below). This information will be processed and given to first student to create travel routes to deliver to your house during the school day.
How often will I receive these meals?
- We are striving to provide these meal services twice per week (selected days to come). Over the course of the week we will be providing your children with 7 days’ worth of breakfast and lunch meals.
- What information do we need when taking your request?
We simply need your Full Name, Address, Number of Children 18 and under in your house, and if you have any dietary restrictions we should be aware of.
- Most importantly, What’s on the Menu?
We have planned a variety of hot options for you to “heat at home” as well as a variety of cold meal options. All meals come with a variety of fruits, vegetables and milk. Our menu will be posted on the HPS website
We hope that this opportunity serves our families well and we look forward to hearing from you.
To contact us, please reach out to:
Randall Mel Jr.
Food Service Director
Dear Families of Hamden Public Schools:
We have heard your requests regarding meals for distance learners and we are happy to announce several changes we will be making beginning 10/19/20 including the reintroduction of 7 day meal services district wide!
Beginning 10/19/2020 we will now open Meal Distribution sites as follows for all children 18 and under:
Hamden High School:
- Hamden High School will serve as the centralized Daily Meal Distribution Sites and will be open Monday Through Friday from 3PM-6PM. The pick-up area will continue to be outside in front of the auditorium entrance. On Friday’s, we will be serving 3 days’ worth of meals to all families coming to pick up meals.
- On Monday of each week (or the first open school day of the week), High School will be serving 7 days’ worth of meals for our community and for our Full Distance Learners from 1:30PM-2:30PM.
- On Monday of each week (or the first open school day of the week), ALL 8 Elementary Schools will be serving 7 days’ worth of meals for our community and for our Full Distance Learners from 2PM-3PM. These meals will be served outside in the front of the respective buildings or other designated location
- On Monday of each week (or the first open school day of the week), Hamden Middle School will be serving 7 days’ worth of meals for our community and for our Full Distance Learners from 1:30PM-2:30PM.
Alice Peck Learning Center:
- On Monday of each week (or the first open school day of the week), Alice Peck will be serving 7 days’ worth of meals for our community and for our Full Distance Learners from 1:30-2:30PM These meals will be served outside in the front of the respective buildings or other designated location
These meals remain free to all families with children ages 18 and under until 12-31-2020 which could continue if the USDA allows. Parents can pick up meals at the most convenient location nearest to them
All meal locations and meal bags will come with a meal integrity statement that reminds families that by selecting either the 7 day meal pick-up or the daily meal pick-up, that they should not go to another site to pick-up additional meals for the same group of children.
We are hoping to take on one more distribution method in the near future that we look forward to sharing with all of you.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the office of the Food Service Director. Contact information below
Randall Mel Jr.
Food Service Director
The beginning of the school year is approaching and we would like to extend a warm welcome to let you know that Whitsons School Nutrition has exciting plans for the school meal program. Our goal is to serve nutritious, well-balanced meals that appeal to students and the school community. We are pleased to provide a comprehensive school dining program at Hamden Public Schools that meets the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program requirements and engages students in developing a positive “Fooditude.”
At Whitsons we have gone back to a time when good food was simple. As part of our Simply Rooted® Food Philosophy we are focused on using ingredients that are locally sourced, all-natural, organic or non-GMO, and minimally processed, whenever possible. We’ve gone back to our roots and we would like the entire Hamden Public Schools school community to join us on this journey. Some new items that may appear on menus include: waffles, organic veggie burgers, whole grain pasta with organic tomato sauce, organic applesauce and pineapple spears, and a variety of fresh fruit side dishes, just to name a few.
Here is some general information that will be helpful to begin the new school year:
Meal Prices: FREE MEALS UNTIL DECEMBER 31ST FOR ALL
On August 31st, 2020, Secretary Purdue approved for the extension of free meals to all students 18 and under for districts who “opt in” through one of the two free meal programs. Hamden Public Schools applied and was approved for Free Meals for all registered students from September 15th through December 31st, 2020 or until the Connecticut State Department of Education and USDA declare otherwise.
This is a wonderful extension for our community as we will be able to serve all students breakfast and lunch for free.
I’m pleased to report that our schools have been open for four days. It’s great to see everyone back and engaged in the learning process. Overall, as multifaceted as our plan is, it’s been a very successful opening. Everyone is doing their best at social distancing, mask wearing, hand cleaning and other ways to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in our schools. However, there have been, and will continue to be, cases reported throughout our school community, and those concerns will always be followed up immediately. Be assured that the District will notify you if there is a positive case in your child’s school. The most critical thing to remember, however, is that we all need to be vigilant and continue to practice our safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of Covid-19:
- Wear a face covering (mask) whenever there is a likelihood that you or your family members will be in the presence of others.
- Wash your hands frequently, using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet) between yourself and others when outside of your home.
- Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air. Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze inside the elbow of your arm.
- As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Most importantly, use the HPS Daily Health Assessment form to identify any symptoms associated with COVID-19. Contact your school nurse and your medical provider if you or your child experiences any of these symptoms and do not enter the school For additional information please see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
We are closely monitoring all situations and will again notify you when there is a positive case in any of our schools. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
As you likely know, school is starting two weeks, and this school year will depend on students having home technology. In about a week, you’ll receive information about how to get your child’s chromebook (for students in Pre-K-grade 8) or laptop for students in grades 9-12 that they will use during the coming school year.
Internet access is a necessity for each Hamden Pubic School family this school year. The purpose of this call is to ask families that do not currently have Internet access at home to contact their children’s schools and let them know. We are committed to making sure every child has the technology and connections needed to provide positive learning experiences, whether learning in school or from home.
Again, if you do not currently have internet access at home, please contact your school and let them know. Thank you.
If you have a child attending one of our elementary schools, you'll want to view our new video! This video, created by some very creative and talented Hamden High drama students, helps children going to school in Hamden learn a bit about what to expect when they return to school. The video teaches elementary students about the new structures, rules and procedures that will be in place to help keep everyone safe during the pandemic. Take a look at our Video Guide to Returning to Elementary School In Hamden!
On August 25, the Hamden Public Schools Board of Education voted to delay the reopening of schools until September 15. As the over 280 people who attended this virtual session know, the meeting lasted 4 ½ hours, the majority of which was a discussion on the need for this delay. It was not an easy decision.
To be clear: No one on the Board of Education and no one on the district administration team wanted to delay reopening. What they DID want was to ensure that when schools do open, our students have the teachers and other staff in place so that classes and other school routines operate well. The delay until September 15 will allow the district to work through most if not all of the very complex personnel matters (many of which have legal implications) to make this happen.
All new safety structures are in place in our buildings. Teachers are busy learning the new technology tools and structures needed to reopen in a hybrid model. We are all anxious to get students back to school, and thank our community members for their patience as we resolve the remaining issues that will allow for a positive reopening of schools.
At the start of the school year, all Hamden Public Schools’ students in grades pre-K through 8 will receive a personal school supply kit including a backpack. This will eliminate the need to share supplies in school and help provide materials needed for at home schoolwork. All students will receive a kit, whether engaged in at-home distance learning or in-school instruction.
Families may still provide additional supplies for their own children if they wish.
At the August 11 Board of Education Meeting, the Board voted to move the start of school until September 8, the day after Labor Day. This delay will provide additional time for district facilities to be readied and for teachers to learn the new procedures and technologies needed to implement the Reopening Transitional Plan.
As we get closer to the beginning of the school year, we are continuing to update our Reopening Schools Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). (Check back often, since we will be updating the FAQs as more information is available.
We have also created a one-page Reopening Plan Summary for those who want to see a brief overview of the key features of our 65 page reopening plan.
The beginning of the new school year is quickly approaching. With this email, there are a few loose ends to tie up, and we would also like to provide some information that may help you better understand our reopening plan.
We have created a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that can be found on our district Website. This list of questions and answers provides information about the safety measures, schedules and many other areas that will be in place as we begin the new school year. Please visit www.Hamden.org to view our Reopening FAQs. We've also written a one page Reopening Plan Summary for those who want to review a brief overview of the key features of our 65 page reopening plan.
As part of our reopening plan, every student will be provided a chromebook or laptop for their use at home and/or in school during the 2020-21 school year. For some students, we will need to collect the device you were loaned in the spring and provide you with a different device for the 2020-21 school year.
These students must return their devices:
- Students entering grades 7, 9, 10, 11, or 12
- Students who have or will withdraw from Hamden Public Schools
- Students whose devices are damaged
The students listed above must return their chromebooks on August 17, between 9:00-1:00, or August 18 from 11:00-3:00 at any of the following locations: Bear Path, Ridge Hill, Hamden Middle School or Spring Glen.
If your child borrowed a device and is in a grade other than those listed above, he/she will continue to use the same device in the next school year.
New devices will be distributed in the first few days of school (or just before). More information on this will be provided at a later date. Thank you for your cooperation in returning these devices on the dates listed above.
We hope you enjoy the remaining days of summer and stay safe.
On Tuesday night, July 21, the Board of Education approved our Transitional Reopening Plan, which will be submitted to the State as required on Friday, July 24. View a presentation of the plan that provides an overview of how Hamden proposes to reopen school. Specific details will be coming in the next few weeks.
(Note that this plan has changed somewhat - please see July 21 plan for the most updated information.)
With the current lower-rate of Coronavirus spread in our area, Hamden is committed to reopening our schools in a way that provides maximum safety for our students and staff. It is our hope that with continued low infection-rates, this gradual reopening of schools will enable us to implement our safety protocols and adjust as needed, so that we can be confident in our ability to operate schools safely and return to full-day soon.
Hamden's Reopening Transition Plan (RTP) prioritizes getting our youngest learners to school for the most time, both to allow more direct instruction of basic skills and to help our families with childcare needs. In addition to learning in school. all students will be provided some amount of distance learning, including live online instruction. Those who choose to keep their children home will receive their instructional programs through distance learning.
The outline of Hamden’s transition plan includes the following:
- All grades will have a combination of in-school and at home distance learning.
- Grades K-5 students: K-5 children will attend school Tuesday-Friday, 5½ hour days per day. On Mondays, student’s will have assigned work to complete at home in Google Classroom.
- Grade 6 students: We are exploring options for Grade 6 students. The Wintergreen school building is a possible option in order to appropriately distance students and staff. At this time, we do not yet know the number of days students will be in school per week and how many will be conducted through at-home distance learning, pending knowing how many students will be retuning
- Grades 7 and 8 students: Hamden Middle School students will attend school either Tuesday and Wednesday or Thursday and Friday, with the remaining days being completed through at-home distance learning. Days will be 5½ hours long.
- Grades 9-12 students: Hamden High School students will attend school either Tuesday and Wednesday or Thursday and Friday, with the remaining days being completed through at-home distance learning. Days will be 5½ hours long.
- Transportation: First Student will continue to provide transportation for our students. There will be safety protocols enacted (extra cleaning, loading students from the back, everyone wearing masks) but buses will not accommodate 6 feet of social distancing.
In order to appropriately plan for reopening, we need to understand what each parent is thinking in regards to sending their children back. Please take a few minutes to answer the questions on the form linked below for your child. If you have more than one child who attends school in Hamden, please complete the form for each child.
Thank you for your help, especially during these challenging times.
Dear Hamden Families,
Thank you for your support over the past three months, as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 health emergency. The disruption to our lives continues to be immeasurable as we work to meet the challenges this crisis brings to our schools and community. The purpose of this email is to provide you with an update related to schools re-opening in the next school year.
As you may have heard yesterday, the Governor and CT Commissioner of Education announced that all public school students and staff will return to schools in-person full-time in the fall. This decision is based on present and projected public health data for our area. (An Executive Summary of the State’s Fall Reopening Model can be found at https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/COVID-19/Reopening_Executive_Summary.pdf.)
Our number one guiding principle in reopening our schools is ensuring the safety of our students and staff. Every decision we make will continue to be with safety at the forefront.
Over the past several weeks, our district has been working non-stop to create plans for a variety of back-to-school scenarios. We have committees to determine structures and strategies for safely and effectively opening schools. Transportation, teaching/learning/assessment, mental health/wellness, communications, athletics, food services and general operations and needed supplies (including PPE and cleaning materials) are all being taken into account. The Governor’s plan requires CT school districts to submit a reopening plan by late July, and with the new guidance provided yesterday, these committees will be able to finalize their plans for the fall. We will share with you the details as our plans continue to develop.
Since no one knows what the future of COVID may hold for our community, our planning includes flexibility, which will enable us to rapidly alter plans and react to changing conditions if necessary. We will be ready to adapt quickly, should the health situation warrant changes, allowing our school community to remain safe while learning continues remotely.
As always, our district will do all it can to provide the best possible educational experiences to Hamden students in the coming school year. This is true when school begins in the fall, back in our school buildings, but it will also be true if conditions warrant at-home distance learning. As we plan for reopening, we will continue to seek your input and feedback, and are committed to providing you with regular updates. Please contact your school if you have questions, or check the Website, www.Hamden.org/Coronavirus for the most current information.
Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times.
- May 8 - Elementary School Families: End of Year Update
- May 6 - Schools Closed for the Remaining School Year: Letter from the Superintendent
- April 30 - Mobile Meals Available Starting May 5
- April 10 - Letter from the Superintendent
- April 9 - Optional Activities for Elementary Students - Spring Break or Other Times
- April 2 - Food Service During Spring Break
- Online Instruction to Start Week of March 30
- March 20 Update: Information on At-Home Instruction
- March 19 Update Monthly Mobile Food Pantry, More Food Sites
- March 18 Update: Enrichment Packets and Extended Plans for Learning
- March 16 UPDATE: First Steps for Continuing Learning at Home
- March 14 UPDATE: Message on Free Meals and Instructional Packets
- March 12 Post and Message to Families - Hamden Schools Closed Beginning Friday, March 13
- March 11 Email and "Robocall" to families - Early Dismissal on March 16
- March 10 Letter to families from Superintendent Goeler
- February 27 Website Post on staying healthy
Dear Elementary Families,
We hope this email finds you and your family well. We truly have missed all of our students and their families.
We could never have imagined that this is how we would end our school year. We have been committed to supporting all students and families with Distance Learning.
The purpose of this correspondence is to communicate some changes regarding grading and report cards for this last marking period as well as some other information you may need to know.
- How is my child’s attendance recorded?
Students are to respond to the attendance question each day in the Google Classroom.
- How is my child’s work evaluated?
During the third marking term, teachers are monitoring the completion of assignments, and providing feedback through comments. The primary goal is to offer feedback, celebrate accomplishments and provide suggestions for next steps or improvement. With regard to the final report card, students will not receive a standards based grade, and you will see “NA” in place of a grade. Feedback regarding work habits and academic progress will be communicated through comments aligned with distance learning expectations.
- How are teachers monitoring the amount of work assigned?
Teachers are working in collaboration with their departments and teams to plan weekly lessons and assignments. We are grateful for student and parent feedback; and are making adjustments in the hopes to provide both a level of challenge and more support where needed. As you know, Wednesdays are dedicated to allow teachers and students time to connect. This time may also be used by students to complete missed classroom assignments, practice skills using online platforms or explore enrichment activities or challenges.
- How can I pick up my child’s medicine? How can I retrieve my child’s personal belongings?
We understand students and parents want to collect their belongings. We are working with our Central Office leaders to organize a safe, systematic process. We promise to communicate information as it is finalized.
- How will my child transition from sixth grade to seventh grade?
More information will be coming soon from HMS about this process to Grade 6 parents. Please note that physicals will be necessary for enrollment, but the state has extended that deadline. More information will be communicated to Grade 6 families as it is received.
We hope this information is helpful, and we encourage you to contact a member of the school team if we can be of assistance.
We appreciate your support of distance learning.
Hamden Elementary Team
Dear Hamden Public Schools Staff and Parents/Guardians,
First and foremost, I hope you and your families are healthy and managing as best you can during this challenging time.
Yesterday, Governor Lamont called for the cancellation of all in-person classes through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. As a result, we will continue with distance learning through our last day of school on June 9th.
While I know many expected this news, it is still difficult to absorb the significant impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on school children and families as well as the health and well-being of so many across our country. Our school and district leaders will continue to work with staff to ensure our students are celebrated for their hard work and acknowledge their accomplishments as we proceed towards the end of the school year.
As I share this news with you, there is a great deal of planning occurring on both the State and local level regarding how we best proceed through the end of the year and reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year. I will continue to share information with you as it becomes available. In the meantime, I want to express my deep gratitude to our teachers, administrators and staff for all their efforts to help our students and families during this time.
Please take care and be well.
Jody Ian Goeler
Superintendent of Schools
We understand that it's not easy for everyone who needs meals for their children to get to one of our food distribution sites at the designated times. So... we are adding "Mobile Meals" for Hamden children! Here's how it works:
- Mobile Meal service is for families in Hamden with children 18 and under who may not be able to get to our meal distribution sites during the allotted times.
- To be added to one of the distribution routes and for more information, please contact Laverne Williams at 203-999-7803.
- Meals will be delivered daily and will include breakfast and lunch meals for each child 18 and under in the home.
- Any questions regarding dietary restrictions, accommodations, or meal distribution please contact Randall Mel, Food Service Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-230-1010.
Questions about anything related to our meal program or food service?
Contact Randall Mel, Whitsons Food Service Director, 203-230-1010 or email@example.com.
Dear Parent or Guardian,
Less than one month ago, none of us had any idea how our world would be turned upside down.
I am keenly aware that for all of us, children and adults alike, these are challenging times. I see it the eyes of the hundreds of people picking up the more than 1000 meals every day; I hear about it every morning in the Town’s Emergency Management Team meetings, and I feel it when I watch the news every night and see the mounting unemployment numbers and the general stressors that take their toll on the mental health of our community members and certainly our students. Each statistic represents a real person, a member of a family, a member of a community.
With this in mind, and like many other districts across the state, Hamden Public Schools decided to stay with its existing school calendar and leave April 10-17 as our Spring break. There were many reasons for this, but perhaps the most compelling one is that we are all – students and staff alike - acclimating to a new way of life and associated pressures. In addition, we are teaching and learning through completely online classes, which is a major adjustment for everyone. This has been especially challenging for many of our students, who previously had no devices or Internet connectivity at home. We are still working to achieve this for some of our families.
During the April break, teachers have been asked to allow students to make up work they may not have completed in the first two weeks of online classes. However, even with no new instruction and assignments in the coming week, there are valuable educational things to do, even for those who have already completed their assignments. Teachers have posted optional enrichment activities in their classes, and we’ve also included other engaging educational activities on our Website on the What Else Can We Do At Home? page: www.Hamden.org/Coronavirus/What-Else.
Our students are having to adapt to this new mode of virtual learning as well as increased feelings of isolation, stress, and worry. For this reason, I have asked our teachers and administrators to stress mental health, kindness and human connection as they prepare their future online instruction and assignments. When students do return to school in our buildings, I want them feeling as though we cared about them, and with positive outlooks about our school community, our town and the world that awaits them.
As parents and guardians, I realize that the move to online instruction at home also places a greater burden on YOU. I know that it’s not easy having everyone at home together 24/7, and many of you are having to balance working from home yourselves with your child’s online classes. Whatever you are able to do, I am appreciative of your efforts to support your child in online school. If there is something we can do to help, please let your child’s teacher or principal know. We are all in this together.
Stay safe and stay well.
On Thursday April 9th, Whitsons School Nutrition and Hamden Public Schools will be providing families with four days worth of breakfast and lunch meals. In recognition of Good Friday, there will be no meal service in Hamden on April 10th.
Bagged Meals for the 4 days will be separated in our eco-friendly plastic grocery bags (one bag for breakfast items, one for lunch items). As our normal custom has been, families may requests as many meals as they have children under the age of 18 in their household.
We will resume normal service beginning Monday, April 13th. Even though it's Spring break, food service will continue throughout the week.
Get those keyboards sharpened (!) Hamden teachers and students will begin online work the week of March 30. Chromebooks are being distributed March 26 and 27 for HMS and HHS students who need devices, and March 30 and 31 for elementary students. (Detailed distribution schedules will be provided by each school or see our Chromebook Loan Information Page). For the next several weeks, students will learn in their "virtual classrooms" - with activities and assignments created and managed by their teachers!
We hope you are well and taking care of yourselves and your families. The following is an outline the various phases of our plan to implement continued teaching and learning while schools are closed. Over the last several days, we have developed a distance-learning plan for all students. Our district values transparency with our families and wanted to be sure we provided you with any and all information we have at this time.
Phase 1: Paper Enrichment Packets (March 18 - 27)
On Wednesday, March 18, Hamden Public Schools made grade-level materials available for students and families. Students are encouraged to complete these assignments gradually over the next several days to remain academically engaged through March 27. Although hard copy distribution will end on Friday, March 20, electronic copies will remain available on this page, below.
Phase 2: Transition to Online Teaching and Learning (March 19 – 27)
On Thursday, March 19, the District sent an online survey to all parents and certified staff in order to determine specific technology needs. If you have not already completed the survey, please do so now. Technology Survey - English and Technology Survey - Spanish. Paper copies of the survey are also available to parents at the Church Street, Hamden Middle School, and Hamden High School food distribution sites until Monday, March 23.
As we move to an online platform, Hamden Public Schools will make every effort to ensure faculty and students have access to technology. More information will be provided once our district has assessed our families’ technology needs. In the meantime, staff and families should explore free Internet offers, such as Comcast's Internet Essentials Program www.internetessentials.com. You can also call them at 855-846-8376 for English and 855-765-6995 for Spanish.
Although we do not have details yet, we expect to loan chromebooks to our students who do not have a computer, chromebook or iPad that they can use at home. Please know that we do not have sufficient numbers of these devices to give one to every student in the district. If you don't need a device, please do not ask for one from the district. We ask for your sensitivity, cooperation and compassion in allowing your child access to home devices you already have. In doing so, you will be helping to make sure that those in Hamden who currently have no devices at home are able to be connected and stay involved in their school work during this unprecedented time.
As we move to online instruction during the School Closure, students in grades (K-12) will be expected to log in to their Google Classrooms. On or before March 27, we will provide detailed directions concerning student log-in to Google Classroom and other digital resources.
Phase 3: Implementation of Online Teaching and Learning (Anticipated start date of March 30)
Students are expected to:
● Log-in daily onto Google Classroom and complete their work throughout the day
● Demonstrate appropriate online behavior and work habits
● Post all assignments to Google Classrooms by 9:00 am each school day
● Be available from 9:00 – 1:00 on regular school days in order to:
- Communicate with parents and students via email, Google Classroom, and telephone. To the extent possible, communication between teachers and families will be through email and/or Google classroom. Should parents or students want to speak to a teacher by telephone, they should email the teacher, and the teacher will call at a mutually agreeable time using his or her personal phone, which may appear as a blocked number.
- Monitor student progress and provide timely feedback
- Maintain and update all grades weekly
What parents can do to help:
● Provide your child with a space to work
● Minimize distractions during work time
● Communicate with teachers if your child needs help with assignments
● Create a schedule for your child that includes time for academics as well as time for physical activity and the arts to provide structure and a routine for learning
Special Education Support
We will work to implement student IEPs with the understanding that, in some cases, not all services can be provided and some service provision will look different than it would in the classroom setting.
Student teams will be reviewing services and working to determine how best to support student needs under the new distance-learning model. Services may include, but not be limited to: collaboration with classroom teachers, consultation with students and families, and virtual instruction and support activities. Teachers should expect to collaborate with special education service providers on student need, scheduling, and service provision.
At this time, 504 and PPT meetings will not be conducted while we allow staff to become acclimated to this new methodology. As we move forward and receive additional guidance, we will reassess our position on this matter and communicate with staff and families once we have more information.
Additional Student Support
EL Specialists and SRBI Coordinators will continue to collaborate with classroom teachers to provide ongoing support for our English Learners and students receiving academic interventions.
We are all learning together how to live and work in the midst of a pandemic. In essence, we have been tasked with moving from a traditional school system to one that provides distance learning for all students with only days to accomplish this. We are working very hard to develop, implement, monitor, and, when necessary, modify our plan to provide your child with a quality distance-learning experience. We are here to support you and your child, and appreciate your ongoing partnership as we deal with a challenge that is unprecedented in any of our lifetimes.
Although this is our current plan, we will continue to be informed by and respond to state agency recommendations and/or mandates, which may significantly alter this plan.
Mobile Food Pantry: Monday, March 23th from 3:30pm-4:30pm (Rain or Shine), Dunbar Hill School - 315 Lane St. (back parking lot)
In addition, Hamden Public Schools is happy to expand our daily breakfast and lunch sites to two new food distributions sites: Ridge Hill School and the ML Keefe Center.
So, starting Monday, March 23, breakfast and Lunch "to go" meals will be available for any child 18 and under at Church Street School, Ridge Hill School, Hamden Middle School, Hamden High School and the M. L. Keefe Center. Spread the word!
Home Technology Access Survey
It looks like schools will be closed for awhile, and so we are busy planning for students to learn from home electronically. In order to implement at-home online learning, we need to know what technology and Internet connectivity is available to your child(ren) at home.
We have created a survey to help determine access and needs. The survey is available in print form at our food distribution sites (Church Street, Hamden High and Hamden Middle Schools) or can be completed electronically: Technology Survey - English and Technology Survey - Spanish. Please complete the survey by Monday, March 23.
At this point, all students should be starting their enrichment packets at home. (if you don't have your packet yet, packets are available March 18, 19 and 20 at HHS, HMS and Church Street Schools, from 9:00-12:00, or by printing documents from links below on this page.
It appears more and more likely that schools will be closed for several weeks beyond the end of March when the enrichment packet activities have been completed. For this reason, Hamden administrators and teachers are working hard to plan online learning for our students, including strategies to accommodate special needs. Options for families who currently lack connectivity and technology at home are being explored. More details on our online learning plan will be provided in the coming days.
We’d like to let you know that Hamden Public Schools are working to implement ways to continue students’ education during extended closures of our schools. On Wednesday, March 18, packets of instructional materials for each grade level will be available for pick up at one of three locations: Hamden High, Hamden Middle and Church Street Schools, between 9:00-12:00 each day this week. These materials are designed to keep students learning for about two weeks. We will continue to update our families of at-home educational programs should closings continue beyond that timeframe.
Since “social distancing” has been recommended by CT health departments and the World Health Organization as the best way to stay healthy, please be sure to keep distance from others when you come to pick up instructional materials packets.
While children are home during school closings, we suggest that parents/guardians establish (or keep) regular routines for their children. This will help provide some structure and normalcy to what may be a confusing time to many. Here are a few suggestions.
- Have a regular “wake up” time for children.
- Have children eat breakfast, wash and dress as they would on a normal day where they go to school.
- Schedule daily time for “school work” (at this time, instructional packets). This can include time for children to read a great book, or to have a book read to them. You may also want to establish a special “school work zone” to complete work.
- Schedule breaks and snacks each day.
- Put in time for exercise and fresh air - those things are important for all of us! Think about ways to get children outside and/or get them moving with inside exercises and stretches.
- Music and art are also important (and fun!) parts of the school week for many children. Include weekly time to sing and listen to music and for drawing/coloring or other art projects.
We will continue to provide regular communications to you. Thank you for your help in ensuring our children stay engaged in learning during these school closures.
Hello Hamden Families,
Due to the closing of Hamden Public Schools, we are providing "to go" breakfast and lunch to all our students at no cost starting Monday, March 16th. Students do not need identification. Food will be distributed Monday to Friday between 9AM and 12PM at Hamden High School, Church Street School, and Hamden Middle School.
Distance learning packets will be available at these sites on March 18th. These packets will also be emailed to those families that have provided email addresses to the district.
Please be aware of future communications as information is changing daily. Thank you for your flexibility and understanding.
In an effort to help mitigate the spread of Coronavirus, Hamden Public Schools joins with other CT school districts in closing our schools, beginning Friday, March 13, 2020. All before and after school and adult education programs are also cancelled.
Parents and other caregivers should expect an extended closure. We will provide more information on when it will be appropriate for school to resume based on guidance from health officials and the State of Connecticut.
Because we know that many of our students rely on school to provide breakfast and lunch, we will be implementing a program similar to our Summer Meals program. Starting on Monday, March 16, we have made arrangements for any child 18 (or their parents) or under to pick up “To Go” meals at one of our three distribution locations: Hamden High, Hamden Middle and Church Street Schools. Meals will be available between 9:00-12:00, Monday –Friday. No identification is required to receive these meals.
Although our schools will be closed, district and school offices will reopen on Tuesday March 17 for business that can be conducted by phone or electronically. All of our buildings are closed to the public indefinitely.
Starting Wednesday, March 18, packets of educational materials to help keep students’ minds and bodies engaged will be available at HHS, HMS and Church Street School. Anyone is welcome to pick up packets for their children.
We understand that closing schools will be difficult for many families, but this is an unprecedented situation that requires a community response. As part of our community, Hamden Public Schools will do all we can to support our families during these challenging times.
We will continue to communicate updates through phone, email and our Websites.
Dear Hamden Families,
The BOE approved an early dismissal for Monday 3/16 in order to allow teachers to organize materials for students to bring home should a school closure become necessary in the future due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Dismissal times will be:
Church Street, Dunbar Hill, Helen Street, Shepherd Glen: 12:34
Bear Path, Ridge Hill, Spring Glen, West Woods: 1:04
Alice Peck: Extended PreK: 12:15; Morning PreK: 10:15; Afternoon PreK: 12:15; Full Day IIC: 12:15
Hamden Early Learning Center: Will remain open during regular working hours.
Especially at this time, communication with our families is essential. Please ensure that your child's school has the most up to date family contact information.
Thanks for your flexibility and understanding during this challenging time.
On Monday evening, I participated in a conference call with other CT school and town leaders, which was led by Governor Lamont and focused on Coronavirus planning and actions. This letter shares steps already being taken in Hamden Public Schools to minimize the impact of Coronavirus in our community as well as additional steps added as a result of recommendations by the Governor.
The following proactive steps have been enacted with the best interest of our students, staff and greater community in mind:
Cleaning: We have increased cleaning measures in all of our buildings, with a focus on disinfecting of rails, doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces. First Student is also increasing the level and frequency of cleaning on all of our buses.
Healthy Behaviors: Through our Websites, letters to families, email messages to staff, signs in our buildings and discussions and reminders to students, we have and continue to promote behaviors that help everyone stay healthy. These behaviors include frequent handwashing with soap for at least 20 seconds, not coughing or sneezing without covering your mouth/nose with a tissue/sleeve, not touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth), avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and staying home when you are sick.
Social Distancing and Limiting Travel: The Governor has asked that all activities involving groups of 100 or more be postponed. In addition, the Governor has recommended that CT students not travel for field trips that may include exposure to large groups and/or contact with people from outside our immediate area. This means that all school-wide events, external professional development and field trips will be cancelled or postponed until further notice. (Trips abroad have already been cancelled.)
Today, the CIAC (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference) made the difficult decision to cancel all remaining CIAC winter tournament games.
We are in the process of reviewing alternatives for in-person parent conferences currently scheduled for March and April. Those wishing to register their kindergarten children are strongly encouraged to utilize the online registration form located on our Website at www.hamden.org/resources/register.
School-Based Health: Our school nurses are skilled in infection control and are implementing best practices for minimizing spread of germs/illness. Nurses are also monitoring the type and number of illnesses presenting, to determine patterns and additional steps warranted.
Preparing for Possible School Closures: The district has been working with teachers and administrators to develop a series of plans in the event that local health agencies and the State of Connecticut deem closing of schools necessary. In the next several days, students will receive packets and materials of cross curricular school work, which should be completed by students if schools are closed. For your information, we have chosen to use print rather than computer-based materials at this time to ensure every student has equitable access.
Our library/media center policies will be loosened to ensure students have the opportunity to borrow more than the usual number of books.
School Meals: One of our big concerns, in the event of school closures, is making food available to our students that depend on it. We are currently exploring waivers and other options to best ensure students who participate in the federal free and reduced lunch program have food available to them in the event schools are closed for an extended period of time.
As this is an evolving situation, communication is particularly important during this time. We will continue to use telephone messaging, our Websites, social media and other vehicles to provide information and updates to our families.
We will continue to monitor the situation, with guidance from QVHD, the State of Connecticut and CDC. If you have questions about Coronovirus (CoVid-19), you can do the following:
- Call 211 or text CTCOVID to 898211 with your questions
- Visit the QVHD Coronavirus Website http://www.qvhd.org/corona-virus-preparedness
- Read the CDC factsheet on Coronavirus: http://www.qvhd.org/sites/default/files/pdf/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf
- Visit the CDC Coronavirus Website
The uncertainty and media reports related to Coronavirus make this a particularly challenging time for all of us. You have my commitment to keeping you updated on school-related issues and in doing all we can to ensure the health and well-being of our students and staff. I appreciate your support and understanding.
Jody Ian Goeler
There's a lot of scary information in the news lately about Coronavirus. (View the CDC's FactSheet on Coronovirus) The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and local health officials remind us that the best way to stay healthy is to practice basic healthy behaviors. These behaviors help prevent the spread of any illness, including flu or Coronavirus.
QVHD (Quinnipiac Valley Health District) has asked that we share the following information and recommendations:
To help avoid coming into contact with infectious diseases or spreading them to others, the CDC recommends everyday preventive actions including these steps:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Facemasks are not generally recommended. Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people taking care of someone in close settings.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
As was distributed via a "robo call" to all HPS families, QVHD also recommends several home preparedness steps. QVHD and the CDC state that it's important for everyone to maintain a 3-day stockpile of essential items at home - regardless of emerging situations. These would come into play for any emergency - including hurricanes or snowstorms. You know the drill - buy milk and bread, extra batteries for flashlights, etc. In the event that the Coronavirus reaches our area, your won't need extra batteries for the flashlight, but it is possible that people will be asked to stay home for a period of about two weeks. For this reason, QVHD recommends that people be ready to store non-perishable foods and other essentials (like pet food, prescriptions, diapers) that could last for up to two weeks. Please note that this is not currently the recommendation - but could be recommended should the situation change.
So to summarize: Stay home if you are sick. Stay away from sick people. Clean frequently touched objects. Wash your hands frequently and don't touch your eyes, nose and mouth. And finally - check for updated information on the CDC or QVHD Coronavirus Webpages.