May 20, 2020
I would first like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all of the hard work teachers, therapists, school staff, and especially you as parents have been putting into Distance Learning. It has not gone unnoticed- thank you! On May 18, 2020, the South Orange & Maplewood Board of Education approved the SOMSD School Health Related Closure Plan. Included in this plan, there are some updates to the Special Services Distance Learning Plan that I would like to highlight and make you aware of. The updates in the plan reflect some of the great feedback that we have received from teachers and families. It is our hope that these updates will improve upon the learning experiences for all students with an IEP.
Special Services Updates:
1. Additional opportunities for increased Speech Therapy
2. Weekly personalized virtual interaction
3. Paraprofessional supports for students
Contracted Speech therapists (who already have working relationships with the district) have been contracted to begin providing additional services to families. The contracted speech therapists will provide an extension of services already being provided. These speech therapists will be working directly from students’ IEPs, in order to assist with meeting IEP goals. These additional certified therapists will allow for the extension of therapy hours, while also providing consistency in service delivery. Each therapist has received an introduction from our lead speech therapist and has reviewed each IEP for every student they will be supporting.
Personalized Virtual Interaction:
While various platforms are being utilized across the district, and there is a focus on pre-recorded lessons, special education teachers specifically, will use Google Meet/Hangout to assist their students by using video or audio means to support the accommodations and modifications as set forth in IEPs. Students in grades PreK – 8 with an IEP will be contacted at least once a week for personalized virtual interaction with their special education teacher. The weekly live-interaction will be an opportunity with the teacher to follow-up on a pre-recorded lesson or activity directly with the student/family. This consistent communication will allow the teachers to review with students challenges that they may be having with a particular lesson or activity. This instructional guidance (i.e. personalized virtual interaction) will be accomplished in a variety of ways which may include; Google Meet, ShowMe, phone calls, email, etc. Teachers remain available during their daily “office hours” for questions, so please reach out to them directly with any questions on assignments.
The special education supervisors have worked to develop sample tasks that paraprofessionals will implement in working with students. Paraprofessionals (1:1 aides and shared aides) will begin working to assist students who they supported prior to the closure. Paraprofessionals will engage in a variety of tasks, including but not limited to: daily check-ins with students, oral reading tasks, and assisting students with executive functioning tasks.
Dr. Melody Alegria Assistant Superintendent, Special Services (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dr. Laura Morana, Interim Director of Special Services for Transition (email@example.com)
Mr. Leroy Johnson III, Supervisor of Preschool Education Program (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ms. Karen Thomany, Supervisor of K-8 Program (email@example.com)
Ms. Susan Ellis, Supervisor of K-8 Program (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ms. Gerri Colon, Supervisor of 9-12 Program (email@example.com)
Dear SOMSD Pre-K Parents/Guardians:
We hope that you and your family are well. Please allow us to provide an update of the District’s Preschool Education program and registration for the 2020-2021 school year.
As you may be aware, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) through the Division of Early Childhood and Family Engagement Office, awarded the South Orange and Maplewood School District, Pre-School Education Expansion Aid (PEEA) funding to expand our preschool program that was launched in the 2018-2019 school year. The primary goal of the PEEA is to increase access to high-quality full-day preschool for three- and four-year-olds.
As a District, we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to have access to quality Pre-K programs. The funding received through the PEEA supports the Board’s commitment to expanding access to a free high-quality preschool education program in 2020-2021 for children in our community. As such, this expansion will be accomplished through the placement of students at the District’s Montrose Early Childhood Center and includes our partners: Applecore Learning, La Petite, Zadie’s of the Oranges, Iris Family Early Childhood Education Center and KinderGan.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a major shift in our normal operations. Some of the early effects of this disruption are being felt, as a couple of our previously anticipated preschool partner sites now cannot commit to partnering in September 2020; thereby, lowering the number of seats we are able to offer for the 2020-2021 Preschool program. In addition, the pandemic may also affect the funding amount that we were awarded; in the coming weeks, we will learn of the state’s revised budget allocation to our District. If PEAA funding is reduced, this may also affect the number of new preschool placements that we are able to provide.
Currently, for the 2020-2021 school year, we anticipate providing a placement to 314 three- and four-year-olds who will continue or who will be new to the program. Based on the number of online registrations submitted (only based on enrollments received by the preregistration deadline), we have an overage and there will be approximately 84 families/students who will be placed on a waiting list. The preschool program lottery will be held during the week of May 18th. While we are unable to accommodate all placements at this time, we are optimistic that we may be able to expand partnerships with other local child-care providers to meet the needs of pre-registered students by January 2021.
In the next couple of weeks, we will be sending out additional correspondence to all families who pre-registered and completed their online enrollment process (by the deadline). The additional communications will include:
- Parent notification and child placement dates (please note, all placements are contingent pending full compliance of District registration requirements/processes)
- Revised in-person registration procedures
We thank you for your patience during this unprecedented time. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Be safe and well.
Melody Alegria, Ed.D
cc: Leroy Johnson III, Supervisor, Preschool Education Program