Family Communication 4.1.20

Good Evening Wakefield Families,   

We are now in week three of our school closure and we wanted to reach out to update you on focus areas for the coming weeks. As we have expressed in previous emails, we cannot thank you enough for your efforts to support your children in continuing their education during this time. 

Learn Anywhere Adjustments (April 6-May 4):

With news of the extended closure until May 4th, our administration has continued our emergency response planning. As we stated in prior communication, Learn Anywhere was never intended to be a long term online learning program, therefore it is inevitable that adjustments will need to be made as our school closure continues. We believe that these adjustments will create layers of support for students, faculty and staff. As we know people may need to take time to care for themselves in the coming weeks and we want to be prepared for that. The changes are outlined below:      

Teaming, Collaboration and Connecting with Students: We believe that collaboration has never been more important than it is right now. As leaders, it is important that we are realistic about the struggles that our faculty, staff and families are facing and will continue to deal with. We anticipate that as things change, these struggles may impact teacher and student participation in Learn Anywhere and we want to be prepared for that to occur. The changing landscape in education right now is requiring us to rethink and revise best instructional practices to promote student participation and engagement. It is important to us that this be done thoughtfully and effectively, which requires sufficient planning and collaboration. 

In our latest correspondence with administration, faculty and staff, we have emphasized the continued need to collaborate with one another as much as possible in response to the extended closure. This collaboration will be essential to meet the changing needs of faculty, staff and families in the coming weeks. We are working to increase time for sharing, planning and collaboration to continue to provide equitable learning opportunities for your children and provide faculty and staff with an extended team and resources to support their work. 

Scheduling: To support structures for teaming, collaboration and connecting with students, we have decided to make a schedule shift. Starting the week of April 6, 2020, we will move to a new schedule that will allow for Monday through Thursday to be focused on new directed learning opportunities and student outreach, with Fridays dedicated to additional time for students to complete assignments as needed and/or to engage in other remote learning opportunities of their choice, which may include learning activities or family time away from screens and technology. We feel this is an important shift to continue to meet the social/emotional needs of our students and families. Recent guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education expands on what remote learning opportunities could look like: 

Remote learning can encompass a wide variety of learning opportunities. While technology can be a supportive tool, districts and schools should also consider ways that student learning can continue offline. This could include exploring the natural world, activities to support students’ local communities (with appropriate social distancing), and engaging, hands-on projects and artistic creations that stem from students’ own passions and experiences.

Further, we are structuring Fridays as an additional time for teachers and staff to co-plan and collaborate with their colleagues and instructional leaders to plan for the upcoming weeks. This shift also creates overlap for us to continue teaching and learning in the event a teacher needs to take time to care for themselves or their families. We believe that this is an essential part of our emergency response planning, as we are committed to providing our students with the best possible learning opportunities during this time. 

Report Cards/Grading:

At the Preschool and Elementary Levels, report cards recently went out to families in February. This is the time of year when formal parent conferences would have taken place. We are aware that our teachers are making efforts to reach out to our students and families to promote engagement and participation at this time. While we cannot hold these conferences as we have in the past, we encourage parents to continue to reach out to faculty and staff regarding questions or concerns related to student progress. Administration will facilitate further discussions at each grade level regarding the essential skills that we want our students to practice, maintain and/or develop at this time to promote forward progress. You will continue to see the prioritization of essential skills in upcoming assignments and student work.   

For our Galvin and WMHS students, Adam Colantuoni and Amy McLeod have communicated procedures for closing out Trimester 2 and Quarter 3. Discussions about Trimester 3 and Quarter 4 grading and expectations will continue with administration and coordinators. As soon as decisions are made, this information will be communicated out. 

Adapting to Work in a Pandemic

Safety, love and care for our families, our students and ourselves continue to be critical.  As we shared in our earlier correspondence, 

“There is no right or wrong way to be a parent right now. What is right, is creating a safe and happy place for your children, during this scary and uncertain time. When all of this is over, our students will not remember if they completed their assignments correctly or logged on the appropriate number of times a day, but they will remember the family, friends and members of their school community who made them feel safe and loved and reassured them that better times are ahead.”

Thank you all for the way you have adapted to make Learn Anywhere work as well as possible for our students. We appreciate your support and feedback as we continue on this journey. We will get through this very difficult time with the support of one another.  

On a separate note, we are linking two items that could use your attention. First is the link to complete the 2020 US Census. The 2020 Census count impacts the federal funds that communities receive each year for programs and services that are critical for schools, students, and younger children, such as, special education, after-school programs, classroom technology and food assistance (including free and reduced-price school lunches). We encourage you to please complete the US Census so that all in our community are accounted for. 

2020 US Census

Second, we are including the link to the Wakefield Food Pantry in case you need to access them for support or would like to make a donation. 

Wakefield Food Pantry

Again, thank you so much for your partnership and support. 

Sincerely, 

Doug and Kara