April 9, 2020- COVID-19 School Closure Update
Hello EFMS families!
I hope this update letter finds you all healthy and safe. As we have previously stated, we will be transitioning to continuing education as of Monday, April 13th. This means that teachers will start to share NEW learning and NEW materials with students to work on daily. This letter outlines what to expect, how this learning will be structured, and explains some of the tools we will use. I want to thank all of you who completed the survey related to remote learning- your feedback helped us as we created this plan and expectations.
We have been working hard to create a plan we feel will be beneficial and manageable for students while trying to prioritize the mental health and stress-management needs of students and families. Please know that in all of this, what is most important to us is that kids are safe, healthy, and know they are loved and cared for by their school community. We will continue to prioritize the social-emotional wellbeing of students above all other things.
This will be a long letter! But please read it all. We have tried to capture a lot of important information regarding what learning will look like for the rest of the school year.
EFMS Structure/Weekly Schedule
Monday-Thursdays: Teachers will be providing new learning on Monday-Thursday for students. This will be shared on either google classroom or class websites. Please note, these classrooms and sites were in place and used daily for students before we moved to remote learning, so students already know how to access and view them.
Fridays: Teachers will not be sharing new learning activities on Fridays. Fridays will be reserved for TA check ins, individual student check ins (for just saying hello/to see how people are doing or for work support), or for small group student help or support. Check-ins for help can and will happen on other days as well, but Friday will be set aside specifically for a connection and support day each week. Many teachers will be sharing video chat invitations to students for live check-ins or for whole TA meetings on Fridays. Students will receive the invitations in their email and will be informed earlier in the week of the time so they can plan ahead to attend. While these are not required check-ins, we encourage all students to participate because it is a great way to maintain relationships and connections with teachers and peers!
New Learning Expectations
Before we dig into how learning will look, I want you to keep something very important in mind: like all of you, our teachers are working from home. Like you, they all have varying levels of internet access and reliability. Like you, many of them are balancing accessing limited wifi bandwidth with spouses and children also working from home. And many are also working to provide structure and educational support to their own children while educating yours. This means that not all teachers will be able to record and post videos each day. Remote learning will be a variety of ways to interact with new materials, from videos to reading materials, to reflection/discussion questions or hands-on activities. Please do not compare teachers’ approaches to one another as everyone is approaching remote learning with their own set of challenges within their home setting. Should a teacher in our school become sick or become a caretaker for a sick family member, we will be adjusting our approach to their learning for that content until they are able to return to work. We will let you know if that happens.
Teachers will be sharing a combined total of 60 minutes of new content daily, which means each class (ELA, Math, Global Citizenship, Science) will be sharing about 15 minutes a day of new content with students. These will be posted on google classroom or google sites, depending on what the teacher uses. Our goal here is to provide learning in “bite-sized” daily activities that all students can access, process, and respond to without it becoming overwhelming to keep up with. If you notice that your child is really struggling with material or taking much longer than 15 minutes/day on a given class, please reach out to the teacher so we can help to support them!
In addition to 15 minutes a day of new learning per class, teachers also may be sharing up to 15 additional minutes of optional practice, review, or reflection for students to do. This means that in total, middle school students could have two total hours of learning materials shared daily, with one hour of that being new learning.
Teachers will be clearly labeling each learning activity they share as REQUIRED or OPTIONAL. Required work will be the things students must complete and optional work will be the extra practice or enrichment that can help students deepen understanding or explore more about a topic. REQUIRED work will be tracked in powerschool weekly. OPTIONAL work will not be tracked in powerschool, but students who choose to engage with the optional materials can submit those things for feedback and teacher support as they would with required work.
We WILL NOT be doing any new learning “live”. All learning materials will be shared so students can log in and access them any time of the day and they will not need to report to a class at a certain time of day in order to access the learning materials. We are taking this approach because we know all family situations are different, and we know many of you are trying to balance access to limited wifi in your homes to accommodate work and other children’s schedules. We want to encourage our students to access the learning at the time that works best for their family and situation. Live video or phone calls will be reserved for check-ins and TA time or if a student needs individualized help on work.
Remote Learning Tools
Google Classroom: Many EFMS teachers are using Google Classroom. This is a tool linked to students’ school email accounts. It allows teachers to post daily learning activities and assignments and collect them digitally through the classroom site. All students already know how to use google classroom since teachers were using them all year, before we moved to remote learning from home. Students can access, complete, and submit assignments directly to the teacher through google classroom. If your child’s teacher is using google classroom, please check your email! Teachers send out invitations for parents to “join” their classrooms. You DO NOT need a google account in order to view a google classroom. When you receive the invitation, it will allow you to view the classroom and see what teachers are posting for learning materials each day. This should be helpful to you so you know what expectations there are or what daily activities your child should be completing.
Google Meets/Google Hangout: This is a tool embedded into the google platform for students. It allows students to video chat individually or in small groups with a teacher. It will be the primary way teachers video chat live with students for TA meetings, check-ins, or help sessions. To join, students will receive an invitation in their email from their teacher with a link to click. They will always have the option of joining with audio only if they prefer. Students who have iPads will find a google meet/hangout app that was recently added for them (they may need to restart the ipad for it to appear). They will still receive the invitation via email.
FlipGrid: FlipGrid is a tool that allows teachers to record a short video (5 minutes or less) and send it out to a class. Students can view the video and send their own in reply. Some teachers will be sending out flipgrid videos as a way to answer questions to a group or class of students. These will arrive to students in an email with a video link to click.
Email: Good, ol- fashioned email will also be used! We will use email to check in with and communicate with students and families. Students should be checking their email daily, as they may be receiving a personal note from a teacher or an invitation for a video chat. Email is also the best way for parents/guardians to connect with teachers. All teacher emails are included in this letter.
Video Lessons: Some will be posting videos of themselves providing instruction. These will be shared with students on sites/classrooms or via email. Some teachers will also be accessing learning resources and sharing instructional videos created from other educational sources and sharing these to their classrooms for students.
Phone calls: Teachers will also continue to reach out on the phone to check in with students or, if needed, to help answer questions they have about the learning. In order to protect privacy, calls may be coming from blocked numbers or numbers you do not recognize. Whenever possible, teachers will give students a heads up about the time they plan to call or will leave a message saying when they will reach out so students know to expect a call.
Hard Copy Learning Materials
Please note: we are ONLY sending hard copies of learning materials to students without reliable internet access. All students with access to the internet should not expect any hard copy material deliveries. Please contact us if your internet access changes! These materials will be a combination of paper materials, books or texts, and tools for students to use, like math manipulatives, calculators, art supplies, etc. Teachers will label these with clear directions and a pacing guide so students know what to work on each day and in what order. These learning materials will go out on Fridays with the food delivery. Students may be receiving several weeks of materials at once in their delivery, so if it looks like a lot of stuff or seems overwhelming, please tell your child not to worry! They are to follow the same expectations for about an hour a day of learning, 15 minutes per class.
We are not able to collect hard copy materials back from families at this time. Please keep the finished work in a folder. Should your child finish work and wish to submit it to their teacher, please use a cell phone to take pictures of the finished work and email it to the teacher. You can always access free wifi in the EFMHS parking lot, or in any FNESU school parking lot since all have created free and open wifi for our communities.
Special educators have been and will continue to be in touch with families in order to develop distance learning plans that will best support both student and family needs during continuing education. Your child’s special educator will continue to reach out to you regarding this process.
Assessment of Student Work
Teachers will be tracking REQUIRED work only in PowerSchool. You will see assignments marked with a green check mark if the work was completed. There will not be a check mark if the teacher has not seen the assignment. We will not be using late, missing, or incomplete labels during the 4th quarter. Teachers will update PowerSchool on a weekly basis. We recognize that some students may have limited access to the internet and we do not wish to penalize someone who has a stressful situation arise that prohibits them from engaging in learning on a given day.
If you are wondering how your child is doing with remote learning, please contact the teachers directly to ask!
There will be an April break for all students and staff during the week of April 20-24. Teachers will not be posting learning activities or scheduling check-ins during the vacation week. All learning and student support check-ins will resume on April 27th.
If your child receives a delivery of hard copy materials on the Friday before break (April 17th), they will not be expected to start that learning until Monday, April 27th.
There will continue to be food deliveries to students during the vacation week.
Phew- that was a lot! We are doing our best to provide clear guidance and structure for students in this new and unknown world! We ask for your patience and understanding as we all learn to navigate this together!
Please note that as we learn more about what does and does not work well with distance learning, we will be adjusting and fine-tuning our approach to best meet student needs. If we need to make changes, we will communicate that to you all as soon as we are able.
Please communicate with us as well! If your family needs or situation changes, we would like to know so we can support you and your child. Reach out if your internet access changes (you gain or lose it), if you wish to be added to or removed from meal delivery, or if you have questions about learning or your child needs some help! We continue to encourage setting a daily schedule for your family that includes time for academics, movement, and breaks. Resources for this can be found by visiting the www.fnesu.net website and clicking the blue button called “COVID-19 Coronavirus Information and Resources”.
We love and miss you all. School isn’t the same without you. Stay well and stay safe!
Rachel Reynolds, EFMS Principal