Avoca West News

Week of January 14, 2021

Gearing Up to Switch Gears!

All of our students and staff will be shifting back to our "typical" learning schedule this coming Tuesday. With so many adjustments to our schedules this year, you can find a reminder of what that schedule looks like below.

  • Our K and 1st graders will learn with their classroom teacher every Tuesday - Friday.
  • Our 2nd - 5th graders will learn with their classroom teacher two days a week (Tuesday/Thursday or Wednesday/Friday) and have Creative Arts and Science (CA&S) classes and work on independent assignments during the "remote" days.
  • Mondays will continue to be fully remote days for all of our staff and students, but we have made the decision to use the schedule our students are following right now for future Mondays. Our staff, students, and families have all shared feedback that the balance between morning and afternoon is more even and a better experience for all.
  • We do not have school this coming Monday, so rest assured our teachers will make sure our students know what the schedule will look like before the 25th.

Agendas will be updated on the Remote Learning Hub, but we are hoping to keep things simpler wherever possible. Our students have really gotten the hang of using Google Classroom and Seesaw to navigate Zoom links, activities, assignments, and view updates from their teachers while we've been fully remote. Please don't hesitate to reach out to your child's teacher if there are additional questions.

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Don't Forget -- Self-Certification Stickers & Other Reminders

Stickers will still be used as a visual for our staff greeting students at the doors. This lets us know that students (and staff) entering are fever and symptom free prior to coming in to learn for the day. Families should still have stickers at home from before Thanksgiving. If you need additional stickers, please reach out to awoffice@avoca37.org and we'll be sure to get additional stickers sent home either with your child or through the mail. We know this will be a routine to reboot when we return -- Nurse Green and I will be here to with stickers for students who don't have them.

Masks & Distancing -- Our students did a phenomenal job for the first portion of the year while we were in school with keeping masks on (mouth AND nose, please!) and spacing themselves out in the hallways and other areas. Having been out of the routines since November, our staff will spend time with students next week reviewing and resetting those norms. If you have a moment, please take a moment to remind your student of those needs so that we can all stay happy, healthy, and learning here at Avoca West.

Drop Off will continue in the same way that it has been so far this year. As a reminder, our doors open at 8:50 and remain open until 9:00. I know it can be challenging to make that ten minute window work AND allow your child time to hustle to his/her grade level door by 9:00. Rest assured that students can always enter through the front doors (the ones typically reserved for 4th grade entrance) and we'll make sure they are checked in and get to class. If you drop off in the back, please be sure your student is ready to jump out as you pull up so that we can keep the flow moving.

Pick Up will also remain the same, with students lining up in the back according to their last name/alphabet. This allows our students to stay spaced out and our staff to quickly locate students to hop in the cars. Cars should have LAST NAME on a paper in the front window so that our staff can match up students with their rides home. In order to make the process run smoothly, please pull as far up as you can -- even if that means passing up your child. This allows for more cars to have access to pick up and to get our kiddos dismissed safely and quickly.

Thanks so much for your help and partnership!

Report Cards & End of Semester Updates

Friday, January 22nd will be the end of the first semester for our Avoca West students. Report cards will be emailed home to families on Friday, February 5th. Because this is a unique year, parents may notice more "NAs" (Not Assessed) on this year's report cards. It is not unusual for there to be standards not assessed at the midpoint of the year. Sometimes a math unit, writing genre unit, or science and social studies unit hasn't yet been taught in this first half of the school year. Even more than ever, this year our teachers are prioritizing essential learning for students as we work both in person and in remote teaching settings. Rather than spending energy adjusting/rewriting our report card system to match this year's targets and standards, I've asked our staff to focus on adjusting their instructional delivery and ways to engage with students. The hope and plan is to return to a more typical school year in 2021-2022 where the report cards will once again align with the time and space we typically have with our students.

Similarly, our Creative Arts & Sciences (CA&S) classes have change this year AND we have changed the way we schedule/teach those classes as well. In a typical school year, students have eight different "specials" classes each week -- PE, Music, Spanish, Literacy, Science Lab, Art, Tech, and Drama. For the current school year, we have prioritized fewer transitions within the in-school day and when students are working remotely. Our CA&S team has blocked their classes into three different rotations, allowing teaching and learning to focus on two "specials" classes for 4 weeks at a time. This has been a huge hit with our students and staff, but poses some limitations to reporting out on report cards. Without seeing each student every week, it can be more difficult to report on student participation and progress -- especially if the last rotation with a particular grade level is 8-10 weeks ago. Parents will notice that our CA&S teachers will report out on the foundational habits of learning which include listening, participation, and cooperation with others. Even these are difficult to gauge and look very different from in-person teaching! Feel free to reach out to any of or CA&S teachers with specific questions about your child.

Finally, we're excited to welcome Mrs. Nicki Scozia back to Avoca West in a long term substitute role. I'm sure that when Mrs. Scozia retired last spring she though she would be away for longer, but I'm grateful for her willingness to step into teaching Art remotely this winter! Because she has just begun working with our K and 1st graders, Nicki cannot speak to how our students have progressed so far this semester. As a result, parents will find "NA" or blank spaces for Art on the first semester report cards. Mrs. Scozia will start working with our 2nd and 3rd graders next week and will have time with our 4th and 5th graders during her time subbing, so feel free to reach out to her with questions as she reacquaints herself with our students this winter.

Food Pick Up for Next Week

Due to the holiday this Monday, Food Service Pick Up will take place from 8:30-12:30.

Questions? Comments?

Please feel free to reach out to ask any of our office staff for help!