COVID-19 Updates

ATTENTION  Parents/ Guardians and School Districts as of April 3, 2020

This is our Boston Higashi School motto. It has guided our actions and efforts in both times of triumph and tribulation. Whether on or off campus, our motto is more than three simple words.  It offers our entire Higashi learning community motivation, hope and inspiration, especially now in these times of COVID-19.

Boston Higashi School initiated distance learning on March 17, 2020 in response to the order from Governor Baker closing all public schools and private day schools. Higashi at Home is a comprehensive resource for our parents and students. We are attempting to the best extent possible, to mirror learning life on campus including daily schedules, content areas and special subjects in addition to communication visuals, social stories and more. We shared resources and created access to a variety of online sites for learning. 

In truth distance/remote learning is new territory for all of us. We thank you for your support and patience as we develop and grow using this new methodology to reach and teach our special learners. The initial feedback that we have received has been very useful and also highly affirming. Our site is monitored and enhanced daily and supplemented with printed work packets.  Teachers and supervisors remain available for consultation. Questions are welcomed and encouraged.

Remote learning can take many forms and the format we constructed is intentionally not fully virtual. We are aware that many of  our students (and parents) may struggle with technology and some cannot navigate it independently. We also know that some of our students can become overly fixated on technology to the exclusion of other healthy habits and we share your concerns about limiting student screen time. Higashi values and uses opportunities throughout our normal days for movement, music, creativity, imagination, instructed leisure activities and students’ individual areas of interest and passions. We are also sensitive to the fact that one size will not fit all. It is understood that time spent on focused learning may vary with each day and as personal family circumstances dictate and demand.

Additionally, we know the power of  strong connections. Parenting and teaching students with autism takes a village. Teachers, support staff, residential instructors and supervisors, and case managers will continue to communicate and check in with parents and students. We are happy to assist with remediating any surfacing concerns. The  theme we adopted for this school year is “TRUST”. We feel that our earned trust quotient is high. We are proud of the strong partnerships that we have with families and school districts. We are a team and our vulnerable students reap the benefits of this open and honest collaboration.

In addition to our current static website, we have a plan to do more fluid teaching, rolling things out in incremental stages. This week teachers have been making individualized packets of work to be mailed home weekly to the students. These packets will correspond with a remote learning lesson that will be taught "live".Parents will receive an email from their respective divisions detailing what times the classes will be taught  live next week. Each week we plan on sending home a simple worksheet packet along with a schedule of when the live streamed classes will take place. These classes will also be pre-recorded so parents can access them at different times if they are unavailable during the "live" class. Our goal is to stream a Basic Study class (incorporating both ELA & Math skills), PE, Music, Art, Making Words (with our Reading Specialist), and one academic class per day.   The activity leaders from our residential program will also offer scheduled demonstration lessons remotely to help engage our students and families with life skills. As we progress and learn together  how to teach and learn in this unique fashion, we will adjust our live lessons accordingly. 

It should be noted that we remain in contact with our regulatory agencies on both the state and national level as well as our collateral colleagues. It seems that information is ever changing and we are trying our best to keep current and up to speed. A special note to our districts- we are continuing to provide our regular day school services to all our residential students who  remain on campus. We ask for your patience when requesting additional paperwork/forms. 

In closing, on behalf of all the staff of Boston Higashi School, I send you strength and encouragement to keep yourselves well and prevail for better days ahead.

CHALLENGE  BELIEVE TOGETHER!

Deborah Donovan
Principal

PREVIOUS UPDATES:
MARCH 24, 2020
Yesterday Governor Baker issued more information about tighter restrictions across the state in an effort to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19. 
 
Our Residential Program remains open and we continue to remain vigilant in our efforts to clean and sanitize our environment, while maintaining learning and leisure activities on campus for our students. To date, we have no knowledge of a positive case affecting our students or staff. However, one significant hurdle is that it is so difficult to get students or staff tested if they have symptoms. Plus, seasonal illnesses and allergies greatly confuse the issue.   
 
To be most vigilant, the Boston Higashi School finds it necessary to continue to send students and staff home who exhibit signs of any illness. We are particularly concerned about students who have medical conditions that place them at even greater risk should they contract this virus. We believe our practices are substantially the same as all MA SPED residential programs currently open.

We are now trying to determine when it would be safe to have students return to the Residential Program after having an illness. In making that determination we will follow the CDC and DPH regulations in consultation with our medical advisors. Please be patient with respect to this matter. 

Our greatest fear is having a positive case or cases and/or needing to quarantine large numbers of staff, particularly nursing staff, and not having sufficient personnel to maintain operations. We are in unprecedented times. There is no road map to follow. We are all doing our best to try to keep everyone safe and healthy.
 
Several staff are working remotely and can be contacted to continue to offer advice, guidance and moral support. We are heartened by the number of parents who have shared suggestions about what is working for them and ideas for resources to help keep learning and purposeful leisure going. Please reach out to us if greater assistance is needed in this area.
 
As we forge ahead through these difficult weeks we look forward to a time when we can all be together again.


 
 Boston Higashi School will close Day Program effective
 March 17, 2020, until April 7, 2020
 
This decision is made in order to comply with the directive of Governor Baker and our regulatory agencies in light of the state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that our decisions  will impose a hardship on our families. However, given our understanding of the potentially rapid spread of this disease, we believe this closing is important to try and reduce the potential spread of this pandemic virus. 
PARENTS OF RESIDENTIAL STUDENTS SHOULD SERIOUSLY CONSIDER BRINGING THEIR STUDENT HOME.
The decision to keep the Residential Program open at this time will be day to day and all precautions will be taken. There will be a no visitor policy in place until further notice. This includes parents and family members. Please contact the school if there are any questions.  
 
Should your child become ill regardless of diagnosis, he/she will need to go home.  Your child cannot return to school until cleared by nursing, in consultation with our Medical Consultant.  Please call in advance to review your child’s circumstances. The COVID-19 virus may impose a greater risk to some students. For these students we will use our discretion as to whether they should remain on campus. Any decision will be made in the best interests of the School and will be final.  THE BOSTON HIGASHI SCHOOL IS NOT A MEDICAL FACILITY AND DOES NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES ON CAMPUS TO CARE FOR STUDENTS DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19 OR SIMILAR ILLNESSES.  
 
PLEASE CONTACT THE HEALTH ROOM TO SCHEDULE MEDICATION PICKUP IF NECESSARY.  WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR FULL COOPERATION.


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March 12, 2020
Dear Higashi Community,

 

 

In light of the ever changing impact of the COVID-19 Virus, you can expect ongoing communication with important information regarding our practices and procedures. The health and safety of students, staff and families remains our top priority. We have a task force that meets every morning to review alerts and assess our current status.

 

It is necessary for us to restrict access to campus as well as the number of visitors allowed on campus and to designated areas only. All visitors are asked to wash their hands upon entering the building. There will be a brief questionnaire at each reception desk that any and all visitors must complete. For student pick ups and drop offs, only one parent may enter the building via the main entrance on the day side or the Cushing residential lobby. Your student will be brought to you and you must exit campus immediately. If you need medication from the health office, alert the receptionist to facilitate this. If a parent wishes to visit a student on campus he/she will be directed to a designated area. Ideally the visit can be conducted outside if the weather is favorable.  

 

All meetings such as IEPs, transition and admission meetings should be conducted virtually by conference call or online. We have designated three areas for meetings that are deemed absolutely necessary:

 

LARGE CONFERENCE ROOM

CUSHING CONFERENCE ROOM

BUSINESS OFFICE CONFERENCE ROOM

 

There will be cleaning/sanitizing supplies in each of those rooms and the space will be cleaned after each use. We ask that staff/ facilitator of the meeting complete this task.

 

Staff are reminded to use other areas for virtual meetings. Whenever possible all outside evaluations will be delayed. In the event that it is vital to a student placement or procurement of adult services arrangements will be made on a case by case basis. 

 

Formal Dance & Graduation, Ladies Day of Beauty, and Emergence Program Brunch have been postponed until further notice. We are mindful of the disappointment that this may bring to our students and families, especially to the graduating class of 2020. Please be assured that we will make every effort to acknowledge and celebrate our graduates at another time in the future.

 

At this point in time we are not aware of any cases of COVID-19 within our Higashi community. We will continue to be mindful and vigilant and take any necessary precautions to keep everyone as safe as we can. We appreciate your full cooperation to maintain the safest environment possible. 

 

Any questions do not hesitate to contact:
Deb Donovan | deborah.donovan@bostonhigashi.org
Mike Kelly | mike.kelly@bostonhigashi.org