APRIL 2, 2020
PERSPECTIVE from Dr. Winstead
This is our first full week of online teaching and learning with all 5,300 students now connected to their teachers, engaged in learning new material, and working on assignments from their living room, back porch, or other make-shift space that seems part-office and part-classroom. I greatly appreciate the many positive comments from parents who, for the most part, are happy for the structure that comes with school. To all the parents who participated in drive-thru iPad deployment ... I can't THANK YOU enough! We had over 99% participation which is incredible by any measure. As our leadership team always says, "We are blessed." I would say, "Our many blessings include the most awesome parents anywhere."
All of our teachers have posted office hours and would welcome both student and parent questions during those times. You should also have their email for questions or concerns that arise throughout the day - which they will respond to at the earliest possible time. I, too, am available and hope you will reach out to me with questions or concerns that are not addressed in these updates or on our website. The easiest way to reach me is by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As your partner in education, we are committed to making sure you and your children have the information, resources, and instruction to make this year a success, despite the many obstacles we face. Every year, including this one, our mission is to prepare students for the upcoming school year with the skills and knowledge required in a new grade level, a new school, or whatever that next step might be.
I have been asked over the past week or so why Maryville takes a different approach to online or distance learning than many other TN school districts. This response to that question might help explain.
Each school district is at a different place when it comes to the connectivity of its students – the percent of students with access to high-speed internet and the percent of students with access to a device. We are very fortunate in both areas. Through our iReach initiative, we provide all of our students (Kindergarten through 12th grade) with a device (iPad or laptop). We also have great internet coverage throughout our community. Over 90% of our students live in a home with high-speed internet. We have filled in the gaps by deploying hundreds of hotspots to homes without Wi-Fi connectivity.
In many cases, other school systems are not quite there yet with devices and internet for students. That limits their ability to mandate learning when schools are closed. I can say with confidence that very close to 100% of our students have a device AND the ability to connect the device to high-speed internet. That allows us to take the approach we have taken with online learning. We want school to continue. There is still content in every class that students have not covered yet, and those skills are important for the next grade level or course. Teachers have narrowed the focus to those essential items. We want teachers to provide instruction on those items and to assess students’ mastery of the skills and concepts presented. To that end, I feel it is essential the work being completed is graded. While many U.S. schools have been forced to shutdown, we are in the enviable position to give our students the skills necessary to prepare them for next school year and beyond. This is our mission and we feel confident that every parent and guardian shares our passion for every student to be successful.
Where do we go from here?
As you have heard, all extra-curricular activities scheduled between now and May are now canceled. Again, as for graduation ... we are still hoping May 15th works out, but if not, it will be rescheduled.
DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP: A share responsibility
Just as you do, everyone at Maryville City Schools wants to keep your students safe when using school-issued devices. Our computers are equipped with software from SECURLY, and you can use features of that software to further protect your children by keeping you informed.
Parents and guardians of students in grades 4-12 who have not activated the "SECURLY HOME" option, click on THIS LINK to review the step-by-step details. If you need assistance, please open a tech support ticket (details included in this newsletter).
In addition, you may wish to review the digital citizenship tips for families from the team at Common Sense Education. Click below to review these resources.
FAQs and WEEKLY UPDATES
We now have a section on the COVID-19 UPDATE page of our district website to address some commonly asked questions. As you know, we are weeding through a great deal of information that changes on a regular basis. Having a central repository of information that is updated as quickly as we can make the changes, should prove to be helpful. Our goal is to offer weekly updates from the district office until students are allowed to return to our campuses. Our FAQ page (linked below) will be a good place to check for new information or changes.
In addition, our district office is now open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8am until noon. Please do not hesitate to call us at (865) 982-7121.
Governor Lee's Safe at Home Order
Essential services include:
Educational Institutions. This includes, but is not limited to: public and private pre-K schools, K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning, providing food or shelter, performing critical research, or performing essential functions,…
As a pre-K-12 institution, Maryville City Schools is continuing distance learning as an essential activity under the safe at home order.
FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH
NOTE: In the first week of providing this service, our cafeteria staff served over 6,000 meals to students.