• July 12, 2022

    Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff: 

    I wanted to take a few moments to provide you with an update regarding the progress of the new Upper Merion Area High School as we get closer to the start of the school year.  As planned, we will be opening school for students on August 29th and I am very excited about the opportunities and experiences that this new facility will provide to our students, staff and community members for many, many years.  This new building will prove to be a huge asset and is essentially the “last piece” that was needed to complete an amazing fleet of school buildings that have been and will continue to provide incredible opportunities to all of those who enter our doors!  

    Please know that we will continue to work tirelessly through the process of finishing our new high school and our goal to open on August 29th has not changed!  I have heard “rumors” about issues surrounding this project and although we have had some struggles, we continue to stay positive.  We as a construction team have always kept moving forward for the sake of those that we serve and we are committed to opening this new facility on time. 

    Should you have questions or comments or if you have heard “rumors” and want my perspective, please feel free to reach out at your convenience.  I hope you all have a wonderful, restful remainder of your summer and we all look forward to seeing you on August 29th. 

    My regards, 
    Dr. Toleno    

  • May 20, 2022

    The Upper Merion Area School District is aware of the most recent guidance regarding COVID 19 provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (OPH).  With that being said, please be advised that the Upper Merion Area School District will continue to encourage “voluntary masking” until such time we are directed to require masking inside our buildings. 

    Please be patient as we continue to evaluate and navigate this matter. 
    My regards,
    Dr. Toleno

  • March 11, 2022

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff:
    I was recently asked by School Board President, Mrs. Alice Budno Hope, to provide “a plan of action for security improvements in the middle and high school” and “include any information about conversations with UMPD, use of bathrooms, monitoring of halls etc.”.  With all of that being said, below you will find actions being taken at both the Middle School and the High School as well as actions being taken on a Districtwide level. 

    Please note that we are deeply concerned of late about the behaviors of a small portion of our student body who have chosen to try to create chaos within our schools.  We have taken a very active, responsible approach to working with our staff and students in order to assure a safe environment for all that we serve.  Unfortunately, we have a small group of students who do not want to be held to the standards that we expect here in the Upper Merion Area School District. 

    If any of us had to describe the one singular issue surrounding this matter it would be a complete lack of respect for any kind of rules or limits that are expected of every student we educate!  Furthermore, in some cases the “fights” that are occurring are staged. Ultimately, they (the fights) get out of hand and turn into real fights due to the fact that the “stagers” wind up hitting a little too hard and suddenly it becomes a real fight.  In the meantime, we have kids that know about these fights and not only video the fights but they make matters worse by not telling anyone in authority so that we can stop the fights and put some kind of pre-emptive restorative practices in place so as to avoid disruption within our buildings and disciplinary procedures against those involved, typically resulting in suspensions. 

    The good news in all of this is that the individuals who are deciding not to follow our protocols and be respectful of others are a small segment of our population.  However, in some cases (limiting the number of bathrooms) unfortunately all of our students wind up feeling the effect of that decision.  In essence the bathrooms appear to be the place where these issues are happening and in order to better supervise and provide safe environments for those we serve, a very long standing technique is to limit access to those spaces that are the location for troubling behavior.  I realize this may not be a popular option but we have the obligation to provide safe environments to those we serve and if that means limiting spaces that have the potential to be “unsafe” then my obligation is to make that happen and support those decisions accordingly.
    Below, please find specific things that are being done at the Middle School and High School (many of which are identical) in order to provide direction and safety to those we serve.  Additionally, below you will find specific things we are doing not only at the Middle and High School but also districtwide.  

    Middle School:
    •    We have aggressively investigated all incidents and met with students and parents to discuss disciplinary consequences and support needed to correct behaviors.  In certain incidents, individuals have been referred to alternative placements.
    •    Administration, counselors, and security personnel are actively intervening when potential conflicts are brought to our attention in order to try and avoid a conflict before it happens.
    •    We have assigned teachers to specific hallway locations during our morning and end of day routine. 
    •    Teachers are expected to travel through the hallways with students during normal classroom transition times.  
    •    Classroom teachers are expected to have no more than one student out of the classroom at a time.  
    •    We use polarity features in our eHallpass system to keep specific students from being on a break at the same time.  We also institute pass restrictions for specific students. 
    •    All bathrooms have been closed except for the two bathrooms on the 2nd floor at the Middle School. The two bathrooms are monitored by security personnel throughout most of the day.  
    •    All students received Viking Values booster lessons when we returned from Winter break.  They included information on Schoolwide Expectations, as well as Classroom and Hallway Expectations.  
    •    A PBIS assembly is occurring this Monday (March 14th) for each grade level.  We will review school expectations in addition to discussing points of pride at our Middle School. 
    •    Prior to the pandemic, our procedures included the use of lockers for all students.  We are returning to this model (at the middle school) and we expect students to keep their backpacks in their lockers during the school day.  Teachers will develop a schedule for students to visit their lockers during the day.  Cell phones are expected to remain in students' backpacks, in their lockers. 
    •    Upper House students have received regular "Classroom Chats" with Dr. Rolon.  The Team assemblies help solidify the message of positive behaviors. 

    High School:  
    •    We have aggressively investigated all incidents and met with students and parents to discuss disciplinary consequences and supports needed to correct behaviors.  Repeat offenders have been referred to alternative placements.
    •    Administration, counselors, and security personnel are actively intervening when potential conflicts are brought to our attention in order to try and avoid a conflict before it happens.
    •    We have assigned teachers to hallway areas as part of their duty period to monitor student behavior.
    •    In order to minimize hallway traffic, we have temporarily eliminated library passes from study halls.  Study hall teachers will only send out students to either use the bathroom or go to the nurse if they need medical attention.  All other pass requests from study hall will be denied.  We have had to do this two other times earlier this year when hallway conflicts became an issue.
    •    Classroom teachers have also been encouraged to limit the number of students leaving their class for any reason.  Students can still be released from class with a pass but we are asking all teachers to take a critical look at whether the student definitely needs to leave class at the time.  
    •    On Tuesday, March 1st, all students received HORNS UP Booster lessons as part of a two-hour extended homeroom.  These lessons included activities focused on positive and appropriate behavior in classrooms and hallways.  The issue of skipping classes was also addressed directly.  Teacher were encouraged to follow up with SEL activities throughout the course of the day.
    •    The HORNS UP Student Leadership Team shared that the students are feeling the impact of a stressful year and have requested some school time to focus on social, emotional, and mental health.  Based on that information we have asked teachers to dedicate some part of their class on the first of each month in April, May, and June to incorporating SEL activities.  A list of SEL activities and lessons have been shared with teachers.  

    •    Each of our schools has a code of conduct that outlines consequences for infractions.  These are applied accordingly after incidents are investigated. In addition to consequences, interventions that may include in house counseling services as well as community-based resources, we also look to introduce restorative actions aimed at reinforcing foundational school and community values related to Safe, Responsible, and Respectful expectations.  
    •    This year we have also added Prevention support under Student Assistance Programs (SAP) that is provided by Montgomery County Office of Drug and Alcohol and Mental Health.  Additional therapeutic staff have also been contracted through Lakeside education network to make in school counseling services more available.  We contract with Springfield Psychological for more intensive services in Behavioral Health.
    •    Curricular initiatives are also at work and include targeted Social Emotional Learning at all levels.  These are monitored by our Curriculum and Student Services Departments as well as building-based PBIS teams.
    •    Our CAST initiative is also working to further connect homes, schools, and communities in its efforts to provide a safe environment for learning.  Most recently, we held training in QPR which is a prevention program aimed at helping individuals to better recognize when someone is experiencing a behavioral health challenge and how to intervene.  We had 42 people register and attend.  
    •    Going forward, we expect to continue to grow our interventions, staffing, and partnerships with community agencies to support the behavioral health and wellness of our students and school environments.
    •    Meeting with Carson Valley as part of a reassessment of services available to those we serve. 
    •    We have reached out to the University of Villanova counseling department to inquire about support through clinical interns. 
    •    We just started a mentoring program with UPenn called “Possibilities Counseling” that is working with EL students to create action plans related to long term goals. 

    It is my hope that this information has been helpful and informative in nature. Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at your earliest convenience.  

    Dr. John A. Toleno
    Superintendent of Schools 


  • February 22, 2022

    Dear Parent(s), Guardian(s) and all Staff members:

    I wanted to take some time and provide you with an update regarding where the District stands on the mandatory masking plan that is currently in place.  As of late, local conditions continue to improve and the parameters regarding COVID-19 have changed significantly since the school year began.  Please be advised that I will be recommending to the School Board at our next meeting scheduled for Monday, February 28th, at 7:00 p.m. that we as a District should move to a masking optional scenario for all of our staff and students beginning on Monday, March 7th. 

    The specific reasons for this decision are due in part to the following “current indicators”:

    *The prevailing variant, while more transmissible, is less virulent.
    *All K-12 students and district staff have had the opportunity to become vaccinated.
    *The vaccination rate in Montgomery County is 94%.
    *UMASD case counts have dropped below 2-3%.
    *Hospitalization rates in Montgomery County have dropped to manageable levels. 

    It is my belief that as long as “current indicators” remain in place or case incidence/positivity rates continue to decrease, I believe this adjustment to our current masking policy is appropriate.  Please be further advised that I will be asking the School Board to adjust our Health and Safety plan to read as follows: “UMASD will maintain a masking optional plan until or unless we reach more than 3% positive cases in any school building and at such time the District will move back to a mandatory masking policy.” 

    I hope this clarifies the direction that we are moving and I want to thank each and every one of you for your support during these very difficult times! 

    Be well,
    Dr. John Toleno
    Superintendent of Schools


  • January 19, 2022

    Dear Parent/Guardian:

    I hope this message finds all of you well!  For those of you who follow the weather like I do, you may know that tomorrow (Thursday) morning, January 20th, is shaping up to be a potential mess due to some forecasted snow.  With that said, I wanted to give all of you a heads up that we may be utilizing either a virtual/synchronous day or a delayed opening if we are not able to come in to school on time.  I will not be making a final decision regarding the status of the day until early on Thursday morning.   

    Please be further advised that should we need to move to a virtual/synchronous day, you will be receiving information from your respective building principal(s) about a revised virtual learning schedule.  I appreciate your patience in this regard and I hope you all have a great evening.


    Dr. John A. Toleno
    Superintendent of Schools


  • Please see the District's plan for educational programming for students in quarantine due to COVID exposure or a positive COVID test result. This plan will begin Thursday, January 13, 2022.

    UMASD Plan for Educational Programming for Students in Quarantine 

    In the event that a student is required to quarantine due to COVID exposure or positive COVID test result, the District has developed the following plan to provide the student with access to instruction. 

    Goal: Welcome a student in COVID quarantine into the class through observation via Zoom and assigned work via Schoology. 

    1. The quarantining student and/or parent will initiate the process by emailing the teacher no later than the beginning of the school day. (Please note that the health status of a student should not be shared with the teacher due to HIPAA regulations.)
    2. Quarantining students will log into Zoom via their iPad or Laptop at the beginning of the class. The link will be provided by the teacher through Schoology.
    3. Teacher(s) will provide content-related work:
      1. Zoom: Teachers may place their computer and “point” its camera, with the volume on, at the Smart Display. If the MS AND HS teachers prefer, they may use their Jabra speaker and camera. Elementary teachers may use their iPad or laptop.
      2. Students listen to instruction and view the SMART Display.
      3. Schoology: Teachers provide instructional materials and assignments on Schoology
        1. If teachers are utilizing the discussion board on Schoology, the student in quarantine may participate.
    4. Please note that the teachers will be providing interactive instruction to the students who are present in the classroom. However, teachers are not required to specially interact with quarantined students during the class period. They will answer questions raised by quarantined students that are sent to them by email.
    5. Any and all communication from the quarantining student should be directed to the teacher’s email and assignments submitted via Schoology.
    6. Teachers will be flexible with regard to completed work.
    7. If a student is sick, they should rest and get healthy. When healthy, they can choose to participate in this program. Parent/Guardian/Caretaker determines if their child opts into this mode of instruction.


  • Click here for the Superintendent's Letter to the Community dated August 18, 2021.

  • For previous video communications, click here and search Dr. Toleno or COVID.