Covid Case at GMHS-Protocol Update


Good Afternoon GMHS Families,

I am writing to give you an update on Superintendent Jacobs’ 10/19 communication concerning a student testing positive for COVID-19 at GMHS and the protocol process that was followed. 

Over this past weekend, the school nurse, Mrs. Shurpenko, and I learned that a student at GMHS tested positive for COVID-19. Once we learned the news, Mrs. Shurpenko contacted the Department of Public Health to confirm the case and to consult with a DPH representative.The representative then worked, and continues to work, with the family to ensure they are aware of the necessary precautions, appropriate testing, and to provide any needed resources.

On Sunday, 10/18, I reached out to the student’s teachers and asked them to provide me with their classroom seating charts, attendance records, and conducted a short health interview with each of them. These procedures were to ensure that no students or teachers were in danger of being in the “High Risk” category. Fortunately, NO teachers or students were considered  to be in the “High Risk” category while in school.

On Monday, 10/19, Mrs. Shurpenko and I walked the student’s daily schedule to ensure that all classroom desks were in their proper locations for safe social distancing. I am happy to report all desks were in their proper locations.

To help streamline the contact tracing protocol, all teachers’ seating charts are electronic and in a single shared folder. Having the seating plans centralized helps to expedite the discovery process and allows us to determine if an individual is “Low” or “High Risk” in a matter of just a few minutes. A similar process has been developed for the cafeteria and other social gathering locations.

In addition to social distance tracking, teachers remind students at the start and end of each class to sanitize their hands and their desk surface areas. This is done each period of each day and was confirmed while the students were in classes.

These are a few examples of the GMHS contact tracing protocol to ensure all students, faculty, and staff members are working and learning in a safe school environment. Safety for all is, and always will be, our top priority during the health crisis and well beyond.

If you have any questions about the safety protocols or have any concerns, please reach out to me. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.


Mr. Richards

Superintendent Jacobs’ Message 10/19 – Good afternoon everyone,I am writing to inform you that a student at the MHS has tested positive for COVID 19. The Georgetown Public Health Nurse spent the weekend contact tracing and today that process was completed.  The eight students who are close contacts have been notified and will be quarantined and tested.  This process included both contact tracing within the school and outside of school. The GMHS nurse and Principal Richards worked with the Public Health Nurse today to determine if there were close contacts within the school and the result was there were no close contacts within six feet of the COVID positive person for 15 minutes or more.  The exposure occurred outside of the school. The faculty and staff have been notified and spaces have been cleaned for added precaution.  We will continue to follow our safety protocol of six feet of social distancing, mask wearing and proper hand hygiene. I urge you to work with your children to use this safety measure when outside of the school to avoid potential spread within the school and the community.  If you have questions, please let me know at  Have a good evening.

Health Check

Dear Parents, Caregivers, and Students,

We have made it through the 3rd week of hybrid-learning and thus far our cooperative protocols have kept our schools healthy.  We appreciate your positive responses to our requests for testing any child with the following symptoms:

*fever (100 degrees or higher)/chills

*cough (not due to known cause)

*difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

*new loss of taste or smell

*sore throat (not due to allergies)

*headache when in combination with other symptoms

*muscle aches or body aches

*Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

*fatigue when in combination with other symptoms

*nasal congestion or runny nose  (not due to other causes such as allergies)

when in combination with other symptoms;
We also ask that if your child is absent with the above symptoms that you check with your pediatrician about testing before returning to school.  The “gold standard” for testing is the PCR test and is required by the Department of Public Health.

The issue of travel has come up recently. Travel is considered a high risk activity.  If travel is necessary for your child/family please refer to Massachusetts Department of Transportation or Governor Baker’s Travel Ban Guidance is updated daily and your child may be required to quarantine or test negative before being allowed back to school.Please know that we are available for questions or concerns at any time.

Stay well!

Mr. Richards

Self-Care Lessons From a Four-Year-Old

As an assistant principal, teachers come to me for advice about dealing with the difficult situations they face, many directly related to the sudden switch from in-person to virtual learning. The increased number of emails and demands upon teacher time that extend beyond the regular school day have created an additional layer of stress. Administrators need to be cognizant of this and make sure that our faculty are taken care of. However, we cannot take care of others if we are not taking care of ourselves.

Picture the old adage of a duck sitting on water, looking so calm but paddling frantically beneath the surface. This image seems to constantly come up when thinking about the current setting we all find ourselves in. The need to maintain a calm and collected demeanor when facing students and parents is a constant demand on teachers and administrators, but it comes at a price for all of us. Stress manifests itself differently in each of us. Our health and well-being directly impact the instructional setting.

Kids read stress on adult faces and in body language. My son is in preschool this year, and luckily, he has been able to go every day so far. When I pick him up in the afternoons, we get in the car, and usually the first words out of his mouth are, “So, Daddy, how was your day?” Such a loaded question during the pandemic, as I wish I could unload the burdens of my day, but it’s not the time or place. Even so, there are lessons I’ve learned from my four-year-old:


My son can usually tell by my responses and the look on my face if it was a hard day. It helps to hear him say, “It will be okay,” because it truly will be. He is a huge Daniel Tiger fan, and he often reminds me that when you are frustrated, angry, or upset, “Take a deep breath, and count to four.” Such a simple practice during these ever-changing times.


While breathing helps and allows for some release, just like my son at times a timeout may be appropriate for us all. Take a break from the work and recenter your focus on something else. The work will still be there (it’s not going anywhere), but our capacity to engage in it effectively is diminished if we are overwhelmed. Find a few minutes—or better yet, 15–30 minutes—to separate from the work and focus on you. Listen to a podcast, music, go for a run or walk, cook, do a crossword puzzle—anything that isn’t work.

Set Boundaries

Your time is just that—yours. Set a time to end your workday and stick to it. The emails are not going anywhere. Let me clearly state that you need to respond to emails, but not always immediately. I have found that responding within 24 hours allows me to clearly identify the need of the sender and develop a response that will be helpful. More often than not, we respond to emails so quickly we are not thinking about how our responses may be received.

Also, do not respond to emails after a certain time each day. For me, it is 6:00 p.m. Once we sit down for dinner, it’s family time. Better yet, do not read them unless there’s an emergency. Create that barrier that allows you to have your time.

Being able to be there for our faculty, staff, and students is a nonnegotiable part of being an administrator. Taking care of ourselves should also be a nonnegotiable, as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Take care.

Kevin Gideon is an assistant principal at Bartlett High School in Bartlett, TN, and the 2020 Tennessee Assistant Principal of the Year. Follow him and his school on Twitter (@drkagideon@BartlettHS_INFO).