September 13, 2020 Edition

Message from the Superintendent

I hope that having these division messages integrated with school communications is helpful to all of our students and families.

Division Updates

  • On Monday, leadership will share with the school board updates and highlights of our school year to date. The presentation will include how we are navigating distance learning for our students, staff, and families as well as reviewing the progress on the hybrid in-person learning model outlined in our Return to Learn Plan. With the transition to hybrid at the end of the 1st quarter, the question of how we will evaluate and inform decisions relative to school/local and regional health data will also be shared at the meeting.

  • As of today, we are still waiting for the over 200 hotspots that were shipped last week. We appreciate your patience and share in the frustration regarding the timely delivery of much needed support to our students and families. Please know that this isn’t within our control, but we will act with urgency to begin issuing them as soon as they have arrived.

Though this was a shortened week, we continue to approach each day and week with a focus on continuous improvement. Current feedback reflects various degrees of success. Below are just a few updates from the system perspective.

Parent Advisory Feedback

On Thursday, parent representatives across our 31 schools and sites met virtually with our staff to share feedback on the success and challenges of distance learning. Personal experiences as well as experiences from other families’ perspectives were shared by each representative. The meeting yielded strong, useful feedback.

Some successes shared regarding our distance learning program included:

  • Use of brain breaks and wiggle activities.

  • Guided teacher practice on how to navigate the online resources and learning model.

  • There is more student buy-in.

  • Instruction provided by teachers is more engaging.

  • Appreciate Wednesdays and afternoons which provides opportunities to touch base with the teacher and students time to catch up on work. Structure allows for self-pacing for students.

  • It is evident that teachers are working extremely hard to support students. Instructions/directions have been clear and easy for students to follow.

  • Communication has been great K-12; parents feel the communication has enhanced from traditional school settings and are more connected to the children’s teachers.

  • Kudos for the open house-first week to connect with students!

  • Special Education folks are working hard and you can tell.

  • Love the videos that teachers are using.

Some of the primary challenges and needs that were identified included the following:

  • Streamline and organize resources for parents - consider one place to look for child’s assignments.

  • Concerns about health side effects of ongoing online instruction and isolation from peers.

  • Different platforms (Canvas v. Google Meet) is a challenge.

  • No phone number to dial in when a parent’s internet goes down.

  • Too much homework.

Ideas/Recommendations moving forward included:

  • Support with interpretation services for families that speak languages other than English.

  • Sound quality on laptop devices when the teacher moves away from the device.

  • A way for canvas information to show up in ParentVUE.

  • Allow teachers to co-teach, particularly, since their skills differ in navigating distance learning environments.

  • Provide training/overview for families/parents on the virtual platforms so that they can support their children better.

  • Consider distance learning beyond the pandemic because student attendance has improved at the high school level.

  • Record the lesson for students to watch at a later date.

I share this wealth of feedback because it is being reflected upon and utilized as we continue to navigate uncharted waters. We need each other right now, more than our mission statement indicates, “Together we prepare our students for their future.” Thank you to our families and staff who also share positive and constructive feedback.

Have a wonderful week!

Dr. Scott Baker