When will school resume? Per the direction of Governor Lamont, Distance Learning will continue through the last day of school on June 12. PPS will continue to support our teachers and students to provide the best education possible via distance learning.
How has the calendar changed? On Wednesday March 18, 2020, the Board of Education canceled the April vacation, and added vacation days on May 22 and May 26. As a result, Memorial Day is a long weekend in the hope that we may all be able to leave our homes and do something fun! The last scheduled day of school is Friday June 12, 2020.
How have Special Services been impacted? While distance learning is not a substitute for our regular program our special education teachers, social workers, psychologists, therapists, and other staff are committed to supporting every child as best we can regardless of the length of this closure. Strong communication will be essential moving forward.
Does my child have to complete their assignments between 8:30 A.M. – 1:30 P.M.? Absolutely not. We recognize that every family has unique circumstances in terms of work, childcare responsibilities and the number of computers available to students. The hours of 8:30 A.M. – 1:30 P.M. are times when teachers will be available for a more immediate response to questions, etc. If your child needs to complete assignments at a different time or on the weekend, you’re still welcome to email questions to the teacher or to arrange a mutually convenient time to talk, etc.
Are there any low-cost internet options in Putnam? Yes, Atlantic Broadband has introduced a new service, “Internet Assist” for residents in financial need and who do not presently have internet from Atlantic Broadband. The 15/1 Mbps Internet Assist service, normally priced at $9.99 per month plus taxes and fees, will be offered free for 60 days with free installation and a free modem. Those interested in the service should contact Atlantic Broadband at (888) 536-9600.
Will there be spring sports this year? With Governor Lamont's school closure order, the CIAC has canceled all high school spring sports for the remainder of the year.
Is it okay for my child to play with friends? No, unfortunately this is not okay. Social distancing is an essential practice in keeping students safe. For the same reason, we’ve closed the playgrounds at Putnam Elementary School.
Have there been changes to the feeding program? Yes, changes to regulations now allow us to offer dinner and food for students on the weekend. The distribution chart is below.
18 Kennedy Drive
East Putnam Fire Department
263 Providence Pike
11:30 – Noon
18 Kennedy Drive
4:30 – 5:15
Snack and Supper
What will happen with scheduled school events and programs? As you can imagine, school events were scheduled long before this transition to distance learning. Each school will publicize the status of their school events and programs on both ParentSquare and on their school website.
What is the status of standardized tests such as SBAC and the SAT? Commissioner Cardona has requested a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to suspend all state-mandated student assessments for all grades and subjects, as well as district/school accountability measures, for the 2019-20 school year. While President Trump has indicated that waivers will be approved, no official information has been received at this time.
Will students still be able to take their AP exams? For the 2019-20 exam administration only the College Board is developing secure 45-minute online free-response exams for each course. The exam content will focus on what most schools were able to complete by early March. Students will be able to take the exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. They will also have the option to write their responses by hand and submit a photo. Colleges support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked to earn.
Is there any information about the budget for the 2020-21 school year? Yes, Governor Lamont signed Executive Order 71 last week which suspends practices such as a referendum or town meeting in the interest of public safety. As a result, each town’s governing body will determine the town and Board of Education budgets for next year. The community of course, still has the opportunity to weigh in but will need to do so via electronic mediums such as email.
What is the current status of the 2020-21 Board of Education budget? On Wednesday, March 18, 2020 the Board of Education presented next year’s budget to the Board of Finance. In addition to contractual obligations the proposed budget included an Autism teacher, a .5 Special Education Teacher, a Dean of Students at the Middle School, and Safety Officers to be shared across all three schools. These new positions are all focused on supporting students, meeting IEP obligations, and increasing school security.
As a result of the impact of COVID-19 on many members of the Putnam community, on Monday, March 23, 2020 the Board of Finance directed the Board of Education to return in three weeks with a new budget proposal that reflects a 0% increase. Unfortunately, a 0% increase will mean significant layoffs across the board, including teachers and will have a direct impact on the delivery of services to students and families moving forward.
What advice would you give families as we tackle distance learning? To be patient. As was stated in one of Superintendent Sullivan's early communications, this is new for students, parents, and staff. We will all encounter struggles, and expectations are likely to evolve over time. For now, prioritize a good faith effort and regular communication. If that happens, we are confident that we will all find success.