From the Leadership Team

September 22, 2021: MSD Handbook—Survey #2
 
Dear MSD Community:
 
The MSD Handbook will undergo a thorough review this school year and the 2022-2023 MSD Handbook will be considered for approval by the Board at their May 6, 2022 meeting.
 
The purpose of the surveys is to gather feedback from Stakeholders to ensure the handbook remains a valuable resource for MSD families, students, and staff regarding educational programs, services, and policies. 
 
Survey #2 covers the following subsections within the Academic Policy and Procedures section:
  1. Instructional Level Placement
  2. Grading Policies
  3. Homework Guidelines
  4. Final Exams/Projects
  5. Report Cards and Interim Reports
  6. Incomplete Grades
  7. Grade Appeals
  8. Eligibility for Extracurricular Activities
The link for Survey #2 can be found here. These sections can be found on pages 29-31 of the 2021-2022 MSD Handbook, however they are also attached to this email for your convenience. The deadline to complete Survey #2 is Wednesday, October 6, 2021.

Thank you in advance for your time and feedback to assist MSD with completing the review of the handbook.
 
Jennifer Lake
Special Assistant to the Superintendent/Coordinator of Administrative Projects
 
PDF in Spanish | Traducción al Español
 
Review Section Here | Academic Policy and Procedures
September 21, 2021: Community Update
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
We are now in our fourth week of school, and just last week we had our first five-day, in-person week of classes since March 2020. It has been great seeing our campuses come alive again! Although it feels like time stopped the last 18 months, our students grew all-around. We are delighted to have our students on campus once again for in-person learning and opportunities.
 
We are all itching for normalcy again, but what we must recognize is that the normalcy we once embraced pre-pandemic is no longer there. What we do know is that the pandemic is still very much present in our lives. Our quarantine protocol is all-consuming, ever-changing, and overwhelming for many of us. We recognize that our families, teachers, and staff are exhausted, frustrated, and stressed. Some of us are scared. I can only ask that we be kind and supportive to one another. There may be times where we may disagree with one another or with a school policy or protocol; the best thing to do is to communicate with patience and civility.
 
Here are some announcements and updates to share with you:
 
Hispanic Heritage Month
In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, our Chief Diversity Officer has planned several activities to celebrate the history, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic/Latino/a/x Americans. We are proud of our Deaf Youth Latinx Club and look forward to their meetings and events throughout the school year. This month and all year long, let us celebrate together, enrich our perspectives, and express our appreciation of our Hispanic and Latino/a/x students, staff, families, and community members.
 
Reopening Guide
We are pleased to share that our Reopening Guide is now posted on our website at www.msd.edu/reopening/. This Reopening Guide should be considered a working document which means that the criteria and recommendations are based on known factors at the time of writing. As more information becomes available, the guidelines will be updated as appropriate or within every six months until September 30, 2024. The MSD Handbook is still in effect for the 2021-2022 school year; the Reopening Guide serves in addition to the handbook.
 
Feedback and input from our parents/guardians, families, students, staff, and stakeholders help inform our planning. Please visit https://bit.ly/MSDReopeningGuideFeedbackForm to provide feedback on our Reopening Guide anytime throughout the year.
 
The Removal of Plexiglass Partitions
Following guidance from the Maryland Department of Health, MSD shall begin removing plexiglass partitions from all classrooms, residence halls, cafeterias, and all other common areas on both campuses. Researchers have found that plexiglass dividers impede air flow and have not been shown to prevent transmission. Our maintenance department will now begin to gradually remove these partitions. 
 
Accreditation Extended
MSD is fully accredited through the Middle States Association following their Sustaining Excellence Protocol. Under this accreditation protocol, MSD engages in strategic planning and action research surrounding this self-study research question: How can the use of technology foster improved engagement, involvement, education, and collaboration with diverse Maryland School for the Deaf families throughout the state of Maryland as it relates to language and social/emotional development as well as academic support to enhance student academic achievement?
 
MSD was scheduled to present an update on our status and initial findings by hosting a colloquium this Spring 2022. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted our ability to fully implement our research during the 2020-2021 school year, our request for an extension was granted. We will now be hosting a colloquium next year in the spring of 2023. This event will be open to our MSD families, and as we near the actual event, more information will be shared with the community.
 
Should you be interested in serving on the Action Team for Partnerships, the committee responsible for the implementation of the Action Research, please contact our Director of Accreditation Tara Holloway via email at tara.holloway@msd.edu
 
Homecoming 2021
This year, Homecoming week is from October 12 to October 16, with Homecoming Day scheduled for Saturday, October 16. In an effort to make the weekend safer for all attending, this will not be a traditional event. More information will be shared shortly.
 
MSD Board of Trustees Special Meeting
The Maryland School for the Deaf Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting this evening—Tuesday, September 21—from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Read the meeting announcement and agenda on our website at www.msd.edu/boardoftrustees/
 
Back to School Event
Join us for our Back to School event this Friday, September 24. This will be a virtual event where you are able to interact LIVE with staff in your child's department. More information to come from your child's assistant principal.
 
Forward Together.
 
Jennifer Yost Ortiz
Interim Chief Educational Programs Officer
 
Video in ASL | Watch ASL Video
 
PDF in Spanish | Traducción al Español
September 13, 2021: MSD Handbook—Survey #1
 
Dear MSD Community,
 
The MSD Handbook will undergo a thorough review this school year and the 2022-2023 MSD Handbook will be considered for approval by the Board at their May 6, 2022 meeting.
 
Surveys for different sections from the handbook will be sent out via email for community comment and feedback. Each survey will be open for two weeks. The purpose of the surveys is to gather feedback from Stakeholders to ensure the handbook remains a valuable resource for MSD families, students, and staff regarding educational programs, services, and policies.
 
We hope that you will take a few minutes to answer each survey upon receipt.
 
The first survey, Survey #1, will cover the following sections:
  • Department and Educational Programs
  • Assessments
The link for Survey #1 can be found here. These sections can be found on pages 26-27 (Department & Educational Programs) and pages 27-29 (Assessments) of the 2021-2022 MSD Handbook, however, they are also attached to this email for your convenience. The deadline to complete Survey #1 is Friday, September 24, 2021.
 
Thank you in advance for your time and feedback to assist MSD with completing the review of the handbook.
 
Jennifer Lake
Special Assistant to the Superintendent/Coordinator of Administrative Projects
 
PDF in Spanish | Traducción al Español
 
Review Section Here | Department & Educational Programs
 
Review Section Here | Assessments
August 30, 2021: Welcome Back to School!
 
Dear MSD Community:
 
Welcome back! We are excited to get the 2021-2022 school year started.
 
Welcome back to school message from MSD's Orioles Leadership Team.
 
Families, students, and staff are invited to share their favorite first day of school snapshots with us. Direct message your snapshots to @MSDorioles on Instagram, email socialmedia@msd.edu, or use the hashtag #MSDFirstDay and your photos may be featured in our Back to School album on our website and social media pages.
 
Show your school spirit on Fridays!
This year, we are inviting our staff, students, and community members to wear school colors—orange and black—on Fridays. Our after school programs and Student Life staff will lead the school colors celebration early on Thursdays. Shop online here if you would like to purchase your own customized school gear.
 
Here are some things you need to know about our reopening:
 
Health and Safety
MSD is implementing a multi-layered health and safety protocol to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Enhanced mitigation measures include the use of face coverings, increased sanitization, physical distancing decals and plexiglass partitions, and improved ventilation with open windows and air purifiers in classrooms, residence halls, and common areas. In addition, MSD employees will be required to provide proof of full vaccination or undergo regular weekly COVID-19 testing, starting the first week of September. This requirement applies to all employees, interns, coaches, and any regular volunteers at MSD.
 
Contact Tracing and Communicating Positive Cases
When an individual on MSD campus tests positive for COVID-19, MSD's contact tracers will identify those who have had direct contact and follow up with any quarantine instructions. MSD will continue to notify the school community of any positive COVID-19 cases. Parents/guardians must notify school leadership if their child is exposed to COVID-19 or receives a positive test result. When the school administration is made aware of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, MSD will inform and work with local health departments to support their contact tracing efforts.
 
Quarantine Plan for Supporting Student Learning
MSD will strive to support continued student learning during any required quarantine due to COVID-19. If a student is quarantined, their absence from school will be excused. Students will be able to access their classroom assignments on their teacher's online platform (i.e. Google Classroom, Seesaw, etc.). In the event that a student does not have access to the internet from their home, arrangements for the delivery of the hard copies of work, instruction content, and materials needed to complete the work will be made with parent/guardian involvement.
 
MSD teachers will be required to upload student assignments within 24 business hours of the lesson delivery for students to access their missed instruction. Students will not receive live, virtual instruction from a teacher on a separate schedule from their peers; MSD will offer additional instructional support from MSD employees before school, after school, during prep times, or by other agreed upon appointment times made individually with parents/guardians to meet specific household needs during the quarantine period.
 
Students in middle and high school grade bands have electronic devices that they bring back and forth to school which allow them access to uploaded instructional materials and content in the event of a quarantine period. Elementary students will have the ability to bring their devices home in the event that a quarantine period is known before they go home for an extended duration. If an elementary student goes home without their device and their stay becomes extended due to a quarantine requirement, MSD will make arrangements for the delivery of the device and any other instructional materials to the child's home, if needed.
 
Students and families in need of access to high speed internet will be provided with a hotspot by MSD in the event that their child is quarantined and requires access to online platforms and instructional materials.
 
If a student needs to quarantine at any time during the school year, or if students must return to an online learning environment, related services will continue to be provided via a telehealth platform.
 
School Closings for Inclement Weather
Inclement weather or other safety conditions may require MSD to close or have a delayed opening. At this time, the Maryland State Department of Education has instructed schools that a shift to online learning in the event of inclement weather will not be permitted and that any missed days will need to be made up. Should MSD need to close campus, there will be no instruction or after school and extracurricular activities that day.
 
Our school calendar does not include make-up days due to inclement weather or other emergency closings. At this time, our last day of school is on Friday, June 10, 2022. MSD reserves the right to extend the school year after June 10, 2022 or to modify the calendar in the event that additional days are needed to meet the 180-day requirement for students.
 
Addressing the Well-Being of MSD Students and Staff
In an effort to support the whole child, additional social, emotional, and behavioral support will be provided by school staff and members of the Mental Health Team (school social workers, counselors, and psychologists) as students return to school. Support includes professional development for MSD staff, regular check-ins with students and staff, the integration of social and emotional learning during lessons, and availability to consult with families and staff members on an as-needed basis.
 
Virtual Town Halls for Families
Our campus principals will schedule virtual joint-campus forums to answer any questions families may have related to MSD or with our reopening plans in September. More information will be shared shortly.
 
Online and Hybrid Learning
MSD will not close buildings and move to online instruction for all students unless state government officials order the school to do so. If the state orders reduced capacity in school buildings, MSD is developing a plan for hybrid instruction where students would receive in-person instruction on some days and online instruction on other days.
 
Let's look forward to a new school year together!
 
Jennifer Yost Ortiz
Interim Chief Educational Programs Officer
 
Video in ASL | Watch ASL Video
 
PDF in Spanish | Traducción al Español
August 20, 2021: Important Updates
 
Dear MSD Community:
 
The 2021-2022 school year is around the corner! It is the 154th year for the Frederick Campus and the 49th year for the Columbia Campus. Only four years ago we celebrated our 150th anniversary. Only next year we will celebrate Columbia Campus' 50th school year.
 
Forward Together
 
Our theme for the last school year was Standing Together. While we will continue to stand together, we must work together to move forward. As I mentioned in my previous email, this will be another unique year with the pandemic and we still have a lot of work to do with social justice and bettering ourselves as individuals and as a whole. Some of us are returning to school for the first time since March 2020 and this will be an adjustment for many. Regardless of the obstacles that may come our way, we need to continue to move forward together. This year's theme reminds us to embrace these challenges and to pursue progress together. With progress, we can grow, transform, and thrive.
 
We would like to recognize the artist of our logo, Julie Bourne. She is currently a Career and Technology Education (CTE) teacher on our Frederick Campus. Thank you Julie for designing this beautiful logo.
 
We normally like to invite the community to decide on what the ASL sign for the theme should be. Some years, this comes from one of our students. Some years, it comes from one of our staff. And some years, we have several signs depending on the context. We are looking forward to learning what the ASL sign for the theme will be this year.
 
Back to School Event
We were hoping that we would be able to return to our annual back-to-school event this year. As a safety measure, we will not be able to organize this event in-person this year. In observance of Rosh Hashanah, our traditionally scheduled back-to-school event for the Tuesday after Labor Day will be hosted virtually on Friday, September 24. More information will be shared soon.
 
Pandemic Response
At this time, our symptom screening procedure has changed. Parents/guardians are now responsible for screening their child for COVID-19-like symptoms (see list below) before sending their child to school. The school will check body temperatures as students arrive. Students will continue to be observed throughout the day for any signs of COVID-19-like symptoms.
 
To review, the COVID-19-like symptoms are as follows:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
If a student's temperature reads 99.4 or higher and/or symptoms are observed at any time through the school day, the student will be sent to our Student Health Center to be assessed further by a school nurse. If our school nurse determines the student is showing COVID-19-like symptoms, a parent/guardian will be contacted for immediate pick-up. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of keeping your child(ren) home if s/he does not feel well or has symptoms. 
 
The decision to quarantine a student/group of students may vary; we will use the decision aid chart developed by the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland State Department of Education to guide our decision. MSD's principal offices will send a letter to those who need to quarantine.
 
MSD will strive to minimize the disruption to student learning during the quarantine period; if a student is quarantined, their absence from school will be excused and their school work will be sent home. If a student needs support during this period, they may contact their teacher.
 
We will continue to enforce and emphasize the importance of M.S.D.:
  • Mask - Masks will be required indoors for anyone 2 years and older with exception for those who are exempt from wearing a face covering. Masks should be properly fitted and snug from nose to chin. Gaiters, masks with valves, and mesh masks are not permitted. If masks are damaged or soiled throughout the day, the school will provide a disposable mask.
  • Sanitize - Sanitization stations are plentiful and available throughout all of our school buildings. Everyone is encouraged to sanitize their hands frequently, especially as they transfer from place to place. Wipes will be provided to keep spaces sanitized throughout the day. We are almost done with updating sinks, toilets, and paper towel dispensers in our restrooms with contactless accessories. Daily meals will be pre-packaged in boxes.
  • Distance - Physical distancing will be maintained. There are social distancing decals on the floor in our hallways. Plexiglass partitions are also set up in classrooms and cafeterias to support distancing. Restroom capacity is limited to every other stall. Each classroom and student common area has an air purifier.
Moving forward, we will only communicate laboratory-confirmed positive cases with the community. 
 
What used to be a Recovery Plan will now be called the Reopening Guide. We will be sharing a working draft which means that the criteria and recommendations are based on known factors at the time of writing. As more information becomes available, the guidelines will be updated as appropriate or within every six months until 2024. We welcome feedback from our school community year round.
 
We also have a Pandemic Response Team dedicated to reviewing information from the CDC and the state, and we will continue to implement best practices as new information becomes available. 
 
I want to acknowledge that many of us still feel uncertain about what may come. As we get ready for the first day of school, let's hold onto the joy of being together in-person again. For many of our students, in-person instruction supports both their educational progress and their well-being. We need each other; we need to challenge our thinking together in-person. This is possible only if we enforce and practice safety precautions at all times.
 
Let's move forward together.
 
Jennifer Yost Ortiz
Interim Chief Educational Programs Officer
 
Video in ASL | Watch ASL Video
August 16, 2021: Passing of Mr. Alfred "Al" Shockley
 
Dear MSD Community:
 
It is with sadness and thanksgiving for a life well lived that I inform you of the passing of Alfred (Al) Shockley. Al Shockley and his family have been involved with MSD for many years. Mr. Shockley's parents were MSD alumni and this fostered his involvement with MSD.
 
Al Shockley was appointed by the Governor to the MSD Board of Visitors (now the Board of Trustees) and he was behind the establishment of the MSD Foundation. In 1987, he was the first president of the Foundation.
 
On a personal note, I remember the assistance Al Shockley provided to MSD in the early 2000's when we were hosting many state legislators to secure funding for the new Kent-McCanner Building. His bubbling personality and willingness to assist MSD helped this process greatly.
 
The Shockley House is named for the family for their many years of service to MSD. Al Shockley's daughter Marisa Shockley currently sits on the board of the MSD Foundation.
 
MSD is very appreciative of all the time and dedication Al Shockley gave to the school throughout his lifetime.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ann Miller
Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer
August 9, 2021: Update on School Year 2021-2022
 
Dear MSD Community, 
 
Our 11 month employees have returned today. The rest of the staff will return within the next two weeks. Our students' first day of school will be Monday, August 30th. We are excited to start another academic year.
 
This school year will still be a unique and challenging one with ongoing concerns with the pandemic and currently the Delta variant. We now have a better understanding of the virus and can take the necessary precautions so that we can move forward.
 
As of today, our plan remains this:
  • We will open on time, Monday, August 30th.
  • We will be open 5 days a week, 8:00am to 3:00pm.
  • All students will return at once.
  • Student meals are planned to ensure the safety of students and staff with some students eating in the cafeteria and some students eating in classrooms. Each table/desk will have divided plexiglass. A staggered schedule may be necessary.
  • After school activities and athletics will resume.
  • Dorms will open. We may consider limited capacity to ensure the health and safety of our dorm students.
  • We will not offer distance learning at this time.
We will continue to require masks indoors only, to encourage frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, and to maintain personal distance. We will be implementing new screening and response protocols, the details of which will be communicated in the coming days.
 
As always, we will continue to monitor things closely. Our decisions are based on a combination of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, the State of Maryland, local and state Health Departments, Frederick County Public Schools and Howard County Public School System. We also share resources from other deaf and hard of hearing schools/programs on best practices or best approach with the pandemic.
 
Despite the challenges we face, we also face being together again, and that is something to look forward to.
 
Jennifer Yost Ortiz
Interim Chief Educational Programs Officer
 
Video in ASL | Watch ASL Video
 
PDF in Spanish | Traducción al Español
June 28, 2021: Water Testing Results at Frederick Campus
 
Dear MSD Community:
 
In compliance with Maryland Law, MSD has tested the drinking water faucets/outlets at the Frederick Campus. The regulations have changed since the last testing cycle. Previously, drinking water that contained lead amounts less than 20 parts per billion (ppb) was considered acceptable. Currently, all drinking water is considered acceptable at less than 5 ppb.
 
MSD being closed for a large part of the school year and reduced numbers of students and staff on campus created a situation where water outlets that passed the lead testing three years ago, have now failed. In consultation with the testing company, MSD learned that this is probably due to the fact we had a school year where less than average amounts of water were run through the pipes. However, MSD takes this situation seriously and is working on remediation of these water outlets.
 
MSD's Frederick Campus had 86 faucets/outlets with lead levels at above 5 ppb. We have restricted access to those outlets until remedial action has been taken. The attachment shared here contains details of these tests and further information regarding lead in drinking water.
 
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at kevin.strachan@msd.edu or Ann Miller, MSD Chief Operating Officer, at ann.miller@msd.edu.
 
MSD wishes students, families and staff a happy and safe summer.
 
Sincerely,
 
Kevin Strachan
Interim Superintendent
June 11, 2021: Water Testing Results at Columbia Campus
 
Dear MSD Community:
 
In compliance with Maryland Law, MSD has tested the drinking water faucets/outlets at the Columbia Campus. The regulations have changed since the last testing cycle. Previously, drinking water that contained lead amounts less than 20 parts per billion (ppb) was considered acceptable. Currently, all drinking water is considered acceptable at less than 5 ppb.
 
MSD's Columbia Campus had 3 ice makers and 1 sink with lead levels at or above 5 ppb. We have discontinued the use of those outlets until remedial action has been taken.
 
The attachment shared here contains details of these tests and further information regarding lead in drinking water.
 
The Frederick Campus will have its drinking water tested prior to July 1, 2021.
 
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at kevin.strachan@msd.edu or Ann Miller, MSD Chief Operating Officer, at ann.miller@msd.edu.
 
MSD wishes students, families, and staff a happy and safe summer.
 
Sincerely,
 
Kevin Strachan
Interim Superintendent 
Ann Miller
Ann Miller
Chief Financial Officer &
Chief Operating Officer
Jenn
Jennifer Yost Ortiz
Interim Chief Educational Programs Officer
Dawniela Patterson
Dawniela Halischak
Columbia Campus Principal
Kevin Strachan
Kevin Strachan
Frederick Campus Principal