Audubon News - Return to Learn

August 13, 2020

"This is a new year, a new beginning - and things will change" - Unknown

Welcome Back - Message from Mr. Ford

Hello Blackhawk Families -

Welcome back to what is sure to be an exciting and interesting school year. To all of our new families I would like to welcome you to the Audubon family and for all of our returning families, welcome back! While this year is going to be filled with some bumps in the road, we will make it to our end destination and do some amazing things along the way.

When our initial plan went out, we were hoping that we would be able to start in-person for the fall. Unfortunately, this won't be the case, and we will be starting in a remote fashion until, at least, the end of our first quarter in October. To prepare for this, our teachers have been in training all week and will be doing some additional prep work next week so that we can welcome students back virtually on August 24th.

Starting the week of August 17th your child's teacher will be reaching out via phone and communicating with you some details about the next few weeks and how the year will be starting. We are looking forward to connecting with you and talking about the upcoming year.

There are many pieces in the message below that are important for all of our families, and I hope many of your questions will be answered. In all honestly, we are still working through some of our plans for some things such as assessment schedules and technology deployment, but the basics are listed below.

As we enter into a school year that will be unlike any other I would please ask that we all give each other some grace as we navigate the first few weeks. We know that technology will give us fits at times and that not everything will be perfect on the school's end or on our families' end. If we continue to communicate and talk with each other, we will have a great year, regardless of any issues that may arise.

I encourage families to reach out with any questions you have, and we will do our best to answer them for you!

Wishing you health and wellness in the new year,

Aaron Ford

Principal, Audubon Elementary

Day in the Life of a Student

As we prepare for teaching and learning in a distance format, we want to share with you what you should expect a day to look like this fall as it will be much different than last spring.

Students should plan to engage in the learning process for 5-6 hours daily. The learning process can and will include "live" sessions with their classroom teacher, Specials teachers and some of our other staff at school. The process also includes pre-recorded videos that teachers have made along with offline learning. Students should never be in front of their computer for the 5-6 hours per day.

A day may look like:

  • 90 minutes of literacy/reading Instruction (some online and some offline instruction)
  • 60 minutes of math instruction (some online and some offline)
  • 30-45 minutes of writing
  • 30 minutes of intervention work
  • 30 minutes of specials
  • Lunch break
  • Recess/down time
  • Weekly Random Acts of Kindness lesson

Each teacher and grade level will provide a specific schedule as we get closer to the start of school, but this should give you an idea of what to expect in an instructional day.

What Will Learning Look Like?

Learning will be done in three primary ways:

  • Direct, synchronous lessons - live lessons with the teacher
  • Direct, asynchronous lessons - video/written direction from teacher
  • Indirect, offline lessons - work done offline away from computers

Students will be engaging in all three types of learning each day so that they are not always online but that they are also not left to figure out things solely on their own.

Technology for Students

This year we are excited that we are able to provide every student with the technology they will need to make distance learning much more equitable for everyone. Every Preschool - 2nd grade student will be receiving an iPad to use, while our 3rd - 5th grade students will be receiving a Google Chromebook. We are still awaiting delivery of our iPads (likely in mid-September) and will be using some of our older laptops until the iPads are delivered. These will be distributed to our K-2 families that do not have another technology option at this point.

In a traditional year there would be a technology fee that is associated with the use of the device for the year. However, our school board has agreed to waive the fees for the 2020-2021 school year due to our current situation. What we ask, along with our school board, is that families help us by taking care of the devices so that we can continue to use them year after year. We have placed an order for protective covers for all our devices however we don't believe we will have them in time for our tech deployment so we need you help to take care of these new devices.

Please see the area below specifically about Tech and Supplies Deployment so that you know how you can pick-up your devices and school supplies needed for this year.

Technology and Supply Distribution

We will be having our Technology and Supply Distribution day on Thursday, August 20th from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Families can stop by Audubon and join us on the intermediate playground area on the northeast side of the building. When you arrive you will go through a few stations to get all the materials you will need.

We will have a technology distribution station for all 3rd - 5th grade families to pickup your Google Chromebook. There will be a technology user agreement that families must sign to be able to take a device home. The user agreement can be found by clicking this link. If you print the user agreement and fill it our ahead of time (minus the serial number information) you will be able to expedite the checkout process. Students/families will need to log on to the computer while still here at school so that we can ensure everything loads correctly.

After you have received your device you will be able to move to some tables outside of the gym and collect your supply kit and other materials teachers are preparing for deployment. This will include text books and other learning materials.

Please plan to wear your mask and follow other social distancing guidelines while you are here to help protect each other.

Schoology - What is it?

Schoology is going to be our Kindergarten - 12th grade leaning management system. All of our staff and students will use Schoology as a virtual classroom. One of the benefits of using Schoology is that it is a single sign-on system that will hold all of the students other programs and information. There will no longer be a need to have five different programs that all students will have to access to make learning happen.

Another benefit to Schoology is that it tracks student work and progress time. This will allow teachers to better serve students and know where they are with their learning. Additionally, Schoology allows students and parents to see class updates and assignments due dates/updates. Since we will have this feature, parents will always know what students are working on, when assignments are due and if the assignment was turned in. We will no longer have student planners since Schoology can manage the communication from school to families.

Each parent will also have a Schoology log-in that they can use to support their child through the learning process. These user names and passwords, along with directions, will be ready for families to pickup at our Distribution and Supply Pickup next week.


One of the many differences this fall with our distance learning model will be that we are going to be tracking attendance twice daily per state law. There will be a variety of ways that we can track attendance since we will be in a virtual setting. Some examples may be students being part of the live video sessions, tracking students progress with Schoology, participating in our in-person learning for special population groups and assignment submission. Teachers will be communicating some of their class specifics about attendance procedures in the coming weeks.

Special Population Groups

Our district has identified four groups of students that will have hybrid access to in-person learning two mornings per week. The four groups that have been identified are English Language Learning, Special Education, Gifted/Talented and READ Plan students. Each of these groups were prioritized based on the unique needs of each group.

If your child qualifies to be part of the special population group, someone at the school will be reaching out if they have not done so already. That individual will share more information with you and talk about the scheduling specifics for this in-person, hybrid opportunity.

Cohort and Grouping

You have likely heard the term "cohort" in recent weeks or months as plans for school re-openings have circulated. In our situation a cohort is being defined as a group of students that stay together throughout the day/week. This can be a specific class or grade level. We plan to keep cohorts as small as possible to limit the potential of contamination beyond a small group. The cohort would eat together, attend groups/classes together, have recess together, etc. This helps us in the event of a potential case of COVID-19 so that we can track who students or staff may have come into contact with. If we were needing to quarantine a group based on a case of COVID-19, we may be able to limit the quarantine to a single cohort rather than the entire school.

Daily Meal Service

Audubon and District 11 will be offering daily meal service for all of our school aged children. Even though we will not have students daily, students can come for breakfast and/or lunch each day. When the weather allows, we will have students eat outside. If older D11 enrolled siblings in 6-12th come with their Audubon sibling we would ask that they remain outside, and a meal will be brought to them. We want to make sure that students can eat but we also must maintain our cohort model with only allowing Audubon students inside the building.

If you are coming for breakfast or lunch we would ask that you enter the building through the south doors near the kindergarten playground. Students would be able to come into the gym, get their meal and eat, or take it as a "Grab and Go" style meal. If you are a parent coming to pick up a meal for your child/children we would ask you wait near the north gym door (near the asphalt area on the intermediate playground) and a staff member will meet you at the door and get you your lunches. Due to our cohorting rules, parents and adult family members will not be able to enter the building during our lunch time.

To make sure we have appropriate information on who is coming to the building for meals all students will need to sign-in each time they visit for a meal. This sign-in process will be handled in the gym during meal time.

We want to make sure we provide meals for our Audubon students daily and appreciate your patience as we work through a very different breakfast/lunch program this fall.

Beginning of Year Assessments

One of the traditional beginning of year processes we engage in at Audobon is our beginning of the year assessments. The information that we get from these assessments helps us drive our instruction and differentiate for all our students. Although we are starting in a unique nature this year, we will still need to perform these beginning of the year assessments.

We are currently working on an assessment schedule, and a calendar and we will get that to families as soon as possible.

Visiting the Building

One of our favorite things to do at Audubon is to welcome in guests and volunteers to join us in the building. Unfortunately, due to our current situation and the need to limit our chances of COVID-19 being introduced into the building, we are not going to be able to have visitors and volunteers in the building until further notice.

If a parent needs to come into the building, we would ask that they check-in in the office area and limit their building access to only that point.

We truly look forward to a time where we can invite our guests, visitors and volunteers back into our wonderful school.

School Supply List 2020-2021

Each year our school puts together a supply list for students to make sure they have what they need to be successful in school. Our district has purchased a general supply kit for every student with the basics that they need each year. Due to the unique year we are starting in, we will be sending home the district supply kit to ensure that all students have a basic supply package at no cost to our families. We would hope that these supplies can come back to school with your child when in-person learning starts later this year. We are not asking families to purchase the rest of the supply list at this time but may ask for a modified list when in-person learning begins again.

Introducing New Blackhawks

Each year brings a variety of new faces to our building, and this year is no exception. We are excited to welcome some new Audubon staff to the Blackhawk family. Please join us in welcoming:

  • Ms. Samantha Johnson - Music Teacher
  • Ms. Sabrina Baugh - Orchestra Teacher
  • Mr. Dale Crockett - Band Teacher
  • Ms. Brystal Whistler - Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Teacher
  • TBD - Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Teacher Support Staff

Thank you to everyone. We will get through this together!