Runkle School

Learning Hub

Welcome to the Runkle School Learning Hub!

Family Updates from Donna

April 11, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

Let’s start with all the good news! This week our incredible nurses, Janet Campbell and Penney Casey, completed pool testing for approximately 30 staff members and 120 students with ZERO positive results. A notice was sent to families yesterday that included this link to sign up for testing. All testing is voluntary.

The weather has been beautiful. This has allowed for outdoor eating and recess all week. I actually love seeing our students spread out on beach towels and mats, eating in the sunshine outside of my office. We are working on getting more trash barrels outdoors and setting up tables and chairs on the basketball court. Our parent volunteers have been amazing and flexible. Please remind your children that they may only take one lunch from our cafeteria. Some students have been taking more than one lunch OR taking a bite, tossing and taking another option. Our cafeteria staff are scrambling to ensure that there is food available for everyone. Again, lunches are free at least until September.

We are very excited to welcome back our middle school students in grades 6-8 on Monday, April 12th. This short slideshow was sent out on Thursday to all middle school families. It contains details about arrival and dismissal, lunch/recess and Conservatory. Teachers will be greeting students outdoors and walking them in for the first few weeks during this transition. We will stagger dismissal to avoid crowding.

This last transition in learning models has created an increase in requests to our PTO. Our teachers and students have benefitted from organizational items to sound amplification devices this school year. The PTO has supported getting teachers vaccinated and provided the much needed morale boosting surprises that our staff has needed (signage, breakfast, cards, supplies). Runkle’s PTO is starting their spring fundraising push for the Annual Fund. The Annual Fund is so important for the Runkle community to be able to accomplish their goals of community building and enrichment. We know that due to your contributions to the Annual Fund our teachers can easily ask the PTO for what they need and they will receive it. Please consider a donation to Runkle’s PTO this spring.

Reminder: Thursday, April 15th, is a K-6, 12:40 pm Early Dismissal for Parent Conferences.

WE WILL ALL BE WEARING OUR RUNKLE BLUE ON MONDAY to show our spirit and appreciation for being back TOGETHER in person. Please have your students wear BLUE if possible:)

I apologize if my weekly messages often sound like “Building Management 101.” There is so much inspiring teaching and learning happening at Runkle everyday. I was able to attend a Publication Celebration of “informational writing” in 3W on Friday. The students’ books were well written and informative. The feedback that they gave and received was positive and meaningful. This happened because of outstanding teaching and collaboration with a classroom teacher, literacy coach and special educators. It is what Runkle does best and I don’t want us to forget that.

Enjoy the Weekend,

Donna Finnegan

April 4, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

I hope this message finds everyone relaxing with friends and family. I will be brief, as I am still with my family celebrating Easter today. My son is home from the Marines for 2 weeks before leaving for Japan for a year. It’s the first time in a long time that we have all been together. I am so grateful for vaccines and health. The Runkle Community has been instrumental in getting teachers, paraprofessionals and volunteers vaccinated. Thank you!

I am thrilled to report another successful week of pool testing at Runkle with 0 positive results. This testing will continue on a weekly basis. Be on the lookout for messages from our nurses, Penney Casey and Janet Campbell, to sign up.

Our full in person learning is becoming more “normal” everyday. Sunny forecasts bring me the most happiness. We love our parent volunteers and their patience with getting to know our routines and procedures at lunch and recess. I am hopeful that we will get the kinks out before welcoming our middle school students on April 12th.

Tuesday, April 6th, is a K-12, 12:40 pm Early Dismissal for Parent Conferences. Teachers should be reaching out to families to schedule these meetings. I will be sending out Parent Input Forms for the 21-22 School Year regarding class placement this week.

With Gratitude,

Donna Finnegan

March 28, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

Welcome Back Grade 2, 3, 4 and 5!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. We have been very busy at Runkle preparing for the return of more students to in person instruction this week. The patience and support of our Runkle families through emails and the PTO has been so appreciated. Our teachers were touched by the huge sign that greeted them on Friday morning. The brunch was amazing and safely presented for our Covid times. Thank you Runkle PTO!

This will not be an easy week. There will be bumps along the way as we manage lunch and recess for large groups of students spaced 6 feet apart. We will need parent volunteers more than ever before. We will need GOOD WEATHER more than ever before. Rainy days will result in splitting classes to eat in alternative spaces at Runkle (empty classrooms, music rooms, art room, multipurpose room). Sending students with a beach towel to sit on and spread out is encouraged. We will be eating outside as much as possible when the weather permits. This is the slide deck that I shared with Grades 2-5 families this week presentation.

More importantly, I would like to address the concerns for our A&AAPI student and staff population.

“As you know, the past year has seen a significant rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and racism, which culminated in the recent tragic mass shooting in Atlanta and Cherokee County of six Asian women. These events have created a climate of fear for the Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander (A&AAPI) community across the nation, including here in Brookline. This extends to fear of bullying, racism and other negative impacts on A&AAPI children, especially as schools return to in person learning.” (Alicia Hsu, BAAFN Steering Committee, 3/25/21).

It is important for our Runkle families to know how much we value our students, families and staff who make up the A&AAPI population. We have a large percentage of A&AAPI students at Runkle and many staff members. Our international diversity brings cultures from around the world to our school and allows us to share traditions and history that benefit EVERYONE. We Are Runkle and ALL ARE WELCOME. This will never change and we will continue to work towards equity and inclusion in all that we do. Do not hesitate to reach out if you have any concerns or questions about bullying or harassment at the Runkle School.

With Gratitude,

Donna Finnegan

March 21, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

Happy Sunday! I hope everyone was able to enjoy this incredible weekend filled with sunshine and warmth. My message is short today. I struggled to find a picture to share this week. My week has been filled with so many emotions. Elizabeth Castellana, our VP, gave me the “GIrl Boss” desk plate this week. I looked at this picture and laughed. Many have referred to 2020 as a “dumpster fire.” Hence, the little green one on my desk, but my dumpster is smiling. I am smiling too!

I am honored to have been chosen to lead the Runkle School as the permanent Principal. Dr. Marini’s email announcement was sent to families on Friday afternoon. I have read every kind, encouraging email and text from families and staff. Your messages bring me hope and an appreciation for all the support that you have provided both me and the Runkle staff this year. We only have a few months left to make it to the end. Spring is officially here. I know there are questions about placements, eating and spacing for when all grades 2-5 return on March 29th. I will be sending specific information this week and will try to schedule a parent forum in the evening. Stay tuned. We are still working out schedules with our shared staff for World Language, Health and Conservatory. I plan to have a schedule that we can implement on March 29th for all K-8 students. The plan remains to bring back grades 6-8 on April 12th.

Please look out for my messages this week. I hope to answer everyone’s questions and set your minds at ease about this next and final transition.

With Gratitude,

Donna Finnegan

March 14, 2021

Hi All,

Happy Sunday! I have attached the Community Update to this email. I came to Runkle today to move desks into grades 2-5 with Mojave and Elizabeth. Truth be told, Mojave and Elizabeth did most of this work. Mojave is a rock star. Here is some news you can use:

  • We have put the desks into the rooms, but not all the chairs. We tried to space them so students could sit in original desks at the correct height for the next 2 weeks (bigger desks in between). I will have Fran lower those desks.

  • We took desks from grade 6 to use in the lower grades. The square storage desks take up less space than the new triangle ones.

  • We replaced two 6th grade classrooms with triangle desks.

  • We only spaced room 303 with desks in grades 7/8. We have more time to look at these rooms.

  • We did not remove any furniture with "X" yet. I will have Fran do this tomorrow. We could still fit furniture in 5G with tables present (Grades 2 as well).

I plan to cancel the Faculty Meeting on Tuesday to give you time to plan for upcoming changes. I will use the time to talk to grade 2 and 3.

Please enjoy the rest of you day,

Donna M. Finnegan

Interim Principal

March 7, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

We made it through the first week of March. Witnessing first graders return to in person school with all of their peers brought the joy we all needed. We understand that it feels different with 15 students in a classroom, sitting in rows. The students adjusted to social distancing and washing hands with larger groups, but were exhausted by Friday. Thank you to Runkle's PTO for the "sweet" gifts sent to our grade one teachers (Ms. Madden, Ms. Munchbach and Ms. Levine) on Friday!

Ms. Gallo-Toth, Runkle Librarian, has scheduled a Virtual Author Visit for our Kindergarten students this week. The author-illustrator is Katia Wish. She is on the faculty of MassArt and has illustrated and written a number of children's books. Her latest book released this past Fall is Raccoon's Perfect Snowman. It is a story of experiencing trial and error and the meaning of friendship. Thank you Ms. G-T for bringing these experiences to our students during a pandemic!

We are actively planning for the return of grades 3-5 on March 29th. This will not be an easy lift. I may need to split larger cohorts in grades 2 and 3 and utilize the "extra" rooms in both grades. Staff will be relocated to space yet to be determined. Some specialists will be asked to adjust their schedules to support these classrooms as well. We will make it happen, but please be patient with our planning as it impacts so many involved.

Runkle's Extended Day Program (RED) is returning the week of March 15th for a limited number of students. This is more evidence of a slow return to normalcy. Spring will be with us soon. Students will again be able to eat outdoors and enjoy the weather. Daylight Savings Time is one week away and the sun will hang out longer. All good news:)

I have included our Covid Runkle Tracker at the end of this email. We had NO NEW CASES of Covid at Runkle this week. Teachers participated in our voluntary pool testing this past Tuesday and no new cases were detected. The pool testing will open up for middle school students the week of March 16th (see schedule below)

March 2nd - All interested student-facing staff

March 9th & 11th - All interested students in grade 9-12 and all student-facing staff

March 16th &18th - All interested students grades 6-12 and all student-facing staff

March 23rd & 25th - All interested students PreK-12 and all student-facing staff

Have a wonderful week,

Donna Finnegan

February 28, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

Tomorrow we enter the month of March! There are some great happenings coming our way.

Our FIRST GRADERS return to school fully in person tomorrow. We could not be happier to welcome them back. We have a FULL WEEK of school. Wednesday, March 3rd, is the only early dismissal day at noon. I will join the Negotiation Team this week to discuss the current MOA with the BEU and a plan to move towards bringing more students back to school. I hope you were able to participate in one of the zoom meetings with our Superintendent finalist, Dr. Linus Guillory. I attended the staff and principal forums and felt quite hopeful about Brookline’s future after hearing Dr. Guillory speak and respond to questions. The School Committee will vote on Dr. Guillory’s appointment on March 4th.

I have shared some inspirational pictures above. Shataijah Rainey-Harper, Grade 6, shared a reading about Wilma Rudolph on METCO’s Black History ZOOM this past Wednesday evening. It was an incredible hour of students sharing poetry and history with an audience of over 85 staff, students and families. Thank you to our own Vina Harvey, METCO Liaison, for moderating the event with such grace and kindness. I wanted to share some great bulletin boards created by Jen Schultz and Meghan Walsh. I also thought you might enjoy the creative lunch space on our “spider web” that some third graders actually “enjoy”!

We did not have any positive cases of Covid this past week at Runkle. We begin a pool testing program for teachers on Tuesday which will move to include some students later this month (all voluntary). We have many staff members (BCBAs, OTs, SLPs, School Psychologists, Safety Trained staff, some teachers) who are currently receiving their second vaccine. We are moving in the right direction to a better school experience for everyone. I know this is not easy, but we have to stay on the path to get there. I could not be more appreciative of Runkle’s students, staff and families who continue to support each other through all of this. WE ARE RUNKLE!

Have a wonderful week,

Donna Finnegan

February 21, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

I hope you were all able to relax and recharge this week. It was not the same “break” that I have relished in the past. I worked most days and tried to spend time with my high school senior. Aidan has been a great sounding board for me. He is struggling to find joy in remote learning and really missing the connections with friends outside of his bubble of five. Planning for college is bittersweet. I cannot imagine a Finnegan household without any of my boys, but we move forward.

We look forward to welcoming our students back to school on Monday, February 22nd. Eight students will be returning to Runkle from the RLA. Monday is an Early Release Day at 12:30 for Professional Development and Planning. Many Runkle teachers will be attending a Literacy/Technology Training presented by our Literacy Coach, Alyssa Rubenstein, and Educational Technology Specialist, Jenny Murphy. We will focus on a shared understanding of Assessment Conferences for literacy, comprehension and record keeping. Runkle is fortunate to have colleagues actively planning for continued professional development in areas that teachers have requested support.

This week, teachers, families and administrators will have the opportunity to meet the finalist for the BPS Superintendent position, Dr. Linus Guillory . Zoom meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, February 24th and Friday, February 26th. Dr. Guillory’s full schedule of meetings can be found here. There will NO SCHOOL SITE COUNCIL MEETING this week to allow for teachers and families to attend these forums.

Our first graders will be returning to In Person learning on March 1st! They will follow the same schedule as our current K students; 5 days per week with a noon dismissal on Wednesdays. Both the first grade team and I couldn’t be more excited to have first graders back in school full time! There will be a Public Hearing held on Tuesday, February 23rd to discuss the plan to return more students to In Person Learning. Dr. Marini shared a proposal to bring students back at Thursday evening’s School Committee Meeting. There is a tentative plan to bring grades 2-5 back by March 29th. There are many steps that must be taken before this plan is secured. I promise to share information as soon as I have it.

I understand the excitement and anxiety that moving towards yet another model of instruction can elicit in students, teachers, families and ME. I appreciate the patience and professional manner in which everyone at Runkle has approached these challenges. I won’t always have the answers, but I will listen and work hard to find them. I had a great boss once who always told me, “It’s nice to be important Donna; it’s more important to be nice...”

With Kindness,

Donna Finnegan

February 7, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

I hope you are all home safe and warm. I'm sitting in my car outside Runkle waiting for Ms. Munchbach to come with her keys. I left mine on my desk! I planned to deliver her computer charger to her at home. I was trying to write in peace at school...oh well! This is our last week before February break and it's a crazy one!

A decision to bring Grade 1 back to full in person instruction on March 1st was made at Thursday night's School Committee Meeting. We are now planning for this exciting change. Many of us at Runkle wish it was everyone returning to school. We don't have the space to move some grades back with the 6 foot distance protocol, but this too could change in the coming weeks. I appreciate your patience while we wait to hear next steps.

The third week of asymptomatic Covid testing at Runkle was completed this week. We had no positive results from staff. We do have 2 teachers in quarantine with family members this week who could turn positive. Again, no in school transmissions or close contacts were identified.

Good News! I would love to start story time to Grades K-2 this week. I will be reading a book this Wednesday evening at 7pm over zoom. If you have a K-2 student who would like to listen to a story read by Ms. Finnegan, please join us. I plan to add other grade levels after the break.

Click to read more and to get Zoom details for Ms. Finnegan's Story Time.

Enjoy the Super Bowl if watching.


Donna Finnegan

January 31, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

I hope everyone was able to keep warm and healthy this weekend. We had our first indoor recess this past Friday due to the cold temperatures. We try to get outside as much as possible, but I do use a weather chart that measures wind chill and temperatures to make sure it is safe. We continue to appreciate our parent volunteers who cover lunch and some chilly recess duties.

There was only one positive Covid case this past week at Runkle. This person had not been in school for several days. There were no close contacts. We completed Week #3 of staff testing on Friday. No positive results at this time. Covid Tracker is below.

Thank you to all the parents who joined the School Committee Listening Session on Tuesday evening and the Principal Search Parent Session on Thursday evening. We had a productive School Site Council Meeting on Wednesday where we completed our School Improvement Plan for the School Committee. We will share this information soon.

Grade 8 Families: There is an important meeting about the Transition to High School with Rebecca Sneider, Guidance Counselor, at 6:30 pm on Monday, February 1st. A Zoom link will be shared on Monday. Our 8th graders will participate in a virtual BHS Elective Presentation on the morning of Wednesday, February 10th. Teachers will share the link for this event with their students via canvas.

Dr. Marini, Interim Superintendent, had a great visit on Monday, January 25th. He visited every classroom and was thrilled to see students and teachers happily at work. One young friend did mistake him for President Biden! Dr. Marini was very impressed with our researchers in 2C with Ms. Murphy and Ms. Chen.

Upcoming Dates to Note:

Friday, February 5th: 12:30 Dismissal

Tuesday, February 9th: Cohort B attends In-Person (Friday Schedule)

Friday, February 12th: NO SCHOOL, Lunar New Year, Day of Low Attendance

Feb. 15-19th: NO SCHOOL

John D. Runkle School

COVID-19 Weekly Friday Update

Sunday January 24, 2021

Dear Runkle Families,

Runkle has had 1 positive COVID case since my last update on Jan. 15th. There were NO close contacts traced back to this 1 case. This brings our total number of cases to 12 since the start of the school year. Our school community has been diligently practicing social distancing and disinfecting. We still have no cases that have been traced to in school transmission.

The number of COVID-19 cases reported by the Brookline Board of Health can be found here.

The District wide Covid Dashboard (updated weekly) can be found here.

The MA Department of Public Health's COVID-19 Dashboard (linked here).

Warm Regards,

Donna Finnegan

January 24, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

Dr. Jim Marini will be visiting Runkle tomorrow morning for a couple of hours. He will walk around the building and visit some classrooms from a distance. Dr. Marini is visiting all schools on a monthly basis, but our first one was canceled due to a snow day.

The Listening Session with the School Committee is a great opportunity for parents/guardians to share Runkle specific concerns and have your questions answered. There will be a separate session for teachers. Runkle Administrators will not attend Tuesday's session, so people are able to speak and share concerns freely.

February 4th is HALF WAY DAY! We will share out information on how we will celebrate. Ms. Schweiger, our Math Specialist, shared that the 85th day is 2/4...a real HALF! Stay tuned.

I was able to hold community meetings with our K-2 and 3-5 students and staff before we left for December break. It brought back great memories of the meetings we had in person before Covid changed our lives. I cannot wait to see more students in school and in person in the future. Zoom and computers are getting to all of us. Dr. Marini is working with a committee to figure out a path to bringing students back. However, it will take a change in parameters (distance) and numbers of students to work across the district. I promise to keep you posted.


Donna Finnegan

January 17, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

I hope everyone has enjoyed this relatively mild week for January. I admit to feeling relieved that Friday has arrived. Our Interim Superintendent, Jim Marini, and Interim Human Resources Director, Joseph Russo, visited Runkle this morning. They toured the building with our VP, Elizabeth Castellana, spoke to teachers and observed our students hard at work and play. They shared that Runkle's Principal search will begin soon. The first stop involves forming an Interview Committee. Stay tuned for information from the PTO about volunteering for this committee.

Runkle will start free, asymptomatic Covid testing for teachers who are interested next week.


Monday January 18th: NO SCHOOL to honor MLK Day

Friday January 22nd: 12:30 pm Dismissal

Here is Runkle's Covid Tracker. There was one more positive case since Tuesday.

John D. Runkle School

COVID-19 Weekly Friday Update

Dear Runkle Families,

Runkle has had 1 positive COVID case since my last update on Jan. 12th. There were NO close contacts traced back to this 1 case. This brings our total number of cases to 11 since the start of the school year. Our school community has been diligently practicing social distancing and disinfecting. We still have no cases that have been traced to in school transmission.

The number of COVID-19 cases reported by the Brookline Board of Health can be found here.

The District wide Covid Dashboard (updated weekly) can be found here.

The MA Department of Public Health's COVID-19 Dashboard (linked here).

Have a wonderful long weekend,

Donna Finnegan

January 8, 2021

Dear Runkle Community,

We made it to the end of the first school week of 2021! It was not an easy one. We had some staff and students remain out of school awaiting Covid test results. Finding test sites and receiving timely results remained challenging. The good news is that Runkle had NO NEW POSITIVE CASES this week. I know that this is not the same across all of Brookline, but good news nonetheless.

We received other news from the district this week that I want to clarify. Superintendent Marini sent out a notice regarding any future Snow Days that may occur during this school year. He shared in brief: “...if a snow day is called on a Tuesday then we will follow a Tuesday schedule. The only change is that the instruction will be provided remotely.” PLEASE NOTE: Teachers will be prepared to offer learning as intended during that snow day. For example, if the snow day is a Tuesday, the teacher will work synchronously with Cohort A while Cohort B follows their asynchronous activities. If teachers offer a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities, that will most likely be the same that day. It is critical that you look for messages about the snow day from your child’s classroom teacher on any upcoming snow days. They will have the latest on what the day will look like for your child.

We also received another updated District Calendar (attached). The BEU finalized their MOA with the School Committee prior to our December break. Two Early Release Days per month were added (marked with stars) for the remainder of the school year. These days are to be used for teacher planning/collaboration and district PD. I understand the hardship that these additional release days may cause for families. I wish we had this information sooner so families could plan. I am happy that accommodations have been made to address the inequity in Cohort A and B days in school, but this does not take away the sting of yet another change.

We have asked the PTO to remove parent volunteers for Grade 7 and 8 lunch coverages. Teachers are choosing to work in their rooms while students eat lunch. We do not want parents turned away from time they have taken from their busy schedules to support teachers. We still need help with some younger students, so feel free to check the sign up sheet sent by the PTO on Sunday evening. I will also be sharing some updated information regarding our zoom settings and security on Sunday.

The events at our nation’s Capitol Building on Wednesday were devastating. I am very proud of our Runkle teachers and support staff for the manner in which they addressed the questions and worries from our students. We had a brief 6-8 Community Meeting Thursday morning that set a positive tone for our day. Resources were provided by the district AND our own Runkle teachers, K-8. We came together once again as a community of caring adults to support our students. We look forward to celebrating more good news this school year.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Donna Finnegan

January 3, 2021 - Happy New Year!

Dear Runkle Families and Staff,

HAPPY NEW YEAR! We have officially made it to 2021, and I look forward to a healthy and more positive year ahead. I want to send some COVID related reminders to returning families and staff. If you have traveled outside of MA, you must provide a negative COVID test before returning toschool OR quarantine for 14 days. If you were celebrating with a large group of friends or family, please follow the same guidelines for testing and/or quarantine. In order to keep our schools open, we require both staff and students to remain healthy. I predict that we may be short staffed this week due to difficulties getting tested in MA.

We continue to need parent volunteers for some lunch and recess coverage. The link below is asking for coverage for Grades 1-3 and 7-8. See the tabs at the bottom of the sign up sheet. We do not require coverage for Grades 4-6.

Parent Volunteer Lunch/Recess Duty Sign Up

This Fri, Jan 8th, is a Professional Development Day for Teachers. There will be NO SCHOOL for students in person or remotely at home. I hope everyone had a wonderful break. There is much work to be done from now until the end of June. Runkle's PTO and School Site Council continue to plan for the year ahead. BPS has started the search for a new superintendent. Principal searches should follow. I will share any new information as soon as I am able. My advice to Runkle staff is always...Never Worry Alone. If anyone has questions or concerns, please reach out to me.

Positive Thoughts for the Year Ahead,

Donna Finnegan

December 23, 2020 - Winter Wishes

Dear Runkle Families and Faculty,

I just want to wish everyone a Wonderful Winter Break. It has been my pleasure to work alongside Runkle’s amazing teachers during these challenging months. Runkle families have been supportive and kind throughout this pandemic. We will meet again in 2021 with hope that the vaccine is reaching those who need it most. I believe that the spring will look better, and we will see each other more often in person. Please do the right thing over the break. Keep gatherings small and at home. Stay healthy and return to us strong. Our students had some moving “wishes” for our “Wish Tree” this week...wishes that children should not have to make. Thank you for sending us your children each week. They bring the joy we need to keep moving forward.

Virtual Hugs,

Donna Finnegan

December 13, 2020

Dear Runkle Families and Staff,

I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. I have a few reminders that I wanted to share for this week.

  • This is a full week of school with our 1/2 day of remote learning on Wednesday.

  • I have been told that the tents will be removed this weekend. They cannot withstand snow, which may arrive on Wednesday evening.

  • The district is close to announcing that Snow Days will be remote days using the 1/2 day Wednesday schedule. This will allow us to finish school on June 21st with no extra days. Stay tuned for this announcement.

  • There is a School Site Council Meeting on Wednesday, 12/16 at 4:15 pm via zoom.

  • NEXT WEEK, Cohort A will be in person on Monday (12/21) and Cohort B will be in person on Tuesday (12/22). Wednesday (12/23) will remain a remote 1/2 day.

  • We are in the process of planning a Festive Pajama Day and Grade Level Assemblies for the week of Dec. 21st. We will send out plans before the end of this week!

I am fully aware of how challenging this school year has been. I am trying to share our Covid numbers with a weekly update (attached). I am extremely hopeful that 2021 will bring us real comfort and joy. We need a boost of community love and engagement at Runkle before break. I will send the plans by Friday.


Donna Finnegan

Interim Principal

December 5, 2020

Dear Runkle School Community,

I hope the month of December finds everyone happy and healthy at home. I was thrilled to return to Runkle this past Monday after my family’s quarantine. I love my boys, but 14 days of “togetherness” is not always joyful. I want to thank the Runkle community for your kind emails and words of encouragement. I was fortunate to remain symptom free, but I know that is not the case for many others.

Runkle has had 5 positive Covid cases since the start of November. We have not had any positive student cases. We have had very few close contacts with each case, which is testimony to our diligence with social distancing and hygiene in a hybrid model. I had many parents reach out to me with questions about why we were returning to school after the Thanksgiving holiday, hoping for a remote week. Now parents and teachers are questioning taking time to quarantine before the December break (the Monday and Tuesday before break). I often find myself to be in agreement with parents, and always encourage them to write to our superintendent and school committee with their suggestions and concerns. I have volunteered as a K-8 Principal representative for a new committee that will discuss community metrics during the rise in Covid cases. I am awaiting more details about this committee, but I understand that there will be School Committee and BEU representatives included in this group.

I continue to be impressed with the work that our teachers are doing each day. I know they are exhausted, but they keep moving forward. I have had the opportunity to cover for many classroom teachers due to absences and meetings. Our students are happy and engaged while at Runkle. They make our efforts worthwhile. Thank you for entrusting your children with us.

The final Early Release Day for Parent Conferences is this week on Tuesday, December 8th at 12:40 PM for all K-12 students. There is a PTO Meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, 12/8, at 8:05 AM via zoom. There is also our monthly School Site Council Meeting coming up on 12/16 at 4:15 PM via zoom. This is always an open meeting where parents are welcome to attend. Let’s make the best of the next two and a half weeks. Lead with kindness, assume the best in people, and be grateful that we live and work in a community that strives to take care of each other. We are Runkle!


Donna Finnegan

Interim Principal

Runkle School

November 24, 2020

Dear Runkle Community,

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. If not celebrating, I hope that you are able to enjoy some quiet, relaxing time with your immediate family. Brookline Public Schools sent out a Travel Reminder today. This advisory reiterates the MA State Guidelines for travel over the holiday break. If your family plans to travel out of the state (with the exception of Maine or Hawaii), you will need to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative Covid test to return to school. This includes students, teachers, staff and volunteers. The Health Attestation Form is embedded in the travel reminder. All families and staff must fill this out again before Monday, November 30th.

This will certainly not be the Thanksgiving holiday that I was looking forward to all month. Declan, my oldest, has not been home since last Thanksgiving. He took a 21 day leave after a long deployment and found himself quarantined with us for 14 days. Colin, my freshman at UVM, has tested negative every week since August, only to come home and test positive. This is the first Thanksgiving that I have ever spent without my parents or siblings. I am so grateful that our Covid experience has been mild. I cannot thank my friends, family, colleagues and amazing Runkle families enough for the kindness and support they have demonstrated towards us these past 10 days. I will never forget your generosity of spirit, food, cards and emails.

We are the lucky ones. Others have not been as fortunate. I plead with all of you to make good choices over this holiday season. We need every student, teacher and staff member to return to us healthy in order to keep schools open. Teachers have some work planned for quarantined students when they are home due to close contacts or illness. They cannot prepare work for all the students who will be self quarantined due to travel. We will do our best to share work that has been planned, but not all teachers are zooming while students are remote. I am worried about staffing next week, but I know that we will do our best to take care of the students and teachers in our building. Regardless, I cannot wait to return to Runkle on Monday! I miss seeing our students, being outdoors and witnessing the incredible work Runkle teachers do everyday to engage our children.

With Sincere Thanks and Gratitude,


November 15, 2020

Dear Runkle Parents and Caregivers,

I hope everyone was able to enjoy another nice weekend at home. The weather has really cooperated with our recess and lunch schedules these past few weeks. Our parent volunteers have been an incredible support. We are starting to schedule specialists for lunch duties this week, but continue to need parent volunteers until everything is finalized. It is my hope that we will be able to reduce the need for parent volunteers by December.

Kindergarten, fourth and sixth grade students have been eating in our cafeteria. The numbers in these cohorts are low. We are able to socially distance the students in the cafeteria even more so than in the classrooms. The air exchange in the cafeteria far exceeds the district’s parameters. We will open the upper windows as well.

Our PE teachers, Ms. Schultz and Mr. McTaggart, have been able to use Dean Park for classes. The students have been playing tennis! Mr. Turner has had 8th graders outdoors to role play historic events and Ms. Hansen has held classes outdoors as well. I am so happy to see our teachers being creative with the outdoor space.

Runkle has 14 students moving to the Remote Learning Academy tomorrow and one student returning to the Hybrid Model from the Remote Learning Academy. I do not anticipate having to adjust any classes or grade level sections at this time. I understand the concerns about rising COVID numbers in MA. We have not had any positive cases at Runkle, but I know that this could change. Our students and staff have been vigilant about wearing masks and washing hands.

I have all 3 of my boys home for the first time in over a year. I am hoping everyone will stay healthy and safe for the holidays. I’m not sure they can even see their grandparents for the Thanksgiving. This is so hard for everyone. I want to keep all of our students safe and in school as long as possible. We will continue to do our best and appreciate your kindness and support.


Picture Retake This Week!

  • Tuesday November 17th for Cohort A

  • Thursday November 19th for Cohort B

Tuesday November 17th is a 12:40 Dismissal for K-8

Wednesdays are a 12 noon dismissal and fully remote

No School on Thursday November 26th (Thanksgiving) and Friday November 27th

Have a great week,


November 2, 2020

Dear Runkle Families and Caregivers,

November is a special time to be thankful for all we have been given. Let me begin by thanking each one of you for your support and tireless work in so many areas of school life here at Runkle. We appreciate all of the supportive emails and comments from parents and students. We have successfully navigated Hybrid instruction for grades 1-8 for one whole week. We have had lunch in classrooms, under tents, in rain, in snow, and most recently with very small groups in the cafeteria. We take small steps towards feeling “normal” everyday. However, we are maintaining the “6 foot rule” for social distancing at Runkle. It is more difficult at recess, but students have been great about keeping masks on and washing hands. Most important to all of us is that students seem really happy to be in school, and our teachers are doing everything in their power to make this successful for everyone.

Brookline Public Schools has moved from Kindergarten and First to Return back to school fully, some fully remote, then all hybrid in less than two months. Then we changed the schedules! ALL WEDNESDAYS ARE FULLY REMOTE AND END AT 12 NOON (GRADES 1-8) STARTING NOVEMBER 4TH. We need the noon dismissal in order to give teachers lunch, a prep and collaboration time that they lose with Fridays ending at 2:30 pm.

This will be a difficult week for many of us. Tomorrow’s election will be undoubtedly exciting, but stressful as well. Uncertainty is not our friend right now. I loved the quote that I saw last week, “I am less concerned with who you vote for, but more concerned with how you treat others who vote DIFFERENTLY than you…” Teachers have been provided with resources about how to speak to our students about this election. Our children will watch us and model us. I choose to be calm and collected, breathe and remain kind. I want to return to Runkle ready to welcome and support all of our faculty and students when they arrive back to school.

The Town of Brookline sent home new calendars today (attached). They have adjusted the Early Release Days for conferences to be more equitable to both cohorts. Next week includes a Wednesday (11/11) holiday for Veteran’s Day. I have also attached COVID guidelines for Families that I will add to our website, Jenny Murphy is updating the Runkle Learning Hub on that website as well. I have made a promise to send video messages to our students starting this week. Keep an eye out for those!

This week will bring better weather. As you know, education is teamwork and the team that wins is the team that works together. Thank you for being a strong Runkle team member working hard for our school community. Stay safe and be well.



October 25, 2020

Dear Runkle Families and Caregivers,

We had a successful Week 1 of Hybrid Learning! We loved seeing our first and second graders in school, but we understand how challenging this transition has been. The plan for next week is:

  • Cohort A in school on Monday and Tuesday

  • Cohort B in school half day Wednesday, full days Thursday and Friday

Our teachers are doing their best to instruct the students in person as well as those at home. Some will experiment with streaming live from the classroom if they can make it work. Others will send asynchronous work on remote days. I have seen incredible examples of the content that teachers are sharing with families for remote days using slides, websites and standard platforms. We will continue to fine tune this work.

Superintendent Marini messaged to all families on Friday, October 23, 2020 that starting on November 3rd we will be fully remote on Wednesdays. I understand yet another change is problematic for so many families. We all seem to be restructuring our schedules every other day. Fully Remote Wednesdays are most likely a good thing for us. This will allow for students to be together as a class with their teachers as they have been for remote learning. It provides an opportunity for deep cleaning as well. Runkle will still have a number of children in the building including Kindergarten, RISE and some First to Return students.

Drop Off/Dismissal Reminders

  • Kindergarten drop off and dismissal is at the classroom doors on the playground

  • Grades 1 and 3 drop off and dismissal is at the Chesham St. Door by the Peace Garden

  • Grade 7 and 8 will enter and leave from the front doors on Druce St. Students should line up by their Homeroom sign on either side of the front doors (6 feet apart). Grades 7 and 8 will enter in the right side doors.

  • Vans will continue to drop off at Druce St. entrance

  • Grades 2 and 6 will enter and leave from Clinton St. playground doors

  • Grades 4 and 5 will enter and leave from Door #2 between kindergarten and large playground

Chromebooks do need to be in school for all grades unless told otherwise by classroom teachers. Students should have headphones with a microphone. Airpods and wireless headphones do not work with chromebooks right now. The bluetooth was shut off to allow better connectivity with ZOOM.

Parent Volunteers

Thank you to all of the parents who have volunteered to help with lunch and recess coverage. We plan to eat outside as much as possible. We added a tent to the basketball court and plan to put tables and chairs under it. I have attached some guidelines for volunteers regarding safety, recess rules and confidentiality. I appreciate your patience with this new routine. We have never used parent volunteers in the manner before, especially with so many safety precautions and responsibilities. It’s another example of how Runkle can work together as a community to get through this period of time. Do not feel obligated to volunteer. Your emails of encouragement and praise for your teachers is equally appreciated.

No School Dates
Election Day! ​Tuesday November 3,​ School Closed for Students. Professional Day for Teachers. ​VO​T​E!
Veteran’s Day ​Wednesday November 11,​ School Closed for ALL.

I look forward to seeing you all this week,

Donna Finnegan

October 14, 2020

Hello Runkle Families and Friends,

I would like to thank you all for your patience and kindness during the first few weeks of this incredibly strange school year! We continue to receive emails praising our teachers for their “herculean” efforts in creating a “robust” remote learning experience for our students. Parents and students have been happy to see teachers and peers throughout the school day. Now we are excited to welcome back our students into hybrid learning starting on Tuesday, October 20th for Grades 1 and 2. Grades 3-8 are scheduled to return to hybrid learning on Monday, October 26th.

Below and attached to this email are some important pieces of information to help you and your child(ren) get prepared for the start of hybrid learning on Tuesday October 20th. Please take the time to carefully read this letter and the attached document.

Class Cohorts

Cohorts were emailed to parents last Thursday. At this time cohorts are finalized and we are unable to take any requests for changes to cohorts. When creating our cohorts for hybrid learning we prioritized keeping siblings together across grades 1-8, ensuring students access to special education and EL services, and maintaining small balanced cohorts. Cohorts were created in collaboration with building administrators, guidance counselors, special education teachers, and EL teachers. We also paid careful attention to any bullying investigations and other historical information about social conflicts amongst peer groups. Given the many competing priorities and constraints we are confident that the cohorts we created represent groups that will allow all students to be supported fully when they are here in person in the building.

Cohort A will be in the building on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8:00a.m. - 2:30p.m. and every other Wednesday from 8:00 - 12:00noon. The first Wednesday for Cohort A is October 21st. On Wednesdays no lunch will be provided but students are welcome to pick up “grab and go” meals as they head home. Cohort B will be in the building on Thursdays and Fridays from 8:00a.m. to 2:30p.m. and every other Wednesday from 8:00 - 12 noon. The first Wednesday for Cohort B is October 28th. (See attached schedule for cohorts).

Returning to the Building

We are excited to welcome your child(ren) back to the building during the week of Tuesday October 20th.

It is quite possible that your younger child(ren) will experience some strong feelings on the first few days back in the school building. It has been a long six months since they have been away from home and participating in their daily school routine inside of the building. Your child(ren) may have a hard time separating from their adult dropping them off to school. On the first few days we will have plenty of staff at our entrances to support the separation, but please know that caregivers and family members will not be able to accompany children into the building. You may even consider having a couple practices prior to your first day back where you walk through the routine and practice saying goodbye if you know that your child has a hard time with transitions. We will be sending more information about entering and exiting the building over the weekend.

Schedule Transition

Our entire building will be transitioning to our hybrid learning plan and schedule on Tuesday October 20th. This means that all students K-8 will follow their hybrid schedules and plans regardless of their actual start date for in-person learning. This means that our Kindergarten students will transition to early release days on Wednesdays (12:00 dismissal) and participate in full days on Fridays (2:30pm dismissal) Additionally our Grades 3-8 students will be participating in their hybrid schedules even though they are still fully remote for one more week of school (Oct. 20-23).

First to Return

We have worked with our team of special education teachers, team facilitators, guidance counselors, principal colleagues across the district, and central administration to identify students who will continue in the First to Return program. This information was shared earlier today. None of these decisions were easy. We had to significantly decrease the number of First to Return students in order to adequately staff and plan for the hybrid model.

Volunteers Needed!

In order for our hybrid plan to be implemented safely we are asking our community members to volunteer if you are able to help cover lunch blocks in school. All volunteers must have a completed CORI on file (they can be dropped off at our main office to be processed) and will be required to follow all of our health and safety protocols and procedures such as wearing a mask, and adhering to social distancing guidelines when in the building. I will be coordinating with Runkle’s PTO to organize volunteers before the weekend. Please keep an eye out for an invite to volunteer.

What If My Family Does Not Want to Return to a Hybrid Model?

I have been asked this question by so many families. I know that families will receive an email from the school district in the coming weeks asking if they wish to change models. This will be the last chance that families will have to choose the Remote Learning Academy (RLA). The enrollment in RLA begins in November (9th or 16th). I believe that once this decision is made in November, families will not be able to switch back. Students will be marked “absent” if they do not come to Runkle for their in-person days in hybrid, but they are welcome to participate in any remote work provided on SeeSaw, Google Classroom or CANVAS. They can join class meetings in the morning or any check-ins with their teachers throughout the day.

What Will Remote Days Look Like?

Families have also sent email questions and suggestions about teachers streaming live from their classrooms to the students at home. We are not set up for this format of remote teaching at Runkle. Some teachers may try this, but it is not something that the district is requiring. Students will follow their same schedule on remote days. The content work will be asynchronous. Specialists, World Language teachers, special educators and guidance counselors may schedule times for synchronous meetings with students during remote days as well. Students will log into their homerooms each morning for attendance/class meetings on remote days. Teachers may schedule check-ins at the end of the day if possible, allowing students to see their other classmates.

We are ready to welcome your child(ren) back to our building. Runkle is not the same without the voices of our students in the hallways and classrooms. We are looking forward to meeting each child where they are and carving a supported path together as we step into this new chapter of our school year during a pandemic. This transition to hybrid will no doubt be challenging and we will come up against many roadblocks for which we may not have been able to anticipate and plan. When these moments happen I know that Runkle will RISE UP. We will be strong, pull together, and work collaboratively as a community operating from positions of kindness, respect, and empathy.

I look forward to seeing you all soon!


October 3, 2020

Dear Runkle Community,

I will keep my message short. I understand how precious everyone’s time is, but I will share what I know today to prepare for the week ahead.

Hybrid Opening

We continue to receive updates about the Hybrid Opening for all grade levels. The last communication from the Central Office asked principals to create schedules for an October 20th Hybrid start for Grades 1 and 2. The plan is to start Grades 3-8 in a Hybrid model the following week, October 26th.

  • Students will be in the building 2.5 days per week and completely remote 2 days per week.

  • Wednesdays will be a half day in-person and end at 12 or 12:30 pm. No lunches on Wednesdays.


  • Week 1 - Cohort A in-person Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (½ day)

Week 2 - Cohort B in-person Wednesday (½ day), Thursday and Friday

We recognize how important in-person learning is for your family, but I want to acknowledge how hard our teachers have been working to provide robust, remote learning opportunities for grades 1-8 these past weeks. I have been so proud of their dedication to making this work.

In preparation for our hybrid opening we are crafting model schedules, solidifying class cohorts, considering the tech we can leverage to support learning in-person and remotely, making sure all school areas meet safety measures, and much much more. Obviously, siblings will be placed in the same cohorts. I plan to share the A and B Cohorts with families by Wednesday of this week. None of this work is easy. Please understand that we are trying to meet the needs of so many students and families. We will do our best to make this work for everyone involved.



School starts at 8am. I have asked teachers to post attendance by 8:15 am each morning. If you have to walk a Pre-K or K student to school with another child, please let us know and we will make adjustments. Your student will not be marked tardy for this type of accommodation. If your student will be out sick or needs to be dismissed half way through the day (doctor, dentist, early dismissal) please let the teacher know when they are leaving and when they may return and contact the Main Office by email or phone call. Our absent line remains the same 617-879-4249.


Tech Support!

Canvas for Parents

As you may know, Canvas is the learning management system (LMS) used by all Brookline middle and high school students. It can be a valuable resource for parents as well. To support students in remote learning, parents can now access the Canvas parent app for iOS and Android. This page is a brief overview (and video!) of what parents can do with the Canvas app and also includes instructions on how to link the parent app to your student's accounts. You’ll be able to monitor your student's work submissions, see feedback from teachers, and view grades. For more detailed information, checkthis page.

Chromebook Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Restart the Chromebook and log back-in. Note: It is best practice to restart your chromebook and log-in before the start of each school day. If the problem persists, move to the next step.

  2. Update the Chromebooks Operating System (Check for updates yourself). If the problem persists, move on to the next step.

  3. Is your Internet slow? Do a speed test on your internet. Try the speedtest with one computer and then add other computers to see what your speed is and if your internet can handle the load. If the problem persists, move to the next step.

  4. Reach out to the student help desk for further assistance (armed with the speed test results). If the problem persists, move on to the next step.

  5. If you have not heard back from the help desk by the next day, we will swap out your chromebook.

    1. Write a short description of the problem and add the label Runkle (ie. In Zoom my audio is very choppy - Runkle) on a sticky note and attach it to the chromebook.

    2. Call the school at 617-879-4650 to make arrangements to come to school and pick up a new chromebook.

    3. Come in at the arranged time to leave your old chromebook and pick up a new one.

Zoom - Students, Protect Yourself and Your Classmates

We want to protect our students and staff while using zoom. In order to do this, all students must:

  1. Log-in with your accounts!

  2. Don’t Share The Zoom Link

  3. You May Not Rename Yourself

  4. You May Not Share Your Screen

  5. You May Not Private Chat

  6. You May Not Annotate

  7. Talk About Zoom Bombing With Your Guardian(s)

More details about the above actions can be found here:


Room Parents: Seeking Volunteers!

Thanks to the parents and caregivers who have volunteered as room parents for the 2020-21 school year! We are building a cadre of incredible parents and caregivers, and we need MORE of you! Please consider stepping forth in this critical role. It's understatement to say that "it takes a village," especially in a year like this one. Interested volunteers should send their name, their child's name, and their classroom or grade to Devon Powell at


Upcoming Events:

  • Tuesday, October 6th: Runkle Picture Day

  • Thursday October 8th: Grade 2 Plus Activity at 1:45 pm on Field and Basketball Court

  • Thursday October 8th: Grade 1 Open House via ZOOM, 6-6:30 pm

  • Monday, October 12th: School Closed: Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Have a wonderful week,


September 28, 2020

Dear Runkle Families and Caregivers,

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I appreciated the summer-like weather. I hope that those of you celebrating Yom Kippur had an easy fast.

I want to share some news you can use:

We have hired a new Grade 7 and 8 Social Studies teacher. His name is
Alec Turner. Alec comes to Runkle from Boston Prep Charter School. He received both his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Masters in Education from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. At Boston Prep, Alec built the new sixth grade history curriculum in the course’s first year. We are very excited to welcome Alec to Runkle. Mr. Turner starts tomorrow.

We are now looking for a new Grade 7 and 8 Health Teacher to replace Ms. Goldring and Ms. Galton. Ms. Goldring is currently working part time and Ms. Galton is working at the RLA. Both have provided asynchronous work for our students while we are in the process of hiring a new teacher.

SUBSTITUTES. BPS is not sending substitute teachers into our buildings when staff are out. This means that teachers will post asynchronous work for their classes if they are out sick or out for any reason. We will work diligently to let families know when this happens, but we do not always have notice before the morning. The town is looking into hiring building substitutes who would only work in one building. I will keep you posted about this as well.

If you have a middle school student at home, please remind them to log into their Homeroom tomorrow morning BEFORE going to Conservatory so we can take attendance.

We did adjust the middle school schedule to include 15 minute screen/mask breaks in the morning and afternoon. Last week made it clear that moving straight through all the classes was too much for students. Here is a link to the schedules/times Students have links on CANVAS.

As of today, we are planning to bring back grades 1 and 2 in a Hybrid format in October. The date could be October 13th or the 20th. Grades 3-5 will enter soon after and then grades 6-8. The School Committee is working with the Central Office on specifics. We are working on the schedule for two cohorts, 2 days in person, 2 days remote, 1 full day of synchronous/asynchronous learning and cleaning of the building. This could change, but I want you to know what I know.

Thank you for your patience and kindness during this challenging start to our school year. Our teachers and staff are working so hard to make this all work. It’s been wonderful to see our Runkle students online and in person, but we want them all back:)

September 23, 2020

Good Afternoon Runkle Families and Caregivers,

I wanted to provide you with a couple of midweek updates:

  • Today we had our first Fire Drill. Our students and staff in the building did a great job. There was a short interruption in remote instruction for some students. We do have staff who teach from their classrooms. They were required to leave the building as well.

  • WE CANNOT HAVE REMOTE PLUS STUDENTS ON RUNKLE'S PLAYGROUND DURING SCHOOL HOURS. I feel bad telling our students to leave, but I cannot mix cohorts of students at this time. They are welcome to be here after school or at Dean Park during school hours.

  • Teachers will be asked to attend Special Education Team Meetings for their students throughout the school year. In the Remote Plus model, teachers will assign asynchronous work for their classes offline if they need to attend a meeting. We provide coverage for teachers when they are teaching in person.

  • We are working on the start of a Hybrid Model of instruction for our next group of students. We are hopeful that this will happen by mid October. It would most likely be Grade 1, possibly Grade 2. I do not have details, but we are in the planning process. More desks arrived today.

I will keep you posted with new information as I receive it.

Have a wonderful afternoon,

Donna Finnegan

September 20, 2020

Dear Runkle Families and Caregivers,

I hope everyone was able to enjoy this incredible September weekend. I am sharing my view as I write this letter. I am away with four friends. Our sons all graduated from Brookline High School in 2020. This was the weekend we planned to celebrate their new beginnings. They were all supposed to be off at college enjoying their freshman year. It’s been bittersweet, as only my son is truly away at UVM. All are learning remotely; two at a hotel in Boston and two at home. This was my first full weekend away in a very long time, but I knew I needed to go. Now it’s time to get back to work supporting my Runkle family.

We made it through our first week of school at Runkle! It was heartwarming to see our Pre-K and Kindergarten students entering the building on Wednesday. They wore their masks, sat 6 feet apart (outside for snack and lunch), played and learned. Many told me, “I love school,” and it was clear that they were happy to be together and with their teachers. Our teachers were also delighted to see your children in person and online.

Our “new normal” is not without challenges. It has not been easy on students, teachers or parents. I appreciate the emails about how great the first 2 days of middle school went, but there were others who experienced frozen screens, no microphones, slow processing and more. Teachers were exhausted after 3 days on ZOOM and worried about their students’ stamina and mental health. They could not reach out to them when they looked sad on a ZOOM call. They wanted to give a hug or a high five and felt awful when a student just signed off.

This continues to be a process of learning for us all. There were glitches in the 6-8 schedule, but we were able to fix them by Friday afternoon. This meant teacher changes and disappointed students. Parents are having doubts and questions about the choices they made for the Remote Learning Academy, Remote Plus, First to Return and/or Home Schooling. I want to be able to reassure each and every one of you, but I share many of your questions and concerns.

We will never stop trying to make this better. We will never stop trying to reach every student. We want EVERY student to succeed no matter the obstacles. We value ALL of our students and their families. We will work towards diminishing the inequities that impede ALL students from getting what they need. Please remain the positive and supportive stakeholders that I know you can be. We are counting on this from our students, families, teachers and ME.


With Gratitude,


August 27, 2020

Dear Runkle Families and Staff,

I hope you are all enjoying the final weeks of the summer. I know that many of you are just looking forward to having a routine that includes school, work, friends and family. I am working hard to finalize class placements and schedules for the fall. The information that families and staff have provided through surveys is still coming in. I desparately want to communicate class placements, schedules and Runkle Safety Measures to both families and staff. I also want to connect you to the teachers who will be working with your children in both an in-person and remote capacity. I was under the assumption that I could just "email" placements with the stroke of a key on my computer. It's more complicated than I anticipated and I am making changes everyday to balance classes due to new families and some withdrawals. I am scheduled to send placements on the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 2nd. I am hoping to send supply lists and other communications with these emails as well.

I apologize for not being able to respond with certainty to every email and phone call that I receive. I have to ask for your continued patience. Enrollment remains fluid and we are still figuring out how to staff all the models of teaching and learning that we are providing in the best way possible. Any announcements that I make could be inevitably undone in a few days based on the information we receive. I would like to address some common questions.

Will I have a chance to meet the teachers?

YES! The parent-teacher relationship is foundational in ensuring that each child thrives in the classroom. We will be collaboratively planning for these opportunities to get to know each other when staff returns next week. I am hopeful that we can see small groups of students outdoors to hand out materials, devices, etc.

Are parents allowed in the building?

No. At this point, safety protocols do not allow us to welcome parents into the building. In our planning we are looking at specific drop off and pick up spots for Kindergarten, but outside of the building itself. We will move towards planning for other grades as the fall progresses. We will secure places where caregivers can say goodbye in the morning and hello at the end of the day.

Are classrooms safe?

The Public Schools of Brookline have a team of people who do nothing but ensure our classrooms will be safe for learning. Every year, we pride ourselves on creating clean, beautiful and well equipped spaces for children to learn. As we reopen schools, we are working tirelessly to make sure that every learning space is not only student-centered, but all meets all safety standards.

Will students receive individual devices?

Staff will be working next week to secure a pick up plan for chromebooks. We have enough devices for all of our Runkle students. I am not sure if that means that every student will receive one OR if it is need based (yet). I believe the thoughts are that all students should be working on the same device to lessen confusion and complexity while working on specific platforms.

What if someone in the community has COVID?

Our school nurse, Janet Campbell, is the best! She, along with other Public Schools of Brookline health professionals and members of the Brookline DPH, will be one of the first voices you hear from should someone in the community test positive for COVID. We have a separate room in the nurse's office for students who present with symptoms while waiting for pick up. Janet and I will be putting more specific information together for families about Runkle procedures and protocols.

Fran McGreal, our custodian, has been busy cleaning, ushering air quality control personnel around the building, compiling PPE and cleaning supplies all while measuring classrooms and seating options with me. Our new Administrative Assistant, Tracey LeGendre, and Interim VP, Elizabeth Castellana have already started working to help me with all of these tasks. I am grateful for their support.

Today, Ms. Castellana, Lauren Vulcano, K-4 Guidance Counselor, and I met with our PTO Presidents, Devon Powell and Kreta Shah, to start thinking about the new school year. We are looking forward to planning parent meetings with teachers and specialists over ZOOM to introduce and provide training in learning platforms and schedules during the next few weeks. The PTO is anxious to provide teachers and families with as much support as possible in this new start to the school year. Be sure to look out for the first PTO Newsletter on September 13th.

What are Some Things I Might Need to Start the Year?

First, check out “The Big Life Journal” This resource is full of ideas on how to get this year, as unexpected as it is, started on the right foot.

And these articles might be of interest, too:

Updates will continue to come in the next days and weeks, so please stay tuned.

We are nervous and excited to start the year: just like you. I truly believe that together we can make great things happen.

Very sincerely,

Donna Finnegan

Interim Principal

John D. Runkle School