7 April 2020
I want to start this letter by saying thank you to everyone for your patience, your messages of kindness, and your willingness to do what it takes to follow the health guidelines that keep us all safe. By now you will have received the District remote learning plan 2.0 that details how each level is shifting from our original learning plan to this new one. Below I intend to give some clear bullets on what I think you’ll want to know as parents and students to be ready for the changes.
What is my student’s schedule? High school schedules are obviously complex and will vary student to student based on their classes and load. Each student will receive notice from their teachers about class meetings, assignments, due dates, and office hours for each of their classes through their Canvas Calendar. Teachers will enter this information for their classes at the start of each week and it will populate the student schedule automatically.
Will classes be held live every time? No. Students can expect to spend up to 4.5 hours on work per day depending on their schedule and homework load, but not all of it will be live. Some classes will meet live, some will be recorded sessions, and still others may happen through work pushed out from the teacher.
When will teachers be available to help kids? Each teacher will be available for 3 office hours per week. The student can “drop in” live or set up an appointment for a time during the posted hours. Teachers will also respond to emails in 24 hours of receiving them.
Are assignments graded? Individual assignments during remote learning will get either written or oral feedback from the teacher, but we will not be giving them traditional grades during remote learning.
Why is the 4th Quarter either worth a 100 or a 69? The administrative team didn’t believe it was fair to students or teachers to give the same grades we normally do in this online environment and in this context. We did, however, want to provide an opportunity for students to improve their grades like they often do during the regular school year. We believe if the students engage fully and do their best on the assignments created, they should earn 100% of the credit. We also didn’t believe it was fair to sink a student in this environment, so we set the bottom for our binary remote grading system at 69.
Why will the school be so quick to call about student attendance? In these times, we feel the need to check in on all of our students, and if they aren’t engaging in our learning we are worried it could be an indication that something is wrong. We will check in to make sure that is not the case or how we can help if it is.
How do students find out about what work needs to be made up for Term 3? Students should contact their individual teachers to ask this question. Students can start by checking in on Powerschool to see what they may be missing.
What will happen to grading if we return to school on May 4th? The simple answer is we haven’t yet decided. We have talked about different percentage options, but we are waiting on this final decision to see what the situation brings since we believe that is the most fair thing to do.
Will there be new content for students to learn? Yes, and there will also be a deepening of previously learned skills. There are challenges in some disciplines that will not allow for certain types of new learning to happen (labs, ceramics wheels, some text availability etc.). In these cases, the new learning will be adapted to what can work best in our remote environment.
Why are classes only meeting 2 hours per week? We are following the guidelines for remote learning put forward by the Commissioner of Education, the state Superintendent Association, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association. We are also cutting the normal homework load in half following the same set of recommendations.
How will teachers of seniors end the year for students who would have been on senior project? We are all really disappointed we could not find a way to run either a remote or a shortened senior project this spring. The complexity of the logistics for the program did not allow us to support it under the current circumstance. The teachers are aware how challenging this is for the students and are focused on creating meaningful work for their students at this unique time in their academic life.
What will happen to the end of year events? Obviously, we’d like all the end of year events to happen as they do every spring, and we continue to think through contingency plans in case that cannot happen. As dates get closer, decisions will have to be made and we will have better information in place for making them. We will push out information in multiple ways to make sure people get updates.
The structure we created was done with a lot of collaboration and thought, but we know it is unlikely to be perfect. We believe the plan is meaningful, reasonable, and generous to students, families and staff in this unprecedented time. We look forward to partnering with you in this same spirit around this work moving forward. Please feel free to reach out to any of our normal contacts “here” if you have specific questions.
Please stay safe and well.