Harmony News - School Update

September 13, 2020

Principal's Update

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend.


Last week we had may successes to be proud of and appreciate your feedback, suggestions, and support. Here are a few highlights and comments from teachers and parents:


"The kids seem to really be rolling into distance learning and doing the best they can. I am not seeing any negativity from them at all although (this format is new to adults). I think this may be because the way we are using technology is the way kids these days interact with their friends; other than connectivity issues, it's normal for them."


We have had positive feedback / reactions to the teacher Back to School videos that we posted instead of having a live Back to School Night. They are still available on our website if you haven't met your child's teachers.


Another teacher reported for Week 1, "The (classes and connectivity) were mostly great. As always, these are the best kids. They were kind and helpful. What a joy to meet them!"


And a parent reported that despite some little glitches in technology, either on the school end or teacher end, "...all was good."


As we all get used to Distant Learning, we have highlighted some issues we would love your help and feedback on in a several sections below called, "Challenges."


Thanks! Enjoy Week 2. Eric Stewart

IMPORTANT - What Happens Monday, SEPT 14?

Monday is an asynchronous day for middle and high School students; therefore, there will be no synchronous learning. In order to be counted present by LCPS, your student must open the permission click link that has been sent to their LCPS email account and respond to the three reflective questions before 1:00 PM. If they do not respond, your student will be counted absent. Thank you for helping us capture your student(s) attendance today.


https://www.smore.com/bsx5v

Calendar Dates to Know

September 21 - MAP Testing (see email from assistant principal, Patrick White sent 9/11)


September 21 - Picture Day (More details coming but 11:30 to 4:00)


September 25 - PTA Spirit Day at Gruto’s


September 28 - Picture Day (More details coming but 11:30 to 4:00)


October 5 - MAP Testing (see email from assistant principal, Patrick White sent 9/11)


October 5 - Picture Day (More details coming but 11:30 to 4:00)


October 10 -Chick fil (5 PM - 8 PM drive through only)


November 10 - Papa John’s (both Purcellville & Brunswick locations - promo code HARMONY)

December 12 - Chipotle (4 PM - 8 PM)

School Spirit Wear

Here is a spirit wear order link for Harmony from the PTA.


https://prteamsales.tuosystems.com/stores/harmonymiddleschool

Parent Liaison News

Betty Webber is our School Parent Liaison. She can help make connections at the school and also help families in need with supplies and materials. Please contact her if you have questions. elizabeth.bleswebber@lcps.org.

Internet and Connectivity News

Hotspots:


You should have received the email from LCPS describing that they purchased a limited quantity of mobile internet hotspots to help provide access to internet-based instruction for qualifying students during distance learning. More than 1,500 hotspots have already been deployed to student households.


All requests for hotspots at Harmony have been handled. If you signed up and did not receive any news, please reach out to erin.pinero@lcps.org.


Cellular coverage is required by one of LCPS’ carriers – Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon – for the hotspot to operate. If a family lives in an area without sufficient coverage, a hotspot may not be effective.


In-School Internet Cafes


For families who do not have access to the internet at home or LCPS hot spots, several schools have opened Internet Cafes to host students during the school day. Internet cafes are currently available at Woodgrove High School in Purcellville, Kenneth W. Culbert Elementary School in Hamilton and Round Hill Elementary School in Round Hill. Another cafe will open soon at Blue Ridge Middle School in Purcellville. Harmony is a Western Loudoun Chromebook Repair Site and also a training center for bus driver MANDT professional development so we do not currently have an internet cafe. We are gauging the need based on weekly family feedback.

Challenge #1 - Class Roll Scenario

At the appointed time, the teacher starts the Google Meet class and hits record. The teacher greets them and says (for example), "Today we are in Block 7 and it is September 10, 2020." That way, absent students can watch the recording later. Next, the teacher takes attendance, calling each student's name, and the students respond verbally. If the teacher doesn't hear anything, the name is repeated to confirm that student is absent. The teacher then marks the student absent in Phoenix.


Instruction begins, sometimes with a shared screen with a slide presentation and sometimes there is no way to know if a student pops in late, especially when the student doesn't want to draw attention to himself or herself so he or she just joins in (but is still marked absent).


Parents, please help us get the kids to understand that 1) they need to be on time, and 2) they need to speak up if they came in late so we can adjust attendance, ESPECIALLY in Advisory where we have a lesson each day which takes the whole session. We have marked students absent because of situations similar to this and we are trying to correct this. Please help teach them to interrupt politely or to email the teacher so that the error can be fixed.

Challenge #2 - Returning On Time From Lunch

Something we noticed during Week 1 was that students were late returning to class from the 12 PM to 1 PM lunch break. Assuming that is due to a yummy lunch we have suggested that students set a timer to help them return on time. Parents please help us in this area.

Challenge #3 - Video On or Off?

One thing we miss about "regular" in school is the connections we make daily with the kids and the kids with each other. In Distance Learning, this is what is missing from our daily interactions. While online we strongly encourage students to keep their video on to show their interaction and participation. LCPS has allowed for students to not turn their cameras on but we can connect better with students more when the cameras are all on.


According to a teacher, "Most have them on, which makes it so HELPFUL to teach. We can see their body language and if they are participating. Love it! When the camera is off, it makes it very difficult to teach and interact. It is hard to know in a class of 25 kids, if they are really participating." Parents, any suggestions you have would be much appreciated.

Challenge #4 - Online Behavior

Here's an excerpt from the LCPS superintendent's email about online issues.


"During our first week of school in a virtual learning environment, incidents occurred in several classes in which students joined the virtual environment of another class or school, used a racial slur or displayed inappropriate sexual or racist images. These incidents are contrary to our core beliefs, our commitment to racial equity and other matters of equity as described in the LCPS Equity Statement, and to the expectations we have established for appropriate behavior by students in the virtual environment. LCPS’ highest priority is the physical and mental well-being of our students and staff members, and we take these matters seriously. We reject and condemn the use of racial slurs and hate speech and we will not tolerate the display of inappropriate images; this behavior does not reflect our core beliefs.


Although some may believe that it is acceptable to use expressions that are defined as racial slurs as a term of endearment to their friends, LCPS will not tolerate such language in a school environment. The display of sexually explicit and pornographic images is a violation of our Student Code of Conduct and will also not be tolerated. LCPS will also cooperate with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in investigations of computer intrusion, hate crimes, fraud, transmitting threatening communications, disrupting a public meeting, and any other use of an electronic device to commit a crime.


We appreciate that these issues may cause concern for parents. We share those concerns, and school administrators are investigating incidents and taking additional steps to help eliminate these types of events from our learning environment. Actions include providing additional guidance and reminders to teachers about how to manage their environment, our expectations for effectively controlling classes, and sharing expectations for behavior with students.As we adjust to a virtual learning environment, we will continue to teach and encourage positive digital citizenship skills, as well as hold students accountable for their behavior online. Students and parents should familiarize themselves with the Student Code of Conduct and be aware that disciplinary actions are being considered for violations of the Student Code of Conduct, as they would if students were displaying these behaviors in person. Teachers and administrators have been provided resources to prevent and respond to these incidents. Additionally, administrators are continuing to use both the Student Code of Conduct and the LCPS Protocol for Responding to Racial Slurs and Hate Speech when addressing disruptions in distance learning


We appreciate parents’ and guardians’ continued support as we address these issues.

WHO DO I CONTACT WITH QUESTIONS?

6th Grade:


valarie.dicarlo@lcps.org, dean

jamie.sharp@lcps.org, counselor


7th Grade:


erin.pinero@lcps.org, dean

alysia.brown@lcps.org, counselor


8th Grade:


eric.mcgrady@lcps.org, dean

christy.pierson@lcps.org, counselor


Attendance Questions:


erin.goodland@lcps.org, registrar and attendance secretary


Any Other Questions:


eric.stewart@lcps.org, principal

patrick.white@lcps.org, assistant principal (assessment)

kristen.hepner@lcps.org, assistant principal (special education)