• Saturday, March 27,2021

    Posted by Cathleen Rice on 3/28/2021

    Good afternoon CMS Families!

    Congratulations to this week's Cougar Pride Spirit Day Winners!

    6th Grade: Myah Koster     7th Grade: Maryann DiMaggio   

    8th Grade: Gabby Phares    CMS Staff Member: Mrs. Nissim

    The CMS PTO and Leadership Class hope you enjoy your gift cards that will be mailed to your homes very soon! Go Cougars!


    Carmel FOCUS Needs Your Help!

    Come join the FOCUS Board! FOCUS supports quality education within the Carmel Unified School District and since its founding has provided over $3,000,000 in grants that support academic and social-emotional student success. Several FOCUS Board members have students leaving CUSD at the end of this academic year and we need parents to join our Board. As we move into the final months of the school year, all Executive Board positions are now open to interested candidates for the 2021-2022 year. You can learn more about FOCUS, our meeting schedule, and grants we have funded by visiting our website: https://www.carmelunified.org/Page/18. You can also follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/focus.pres.18. If interested, please contact Kath Uyeda at kuyeda@zcheetah.com or contact Rosaleen Ryan Trambley at rtrambley@gmail.com if you would like to join our next monthly 4:30pm Zoom meeting on April 7th. Thank you and be safe!


    CMS Update and Community Presentation

     Earlier today you received an email from us detailing the opening of our Sports Program.  We’re very excited to be offering 9 different programs for the final weeks of the school year in conjunction with the reopening of our campus!  I won’t spend a bunch of time recapping that info (please read the email if you haven’t) but I will jump into a few details about our reopening.  


    First, if you still haven’t signed up for a school program and are waiting on more information, that’s OK.  We anticipated approximately 10-12% of our families would request distance learning and we’re within that range so we are scheduling accordingly and those still in limbo can make a decision in the next day or two and we’ll be able to accommodate your choice.  


    In an effort to provide information about what school will look like moving forward, we’ll be hosting an open forum Monday night from 7:30-8:30 to preview our program and answer any questions you may have.  A zoom invitation will be sent on Monday.  In an effort to answer as many questions as possible we’ll use the same format we’ve used in the past.  Questions can be posted in Chat and we’ll answer as quickly as possible but participants will be muted so we can move quickly.  We’ve had a few people indicate that this feels like an attempt to silence voices and that is not our intention.  We simply want to make sure we answer as many questions as possible in an efficient manner without veering off topic and getting into the politics of opening etc.  Thanks for understanding!


    Without getting into specifics right now, we’ve designed the new program to allow students coming to campus to remain with their original teachers and within their existing schedules.  This is true for 90% or more of our students.  Most students who have changes in their schedules will find that the changes are only related to elective class placements and the addition of a PE period here at school.  We will be moving away from the Independent Study PE format as PE is a required course and all students will take PE live here at school (just like a normal year!).  As we continue to build the program we’ll see if opportunities arise to allow even more elective choice on campus, but we’re not quite there yet.  


    Outside of that and the rules regarding masks, stable cohorting and contact tracing, the reopening of school will look and feel like “regular” school.  We’re excited for the normalizing experience!  


    Students who have selected distance learning will experience the most disruption to their schedule.  We apologize for the inconvenience associated with the upcoming changes, however, in order to staff the online program, these changes were necessary.  Students participating in distance learning will receive, at a minimum, 4 periods of academic instruction from teachers in Zoom classes.  Our academic program will look and feel similar to this year’s online learning experience.  Once we have final numbers for this program we’ll determine how we can offer access to electives if possible.  


    At this point, please refrain from sending me individual questions via email as my inbox is beyond flooded.  Please plan to attend the information session with your questions and, if they’re not answered Monday night, then send them to both myself and Jen Kasper.  This will provide you the best opportunity for a response, however, please keep in mind that we are both absolutely swamped with work right now!  


    Finally, as always, please continue to follow all guidance around social distancing, hand washing, and safety practices.  Adhering to guidance will help limit viral spread and will allow us to open and maintain programs for our students as we close out the year.  Please stay vigilant and help us keep things open!


    Thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding!


    That’s all we have for now.  We’re looking forward to reopening and seeing kids back at school!


    Wishing you a fantastic weekend!


    Dan Morgan


    Principal; CMS

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  • Saturday, March 20,2021

    Posted by Cathleen Rice on 3/20/2021

    Happy Saturday CMS Families!

    I had planned to send out a Friday evening update providing an in depth look at where we were in our scheduling process for a Hybrid reopening and then, as has been the case so often, the CDC issued new guidance and we are left wondering, “What happens now?”

    On Friday the CDC issued new guidance about social distancing in schools at every level.  The new guidance reduced the 6 foot recommendation to 3 feet, paving the way to allow more students in each classroom.  This is great news for expanded reopening, however, there are still many hurdles to jump over.  To name a few…first, California’s Department of Health must align their recommendations with the CDC (California has been adjust quickly upon new guidance).  Next, regulators at the state level must determine to apply new guidance to schools, CA’s tier based system, etc.  Finally, local county health agencies and then county offices of education must agree with adjustments while considering their own metrics, liability, etc.  If those hurdles are cleared it will allow us to examine the 3 foot model at CMS and likely rapidly expand instructional offerings while removing some of the limitations stringent cohorting has created.  While I don’t want to offer false hope, I am personally excited by the news and hope this means expanded opportunities for our school community.  

    While we have no official word as of this writing, I hear news is coming soon.  Here’s a link to an article explaining some of what I’ve detailed above. 

    CA to Follow CDC's Recommendations

    I will continue to provide updates for you as quickly and as frequently as I can while we process the new guidance and what it means at the school and district levels.  In the meantime, please continue to exercise prudence with your social practices and patience with our school processes!  We thank you for your continued support!


    Update on the Opening of Sports at CMS

    We will open all sports cohorts on Monday, March 29th and practice times and schedules will be published in conjunction with a school schedule sometime next week.  Over the past week our HR department worked closely with all our coaches to ensure appropriate clearance and certifications have been achieved and we are just one week away from the full opening of the majority of athletic programs CMS offers.  

    It had been our intention to open these programs on Monday, March 22, however, the shift from DL to a Hybrid reopening shifted our focus away from athletics and into the reopening of our school.  

    We’re excited to offer these programs in full beginning on the 29th and look forward to seeing students on campus participating in activities they love!

    Thank you again for your continued patience and support. 


    Thank you PTO!

    This week’s supply pick up included an awesome gift from our PTO!  Students who dropped by were able to select an “I Survived 2020” mug complete with custom CMS logo and a package of instant brownie or dessert mix.  At home, this was a big hit with my 6th grade son and also created plenty of envy from his older brothers.  Our PTO continues to work hard to find ways to inject a little joy into our lives and we truly appreciate the efforts of this volunteer group!  We hope you enjoy your treat and the keepsake mug!

    Cougar Pride and Leprechaun Pride Winners!


    Congratulations to this week's Cougar Pride Spirit Day Winners!

    6th Grade: Kanan Seeklander

    7th Grade: Galen Spooner  

    8th Grade: Hioki Cole

    CMS Staff Member: Mr. Abate

    The CMS PTO and Leadership Class hope you enjoy your gift cards that will be mailed to your homes very soon! Go Cougars!


    Congratulations to our Lucky Leprechaun Spirit Winners! 

    Thanks to all of you who participated. There were so many spirited pictures uploaded to the form! However, these four lucky CMS Cougars will receive a special gift card from our Leadership class and generous PTO. 

    6th Grade: Anna Rasmussen

    7th Grade: Viliami Sime

    8th Grade: Charlee Riddle

    CMS Staff Member: Miss Carr

    Changes to Parent Square - Parents and High School aged students only

    After an initial rollout that included student use, we have been notified by the district office that the Parent Square app is only set up for parent use.  If your student has attempted to upload the app and has been unsuccessful this is why.   We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience and are in the process of determining if middle school students should use the app in the future.  Thank you!


    That’s all for now.  I’ll keep you posted as I learn more. 

    Enjoy the weekend!

    Dan Morgan

    Principal; Carmel Middle School

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  • Friday, March 5, 2021

    Posted by Cathleen Rice on 3/5/2021 5:00:00 PM

    Happy Friday CMS Families!

    We have a few really important items in this letter so please read thoroughly!


    Congratulations to this week's Cougar Pride Spirit Day Winners!

    6th Grade: Lily Stenvick

    7th Grade: Yoshi Cole      

    8th Grade: Azucena Salinas Martinez    

    CMS Staff Member: Ms. Montana

    The CMS PTO and Leadership Class hope you enjoy your gift cards that will be mailed to your homes very soon! Go Cougars!


    CUSD and CMS Moving To ParentSquare Communication Platform - Very Important - Please Read!!!

    As we increase the number of students coming onto campus, CMS is transitioning to a new check in system for health screening. The same system, called  ParentSquare/StudentSquare,  will eventually become our primary communication system for emails and text messages.   

    Starting on March 8th, ParentSquare will be our official system for daily health screening for staff and students, so we encourage you to download the app this week if your student participates on any of the cohorts on campus. 

    For Students:  We would like each student to download the STUDENTSQUARE APP (from your app store) to your phone. From there, follow these instructions to get text notifications. This is key if you are on a team or group that accesses campus. Taking care of this in advance saves a lot of time so try to get it done before Monday!

    1. Download the StudentSquare App
    2. Log in with your CUSD google email credentials
    3. Click on the three lines at the top left of the screen, then select account
    4. Select Preferences
    5. Select Notifications
    6. Change text notifications to instant

    For Parents:  We would like each parent to download the PARENTSQUARE APP (from your app store) to your phone. Follow these instructions to get text notifications as well as school alerts and updates (we promise not to spam your phone with needless texts...too much!)

    1. Download the Parent Square App and create an account using the same email as you have on file with the school
    2. Click on the three lines at the top left of the screen, then select account
    3. Select Preferences
    4. Select Notifications
    5. Change text notifications to instant

    If you don't have access to a phone, you can also log in on your computer through these links:

    For health screening:  Parents can also submit their students daily health screen just prior to exiting the car at campus check in points. 

    For detailed instructions, check out this link to a quick step-by-step installation guide, which includes a video.

    For help with the ParentSquare app, you can submit a help request at https://carmelunified.incidentiq.com/guest/NVJFER9S/parent-ticket

    Please email if you have any questions. 

    Monday Night CMS Community Forum and Presentation of End of Year Options

    The California Department of Health recently released guidance on the establishment of student groups at schools.  The guidance allows CMS to provide additional opportunities for students to participate in less restrictive student groups.  The guidance is sited below for your reference.

    "CDPH does not require schools to create stable groups. Instead, CDPH provides a number of potential approaches to stable groups for middle and high schools  and expects schools to follow the intent of why stable groups are important to reduce the risk of in-school transmission and to aim to develop the best stable group system possible within their school with their students that will limit exposure to the greatest extent possible."

    We believe that this language affords us the option to expand student opportunity to more than one group as long as we can accurately use contact tracing to limit the potential of community spread in the case of exposure.  As such, this will allow us to open opportunties for students to participate in more than one group/activity on the CMS campus moving forward.  

    In addition, the language in this guidance offers us the opportunity to re-examine a hybrid learning environment that also offers students the opportunity to participate in after school activities.  Due to this change, and the dramatic reduction in local case counts, we will be hosting an evening presentation on the educational options available to us as we close out the 2020-21 school year.  Our presentation will take place on Monday, March 8th at 6:00 PM. The presentation will focus on a decision between maintaining our current distance education program while allowing students access to after school groups OR transitioning to a hybrid program while offering students similar access to after school groups/activities.  We will also provide the opportunity to ask any pressing or clarifying questions that may exist. 

    Following our presentation we'll provide a survey for parents and students that will be used to help guide our decision making as we move toward the 4th quarter. 

    A zoom invitation will be sent to you on Monday afternoon.   

    Thank you for your continued support during this challenging year.  We hope that you'll attend our meeting on Monday evening.  Your voice and opinions are important to us and will help guide our planning for education programs as we near the end of the school year.  Thank you in advance for your willingness to participate in a positive, thoughtful manner.

    Cross Country Update

    At this time we are unable to provide more information relating to the Covid exposure incident that resulted in the closure of the Cross Country Team.  We anticipate having actionable information by Saturday evening, and we hope that we will be able to open Cross Country as scheduled next week.  We'll keep you posted as things become clearer over the weekend.  Thank you for your continued understanding regarding this issue. 

    4th Quarter Classes, Sports, and Schedule Update

    We've continued our work balancing new schedules, adding classes, and creating a sports program for our 4th quarter.  This work was put on hold mid-week as new guidance brought forward the opportunity to examine a hybrid model for the 4th quarter.  Planning for the new classes/sports has been temporarily put on hold as Jen and I have worked around the clock to create both a viable distance education model as well as a hybrid model for presentation to our school community and the CUSD Board of Education.  As this has become our primary focus, sports and class enrollment has been placed on a temporary hold.  

    As I mentioned in an earlier communication, we can verify that all students have been placed in their first choice for after school sports.  We may run into some scheduling conflicts with other cohorts as field space/court time and the scheduling of music classes, drama, etc. may necessitate students making some choices, however, we were relieved to see that we can support all offered sports programs, grade levels and students.  

    We'll continue working on the rest of the schedule next week, but any directive we are given by the board will be critical in determining what our programs look like.  In addition, it's important to note that I cannot make accurate predictions or promises about enrollment at this time because we do not have current data about student numbers IF we move to a hybrid program for the 4th quarter.  The survey on Monday will establish these numbers and allow us to more accurately schedule classes in a manner that benefits the vast majority of our students.  

    Thank you for your continued patience and understanding with this complex process!

    On a final note, Brodie Greer, a longtime CMS Basketball assistant coach and CHS Volleyball coach has agreed to take on a Boys Volleyball program for us at CMS.  Another survey will be sent out to students soon with the opportunity to sign up for Volleyball and we're excited to be able to offer this program during the 4th Quarter.  Thanks Brodie!!!

    That's all for now.  Enjoy the weekend and we hope to see you Monday evening.

    Dan Morgan

    Principal; Carmel Middle School 



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  • Friday, February 26, 2021

    Posted by Cathleen Rice on 2/26/2021

    Congratulations to this week's Cougar Pride Spirit Day Winners!

    6th Grade: Britesen Comello

    7th Grade: Lila Glazier   

    8th Grade: Jewelia Ibanez

    CMS Staff Member: Ms. Morriss

    The CMS PTO and Leadership Class hope you enjoy your gift cards that will be mailed to your homes very soon! Go Cougars!

    Good afternoon CMS Families,


    The week was spent successfully welcoming our first live interest based cohorts onto campus and we’re happy to report that it was a big success!  Students were able to enjoy Band, Strings, Chorus, and participate in Cross Country.  In all, over 100 students were able to access campus to participate in the various cohorts offered and we were able to test our tracking protocols, check in procedures, and management systems to get ready for our 4th quarter opening.  

    What a pleasure and joy it has been to see kids here on campus participating in the activities they love.  We can’t wait to bring more students to our campus!


    With that in mind, here are a few things we need your help with.  


    •  CMS is now a closed campus until 5:00.  Please abide by these rules and tell everyone you know not to come onto campus until after 5:00.  We have been posting employees at the front entrance to inform and prevent visitors, but, we still need the help of the community to get the message out.  As we continue to expand student cohorts and as CHS begins to use some of our fields, it is critical that our campus is closed and secure and that visitors remain off site until 5:00 PM.  Thank you for your help with this!


    •  Parents need to drop off students and leave the campus.  If you have a student involved in a cohort, please do not venture onto campus to see what things are like and please do not stay in our parking lot.  We are under strict guidance designed to limit exposure and we simply cannot have folks on campus, even if you’re just in your car.  Please make plans to grab a coffee, do some shopping around the corner, or take a walk at Palo Corona Regional Park.  Following this guidance will allow us to continue expansion of cohorts.  Thank you!


    This week I also sent out several sign up surveys.  ALL sign ups for classes/cohorts will end Sunday night at midnight (February 28).  It will take us a full week to shuffle classes and rebuild our schedule, so we need to have your selections ASAP.  Please fill out any of the surveys sent to you by Sunday night at 12:00 if you’d like your student to participate in our live offerings.


    I’ll also address a few questions that have already come our way.  


    •  Will there be more offerings?  Perhaps… right now our focus is on adding major classes/activities that draw in the largest level of students.  Decisions about offerings were based on several factors, but, we’ve offered everything we can at this point.  Once we have these groups established we will look to find ways to add some smaller, unique cohorts allowing students unable to find an offering the opportunity to select something new that hopefully appeals to their interests.  


    •  Why were classes like Industrial Arts not open to some students?  As with all classes, we will have limitations to what we can do.  For example, in the IA room we will only be allowed to have a maximum of 12 students per group based on social distancing guidelines.  In addition, we weighed other factors in the design of our cohorts including class access.  Using IA as an example again, our 8th grade students did not get the opportunity to participate in IA.  We anticipate that our current 6th and 7th graders will have that opportunity next year.  With limited space, we decided to offer this opportunity to our outgoing 8th graders only as this will be their last chance to access one of our most popular electives as middle school students.  Teacher availability also has much to do with our decision making process.  Some teachers will be teaching one subject during the day and then transitioning to another in the afternoon.  There is only a certain number of classes they can teach in any given day so offerings are sometimes limited by the needs of our master schedule.  Finally, certain classes were offered only to students who were previously enrolled in these classes.  As these students have "hung in there" through all the Zoom sessions, they were given priority opportunity to come to campus to continue their class.  If we have additional openings when the dust settles we'll let people know.  


    •  When will restrictions be lifted or change to allow students the opportunity to participate in two groups?  We’re not sure.  We had hoped to hear something positive on that front this week, but that did not happen.  We did hear that the possibility exists of allowing students to participate in a class based cohort and an after school athletic cohort.  To expand our offerings, many of our cohorts are already meeting outdoors so, if this becomes the new guidance, we’ll be ready to add opportunities to existing schedules.  Outside of that, we have no sway over the rules but we’re doing our best to offer opportunities within the guidance.  


    •  What will sports cohorts look like and are you “cutting” kids?  First, we’re not cutting students.  We’re running sports cohorts as an intramural style program where everyone can participate.  The most likely scenario will involve grade based groups coming onto campus on specified days.  Generally speaking, close contact within the sports world is not allowed right now so many of our programs will start out with skill building drills, skill based games, and socially distanced mini-competitions.  Students will be put into pairs, small groups, or teams based on what is currently allowable, and will participate in the aforementioned activities with a set and established group.  As restrictions lighten up, we’ll be able to do more and we hope that we can eventually host intramural type games here on campus.  As no other middle schools are doing what we are, the prospects for competition outside of CMS are extremely limited at this time.  If we hear that other schools follow suit, and as guidance allows, we’d be excited to explore the prospect of potential competition (but please don’t count on it!).  

    • What will classes look like? What will the schedule be?  Indoors or Out? The answers to all of these questions will be discovered next week as we put things together.  Once we have numbers, grade levels, etc. we can start designing plans.  There are certainties of course... Industrial Arts will be in the IA building where the tools are (limiting overall numbers) but other classes like Drama could be in the theater and outside.  At this point we're not sure on several things, but once we've sorted them out, you'll be first to know!

    Final Thoughts


    I’d like to extend my gratitude to the many staff members and community member coaches who have volunteered their time and energy to help make these classes and after school sports a reality.  All of these offerings are available because people have offered to work directly with students despite existing health and safety concerns.  Please be sure to send some gratitude their way as many of them will now be harder then ever to balance online teaching, their in person cohorts, and the rest of their responsibilities as teachers, coaches, parents, etc.  


    In addition, I feel that it is important to let everyone know that redesigning our schedule to accommodate these activities will be a tremendous undertaking for administration and our front office staff.  Eliane Eldrige, our amazing registrar and I will be buried in class lists, requests, and master schedules as we work through this process during the next week while the rest of our administrative team and office crew pick up the slack.  The purpose behind this information is not to garner sympathy or accolades, it is simply to let everyone know that we are working hard to create as many positive opportunities as we can for our students.  As I’ve mentioned before, designing a school’s master schedule is an undertaking on its own.  Taking one apart and putting it back together with new components mid year is something we’ve never done before!


    I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and remember… sign ups for everything close Sunday at midnight!


    With warm regards,


    Dan Morgan

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