COVID Parent Updates November 2020

Dear Parents, 
At this point in the school year, we are very happy with many aspects of how our school’s approach to addressing the Covid pandemic and the current school year is working.  We have had no transmission at school so far due to diligent efforts of faculty, students and parents.  We have been able to educate so many of our students in-person in rich, meaningful ways throughout the year.  We have also been able to meet the needs of other students and families through meaningful, quality remote instruction.  In order to continue to build on this success and address some areas where improvement seems needed, we will be implementing the following.

Fridays are and have been part of the school week and schedule.  Friday work is required; it is not a day off school.  Beginning this month (November) all teachers will be increasing the accountability for the completion of their online Friday work.  Students who attend school in-person four days a week will be required to make-up any missing work assigned on Fridays that is not completed by the end of the weekend.  

Required work includes required assignments using online platforms:  Map Accelerator Khan Academy (Math Grades 4-8), Newsela (Language Arts Grades 4-8), Lexia (Reading Grades 2-3) and Khan Math (Math grades 1st-3rd).  On Fridays ALL students will have assigned work from Main Lesson, Math & Language Arts practice (using online programs) and specialty classes for grades 6-8. Teachers will determine how the work is to be made up; students may be required to miss recess, specialty classes, etc. in order to complete unfinished work.

Having tracked State-wide Covid infection rates and looking at the sources of transmission, the school has determined to implement two required Stay at Home weeks immediately following the upcoming holiday breaks.  There is substantive evidence to support this strategy as an effective way of reducing possible spread following any travel or family activities that may occur over holiday breaks.  

These two weeks will include 100% remote, online learning for ALL students for the weeks of November 30 - December 4 (after Thanksgiving Break) and January 4 - 8 (after Winter Break).  School work will be assigned every day and ALL students will be expected to participate; these weeks are not to be considered an extended holiday break.  

School lunch will be available on each Stay at Home week for drive-through pick-up from 11am-1pm every day for no charge.  

For students participating in Intervention Services and receiving Special Education, individual schedules / plans for these weeks will be sent out by November 23.  Students will be expected to participate in these groups during this time.  This will also provide all of us a chance to practice a fully online model and schedule during a planned period in preparation for possible future school-wide online learning.  

The majority of special education and intervention services will be provided via Zoom to the same groups of students that work together in person and by the same faculty / staff.  Students will be expected to join the group via Zoom at the same time on the same days that they typically receive services in person at school.  Links for lessons and a schedule of times for students will be provided via email by the special education teacher or intervention teacher.

To be clear, we are requesting that all families during these two weeks:
  • Stay at home and limit all out of household contacts
  • Participate actively in remote learning and assigned school work
  • Monitor family members (and anyone with whom you may have had over 15 minutes of contact closer than 6 feet - with or without wearing masks) for any Covid symptoms
  • Do NOT travel or engage in extended family / social activities during the stay-at-home week
For families interested in changing their learning selection following winter break, you must send an email to Kara Salisbury: by NOVEMBER 30, otherwise, your student will need to remain in their current plan.  All students selecting remote learning are expected to be fully participating in their assigned school work.

After the Winter Break, beginning January 4, 2021, we will no longer be offering the 4 day online / 1 day in-person option.  All students currently enrolled in this 4 day online plan will be automatically transitioned to a 5 day online plan (unless parents request a transition to in-person learning by emailing Kara Salisbury as directed above).  Student attendance on Fridays has been inconsistent and very low, and it has been determined that making an adjustment will allow faculty and staff to better serve the majority of students on Fridays.  

Students learning online will continue to have access to Special Education services and Intervention Services in-person on Fridays.  Individual families of students with IEPs or intervention services will receive direct communication regarding schedules and arrangements for in-person Friday services. 
In addition, some OPTIONAL specialty classes and social activities will be offered to all online students on Fridays throughout the remainder of the year in order to support some social opportunities for students and families.  A final schedule of offerings will be provided to families prior to Winter Break in order to support planning and scheduling for the remainder of the year.

We recognize that this is a significant change for some students and families.  We hope that all families will continue to find a learning plan that will serve them well.  And, we trust that we will be able to continue to create meaningful connections and experiences for students who will be learning online.
Again, we thank you all for support and flexibility this unique year.  We are so grateful for each of you and all of your efforts to support the safety and well-being of our community.

With Appreciation,
Emily Merchant

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