March 26, 2020
Dear SOMSD Families,
We hope that this letter finds you all healthy and safe. Thank you for your continued patience, flexibility and support as we work together as a community to practice social distancing and help our collective communities slow the spread of COVID-19.
We also thank you for your general appreciation for the work done by our staff, honest feedback, and recommendations concerning our distance learning curriculum. We’ve heard your concerns and as we continue our distance learning we want to provide you with updates and share further guidance, clarification and next steps to support online instruction for students in grades K-12. Pre-K Program instruction will be addressed in a separate communication. As shared in our previous communication, distance learning continuation will officially begin on Wed., April 1 through April 9, 2020 (Spring Break, April 10 – 17, with a tentative back to school date of April 20).
A consistent thread raised by families was the question of technology, connectivity, equity, and access as well as the ‘want’ for possible direct instruction via video connecting applications. We are pleased to share that we performed multiple telephone ‘technology need surveys’ of our community and were able to offer a device to all families that expressed a need to borrow a device. Working with our technology department, principals and their staff at each of our schools led the distribution of our school-based Chromebook inventory to families. We believe this distribution will now allow for our instruction to migrate almost exclusively to a technology platform.
While we will continue to utilize Google Classroom, there will be other platforms also available to facilitate instruction and explanations of new concepts for our students. We believe we have found reasonable compromises on the topic of instructional technology (additional details are listed in the guideline section below):
- All teachers will post 90 minutes of consistent “office hours” where the teacher will be online to answer questions.
- Teachers will now have many options to interact with their students. Some options will include recorded lessons and platforms that do not have images of participants’ faces etc. There are more details of these options to follow.
Please remember many teachers have families of their own at home and they may also be juggling work between more than one child. We also do not know the state of health for our teachers and their families, so we ask you to be considerate of their home life as we continue to navigate our new normal. We encourage our staff, families and our students to reach out to their teachers, principals, and the District Office with questions and concerns. If you would like to email us closure-related questions please use firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, thank you for your continued flexibility and cooperation during this unprecedented time.
We understand there are questions, concerns, and “what if” situations that will continue to surface. We ask that as needs arise, you stay in close communication with our school district. We will continue to provide routine updates as new information becomes available, via email, robocalls, texts, website, and social media updates so please remain connected with our school community.
GUIDELINES, EXPECTATIONS & REMINDERS
Our Curriculum Supervisors have given teachers a condensed, online friendly curriculum/guide to structure their teaching and student learning. Our focus with distance learning is to develop a systemic process to gather and curate instructionally appropriate resources for all SOMSD students. While we are looking for consistency across the district in grade levels/courses, we also want to ensure that our teachers have more freedom to teach under these unusual circumstances.