March 13, 2020
Dear Friend of JP:
During the past week, our staff members, in the face of the corona-virus situation, have been preparing for our school closure, necessitating a "remote-learning" mode for at least the next two weeks, Mar. 16th-20th and Mar. 23rd-27th. Thank you to our exemplary colleagues for the dedication, flexibility, collaboration, and creativity they’ve invested to make this adventure work; as usual, their professionalism and expertise have shone brightly throughout the week!
Here’s a summary of what you may need to know right away:
Our school closure affects all activities at JP, including afternoon and evening happenings. Our decision reflects our concern for the health and well-being of our pupils, their families, and our staff members by embracing the need for social distancing. (It’s to create space for social distancing that we’re closing our schools. Our buildings are and have been safe places.)
Limitations, particularly the loss of daily, human interaction, come with remote learning, so our staff members have sought to provide meaningful, engaging learning experiences for all our pupils in ways that meet, as much as possible, the latter’s individual needs. What your youngster will likely experience will be a blend of state mandates, school-district decisions and directives, and building-based collaboration.
With our shift to remote learning, here’s what you can expect, although we anticipate that we may have to revise some procedures and tweak others. As this is an unprecedented situation for us all, we hope that you understand that we’ve made, and shall continue to make, all decisions with our children’s best interest in mind. Yes, we may make some mistakes, but please realize they’re unintentional.
1. If your child was absent this week and was therefore unable to bring home the books and materials that he or she may need for remote learning, please check with your child’s teacher to gain access to those resources. (All our staff members will remain accessible via e-mail or by calling JP.) If your youngster’s teacher is unable to transmit electronically some or all of what your child may need, you may come to JP’s office to pick up hard copies. (Our school office will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
2. Initially, we’ve planned for our boys and girls in grs. 3-5 to access their instruction through teacher websites which they can access via PowerSchool Learning. Our teachers have practiced with our pupils how to do so.
Additionally, we’ve tried to ensure that all families with children in those grades have access to appropriate technology at home. However, if your family doesn’t have a computer of your own and you’ve not received a loaner from JP, please let us know immediately (806-4240) so that we can provide one.
3. Our grs. PK-2 teacher have sent home packets of work and activities for their youngsters, so our children in those grades won’t require online access for now. If our school closing extends beyond two weeks, our school district may attempt to provide appropriate devices for our younger learners who don’t have such resources at home.
Once we’re confident that all our boys and girls at a particular grade level have home-access to technology, we may transition that grade level to partial or full online learning. If that’s the case, we’ll provide additional instructions to all families.
4. The State and our school district mandate that, for our pupils to get attendance credit, we must document their daily engagement. For our youngsters in grs. 3-5, each homeroom teacher has embedded a Google form into his or her website that will record our children’s attendance when they log in to do their work.
For our boys and girls in grs. PK-2, many teachers have sent included in their pupils’ packets a log for parents to initial or sign. In addition, many teachers will daily send a brief check-in e-mail that includes a request for parents to respond with a quick e-mail to verify that their youngsters have, in fact, worked on their assignments for the day; for parents who don’t respond, our teachers will follow up with a telephone call to verify the children’s “attendance.”
5. We’ve developed plans for one or more of our teachers to check in with each pupil and his or her family multiple times per week via telephone calls, e-mails, Class Dojo, or some other means. Teachers who call from their private telephones may use a code so that their number appears to parents as “No Caller ID.”
We welcome and encourage communication so that we can work with parents to ensure that they and their sons and daughters understand the learning activities, that there are no technology glitches or other problems, and that our pupils are progressing with learning their content and skills. Please respect our teachers’ need to make multiple calls each day, so allow them ample time to do so.
6. Our staff members will work each weekday, and they’ll communication how they’ll individually interact with you. Some may indicate a block of time when they’ll be available for quick responses to e-mail queries, and others may take a different approach to managing the unknowns of remote learning. If you have questions, please reach out to your child's teacher(s), and they’ll get back to you within a reasonable amount of time.
7. Our expectation is that our pupils will engage daily in about four hours of learning activities. These activities include all major curricular areas, including specials.
8. Our specials teachers and Senorita Morales, our Spanish teacher for grs. 2-5, have created links that are available through your child’s PowerSchool Learning page. If you have trouble locating that information or have questions about what you find there, please reach out to those teachers.
9. All of our special-education teachers have worked with members of our child-study team, with Eric Csolak (our supervisor of special education), and with one another to address our pupils’ I.E.P. goals and needs as best we can.
10. For youngsters who receive any type of related service (e.g., speech, O.T., E.S.L.), those teachers have also sought to provide appropriate learning activities and experiences for their pupils. We invite parents to reach out to those service providers with questions.
11. JP will be open each weekday from 7:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m.; our office will be open daily from at least 8:00 a.m. to at least 2:00 p.m. unless we identify a health need that dictates otherwise. (Please remember: We’ve closed school to enhance social distancing; our buildings are currently safe.)
As the next two weeks unfold, teachers may ask you to drop off student work at school and/or to pick up additional materials. This may be especially true for our youngest learners who are not working online. For sure this will be the case if our closure continues beyond two weeks.
12. If we do extend our closure beyond two weeks and move towards online learning for our younger pupils, we’ll reach out to families to whom we may need to lend electronic devices. We’ll implement some type of pick-up system at JP or at some other sites that may be more convenient for parents who don’t drive.
13. Our school district will use our buses to provide meals for those families entitled to subsidized meals. And, if we have families who may be unable to pick up or drop off materials, we’ll try to organize our buses to visit neighborhoods or homes for those purposes as well.
14. Many parents have questions about a range of topics: make-up parent-teacher conferences, upcoming I.E.P. meetings, standardized testing, report cards, and plans for rescheduling evening activities that we’ve postponed. We’ll have answers to those questions in the coming days and weeks, and we’ll continue to provide timely and detailed updates whenever we have something relevant to share.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village, as well, to confront challenges and to emerge safely and be more resilient from having dealt with those challenges. With that in mind, please, again, understand that we’ve acted in behalf of our children’s (your children’s) and our staff members’ best interest.
We’ve striven to implement perfect solutions. While we know we’ve likely fallen short, it’s not been for a lack of commitment or caring.
Let’s work together through these stressful times, extending patience, goodwill, and good humor to one another. Please reach out to us with any concerns you may have.
Thanks for your consideration. Please take care of our youngsters, and we hope to see you back at JP on Mon., Mar. 27th, if everything works as we hope.
Robert A. Ginsberg
- Johnson Park News