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COVID-19 Closure Update:
March 29, 2020
Message from the Superintendent
Our focus as a district community has been meeting the most immediate needs of our students, families, and staff and continuing to support them any way we can as we progressed through the first two weeks of the COVID-19 closure. What the staff has been able to accomplish in this time is truly remarkable. We’ve transitioned all school/district operations to this new remote environment. We arranged breakfast/lunch services at five locations, serving thousands of meals daily. We distributed hundreds of iPads and Chromebooks to families while providing ongoing technical support. We assembled and distributed resources to support continuity of instruction while systems of communication and remote learning were secured. We helped our teachers learn new ways to engage students at home. We communicated with our families throughout using every communication avenue at our disposal, answering and responding to hundreds of questions and other input each day. The list goes on.

Throughout this process, we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from our community, and I truly appreciate the community’s support. Naturally, we also received many questions and concerns from parents as well. How will grading be handled during the closure? What will happen if schools are closed beyond April 20? Will end-of-year events like graduations be impacted? I understand that families may be feeling very anxious and overwhelmed during this time period and have many questions. I encourage you to bring us those questions, but we may not always have the answers right away. Neither do our leaders at the county, state, and federal level, to whom we often look for advice and guidance. We are all doing the very best we can as we navigate this unprecedented situation. We, too, as district leaders are learning and adapting as we go. Every day, we are working as hard as we can to support our students, families, and staff. We are working to establish and articulate goals, procedures, and expectations in this brand new environment. We will not be perfect, but we will do our best. That is all we can expect of anyone.

We are all in this together - students, families, staff, everyone. Please know that we are here to support you any way we can. Our buildings may be closed, but staff are only an email and a phone message away. Although staff are not physically present in the buildings, they are checking voicemail and email regularly throughout the week. We have resources on our website to help you connect with any member of the staff. So do not hesitate to reach out if you have a question or a concern. We might not always have the answer, but we will do our best to resolve those issues and concerns.

For our parents/guardians, your teachers and building principals are here to support you. We do not expect you to be perfect. Flexibility is what’s most important, because everyone’s circumstances are different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the challenges we face today. Throughout modern American history, the entire K-12 educational framework has relied on in-person services at brick-and-mortar locations. Two weeks ago, we had to close down those brick-and-mortar locations, and no one expected this to be a smooth, seamless, and quick transition. It’s going to take some time. But I promise you that all the staff will continue to do their best and work hard every day to support our students and families and work through any issues and questions that come up along the way.

To all of our families, we thank you for your cooperation and understanding. Stay safe. Look to your child’s teacher for guidance. We will share with you any pertinent information we receive from the State Education Department, and you can count on an update like this from us at least once a week. If you have lingering questions and concerns, please be patient as we continue to adapt, just as you are adapting, to this brand new environment. And most importantly, please remember that we are all in this together.

Steve Bovino,
Superintendent of Schools
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COVID-19 Closure Updates & Information
Important Update from the NYS Education Department:

  • During a webinar that took place on Saturday, March 28, New York State Interim Commissioner of Education Shannon Tahoe provided additional guidance for school district leaders across New York State. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ordering schools across New York State to close in two-week intervals. His latest order closes schools until April 15, 2020. Because of this latest extension of the statewide closure, the State Education Department is exploring questions and issues related to the Regents Exams and graduating seniors. Within the next two weeks, determinations and guidance are expected in these areas. We also expect a determination to be made whether the statewide closure will be extended an additional two weeks. The Ken-Ton School District will continue to follow these developments closely and will keep families informed.

State Assessments & Continuity of Learning:

  • On our website, you can find a variety of instructional resources for all grade levels which can be used to support your child’s learning. You can find these resources here: Instructional Resources Links for Students/Families. These materials are supplementary and are available for additional practice. Teacher-provided materials should be prioritized and completed as the teacher indicates.
  • We have also prepared a document that provides initial guidance for students and families to help you understand what our goals and objectives are during the closure. You can find it here:
  • Information for Parents: Use of Remote Learning Tasks
  • The State Education Department (SED) has announced the cancellation of all Gr. 3-8 testing for the remainder of the school year, as well as the NYSESLAT and NYSAA assessments. No guidance has been released yet on Regents exams.
  • The College Board has free online Advanced Placement (AP) review courses to complement remote work provided by teachers. The College Board is also developing secure 45-minute online exams for each course. For more information, visit the College Board/COVID-19 updates website.

Communicating with Teachers/Staff:

  • Parents are able to communicate with your child’s teacher via phone (please leave a voice message), email, or their preferred communication platform. You may use the website Staff Directory to find the email address for your child’s teacher, or visit this page for a comprehensive list of the communication platforms used by each teacher. If you are unable to contact your child's teacher, the principal will help connect you:
  • Edison Elementary: David King (dking@ktufsd.org)
  • Franklin Elementary: Kia Evans (kevans@ktufsd.org)
  • Holmes Elementary: Matt Raines (mraines@ktufsd.org)
  • Hoover Elementary: Michael Huff (mhuff@ktufsd.org)
  • Lindbergh Elementary: Ann Maccagnano (amaccagnano@ktufsd.org)
  • Franklin Middle: Chris Ginestre (cginestre@ktufsd.org)
  • Hoover Middle: Elaine Thomas (ethomas@ktufsd.org)
  • Kenmore East: Patrick Heyden (pheyden@ktufsd.org)
  • Kenmore West: Dean Johnson (djohnson2@ktufsd.org)
  • Big Picture Program: Kevin Kruger (kkruger@ktufsd.org)
  • You can also visit the Contact Us page for help contacting other district personnel, or submit questions through the COVID-19 closure questions page.

Breakfast/Lunch Service:

  • As was announced early last week, breakfast/lunch services transitioned to a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday pick-up at all five locations (Franklin, Holmes, Hoover, Northtowns Boys & Girls Club and Sheridan Parkside Youth Center). There will be no pick-up on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Instead, families will receive two meals on Mondays and Wednesdays. Click here for details: Breakfast/Lunch Information.
Technology Support/Device Distribution:

  • The Technology Department distributed hundreds of Chromebooks to Kenmore East, Kenmore West, and Big Picture Program households in need of a device to support their learning at home during the COVID-19 closure. Starting Thursday, March 19, staff worked hard to prepare the devices, communicate with families, and coordinate the distribution which took place Monday, March 23. In order to distribute the devices in the most efficient manner possible while minimizing person-to-person contact, drive-through pick-up was arranged at the three locations where breakfast/lunch meals are currently being delivered (Franklin, Hoover, and Holmes), and they were able to distribute hundreds of devices over a two-hour period. This past week, they coordinated a similar process to distribute iPads for Gr. K-4 families and Chromebooks for Gr. 5-7 families so that all families have access to a device at home in order to effectively engage in remote learning opportunities. If you have secured a K-7 device, click here for distribution pick-up information.
  • The Ken-Ton School District has been working toward a 1:1 student/device ratio. The district isn’t there yet, but was able to ensure that there would be one device for each and every family in the district who indicated a need. Securing one for every household is the priority at this time, and staff appreciate the understanding and cooperation of families who requested multiple devices.
  • If you are in need of technology support, please visit this page for technology support contact information.

Important Reminder for Non-Public School Student Transportation:

  • If you are planning on sending your child to a non-public school for the 2020-21 school year and requesting transportation, please remember to complete the Non-Public School Transportation Application and return it to the Transportation Department. The form can be found on the Transportation Forms page at ktufsd.org/Page/580. You can return the form by mail to Ken-Ton UFSD Transportation Department, 1680 Military Road, Buffalo, NY 14217. You can also return it by email to transportation_office@ktufsd.org or via fax at 716-874-8618. It is very important that parents/guardians of 2020-21 non-public students return this form in order to secure transportation for the 2020-21 school year. For more information on transportation eligibility and requirements, visit the Transportation Department website.

Central Registration:

  • Our Central Registration office is scheduling appointments starting Monday, May 4. Please call 871-2090 and leave a message with your contact information to schedule an appointment. Someone will return your call within 24-48 hours. Please visit the Central Registration website at ktufsd.org/registration for more information.
Student, Staff & Family Updates
At Hoover Elementary, physical education teachers Brett Besancon, Daniel Hannon, Heather Ratka, and Michelle Shea are teaching their lessons using Class Dojo and Google Classroom. They post the same material using both platforms to try to reach all students. They also post a weekly activity calendar called “Staying Healthy with Hootie at Home.” It has a different daily video link with activities to engage in which are tied to the standards. The first week, the priority was getting families signed up and helping them through the process. This past week, they have their activity calendar as well as a different plank challenge each day. They have been teaching Gr. 3-4 about muscular strength vs. endurance and Gr. K-2 about muscles, so this is a continuation of that instruction. They created videos that they post each day ( click here to see an example ). The students take pictures of themselves completing the challenges and their parents/guardians send the pictures to the teachers if they choose. The teachers are also creating record boards and sending out digital certificates. There has been great feedback from parents including messages, pictures, emails and videos.
Holmes PE teacher April Liebler provided videos for students to use at home to fulfill their PE minutes. This video encourages students to be active indoors when the weather might not be great. Students have an opportunity to practice different balancing exercises which helps to strengthen their core, prevent injury and falls, and improve proprioception.
Elementary health teacher Laura Jelonek created a at home Health/Wellness Calendar for students to use at home. The calendar includes specific activities on mindfulness, healthy eating, at-home exercises, building empathy, and brain breaks. These activities are specific to the NYS Health Standards and the newly developed Mental Health Standards that students have been learning throughout the school year.
When bus driver Josephine Mirabella heard there was a shortage of medical masks, she wanted to do something to help those in need. Her sewing abilities came to the rescue when her son and daughter noticed on social media that people were looking for sewers to make masks. That's when she stepped in. She made masks for medical personnel, their family, and their friends. She also participated at Joann Fabrics making masks. Once completing them, she returned them to the store, which then made arrangements to have them cleaned and distributed to the right sources. “That’s an awesome thing you are doing for me and everyone else in the medical field,” said her son, John, who works in the medical field.
During this unprecedented time, the Kenmore East High School English Department wanted to share a brief video offering some simple advice and hopeful messages. Find it here on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAXBc2U93_I
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Big Picture Program students and staff come together for their morning “Pick Me Up” which helps build the community and relationships that help all Big Picture students be successful. Last week, Matt LaVigne shared their first virtual Pick Me Up for students to participate in while schools are closed.
Teachers at Lindbergh Elementary School have shared a wide variety of work by students. You can find some of these here:
Student work submitted by Hoover Elementary third-grade teacher Jamie Raepple .
A student of Hoover Elementary fourth-grade teacher P.J. Murdie enjoyed a virtual field trip to the San Diego Zoo.
Student work shared with Hoover Elementary School kindergarten teacher Elizabeth "Tizzy" Schechter .
Holmes Elementary School speech-language pathologist Kelly Wipperman challenged students to complete a Nature Scavenger Hunt which focused on applying vocabulary knowledge to make connections to nature. Pictured here is Bette Patterson, a student of Holmes Elementary first-grade teacher Tracy Caruana, and her sisters completing the Nature Scavenger Hunt.
From Lindbergh Elementary, teacher Kristina Marzec is having her students "visit" various museums and enjoying the virtual tours they offer. Austin Medina chose the Van Gogh museum and chose to draw “The Flowering Plum Orchard” for his journal entry following the tour.
Student work shared by Lindsey Ruszczyk at Hoover Elementary, including a writing piece following a virtual field trip they enjoyed to the San Diego Zoo. They also enjoyed a read-aloud she shared with students on Youtube:
The Kenmore East High School Counseling Department shared a collage of photographs to help everyone feel connected. They have also been sharing tips and information on self-care and staying healthy and safe during the closure.
Two students of Lindbergh Elementary School kindergarten teacher Dana Keates had birthdays during the closure, so she sent them birthday letters in the mail.
From Kenmore West High School, Family and Consumer Science teacher Carol Glor has challenged students enrolled in her Foods 2 class to prepare meals for their families at home as part of their at-home work. These are some of the dishes prepared by her students: lasagna, focaccia bread, and bagel pizzas.
The Adapted PE team has been sending videos to students and families for at-home workouts. In this photo, shared by adapted PE teacher Kate Bennett , is Sydney Rudroff, a student at Hoover Elementary, whose mother says is loving the dance videos.
A student of Michele Cammarata from Franklin Elementary School, which accompanied a message thanking her for sending the hand-written letter.
Student work shared by Hoover Elementary School teacher Samantha Page , who has challenged her students to stay active on IXL and respond to a story she read on Dojo Video and use items they found on a nature walk to create their names.
Tyler Gaik, a third grader in Amy Benfanti’s class at Hoover Elementary, has been keeping up with word study at home. His mom scrambles the words for him, and Tyler is unscrambling them.
Students in Mrs. Fogarty’s first-grade class at Hoover Elementary had a video lesson on Class Dojo about journaling. The lesson included writing mechanics learned in first grade. This is a picture of one of the student’s journal entries.
Evan and Nathan Rizzo celebrated Wednesday this week in honor of senior citizens in the community who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 by writing letters to their great-grandmother. They also took time to wish Hoover Elementary teacher Lisa Chiavaroli’s mom well too. It was all part of a week-long "Homeschool Spirit Week," which encouraged students to dress based on a theme just like they would if they were in school. Each day had its own theme and message; Wednesday was in honor of the generation that is most at risk of the disease.
The Speech Department held a virtual meeting recently to discuss ideas, challenges, and suggestions for working with their students during this extended closure.
Fourth-grade Hoover Elementary School teacher Monique Schregel is encouraging students to reach out to one another in safe, positive ways during the closure. The family of one of her students was featured by WGRZ Channel 2 after writing inspiring messages for hospital workers at Kenmore Mercy Hospital.
Families of Franklin Elementary School kindergarten teacher Tracy Wilson’s students have been excited to share photos of their children engaged in a multitude of activities and their work at home during the closure.
A response to a story read on Scholastic by a student of Susan Sommers , a kindergarten teacher at Holmes Elementary.
Hoover Elementary School kindergarten teacher Samantha Page’s students participated in a Zoom conference which was an awesome experience for all involved.
After a virtual field trip to the San Diego Zoo, Hoover Elementary School teacher Kerry Smith’s students worked on a graphic organizer in Google Slides. She also created a grid on Flipgrid where she and her students can send videos back and forth to each other. They can also respond to other students which is great for social-emotional connections.
From Edison Elementary School, Jennifer Makin posted a video of staff at Edison Elementary saying “hello” to share with students and families.
Last week, Kenmore East science teacher Daniel Yox asked all of his physics students to send him a photo of their study space at home. He made a video montage of their heart-warming responses to share with them on Youtube.
Students of Hoover Elementary kindergarten teacher Melanie Kinderman have had fun learning virtually through Google Classroom. Her students are enjoying daily morning messages, skills practice, and read-alouds. Their parents have shared photos of their students and their work and it puts a smile on her face and helps her to keep the connection going. One is Camden Bellomo watching Mrs. Kinderman read, "A Unicorn Named Sparkle." Another is Andrew Peterson's favorite part of "When a Dragon Moves In.” The third is Morgan Warham's favorite part of an “Elephant and Piggie” book.
Olivia Lowe, a second grader in Mrs. Moore’s class at Lindbergh Elementary, and her mother Kellie Lowe were featured by WIVB Channel 4 after they decided to write notes with sidewalk chalk to their closest family and friends they haven’t been able to see.
Students and parents of Ms. West, Mrs. Quinn, and Ms. Fineis at Edison Elementary have used SeeSaw and Remind to share work they have completed at home.
Reading specialist Heather Gardner wrote a personal letter to each of her students in her RtI reading group, and included a self-addressed stamped envelope so they could write her back. So far, she received back two hand-written notes with drawings from two of her second-grade students. One of the families speaks limited English. One letter included a colorful drawing of their RtI reading group. She plans to continue writing back and forth which allows students to practice reading and writing in an authentic way. She was excited to receive their mail and hope they were as excited as she was.