March 27, 2020
Dear PHAmily,
For this second School Closure Family Newsletter, let me begin with an update from The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). Weekly, DESE meets virtually with school leaders to provide educational updates related to the school closure now through May 4th . DESE has asked all schools to provide equitable educational enrichment opportunities for all students. At this time, schools should not replicate the traditional school day or attempt to replace or substitute classroom instruction. Further, schools should not introduce new curricula or formally grade assignments. With the extended school closure through May 4th, we highly anticipate new directions from DESE and will keep you apprised of any changes. Families should expect a parent letter directly from DESE early next week. 
To date, the Grade 10 ELA MCAS assessment scheduled for March 24-25 and the opening of the grades 3-8 ELA MCAS assessment window scheduled for March 30th are postponed. DESE has applied for a waiver for MCAS to the federal government. In the coming days, we expect to hear more about decisions related to the spring 2020 assessment schedule and next steps.

Through a partnership with the Massachusetts DESE and WGBH/New England Public Media, WGBH has gathered a selection of free resources from the extensive PBS Learning Media library and other WGBH Education initiatives, with a focus on self-directed activities.
WGBH is also offering WGBH Live Learning on your TV. For grades 5-12, you can find special distance learning programming aligned with PBS Learning Media resources scheduled daily from 12:00-5:00PM airing on the WORLD CHANNEL. WGBH WORLD can be found on Comcast 956; FiOS 473; RCN 94; Cox 807, Charter 181.

Additionally, DESE has pulled together this list of available resources that can support students and families while schools are closed. The resources span grade levels from grades Pre-K, K-2, 3-5, 6-8 , and 9-12, covering a wide range of commonly-taught and interesting subjects, and presented with time estimates to help caregivers select activities.

Angela F. Allen, P.h.D.
Head of School / CEO
K-12 Teaching & Learning
Curated K-12 Learning Resources
For the past week, our Director of Curriculum & Instruction, instructional coaches, teacher leaders, and teachers have carefully gathered, reviewed and curated the best K-12 learning resources that are available NOW on our PHA Website and can be accessed by clicking the button PHA @Home Learning. Go explore, engage & enjoy!
@Home Learning
All PHA K-12 students will be provided with ongoing @Home Learning activities and tasks that have been identified and/or designed especially for them by their grade level or content area teachers. The purpose of providing PHA K-12 @Home Learning Resources activities and tasks, is intended to keep our students’ hearts and minds engaged by giving them opportunities to explore the world, develop critical academic and social-emotional skills, and invest their time and energy in positive and productive as well as healthy and happy ways. As a culturally restorative community, we continue to value both academic and social- emotional growth and development. In addition to our PHA @Home Learning resources, we are pleased to share robust SEL resources on our 
Based on DESE guidelines, we strongly recommend at least four to five hours each day of @home learning and have provided you with a template to create a daily schedule for your child(ren). However, we understand that families have different needs and varied situations and that their priority should be to stay healthy and care well for their physical, mental and emotional health. Earlier this week, families should have received a letter from their respective campus principal with next steps and timelines for the Learning @Home Resources. For PHA Learning @Home questions/concerns, please contact your campus-based principals.
Social & Emotional Health
Supporting the Social & Emotional Health & Wellness of Our Families
While we’ve intentionally focused on our students and their needs, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge the social and emotional health needs of their caregivers and family members. Children and adults alike are experiencing and likely exhibiting a range of emotional reactions to the global pandemic, school closure through May 4 and now a Stay Home order in MA. Below I offer a few coping strategies to support the well-being of you and your child(ren).

  1. Stay PRESENT focused. You may do this through prayer, mindfulness meditation, reading poetry or engaging in a pleasant activity.
  2. Find PEACE. Balance the input of negative and distressing messages with output of energy for walking outdoors to enjoy the scenery of nature rather than negative imagery on social media.
  3. Connect with PEOPLE. Set daily intentions to connect with adult family and friends for support and encouragement and intriguing conversations. 
  4. Continued PRECAUTIONARY SAFETY MEASURES. Stay home. Stop the spread of the virus. Save lives.
.
With Governor Baker's recent Stay Home order for non-essential workers, many of us are now home with our children. That being said, finding a manageable work life balance while working from home with kids can be challenging too. Barbara Booth at CNBC offers 9 coping strategies for families working at home in Working-at-home-with-kids-during-covid-19-crisis-with-kids-Underfoot . While now working from home, we hope that you as a caregiver are able to carve out a slice of time for self-care. 
Healthy Mind Healthy Body
In my own effort to better manage work life balance at home, my family and I are taking daily walks together or jamming to the fire beats of DJ D-Nice on Instagram . During the past two weekends, he’s had amazing dance parties and my daughter and I have had great dance-offs. I think I won. Of course, she disagrees. These are just a few of the ways that I like to move my body. I find practice mindfulness to the sounds of the birds chirping or the wild turkeys gobbling when I sneak outside for a piece of self-care and serenity to practice a few yoga poses, extend gratitude and set my intentions for the day. This is a self-care practice that I hope to continue when we resume our normalcy. 
Geoffrey Learner, PHA Athletic Director, along with members of the Massachusetts Charter School Athletic Organization (MCSAO) has collaborated and created a Spring At Home Workout Challenge: A new exercise video will be posted on YouTube every day. Schools will be competing with one another, so once you have completed the workout, you track it daily using this google form , and the school with the most points (you get 1 point for completing each workout each day) will be crowned the winner. Come on PHA, let’s get moving @Home.
Supporting our Medical Community
Our friends at Cambridge Health Alliance requested any personal protective equipment donations and the high school was able to pass along our goggles. Here are just some of the goods that PHA Physics teacher Michael Lavelle brought to Cambridge Hospital.
 
We had previously ordered 60 (20 per campus) N95 masks for each of our three nurses. Last week, we finally received them and since then, we’ve donated them to the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program to support the efforts of our local health care professionals working with a very vulnerable population. 
Communication
Additional Resources
Technology Support 
With school closed, the PHA technology team has been working closely with families to support at home technology needs. If you have questions about getting your child online or need technical support, please contact us at familytech@phacs.org  or call/text the "PHAmily Tech Support" hotline at (716) 202-8645.

Emergency Relief Funds
For Cambridge Residents: The City of Cambridge, and locally-based business have launched Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund  and  Cambridge Artist Relief Fund emergency relief funds—one to help low-income families, workers, and the elderly meet their basic needs and a second to support individual artists, musicians, and local arts and cultural organizations threatened by lost income. 
 
For Boston Residents: Please visit the City of Boston's Resiliency Fund website:

Food and other Resources
Please continue to visit the PHA COVID-19 web page for access to essential resources.
While maintaining social distancing, go outside and get some fresh air every day.
Please make sure to practice healthy habits when re-entering you home.