CSD District Dispatch
News from around CSD: October 16, 2020 edition
Table of Contents:
- Board of Education and Monthly Board Meeting Information
- District News from the Wilson School Support Center
- School News You Can Use
- School "Shout Out"
- Messages from our Partners
- Important Dates Around the District
Board Meeting Information
Did you know all of the Board Meetings for this upcoming year are listed on the district's calendar, https://www.csdecatur.net/calendar? The next Board Meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.
These monthly Board Meetings often occur on the second Tuesday of the month. Check this page https://www.csdecatur.net/boardmeetings for more details and the next meeting date. Also, the Board agenda can be found at www.csdecatur.net/board prior to each meeting. Previous Board Meetings can be viewed in our Board of Education Meeting Video Library at www.csdecatur.net/boardvideos.
The most recent Board Meeting held on October 13, 2020, can be viewed here:https://youtu.be/2hZLU0vZHus?list=PLtkZsZ9W0py0HiDpxYZHIVRTRduqlCXPQ
Thank you to school leaders, staff, and COVID response teams
Thank you to our school leaders, staff, and COVID response teams for their hard work and preparation for our return to in-person learning. These teams will continue fine-tuning our school reopening plans and procedures, and they will share this information with the school communities.
November 2 will be a teacher professional learning/workday, and students will not have school. (Since we have delayed most students’ return, the previously planned changes for October 28-30 will not occur; they will remain virtual learning days.) The remainder of the week of November 2 will follow the normal schedule, including Wellness Wednesday on November 4.
We canceled Fall Break to offset some of the school days missed at the start of this school year. However, we later decided to reschedule that break in conjunction with the Holiday Break due to the financial hardship it would cost not to provide staff those off-contract days. At the October 13 Board meeting, the Superintendent asked the Board if they would like to allow teachers to decide if we should keep the December 14-18 break or move those days to the second semester. Eighty percent of responding teachers preferred to keep these dates as scheduled, so students (and staff who work 190 days per year or fewer) will have Holiday Break from Saturday, December 12, through Monday, January 4. Employees who normally work a portion of Fall Break will follow the same pattern of work days the week of December 14.
There are no changes to Thanksgiving Break, which will still occur November 23-27.
Metrics and stakeholder participation
To move forward with the objective, predictable, metric-based decision-making process discussed at the October 13 Board meeting, the Superintendent will convene a multidisciplinary team of experts (epidemiologists, scientists, infectious disease specialists, doctors, etc.), teachers (from a variety of schools), parents (from a variety of schools), and administrators. If you are interested in serving on this team, please complete the form at https://forms.gle/i5HeM1aVTixJQLfC7 no later than noon on Tuesday, October 20. We will no longer protect the anonymity of the experts with whom we work, so anyone participating on this team must do so with the knowledge that their name and job title (where applicable) will be public knowledge. We will provide members with an opportunity to share that they are representing themselves, and not their employer, if they require such an opportunity.
We will convene this team as soon as possible and will attempt to make quick progress on identifying the specific indicators we will rely on for future decisions on returning to in-person learning, as well as what we will be looking for in those indicators. The goal of the team will be to design an objective, predictable, metric-based decision-making process.
Student and staff return date
Our birth to 3-year-old programs returned in-person October 12, and our adapted curriculum special education program will return Monday, October 19. Many other staff are in positions that can not be completed remotely--such as custodians, bus drivers, and student nutrition staff--and have been working in person for quite some time. We also have administrators, learning pod facilitators, and other support staff who work in person. We appreciate all of these staff and the support they provide our students and colleagues.
Staff members who are able to complete their work remotely will not return to working in person any sooner than January 5.
Students previously scheduled to return November 2 or after will not return to in-person learning any sooner than January 5.
The actual start dates, whether January 5 or after, will be determined based on the multidisciplinary team’s work mentioned earlier. Regardless of the metrics used, we will strive to give as much advance notice as possible to staff and students once a potential return date is identified.
CSD District Pods
The District Learning Pod program exists to provide temporary supervision to fill the gap of student and family learning needs during CSD’s transition from Virtual Learning to In-Person Learning.
If you have seen this before, it is not a déjà vu: this is our second attempt at establishing and transitioning students into pods. Circumstances have changed for many families with the postponement of returning to in-person learning, and we’re asking families to (re)submit a pod request even if you have already done so.
District Learning Pods are cohorts of 8-10 students with a supervising adult where students can complete their virtual learning work four days a week: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Pods will follow CSD’s calendar, schedule, and Code of Conduct and Restorative Practices Handbook. Pods will operate on a limited basis on Wellness Wednesdays, permitting ongoing training and deeper cleaning.
We have begun to onboard and train staff and will continue to do so over the next few weeks as we start to open pods. Your pod participation requests will help us plan accordingly. You will be contacted if your student can be placed in a pod. The Pod Coordination team will begin forming pods with these requests at noon on Monday, October 19. Subsequent requests will be put in the queue. All requests are subject to a waiting list depending on capacity.
SEE Learning will culminate October 28. K-12 students will have completed 10 weeks of social-emotional learning covering the main concepts of the first two chapters in the SEE Learning curriculum. The foundations of compassion and kindness will continue to be reinforced through the PBIS initiatives in schools. The specific coping and resilience skills that students have learned will continue to foster engagement and stress management during this unprecedented time. Social-Emotional Learning will continue to be reinforced in all learning settings.
Wellness Wednesday will continue after October 28. The Equity & Student Support department will continue to offer asynchronous content related to mental health and well-being each week. More information will be communicated by individual schools and also shared on the Wellness Wednesday website at https://www.csdecatur.net/wellnesswednesday.
COVID-19 Safety, Facilities, and Healthy Schools Manual
This procedure manual serves as a support for our schools and district to effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 once students and staff return to our buildings for in-person, face-to-face instruction. The manual establishes clear, usable criteria and procedures for school administrators, school nurses, and other staff to follow regarding mitigation procedures in CSD.
Proposals for specific in-person activities and programs
Staff members have come up with impressive ideas to safely return some limited activities and programs back in person. Approved proposals are posted at https://www.csdecatur.net/Page/4388, and staff members can find the proposal form at the bottom of that page. These proposals are reviewed by our COVID response team. The team works collaboratively with the submitter to ensure all appropriate safety measures are incorporated. Staff members interested in submitting a proposal need to work with their principal and are encouraged to learn from the strategies employed in the approved proposals.
Learning Choice Selections
Thank you for your timely responses to our learning choice selections survey. We received responses for nearly all of our students, and the choices were split 50/50 between virtual and in-person. While we have delayed the return date for most students, this information will still be helpful as we plan for a future return. When we identify a date for return, we will give you an opportunity to update your choice.
Special Education (Students with IEPs)
For students in the Adapted Curriculum:
Students in the special education adapted curriculum and those with significant and multiple disabilities will be able to resume in-person learning starting Monday, October 19. Students in this cohort are students who demonstrate what are commonly called "Low Incidence Disabilities." Examples of Low-Incidence Disabilities include blindness, low vision, deafness, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blindness, significant developmental delay, complex health issues, serious physical impairment, or a combination of these disabilities. These students' families have been contacted by the Special Education Department, were offered an opportunity to attend an informational meeting about the return to in-person instruction, and are being contacted by their child's IEP case manager to discuss in-person procedures and protocols. Here are important reminders for families of students in this cohort:
Students attending school in person will access their Wellness Wednesday activities virtually from home.
Students will continue to receive some virtual instruction via their Virtual Learning Contingency Plan even while attending school in-person so that they can continue to access specials, connections, electives, and/or co-teaching instruction as appropriate.
The adapted curriculum in-person learning will continue to be available until all other grade levels return to in-person instruction. If anything changes with the health data or schedule for this cohort, the special education department and case managers will communicate those to the impacted students’ families.
For all students in the special education program:
As students will continue to receive instruction in the virtual learning environment, the Special Education Department will continue to implement the guidance provided in the Georgia Department of Education Guidance on Restart and Implementation for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) document. While the entire district is operating in the virtual learning environment, students with IEPs will also continue to receive virtual instruction along with their general education grade peers and will receive their IEP services via their Virtual Learning Contingency Plans. Students with IEPs who are not in the adapted curriculum program will continue to receive their IEP services virtually until their grade level resumes in-person instruction. Parents who have concerns with or would like to review their child’s Virtual Learning Contingency Plan can request a meeting with their child's IEP case manager to review their child's plan and amend it as necessary.
A student’s case manager is the special education teacher at the student’s school who writes the IEP and sends the parent the IEP progress reports. Parents who do not know who their child’s IEP case manager is can ask their school’s special education lead teacher, and they will connect them to the correct teacher. Also, if you have not done so already, please visit https://www.csdecatur.net/Page/4406 for the Special Programs & Student Supports town hall recording or the written Q&A document to learn more about the how the Special Education Department is providing IEP services to students while the district uses the virtual instructional model.
The Special Education Department thanks all the Special Education service providers who are working diligently to provide IEP services to students with disabilities. We are so grateful for the work you do for students and how you continue to overcome challenges to ensure students are accessing the general education curriculum during this period of virtual instruction for all students. We also appreciate the support and flexibility of our families. We understand this has been a very challenging time for IEP service providers as well as families of students with disabilities. Our department is here to support our students with IEPs and their families and we have various team members assigned to specific schools to provide support on all special education matters -- please reach out and let us know if and how we can assist!
District News from the Wilson School Support Center
Principals celebrate International Day of the Girl!
Principals and Assistant Principals honored International Day of the Girl on October 11. This celebrates the importance, power, and potential of girls around the world. Eight of our 10 schools are led by women, and these strong female leaders are a powerful example to our students.
Curriculum and Instruction:
Return to School Instructional Update:
The Curriculum and Instruction Team will continue to plan for the next phase of teaching and learning in City Schools of Decatur. As a district we are exploring designated in-person and virtual classrooms as well as the concurrent model of teaching and learning for when students return to the buildings. Concurrent Teaching will be utilized in many classrooms throughout the district and maybe unfamiliar to many families. Concurrent teaching will incorporate aspects of in-person teaching and virtual learning to allow teachers to serve both students that are face to face in the physical classroom and those who participate virtually. We are working with a team of teachers throughout the district to set expectations for those classrooms. We are supporting teachers with professional learning, resources, and readings around various concurrent teaching models. These strategies are based upon what we have learned from sessions with experts in distance learning, alongside conversations and visits with schools that are currently using concurrent teaching models.
K-2 Math Manipulatives
In August, we ordered math kits for our K-2 students with some of the most popular manipulatives to support student learning at home. As with many of the materials we ordered to support virtual learning, there was a significant delay. However, over the last few weeks, K-2 schools provided these kits to families. Manipulatives offer concrete ways for students to connect to abstract mathematical ideas. They help students learn new concepts, relate the new concepts to what they have already learned, and solve problems. When students explore with manipulatives, they have the opportunity to see mathematical relationships. They have tactile and visual models that help develop their understanding. These math manipulatives are shown in the background of this newsletter.
Information Services Update
Information Services (IS) appreciates all the feedback and support we've received from families and staff. Last month, Google invited us to join an early access program for Meet, the video service through which we deliver live instruction. 240 staff members opted into this program, which has allowed us to use breakout rooms, polling, and other tools in our secure environment weeks ahead of most other educational institutions in the world. Since August 17, staff and students have connected to a Meet 1,436,532 times, and their feedback score of individual Meet quality has averaged 4.65 out of 5 in October.
When students have difficulty with CSD-owned equipment or a learning tool, we advise families to let a teacher know so the teacher can alert the IS staff and to ensure the teacher is aware of your difficulty. But, to more thoroughly support our families, at the onset of virtual learning this year we started letting families directly submit their own support requests to the IS team. As of October 16, families have submitted 419 tickets, and we have resolved 405 of them (we're working on the rest!). Including family- and staff-created tickets, we have resolved 957 tickets and have 80 open tickets. Most tickets are resolved within two days. Families can receive troubleshooting support at https://virtual.csdecatur.net/tech-help.
In addition to ongoing virtual learning support, the department last month installed updated telephone systems at College Heights ECLC, all five lower elementary schools, Fifth Avenue, and the Talley Street maintenance building. This is the phone system we installed last year at Talley Street Elementary. This modern system replaced outdated and less reliable systems at all sites and adds significant quality of life improvements for our key users.
The last two Saturdays, IS oversaw firmware upgrades to 100% of our network switches and routers, ensuring students and staff have maximum security and performance in our network. Although virtual learning is happening outside the buildings, our CIPA-compliant content filter for students still routes a tremendous amount of data through our environment: for example, in one recent 24-hour period, Meet passed about 210 gigabytes of incoming and outgoing data through our network.
Facilities and Operations
Join us in Celebrating School Bus Safety Week October 19-23 and Bus Driver Day Appreciation Day, Monday, October 19.
The drivers and monitors are dedicated to transporting students to and from school safely during a regular school year. Not able to do the job they love, they have stepped up in their roles as essential workers. They have done an amazing job supporting the students and staff during these unprecedented times. Their dedicated service has provided meals and book deliveries and transported athletic teams to their games. They continue to meet the CSD Transportation motto in every situation, “Deliver Our Very Best.”
Please join us in recognizing our Bus Drivers and Monitors.
How to say thank you to bus drivers and monitors for keeping students safe:
Say it with a smile and a wave. When you see a bus drive by or pick up your meals at the bus stop, smile and wave.
Notes are great too! Grab a pen and write a note for a bus driver, you know, or have your student draw a picture or make a poster for them. It will make their day.
Get Social. Take the thank you messages to social media. Use #CSDbuses in your post.
Smile for the camera! Bus drivers are an important part of the school family, so give them pictures of your students and staff that they can treasure on their daily road trips.
STOP and say thank you. Yes, sometimes all they need to hear is a simple thank you to put a smile on their face.
Meal deliveries will continue until December free to all children. However, during the week of October 26-30, there will only be meal deliveries on Monday, October 26 and Wednesday, October 28. On Wednesday, October 28, meal deliveries and pick-ups will also include meals for Friday because there will be no deliveries on Friday, October 30. Meals will be available for pickup and delivery on November 2 even though students will not be in school.
Students in the adapted curriculum special education program who return to school on October 19 will receive meals daily at their assigned school sites.
For information about how to sign up for meals, go to https://www.csdecatur.net/nutrition.
Research and Analytics: Enrollment and Development Reports
Please check out two new reports from Research and Analytics. The enrollment report gives a detailed analysis of how many students are currently enrolled in CSD schools. The development report includes a list of the housing developments that have been built, are under construction, and are in the planning process in the City of Decatur. The report also includes the number of students living in these housing developments.
School News You Can Use!
Decatur High School
Celebrating our DHS students' successes!
Congratulations to the 2021 National Merit Semifinalists:
From approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Congratulations to these students!
Congrats to Symphony members!
Clarinetist Oliver Lee was accepted into the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony alongside Natalie Park and Mason Hardwick, who were previously accepted to the symphony.
In other musical news
In addition, congratulations to these four Band students who auditioned and accepted positions with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta: Tyler Johnson, Sophie Phillips, Rebecca Fishman, and Mason Hardwick!
Congratulations to Nina DeFilippo, Thomas Cook, and Jacob Leavey for being accepted to the Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra!
The newly accepted DHS Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra members!
DHS student Oliver Lee who was recently accepted into the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony.
The DHS band members who were just accepted into the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta.
Renfroe Middle School
Two German students won in the middle school category for the Climate Action Art & Photography Contest sponsored by the German Consulate of Atlanta. Elise Robinson was awarded first prize (show right) and Alexander Hogben was awarded third prize. You can see their entries here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mBixBkyF6GTc3DK0QkcjqL6Evw_dDHAU/view. The staff at Renfroe are proud of these amazing students and we join the German consulate in celebrating their artist achievements.
F.AVE's Global Read Aloud
Westchester Elementary has been busy!
From Dr. Watson:
We’ve been busy with great things at Westchester! Our crew has given students the best virtual experience in each classroom. Also, our parents and community have been supportive of us, and I’m thankful. Our Virtual Spirit Week was OUTSTANDING! The virtual spirit week created an opportunity for our school community to connect in a heightened way. Days included School Spirit Day, Team Day, Wacky Wednesday, Super Hero Day, and Fun Hat Day. Check out the pictures below. Additional pictures are available on the school’s website.
Next, we are thrilled to highlight our virtual visitors. For example, our students have interacted with stunning virtual visits from best-selling author Ryan T. Higgins and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) meteorologist Lauren Reeves.
I’d like to thank our PTA and volunteers for coming out to beautify Westchester in the rain on Saturday, October 10! Now, our PTA is leading our WE Move-A-Thon Fundraiser. The Move a Thon begins Saturday, October 17, and ends Thursday, October 22, but fundraising begins as soon as you can create your child’s page! Visit the fundraiser’s website.
I can honestly say that WE are doing the best WE can at Westchester. I’m glad our students are having a positive experience. We’re in this together!
“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” - Louisa May Alcott. Westchester has a strong crew and I appreciate everyone for keeping us afloat, even in these unprecedented times.
Winnona Park Reads!!
Whiskers visited Ms. Clark’s house to join Community Circle and kick off the Winnona Park Annual Read-a-thon!
Winnona Park students have been READING! The WP wildcats read over 37,000 minutes combined! Way to go Wildcats! The classes with the most minutes in each grade were Ms. McCool (kindergarten), Ms. Baerman (1st grade), and Ms. Stopp (2nd grade). Each teacher won a gift card to Charis Bookstore to buy books for their classroom!
Glennwood Elementary's Artists!
We are proud of our Glennwood artists! Students have created a variety of projects with a variety of materials thanks to our wonderful PTA. We have focused on the design elements and principles with themed projects. Some of our themes have included the National Honey Month, the Autumnal Equinox, Hispanic Heritage. We have studied famous artwork, such as The Great Wave off Kanagawa, and famous artists, including Atlanta native, Reggie Laurent. We have explored ROYGBIV, foreground/background, value, warm and cool colors, pattern, emphasis, contrast, line, and geometric and organic shapes. Students have persevered with a growth mindset and focused their efforts on craftsmanship. We could not be more proud of their work ethic and achievements in art. Thank you to Glennwood art teacher Kasey Burkhalter for her leadership in inspiring our students to create some amazing work via virtual learning.
CSD School "Shout Outs!"
Each month, the District Dispatch features shoutouts from parents and students to our excellent teachers and staff at one of our schools. This month we are featuring Decatur High teachers and staff.
If you would like to shoutout your child’s teacher or a staff member, send an email to Sarah Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, at the end of the school year, nominate your child’s teacher for the Extra Mile award. Keep an eye out for more information on how your student can nominate a teacher or staff member as we get closer to the end of the school year.
Rochelle, Wes Jessica, Jeannie, Duane, Rodney, Taylor, and Debra- These people do not miss a beat! Cohesive and transparent at all times and when there is a miscommunication or a need to apologize, all of them do so with humility! They rock!
Rodney Thomas- He has safely implemented protocols, policies, and procedures to ensure the safety of #ourathletes #ourkids during this pandemic.
Coach William Felton- 1st year as the Football head coach and he is doing an exemplary job on and off the field and it shows. He is teaching accountability, discipline, and responsibility to these athletes and I have seen a dramatic change in the program.
Coach Eric Dawson has not missed a beat with the kids in his class and the kids that he mentors. They respect and listen when he speaks. He will not steer a kid wrong
David Harbin -Thank you for adding his perspectives and thoughts to the athletic team. Also great work on the learning pods!
Both of my kids are lucky enough to have Catherine Thibadeau as an art teacher at DHS this year (Art 1 and IB Art). She reached out to my students before the school year even started to offer them encouragement and calm. She guides them in their projects but allows plenty of room for exploration. I love that so much of the IB art synchronous time is given to critique. I've been able to see some of the class's work and it is nothing short of amazing.
My 3 athletic Custodians---- Cynthia, Hugh, and Tasha- Many times the custodial staff often go unrecognized! I want to commend them on how they have kept the PAC spotless. They ask if there is anything we need on a daily basis and recently they tackled cleaning under the visitor bleachers and they all pitched in and they were done in 1 day! I appreciate them for all they do!
My 9th grader has Ms. Coffin this year like her older sister did in 9th grade at DHS. My favorite thing is listening to Juno laughing and laughing during her synchronous time with Ms. Coffin. She delivers complex lessons and has high expectations, but she's created such a community in the virtual classroom that the students feel comfortable expressing themselves.
Paul Johnson never stops working. He's teaching over 100 Calculus students at DHS this year and seems to always have time for individual meetings with the ones who need them. He also offers feedback on individual homework assignments knowing that any feedback that students get will help them master the material. It's really hard doing Calculus in a remote environment, but Mr. Johnson is making it work.
I love it when both of my daughters get to experience the same teacher, and I'm delighted that Graham Perreira made the move from RMS to DHS. I love hearing my 9th-grade student chattering away en Espanol with a really good accent!
Karina Green was a late-developing addition to the DHS math team, but a very welcome addition as far as my 9th grader is concerned. She takes the time to explain concepts and makes learning math stress-free.
We received so many shoutouts from our parents and students that we could not include them all here! We have created a webpage dedicated to appreciating our wonderful teachers and staff. You can find the additional shoutouts on this page… https://www.csdecatur.net/shoutouts.
Messages from our Partners
Safe Routes To School (SRTS) News:
Safe Routes To School (SRTS) News:
Thanks to all our CSD families who celebrated Walk Anywhere week on October 5-9, 2020. For more information about Safe Routes to School in Decatur, visit decaturga.com/srts.
2020 National School Bus Safety Week is October 19-23, 2020 and the theme is "Red Lights Mean STOP!" The theme of National School Bus Safety Week is derived from the Poster Contest the year before. The 2019 winning poster, depicted below, was drawn by Bryan Torres-Tavarez, a 12th Grader at Stars Academy in Paterson, NJ.
Looking for more ideas on how to stay active? Visit the City of Decatur Active Living's Virtual Recreation Center here: https://www.decaturga.com/activeliving/page/virtual-recreation-center.
Decatur Farm to School
Take Out and Support Decatur Farm to School
Decatur Education Foundation News:
DEF Thanks Madison Ave Soapbox Derby and Decatur City Church for Their Generous Contributions!
Thank you to Madison Ave Soapbox Derby and everyone who supported their Ramp to Success fundraiser this year. They gave DEF a check for $18,000 for Covid Learning Support! We are so thrilled to have such a generous community organization to help #OurKids learn and thrive during online learning! Thank you and we can’t wait for the 2021 Soapbox Derby EVENT next year!
Decatur City Church are big supporters of DEF and we are so grateful! They recently dropped off a check for $25,000 to support DEF’s Lighten the Load and Covid Learning Support initiatives! Thank you DCC!
Coming soon to Decatur mailboxes: DEF’s 2019-2020 Annual Report in the October Focus! See how our community has come together over the last school year in support of DEF to help every Decatur student learn and thrive!
DEF is still seeking some adult volunteer mentors for their AIM Scholars Mentoring Program. AIM mentors are paired with 3rd grade students and “meet” regularly throughout the year. In just 2-4 hours per month, mentors help connect their mentees with educational and enrichment activities so they can find their passions and develop life skills. For more information, please visit decatureducationfoundation.org/mentoring
News from the City of Decatur
City of Decatur Communications Audit Community Survey
The City of Decatur is currently undergoing a Communication Audit and community input is very important to us. We would love it if you could take a few minutes of your time to complete the survey in the link below. Visit surveymonkey.com/r/DecaturGACommunitySvy to provide your feedback to consultants by Oct. 23. Contact Renae Madison, email@example.com, with any questions.
Important Dates Around the District
Upcoming School Calendar Reminders:
- No school on Monday, November 2, 2020.
- No school for Thanksgiving break, November 23-27, 2020.
- No school for Holiday break, December 14, 2020 - January 4, 2021.
To view CSD's school calendars, visit www.csdecatur.net/calendar.
Have a date you'd like us to add to the next newsletter? Email Sarah Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!