Message from the Leadership Team

May 8, 2020: MSD's Last Day for Distance Learning - Friday, June 19, 2020
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
The Maryland School for the Deaf lost eleven school days this year due to inclement weather (December 16, 2019) and the COVID-19 pandemic (March 16-20 and 23-27, 2020). At their online meeting this morning, the MSD Board of Trustees voted to waive five make-up days out of the eleven make-up days. So, MSD will make up the six lost days with Distance Learning. The first make up day will be a Distance Learning Day on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, originally a staff day. The remaining five make-up days will take place June 15-19, 2020, again through Distance Learning. Our last Distance Learning day is on Friday, June 19, 2020, and this last day will be a half day for the students and a full day for faculty and staff.
 
MSD Graduation for the Class of 2020 is postponed to Friday, August 7, 2020. It will be either a modified in-person graduation, or an online graduation. We will make a final decision as time nears.
 
MSD will be sending a survey in June to all MSD families as well as MSD faculty and staff to collect feedback on MSD's Distance Learning thus far. This information will help us plan for Distance Learning in the future, if needed. 
 
The ASL version of this letter is found at the following link:
 
Have a safe and restful weekend.
 
Sincerely,
Supt James E Tucker
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
May 7, 2020: School Closure for the Remainder of 2019-2020 School Year
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
I wish to share with you that the Maryland State Department of Education's (MSDE) State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen B. Salmon announced yesterday at Governor Larry Hogan's press conference that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all Maryland Public Schools including the Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) will be closed for the remainder of this 2019-2020 school year. MSD's Distance Learning will continue. This summer's Extended School Year (ESY) will be taught via Distance Learning.
 
For this fall of 2020, we still do not know what will happen. Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Dr. Salmon will decide when Maryland Public Schools and MSD will reopen. Yesterday, Dr. Salmon released a document titled "Maryland Together, Maryland's Recovery Plan for Education: http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/newsroom/Documents/MSDERecoveryPlan.pdf 
 
MSD will use this plan as a guide to help determine how best to reopen MSD classrooms and dormitories. As always, we will keep everyone informed through emails and vlogs.
 
MSD's Personnel Office is still accepting letters of interest and resumes as we anticipate having several positions open at MSD for the 2020-2021 school year. Please email your information to Ms. Anny Currin, Director of Personnel, at anny.currin@msd.edu.
 
This week is "Teacher Appreciation Week", and I thank each MSD teacher and staff for their wonderful and dedicated work in the past school year and especially in the past eight weeks. I also want to thank MSD parents and guardians who have partnered with our teachers and staff in providing academic instruction and services to MSD students (and your children).
 
The ASL version of this letter is found at the following link:
 
If you have questions, please email me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jennifer.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu.
 
Please be smart, be patient, and be safe.
James E. Tucker
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
May 1, 2020: Freeze on State Hiring
 
In accordance with Governor Hogan's freeze on State hiring, positions not related to the State's COVID-19 emergency response cannot be posted until further notice but the personnel office is still accepting resumes and letters of interests as we anticipate having several positions open at MSD for the 2020-2021 School Year.
 
Please email your information to anny.currin@msd.edu
 
Thank you.
 
Anny T. Currin
Personnel Director
April 17, 2020: School Closure Through May 15, 2020
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
First, I hope this finds each of you and your families healthy and safe. I am hopeful that this COVID-19 pandemic will be totally defeated sometime in the future through new vaccinations, new therapies, and herd immunity. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has announced that starting tomorrow morning all individuals will wear face masks when riding on public transportation and entering food stores, pharmacies, and retail stores in Maryland.
 
I wish to share with you that the Maryland State Department of Education's (MSDE) State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen B. Salmon announced earlier this afternoon that all Maryland Public Schools including the Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) will be closed through Friday, May 15, 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
 
MSD's Distance Learning will continue. I wish to applaud our students and families and our faculty and staff for your wonderful effort and patience in the past few weeks as we all learn how to teach, learn, communicate, and reflect online. I look forward to our continued effort in the next few weeks and possible months.
 
MSD Board of Trustees will meet via Google Meet on Friday, May 8, 2020. It will be live-streamed for the public. Among Board action items at this meeting will be a review and decision on MSD's last school day for this school year.
 
In closing, I wish to congratulate MSD's Academic Bowl team who just won the East Region Online Academic Bowl, beating out seventeen other Deaf schools and public schools. Congratulations to seniors Thalia Guettler, Amanda Maisel, sophomore Ciara Luttrell, and freshman Keanu Herzig-Wilcox as well as coaches Priscilla Biskupiak and Keith Nolan! Thalia was voted as the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament! The team will now advance to the National Online Academic Bowl, moderated by Gallaudet University.
 
The ASL version of this letter is found at the following link:
 
If you have questions, please email me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jennifer.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu.
 
Please be smart and be safe.
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
March 25, 2020: School Closure Through April 24, 2020
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
I wish to share with you that the Maryland State Department of Education's (MSDE) State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen B. Salmon announced late this morning that all Maryland Public Schools including the Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) will be closed through Friday, April 24, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
"Continuity of Learning" or "distance learning" will begin for all MSD students this Monday, March 30, 2020. Please be on the lookout for emails from MSD administrators and staff. Distance learning will follow MSD's 2019-2020 School Calendar. Distance learning will only happen on the days that MSD is in session. For MSD's spring break from April 10 to April 19, there will be no distance learning. Make up days for days lost due to last week and this week's closing will be determined at a later time.
 
Dr. Salmon and I met two hours ago via Zoom to review MSD's questions regarding standards for distance learning, Class of 2020 graduation requirements, end of 3rd and 4th quarter grading, Career and Technology classes, Student Service Learning hours, etc. She and her team have been working hard on formulating answers to these questions and will be providing us guidelines in the next few weeks. Dr. Salmon and I will be meeting again next week via Zoom.
 
Please continue to monitor MSD's webpage dedicated to the COVID-19 response: www.msd.edu/covid-19/ 
 
We are all going through this historic time. But history repeats itself. During the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu pandemic, MSD was closed for one month from October 4, 1918 to November 4, 1918. All 126 students at MSD were quarantined at the Frederick Campus. One hundred twenty of the one hundred twenty-six MSD students were infected with influenza. Fortunately all one hundred twenty students survived.
 
I wish to sincerely thank so many of you who have stepped up in the past weeks and worked hard in your respective roles during this extraordinary time. Thank you.
 
The ASL version of this letter is found at the following link:
 
If you have questions, please email me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jennifer.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu.
 
Please be safe.
 
Sincerely,
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
March 20, 2020: Distance Learning
 
Dear MSD Community, 
 
First and foremost, I hope that each of you and your families are safe and well.
 
I wish to share with you that MSD along with Maryland Public Schools has been preparing for distance learning in the event that an extension of the current school closure becomes necessary. This is also known as e-learning or online classes.
 
Starting on Monday, March 23, 2020, MSD administrators, specialists, teachers, teacher aides, nurses, counselors, therapists, instructional staff, support staff, office staff, and dormitory staff will telework from home. MSD staff will not go to Frederick or Columbia Campuses per Governor Larry Hogan's orders. MSD staff, please be monitoring your emails as your supervisors will be in touch with you shortly to outline your roles and responsibilities.
 
If the state closes schools beyond two weeks, MSD will start distance learning for MSD students on March 30, 2020. That is, MSD students will study at home. In the next few days, MSD administrators and assistant principals will be in touch with MSD families and MSD staff for next steps in preparations for distance learning. We will utilize the Internet, video technology, and the United States Postal Service in order to provide continued instruction to MSD students. Hopefully, soon we will learn more from the Maryland Department of Education regarding graduation requirements for our Class of 2020, IEP meetings, and IEP services.
 
Distance learning will be a very new experience for most of us. Figuratively, we are building a new airplane as it flies. I ask for your patience and support as we all come together and learn this new paradigm in learning. This exciting and challenging journey is going to transform each of us for days and months to come.
 
The ASL version of this letter is found at the following link:
 
If you have questions, please email me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jennifer.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu.
 
Be safe.
 
Sincerely, 
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
March 18, 2020: COVID-19 Updates
 
Dear MSD Community, 
 
I hope this communication finds you and your families safe. Once again, please practice social distancing and healthy hygiene. COVID-19 spreads very quickly, so please be careful.
 
I encourage each of you to regularly check our "COVID-19 Information Center" webpage at: www.msd.edu/covid-19/.
 
"Learning Resources" as added to this webpage, so your children can access online learning materials. They will not be collected or graded, but are for your children to keep up with their studies.
 
MSD is working with the Maryland State Department of Education regarding standards for distance learning, if the school closure becomes prolonged. Again, I will keep you posted regarding the status of MSD classes after March 27, 2020, and the status of distance learning.
 
We have also added "MSD's COVID-19 Response Plan" to our COVID-19 Information Center webpage. This serves as a guide for MSD as we all go through this crisis together.
 
Our housekeeping staff will have completed the deep cleaning in all buildings at the Frederick and Columbia Campuses by Friday, March 20th. Please do not enter the buildings until your supervisors or I communicate with you that it is permissible to do so.
 
As always, I will keep everyone posted when MSD learns of new developments from Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland State Department of Education as well as information from local, state, and federal agencies.

The ASL version of this letter is found at the following link:
 
If you have questions, please email me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jennifer.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu
 
Be careful and be safe.

Sincerely,
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
March 14, 2020: MSD Announcement - Free Meals and Free Internet
 
Dear MSD Community, 
 
I wish to share with you information where you can access free meals for your children from March 16-27, 2020. 
 
The link below has a list of school districts serving free meals to Maryland children and youth:
 
I also wish to share with you that Comcast is now offering free internet services. Please see their link:
 
The ASL version of this letter is found at the following link:
Again, the COVID-19 pandemic is rapid evolving situation, and MSD will continue to seek ways to support MSD students and their families during the school closing from March 16-27, 2020. Please be on the lookout for future announcements from MSD. Please also monitor COVID-19 updates on our MSD website: www.msd.edu 
 
If you have questions, please email me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jennifer.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu.
 
Be safe.
 
Sincerely, 
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
March 13, 2020: MSD Announcement
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
In response to Governor Larry Hogan's directives from yesterday, MSD will now close for two weeks starting this Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020. His intent is for all of us to protect ourselves and our families from COVID-19 pandemic. We all should try to minimize our movements and practice social distancing.
 
All MSD 10, 10.5 and 11 month staff, including contractual staff will not be working from March 16, 2020 to March 27, 2020, but they all will be paid during that time. Your supervisors will instruct you on how to complete your time sheets.
 
E-learning, distance learning, and online classes are on hold until further instructions from the Maryland State Department of Education. So, this means our work on e-learning is on hold as well. 
 
Non-essential twelve month staff will be asked to telework. Only critical mission staff and essential staff will work at MSD during this time. Please contact your supervisor regarding which category you are in.
 
Again, this is a challenging time and sometimes confusing time for all of us. I ask for your patience as we battle this COVID-19 virus. As always, I will keep you informed when I receive new information from our local, state, and federal agencies.
 
The ASL version of this letter is found with the following link:
 
If you have questions, please email me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jennifer.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu
 
Be safe.
 
Sincerely,
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent 
MSD Announcement - COVID-19 Pandemic
 
March 12, 2020
 
As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, classes at MSD will be closed starting this Monday, March 16, 2020.
 
All MSD staff will continue to work on Monday, March 16. MSD teachers will start planning for e-learning for MSD students in case the classes on campus are replaced by e-learning and distance learning. Housekeeping staff will be deep cleaning our facilities during this time. All MSD staff members will have a role to play as we work through this situation. Please look for instructions from your supervisors.
 
On Thursday, March 19, 2020, my senior management team and I will re-evaluate the COVID-19 situation and decide if there will be classes at MSD during the week of March 23 to March 27. If there are no classes, then e-learning and distance learning will start on Monday, March 23. Please look for my letter and vlog on March 19.
 
I personally recognize that this is a very difficult decision for all of us. MSD is a state school. Our Frederick and Columbia Campuses serve students from all over the state. Some of our MSD students are medically fragile. We must be proactive and vigilant for all students and staff members' health and safety.
 
COVID-19 virus is highly contagious and more lethal than the seasonal flu. We collectively need to outsmart this virus. We need to collectively outmaneuver this virus. We need to continue to practice healthy hygiene and social distancing.
 
The ASL version of this letter is found with the following link:
 
If you have questions, please email me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at Jenn.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu
 
Be safe.
 
Sincerely, 
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
Update - COVID-19
 
March 10, 2020
 
Dear MSD Community, 
 
I wish to share with you that Governor Larry Hogan has announced that the Maryland State Government has moved to Level 2 of the state's pandemic flu policy. The key component of this level is to implement social distancing which means limiting exposure in large groups. This is in response to the spread of COVID-19. The hope is that social distancing and the practice of healthy hygiene habits will help to mitigate the spread of the virus. My team and I are monitoring the COVID-19 updates from our local, state, and federal agencies. I encourage each of you to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) link on a daily basis:
 
 
Effective tomorrow morning, visitors and volunteers are not allowed on campus without the permission of the campus principal. Families of students are welcome to MSD for meetings, school events, drama productions, etc.
 
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please do not come to MSD. Sick staff members should stay home. Sick students should stay home. An email from MSD will be sent to the MSD Community tomorrow regarding procedures for students and staff members' return to campus after they recover from their illness.
 
If the COVID-19 cases continue to mount, there is a possibility that MSD will be closed for a period of time. For this reason, we encourage families to start planning childcare should it be needed for their children. MSD's instructional team is currently exploring e-learning opportunities for MSD students. This is learning on the internet. We are looking at several e-learning models at the moment and ways to serve families without internet access.
 
My management team has been reviewing upcoming out-of-state travel and we have already cancelled several trips for staff members. There are several regional and national athletic and academic competitions happening in the next few weeks and they are under review by the host schools and MSD. School field trips and local athletic events will be reviewed case by case.
 
The International Orioles' trip to Mexico City, Mexico during the upcoming spring break has been cancelled. The athletic awards ceremony originally scheduled for tomorrow night will be postponed until a later date, hopefully combined with the spring athletic banquet and awards ceremony.
 
The HERStories performance scheduled for this weekend will be open only to MSD students, families and staff. Tickets purchased by all others will be refunded.
 
I will continue to share with you new developments regarding COVID-19. We all recognize that this is a difficult time and I ask for your understanding, cooperation and flexibility as we all continue to work through this together. Tomorrow I will email to you an ASL version of this letter.
 
If you have questions, please email me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jennifer.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu.
 
Sincerely,
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
 
Out-of-Country Travel and COVID-19 Pandemic
 
March 6, 2020
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
I wish to share with you that MSD continues to be in close contact with various agencies in and outside Maryland as we monitor the daily reports of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
I also wish to share with you a policy from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that individuals returning from out of country travel may need to stay home for 14 days depending on the country one traveled to:
 
 
MSD's spring break is around the corner. I ask that families who travel out of the country share with MSD your travel plans, so we can advise you accordingly. At this writing, there is no in-country travel restrictions.
 
If you have questions, please contact me at james.tucker@msd.edu, FC Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, FC Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jennifer.ortiz@msd.edu, or CC Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu
 
Sincerely,
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
COVID-19
 
February 28, 2020
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
I wish to share with you that MSD has been monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Hogan has urged all Maryland Schools to have a contingency plan for the disease. At this writing, the best defense against this virus is like what we do to prevent the spread of influenza:
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Keep your hands away from your mouth and nose.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a cleaning spray or wipe.
MSD is in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health departments in developing possible contingency plans. We will communicate any and all new developments with you. MSD is also reviewing our operations, including housekeeping and cleaning schedules which have been increased and will include the daily wipe down of door knobs, faucet handles, desk surfaces, athletic mats, and all other areas of concern with disinfectants. All buildings on both campuses are well stocked with hand disinfectant to allow for frequent hand washing throughout the day.
 
For additional information on the COVID-19, please go to the following links:
 
 
 
 
 
If you have questions, please contact me at james.tucker@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Principal Kevin Strachan at kevin.strachan@msd.edu, Frederick Campus Dean of Student Affairs Jenn Ortiz at jenn.ortiz@msd.edu, or Columbia Campus Principal Dawniela Patterson at dawniela.patterson@msd.edu.
 
Sincerely,
JET
James E. Tucker
Superintendent
Melissa Draganac-Hawk - MSD's 2020 Commencement Speaker
 
February 11, 2020
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
I wish to share with you that Melissa Draganac-Hawk has graciously accepted our invitation to speak at MSD's 2020 Commencement Exercises on Friday, June 5, 2020.
 
Melissa Draganac-Hawk HeadshotMs. Draganac-Hawk is a first-generation American of deaf immigrant Peruvian parents. She obtained her master's degree in Linguistics, bachelor's in Theater Production & performance and a second bachelor's in American Sign Language from Gallaudet University. She is presently an administrator, Director of Services, at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Immensely involved and invested in the Deaf community, she served as the president of the National Council of Hispano Deaf and Hard of Hearing, now renamed Council de Manos, and the Executive Director of Deaf Women United.
 
In the field of theatre, Ms. Draganac-Hawk was the artistic director for the original production of "Rathskeller", an actress in "No Talking Allowed" and "Florida Avenue" and frequently assumes the role of Master of Ceremonies for community events.
 
Ms. Draganac-Hawk has been involved with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) throughout her life in various capacities including stage manager for the 2000 production of Miss Deaf America before ascending to director of Miss Deaf America productions in 2002 and 2008, and served as the board liaison for the Opening Ceremonies of 2012, 2014, and 2016 Biennial Conferences. She is currently the president of the Board of Directors of NAD.
 
Sincerely,
James E. Tucker
Superintendent