Palmer High School
School Opening Update
Welcome to the Palmer High Family
I think we live in the greatest town and community in our great nation. This is obviously a bias opinion but it's purely based on my own life experiences of living here and having this community shape my life. I believe the community of Palmer to be unique in the way that we care for each other. This position gives me a lens to see the good, bad, and ugly of the community and I can assure you that the good outweighs the latter two.
This community shows incredible care, compassion, and unity when the going gets tough. In recent years we have seen numerous family tragedy, natural disasters and now we are in the midst of a global pandemic. What our community, state, country, and world needs in this difficult time is what our community reveals during times of unrest. Compassion, empathy, and most importantly unity. Our community is the common tie that binds us and if we approach adversity with unity then I believe our collective resolve will always prevail.
I recognize that many of you are uncertain about beginning the new school year during the pandemic. Our goal at Palmer High School is to develop trust with our families and this will always begin with building trust through a positive caring relationship with our students. The vision for the school is to create a culture of caring. This begins with the relationships that we develop between staff and students. I'm a parent too and there is nothing more important than knowing you are leaving your child in a caring learning environment, and we look forward to forging strong relationships with our students and families that attend Palmer High.
Plans for Reopening Schools
When we transitioned to distance learning last year it was on the fly. We learned a lot from that experience and our focus developing these plans will take into account the feedback we received from last spring.
As of right now, we are planning on opening school for all students on August 19th. The first objective in classrooms will be to inform what students can expect when we shift to an online format. What we gathered from feedback from parents is that they want a consistent platform. Palmer High School will have every teacher working from a google classroom. Last spring many teachers already had this platform in place, which made the transition for students more manageable.
The district is focusing its resources to include online platforms that address Alaska standards and objectives that core area teachers (English, math, science, & social studies)will use as an online platform. This will work within the google classroom platform and provide a more consistent approach in meeting learning objectives that lead to improved student outcomes. The goal will be to focus time and attention on these platforms so that students become familiar with the learning platform to start the year. This will be crucial to maintaining more rigor and high standards regardless of the circumstances of where a student is learning from (at home or in school).
We have enough Chromebooks to issue each student a device that will allow for a seamless transition to at-home learning if there is a community outbreak. We will strive to keep the navigation of student assignments and expectations clearly posted in the google classroom. Examples will include the course syllabus, where assignments are posted, how assignments are turned in, and regularly updated progress monitoring in the synergy grade book accessible through ParentVUE and StudentVUE.
The master schedule will change to better meet the management needs of the students and to increase safety for students and staff. There will be a news release detailing the changes coming from the district office later outlining the details of the schedule change for secondary schools.
We are meeting with students next week to iron out changes to student schedules. Guidance counselors will be here from 8 am-12 noon and 1 pm to 3 pm to work with students and families. We can also assist with registration.
COVID Mitigation Planning
Sports and Activities Update
Fall activities for the 2020-21 school year began on Wednesday, July 29th as the Palmer Moose football team hit the turf. Coaches and athletes are very excited to be able to return to activities under the current circumstances.
I was appointed by the district to serve on a statewide committee that worked this summer to develop mitigation plans for practices and events using the Smart Start 2020 template provided by the department of education. The committee met weekly and received feedback and suggestions from our governor, the Department of Education, Dr. Zink, and commissioner Crum to develop recommendations for school districts. Our Matanuska Susitna Borough School District Mitigation plans can be found on the Palmer High School Athletics web page under Covid-19 information.
As a district, we will continually monitor the Coronavirus spread and use information from local and state mandates to make informed decisions regarding practices and events to ensure the safety of all participants. To stay up to date, I recommend monitoring our website, using your child’s team communication platform, and checking schedules on arbiterlive.com.
I encourage you to feel free to contact me with questions or concerns as we continue to navigate through uncharted waters.
This submission is from PHS athletic director Dale Ewart