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Cohort Information

August  27, 2020

Dear Parent:

We hope that you and your family are well and that, despite ongoing concerns over our current health emergency, you’ve been able to enjoy time with those special to you.  During a break from that time, we hope also that you’ll respond to our “Re-Entry Commitment Application” wherein we request information about which schooling model (hybrid or all-remote) you prefer for your child(ren), if you’ll take advantage of or waive your transportation privileges, and whether or not you’ll need childcare for your youngsters in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.  Having accurate data enhances our ability to plan effectively.

As we continue to plan for our re-entry to school, a number of parents have reached out to their children’s principals, other school-district officials, or school-board members to request that our schools accommodate parental requests to identify the students with whom we’ll group the parents’ youngsters as we develop our learning cohorts.  Some parents have sought these accommodations because they’d like to set up “pods” of students so they, the parents, can provide additional academic and other support to their youngsters, particularly on the latters’ remote-schooling days.

We understand the motivation of the parents:  They want what’s best for their children.  It’s the same as each of us wants for ours.

If our schools officially enable self-selected cohorts to arise, albeit with well-meaning intentions on the part of the pods’ advocates, then our school system, an institution that values community, diversity, fairness, equality, and equity, may inadvertently but directly contribute to fostering instances of racial, ethnic, or other forms of discrimination.  Allowing parents to identify with whom their children should attend school is a solution that may serve what some families see as their legitimate needs, but it tramples on values we hold dear.

Thus, our principals and their colleagues will use the following guidelines in assigning students to cohorts.  Our guidelines are neutral and positive:    They neither abet nor deny parents’ efforts to support their children beyond our schools’ walls as the parents see fit, and the guidelines affirm our commitment to valuing all our students equally.

PUMS and PHS

For our middle and high schools: We will assign students to Cohort A or Cohort B according to the initial letters in their surname.

We’ll make exceptions for students who live in the same household but who have different surnames to ensure we keep siblings together and maintain groupings for potential infection-tracking and -tracing efforts.  Principals may make other exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

For Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook and Riverside

For youngsters enrolled last year, we’ll assign pupils to Cohort A or Cohort B according to last spring’s educational recommendations of the school’s teachers, counselor, child-study-team (C.S.T.) members, and principal.

  • For newly enrolled children, we’ll assign students to Cohort A or Cohort B based on educational and other relevant information the principal receives from the parent and from educators at the pupil’s former school.
  • We’ll assign siblings and others who live in the same household to the same cohort to maintain groupings for potential infection-tracking and -tracing efforts.
  • Although we may create an all-virtual school, we can’t provide guidelines related thereto as we don’t yet know how many remote-only pupils we’ll have nor how many teachers our board of education will have approved to teach remotely.

Thank you for working with us as we strive to put in place plans to support the success of all our students.  We look forward to a safe, enriching, and productive year ahead.

Yours truly,

Robert A. Ginsberg
Acting Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction

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