***en Español***

Dear Northfield Public Schools Families,

Thank you for all your patience, support, understanding, and forgiveness during this rapidly evolving global pandemic health crisis. It has been a week we will all remember for the rest of our lives. I encourage you to continue taking care of yourselves — both physically and emotionally. If you have not watched this video yet about managing stress in this challenging time, I encourage you to do so. Again, thanks to Northfield High School school psychologist Carrie Duba for the suggestion.

COVID-19 Updates

I will slow the pace of these updates over spring break. Please do not expect a daily message next week, but you can expect at least three updates during that time.

First-ever read-aloud!

Thanks to the 176 households that connected to our first superintendent read-a-loud via the Zoom videoconference application. I shared one of our family’s favorite books: The  Monster at the End of This Book. We plan to use Zoom as a core component of our approach to distance learning, so it was a great opportunity for families to check it out. Keep an eye on your email for more read-a-louds after spring break.

Distance Learning

Our staff worked hard this week to develop our preliminary distance learning framework. The framework is rooted in these guiding principles:

  1. Relationships first. Let’s model empathy for the wide diversity in our students’ new reality.

  2. Supportive stance. We will be relentless in our attention to engaging and connecting with our most vulnerable learners.

  3. The whole child. We want to ensure a holistic approach to our distance learning.

  4. Strengthen our instructional toolbox. Use what we have available and seek coaching. We have the tools to be successful.

  5. Less is more. Avoid the temptation to try too much too soon.

  6. Flexibility. Let’s not pretend this is business as usual.

  7. Monitor and adjust. We will continually review our practices and make improvements.

  8. Give ourselves grace. We do not need to be perfect. This is a work in progress.

We are working to learn the appropriate teaching approaches and age-appropriate expectations. The guiding principles will be used to help answer the inevitable questions that we won’t be able to answer immediately. The framework provides the parameters for our world-class teaching staff to work within. We plan to have educational assistants supporting the students they work with regularly in this environment as well. Our goal for the first week, beginning March 31, is to start slowly so we can make sure every child is connected and engaged. Thank you, in advance, for your patience and understanding as we shift to a different way of educating children in this new reality. Of course, we will seek your feedback along the way and commit to continually improving our distance learning approach.

Child Care Update

We will continue this school-age child care service for emergency and health care workers over spring break (March 23-27, 2020) with slightly reduced hours. The school-age child care services will be available at Bridgewater Elementary from 7:00 am-5:00 pm. (Again, this is for children in Kindergarten through age 12 only.)

The Northfield Area Family YMCA will offer a fee-based child care option for families who are not emergency or health care workers over spring break. Scholarships are available. See the YMCA web site for more information.

Meals for Children

During spring break (March 23-27, 2020), we will have meals available on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday only at Greenvale Park Elementary School.  More information is available on this flyer.

Once again, thank you for your ongoing support, understanding, patience, and forgiveness as we all adjust to these surreal circumstances.

Most sincerely,

Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools