Second graders were getting into their art projects this week with Ms. Solomon.
Safety & Health: Reviewing Our Plans for a Positive Test
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: October 9, 2020
Throughout the summer, while we planned for the safe return of our students and faculty to campus, one refrain governed many of our conversations and decision-making processes: “The likelihood of a positive case in our community is more a question of when, not if.” So, we have planned and continue to plan for that “when.” As many of you will recall from the summer, we hosted a number of forums to update you of our progress along the way, what new health and safety protocols would be in place, and how we would keep the health and safety of our community at the fore with each and every decision we made.
I remember in late July and early August hosting forums to discuss how we would respond to a positive case on campus and our commitment to meeting or exceeding the guidelines put forth by DESE (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) or the local health department. It was an important planning exercise in the abstract that I now want to revisit. Cases are again on the rise in the state and in some surrounding communities. Although most of the communities that are home to our students and families remain in the ‘green’ based on the community level reporting map being used by the state, I will review our plans so that you can feel confident and assured that we are ready should a positive case be identified at Belmont Day.
Internal Contact Tracing Efforts
Internally, we have a contact tracing guide that can identify for every student and faculty member on campus precisely what the next steps would look like should someone at BDS test positive for COVID-19. As a reminder, in pre-kindergarten to grade 4, if a member of one cohort were to test positive, only the cohort of that student would be asked to quarantine, as would the teacher or teachers who have been in class with that cohort. Quarantine, in this instance, would be for 14 days per state and CDC guidelines.
In grades 5 to 8, because our teaching structure means that multiple teachers work with each cohort, our first response would be for the whole grade to go offsite and continue their learning remotely until they were ready for a safe return. Depending on our assurance testing (which we would administer to all students and faculty while they are offsite), we would work to get the cohorts and teachers without a case back as quickly and safely as possible.
An equally important element of our contact tracing plan is the identification of so-called ‘contacts of contacts.’ Imagine, for instance, a case involving a cohort in which a student has an older sibling. Of course, if the younger sibling were to be the positive case, the sibling would be a direct contact and would quarantine immediately. If, however, the younger sibling were in the cohort, but not the positive case, then that older sibling would become a so-called contact of a contact and would not need to quarantine with the younger sibling’s cohort.
What does ‘quarantine’ mean for my child at home?
If your child is home quarantining, there are some fundamental guidelines we would ask that they follow. First, we would ask that our community commitment to safe layering practices extend to home during the quarantine time:
- Staying home and leaving only when absolutely necessary, such as for doctor’s appointments.
- Being as separate as possible from other family members. Of course, we understand this needs to be balanced with children’s needs. If possible, try for their own sleeping space and bathroom.
- Not sharing cups, utensils, dishes, bedding, towels and other personal items.
- Maintaining 6-foot distance and wearing masks in the house when not able to be separate.
- Continuing with excellent hand hygiene, especially before and after eating, before and after touching your mask, and after using the bathroom.
- Monitoring your child for signs of illness, including checking their temperature twice a day.
As a part of a team that is regularly assessing our practices and protocols to ensure that they are staying consistently more conservative than those of DESE and our local board of health, please know that each and every COVID-related policy we have put into place has your children’s and your health and safety at its center. As cases begin to rise and the cold and flu season begins in earnest, a reminder of what will happen should ‘if’ turn into ‘when’ is an important and worthwhile one. As always, if you have any questions, I invite you to attend my weekly office hours on Thursdays at 6 p.m. (next on October 22) or reach out to Liz LaRocque, Deborah Brissenden, or me.
Meanwhile, the safety precautions we have been taking—mask-wearing, keeping our physical distance, being outside as often as possible, washing our hands and practicing good hygiene—have allowed us to enjoy four delightful weeks of onsite learning, and they have served as a critical reminder of why we are going to these lengths. As has been the case from the start of our work, all of our efforts are rooted in our desire to keep school open for as many students as possible for as long as possible. Thank you, as always, for joining us in that effort.
October 12 to October 17
Monday, October 12
School Closed for Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Tuesday, October 13
5:30–6:15 p.m., Parent Forum for Grade 8: Preparing for Offsite Learning; Zoom Gathering
6:30–7:15 p.m., Parent Forum for Pre-k: Preparing for Offsite Learning; Zoom Gathering
7–8:30 p.m., Grade 5 Family Social; Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, October 14
Farm School Visit – Grade 6 Juster and Spencer Cohorts
Farm School Visit – Grade 6 Moriarty and Segil Cohorts
5:30–6:15 p.m., Parent Forum for Grades 6 & 7: Preparing for Offsite Learning; Zoom Gathering
6:30–7:15 p.m., Parent Forum for Grades 3 & 4: Preparing for Offsite Learning; Zoom Gathering
7:30–8:15 p.m., Parent Forum for K, Grades 1 & 2: Preparing for Offsite Learning; Zoom Gathering
Thursday, October 15
5:30–6:15 p.m., Parent Forum for Grade 5: Preparing for Offsite Learning; Zoom Gathering
7–8:30 p.m., Pre-kindergarten Family Social; Zoom Gathering
7–8:30 p.m., Grade 4 Family Social; Zoom Gathering
Friday, October 16
7:45–8:30 a.m., PA Executive Committee Meeting; Zoom Gathering
8:5–9:35 a.m., Enrichment Assembly: Zoom Gathering
Saturday, October 17
9:30–11:30 a.m., Admissions Open House for Lower School; Online Event
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Admissions Open Houses
Lower School Open House – virtual event
Saturday, October 17, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Middle School Open House – virtual event
Saturday, November 14, 1 to 3 p.m.
This fall, the open house events for both the lower and middle schools will be held virtually. Attending an open house is one of the best ways of getting a sense of what makes the Belmont Day experience unique and impactful for students and their families. Many of you reading this likely enjoyed a previous BDS open house and understand their value in finding the right school for a child. While this year’s open houses will be different, we know that they will be greatly helpful for parents in their school search process.
If you know of parents who are looking at independent schools, please invite them to join us for our open houses.
Pumpkin Patch Pick-Up
Thank you again to all who placed orders and for the generous contributions toward appreciation pumpkins for faculty and staff during the parents’ associations’ recent pumpkin and mum sale. Pumpkins will be available for collection at drop-off and pick-up on Tuesday, October 13. Additionally, pumpkins will be available for pick-up under the tent outside Coolidge Hall starting today, Friday, October 9 at 5 p.m. through Monday, October 12. Orders will be labeled with the student/family name for this honor system pick-up. Orders not picked up over the weekend will be distributed to the student named on the order form on October 13.
Lunch & Snack Menu
October 12 to October 16
School Closed for Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Snack: clementines; chocolate chip granola bars
Lunch: chicken taco wraps with ranch dressing; veggie taco wraps; multi-grain tortilla chips; salsa; mixed greens; applesauce; milk and water
Snack: bananas; Sun Chips
Lunch: pesto pasta with grape tomatoes; plain pasta with tomatoes; rolls; carrots; Caesar salad; cut fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: plums; whole-grain Rice Krispie Squares
Lunch: turkey and cheese submarines; cheese submarines; pickles; baked Lay’s chips; chickpea and tomato salad; cut fruit cup; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: apples; Cape Cod chips
Parent Forums: Preparing for Offsite Learning
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, October 13-15
As we continue through these first weeks of learning back on the Belmont Day campus, we also have our eyes on the calendar and the planned return to offsite learning after the Thanksgiving break. This scheduled shift to offsite in late fall is a key part of our longterm planning for the safety of our community.
We learned a great deal firsthand from our offsite experience in the spring and even more with seminars and workshops for faculty and administrators over the summer. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of next week, we will host parent forums for each grade to discuss the preparations for the change to offsite learning. Please see the full schedule on the parent portal to find the date and time for your child(ren)’s grade(s), as well as the Zoom links and passwords.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly Update on School-Day Testing
We continue to test all students during the school day on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday at the same time each week. If your student is absent on their testing day, our policy is to test them on the next testing day. If a student becomes ill at school on a testing day, we will test them before they go home. If a student is home ill on a testing day, we will ask them to come to campus and remain in their car in the parking lot to be tested in their car.
We continue to have excellent testing results, as you can see from this week’s dashboard. (See accompanying graphic)
To date, we have had no positive tests. Most tests have come back negative; some tests have come back inconclusive. An inconclusive result means that for some reason—a testing error, an inadequate sample, or not enough DNA on the sample for a definitive diagnosis—the lab cannot render a negative result.
Everyone must test negative to be in school. In the event of an inconclusive test, we ask that person to remain home from school until they test negative. We are able to have them come in to test 9 a.m. on the next testing day and will get that test right to the lab in hopes of same-day results to minimize time out of school. You will receive a direct call if your child’s test results are inconclusive or positive.
If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected].
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
Magnus Health App Updates
Recent Service Disruptions
We thank you all for your continued flexibility and patience as Magnus Health works through the challenges of the increased demand for its services. Our team at BDS will monitor, adjust to, and communicate any necessary changes related to providing this vital link in our health and safety protocols.
New Biometrics Feature Available
Based on recent user feedback, Magnus Health has made a number of improvements to the Magnus mobile app. Most of the improvements help with the backend systems for the school while one aims to improve the parent user experience.
The feature added to the update for parents is Biometrics (Face ID/Touch ID) to access the app.
Click here to view these instructions to enable Biometrics (Face ID/Touch ID) on Apple or Android devices with authentication enabled.
- For users who do NOT have devices with biometrics enabled, you can still use the OS password keepers. Click here for Android and iPhone instructions. (If you have previously added the Magnus app to the keychain for Apple iOS or Autofill Service for Androids, you will not need to do it again.)
- For users who have more than one Magnus Account: Biometrics will only use the last Username and Password with which you logged into the app. We recommend that you add both sets of your login credentials to the Password Keeper on your device (see instructions above). You will then be able to use your Biometrics/Face ID/Touch ID for one set of credentials and will be able to logout and select the second set from the password keeper.
To take advantage of the new feature, please delete the old version of the app and re-install the new release. Please be assured that the current version will continue to work even if the update is not installed.
Model UN Participates in Global Leadership Conference
On Saturday, October 3, eighth graders Bree LeGrand and Ellora Roy and sixth graders Nebiyou Elias and Sahana Miduturu took part in the Global Leadership Conference sponsored by the United Nations Association of Greater Boston. During this Model UN virtual event, students learned about the indigenous peoples’ rights, and they were assigned countries to represent in UN-style debate and negotiation. They worked together to delve into the issues around this topic and to explore solutions, with a focus on education. There were about 150 middle school students at the event, held in conjunction with the MUN club at Suffolk University. Students worked hard to look at the problems related to indigenous peoples’ rights from many different vantage points and to propose solutions.
Before jumping into our work, we had the opportunity to hear comments from Judi Urquhart, development director at the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) and the director of planning and development at the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on the Cape. She spoke to us about the challenge of maintaining a sense of indigenous culture in today’s world.
Our students were courageous and engaged in experiencing this virtual conference. They are dedicated to learning about the world and gaining confidence in talking about important ideas in a public setting. We were further thrilled that Ellora was recognized for her public speaking at the event and Naomi Stephenson ’18 helped lead the conference as a facilitator.
Our full MUN club of 11 students is looking forward to another conference coming up on November 21.
AFTER SCHOOL NEWS
Enrollment Opens Soon For After School Period Two
Period Two: Monday, November 2 through Monday, November 23
We are still offering limited programming for the month of November for students in pre-kindergarten and grades 2, 4, and 5, and a Friday-only program for middle school students. Period one ends on Friday, October 30, and period two will begin on Monday, November 2. At this time we cannot accommodate students in kindergarten or grades 1 and 3. Please reach out directly to program administrators, Joe Jean-Mary and Blair Fross regarding enrollment for period two. Registration for this period begins on Tuesday, October 13, and closes Friday, October 23.
After School Teacher Spotlight—Sophie Smyke ’13
Happy October, friends! As we are learning so much about all of you, we would like you to learn more about the after school team! Did you know that one of our after school teachers is an alumna of Belmont Day School?! Let’s get to know a little bit more about Sophie Smyke!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This quote by Maya Angelou is Ms. Smyke’s favorite quote. She loves arts and crafts, and cannot wait to share some of her skills with everyone in after school. Ms. Smyke graduated from Belmont Day in 2013. Madame Friborg was her Capstone mentor and Ms. Smyke presented her Capstone on the New Orleans restaurant and culinary scene. Her favorite BDS value is responsibility. Ms. Smyke was born in September, so if you see her, wish her a happy belated birthday. Her birthstone is a sapphire and she is a Virgo. She tells us that her secret talent involves waking up without needing to set an alarm. Her favorite hobby is cooking, and if she could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, it would be Julia Child and Willie Nelson.
If you see Ms. Smyke around campus on Friday’s for after school, give her an air high-five!
Reminder: Please Submit RUP/COPPA Forms
It is of great importance that all students and parents are aware of the policies that are in place for technology use at Belmont Day. All students must submit their Responsible Use Policy and COPPA form as soon as possible. Parents, please click here to download the RUP/COPPA form found on the Veracross Parent Portal, review it with your child, and email a signed copy back to [email protected]. Thank you!
Deadline for Pre-k Sibling Applications is October 30
We welcome parents of current Belmont Day students who have a child who will be four years old by September 1, 2021 to participate in our early admission to pre-kindergarten process. The preliminary application and parent questionnaire must be submitted by Friday, October 30 for your child to receive this priority consideration.
Families with pre-k sibling applicants should visit www.ravenna-hub.com, create an account (or add an additional student to their existing account) and then add Belmont Day School. When you select the Pre-k Sibling/Faculty Child Application option, you will see detailed information about the necessary steps, required video recordings to be done at home, and other deadlines. If you have any questions, please contact Liz Parfit, director of admissions.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Middle school Spanish students worked in teams to create two amazing murals to honor and to recognize the contributions of Hispanics to the culture and history of the United States. Sixth grade students researched and wrote biographies of different people, including Rita Moreno, Shakira, Jaime Escalante, Oscar de la Hoya, Dolores Huerta, and Frida Kahlo. Seventh and eighth grade students colored the murals, researched various countries and Hispanics’ contributions, and read biographies. The murals are located next to the Palandjian Arts Center and in the Kiva. Make sure to stop by and check them out!
– Ana Maria Restrepo, middle school Spanish teacher
Eighth Grade Studies Meiosis, Sexual Reproduction, and Mendel
This week students in eighth grade science wrapped up their first unit on meiosis, sexual reproduction, and the discoveries of Mendel when he studied the genetics of pea plants. Throughout this unit, students learned how meiosis makes sex cells in organisms, how flowers can complete the process of sexual reproduction, and the types of offspring created as a result of various monohybrid crosses. Students applied the concept of probability learned in seventh grade math to this work to better understand Mendel’s results. In the next unit, we will look at some applications of genetic crosses by looking at the passing of traits in humans including blood type.
– Sandra Trentowsky, middle school science teacher and adviser
Arts Update: Sixth Grade Gets the Beat on Bucket Drums
For the past few weeks, the Spencer and Moriarty sixth grade cohorts have been learning bucket drumming and the basics of drumming technique. Earlier this week, they presented their bucket drumming final performances to the songs “Demons” by Imagine Dragons and “If I Could Change Your Mind” by HAIM. As you can see and hear in the video compilation, the students made great progress on the drums in a very short time.
– Yui Kitamura, music teacher for grades 3-8
Athletics Update: Middle School Athletes Rise to the Challenge
It’s been a challenging fall for many reasons, including the newly structured middle school athletics program. As a result of limiting exposure and following mandated safety guidelines, Belmont Day has shifted away from its robust interscholastic program and pivoted to a more traditional physical education program. Choosing between three unique offerings–Outdoor Adventures, Running Club, and Training Camp–middle school athletes have risen to the occasion. Despite being unable to wear the Blue & Gold and compete against other teams, athletes have found motivation within to improve their fitness, try new activities, and maintain a team-first approach to athletics. As we all adapt to new routines, this group of talented athletes hasn’t missed a beat.
– John O’Neill, athletics director
Third Graders Clean Up at This STEM Challenge
In third grade, we’ve been talking about a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset. We read the book The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Gary Rubinstein and Mark Pett. In the story, the main character never makes mistakes until one day she makes a BIG mistake, which also creates a big mess. Third graders engineered a broom and dustpan with a limited number of materials to try to clean up the main character’s mess. Then they tested their designs and thought about what changes they would make to improve them. They made those specific improvements and then tested their designs again. Many of them went from cleaning up a few pieces of trash to gathering over 20 pieces, all by using a growth mindset!
– Larissa Rochford ’93, grade 3 teacher
Parents’ Association News
Your dues and participation in PA fundraising activities allow the PA to fulfill its mission of fostering community, supporting the parents of Belmont Day School, promoting communication between parents and the school, and supporting the school through educational, social, and fundraising activities. The suggested contribution is $50. Any additional donations over the suggested dues amount of $50 are very much appreciated and can be considered a tax-deductible gift to the parents’ association that the development office will acknowledge as such. You can make payment via the BDS PA’s secure online payment portal here.
The enrichment committee has been working hard to bring opportunities to students during this unique year. On Friday, October 16, pre-k, kindergarten, and grades 1 and 2 students will engage with Big Joe the Storyteller. Big Joe will draw on his years of experience as a pre-school teacher to craft stories with a focus on multi-culturalism and world folktales with added Zoom special effects. Students in grades 3 to 8 will join Claire Marie Lim, a music technologist and electronic musician, who loves exploring sound and helping others learn how to make music. In this session, Claire will perform some examples of live electronic music. We’re also going to make music together! Visit the Parent Portal for assembly Zoom links.
Flower Bulb Fundraiser–Last Call!
The Flower Bulb Fundraiser closes on Thursday, October 15. Now is the time to get those last-minute orders in! Click here to browse and buy your bulbs to get started. You get great bulbs to plant now for surprise flowers in the spring, (isn’t it almost like magic when they first come up?) or buy bulbs to bloom inside during the winter. The PA will receive 50% of what you spend. The proceeds will support teachers and grade parents and will help secure great guests for assemblies and more. The last day to place your order is October 15. Don’t miss this sale! Check out this flyer for more details and if you have any questions, please contact Lia Meisinger, Kelly Baker, or Mamie Cantor.
The next book club selection is A Burning by Megha Majumdar. Please join us for our next zoom gathering on Wednesday, October 21 at 10 a.m. to discuss this book. A zoom link will be posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on Veracross. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
PIN – Parents’ Independent School Network
All parents are invited to the first meeting of the Parents’ Independent School Network this Thursday, October 15, from 12 to 1 p.m. The meeting will be held via Zoom and featuring Mr. Lewis H. Bryant, of Bryant DEI Consulting. The open discussion will address: “How can parents help their children combat racism?” and “How can parents and Parent Associations bring their school communities together during these difficult times?” Click here to RSVP for the meeting. After you RSVP, you will receive a Zoom link for the event.
Discussing the Presidential Election With Children
Tuesday, October 27, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
The Bank Street College Alumni Association will host, “Post-Election Civility,” a virtual panel for talking to children about the upcoming national election. How adults frame and discuss the political landscape and the presidential election is of great importance for a child’s understanding of this divisive time and their relationships in their community. Click here to RSVP for this online event.
Setting the Stage for Healthy Eating Habits
Friday, October 23, 12 to 1 p.m.
MassGeneral Hospital for Children is hosting a series of online seminars for parents. The next in the series will be on building strategies that can help your child build a healthy relationship with food. Taylor Le, RD, LDN, CNSC, and Meaghan Alexander, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, of the Center for Feeding and Nutrition at MGHfC, share strategies for feeding children of all ages. Click here to learn more about the entire seminar series.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY SUPPORT
Free Archive of Instructional Videos Available
OTA – The Koomar Center in Newton has a vast video archive of occupational therapy exercises for children that are available on YouTube for the public. The videos cover a wide range of helpful topics and each is a quick and clear introduction to age-appropriate exercises. Click here to see the playlist of videos.