Cedar Park MS Newsletter
Dear CPMS Parents and Students,
I hope this newsletter finds you and your family happy, healthy, and enjoying your summer break. Even though this school year is going to look and feel different, our teachers and staff will do everything in our power to keep your students safe, engaged, and learning at the highest level possible. As you know, things continue to change frequently which may affect our instructional plans. Like with all changes, there will be some bumps in the road. That is why I urge you to reach out to us with questions and concerns as they come up. We want to partner with our families, as we value your insight during this time.
Currently, the school year will open as 100% virtual learning August 13 – September 7, with the plan to allow students the option to return in-person after September 7th. LISD is asking parents to make a decision before school starts on how they wish to continue their child’s learning experience once we are allowed back into the building. See Student Choice Tool. The purpose of this email is to describe to you (as best as possible) our plans for Virtual Empowered Learning and in-person schooling during this pandemic so you can make an informed decision about which choice is best for your child and family after September 7th.
After much discussion about what is best for our students and staff, we have decided to move to an A/B schedule for the 2020-21 school year (link to bell schedule). This will look very similar to the high school model of having 90 minute classes every other day. The reasons behind moving to this format are based on trying to offer a sustainable and healthy model for virtual learning. We did not think that students would do well balancing the workload of 8 virtual classes a day. We felt it would create a disjointed and frantic experience for our students that would not be conducive to their learning. Once we return to school, we will keep this schedule so that our in-person and virtual schedules remain the same. This is because we potentially need teachers to be able to pivot between both styles in the same day. This will mean that students will not see all of their teachers every day, but they will get to be with them for longer periods of time, allowing our teachers to provide a larger variety of experiences including small group and 1 on 1 instruction. This was not an easy decision, but it was made with the best interest of the students in mind during this global pandemic.
What Does 100% Virtual Empowered Learning look like?
Virtual Empowered Learning looks a lot like in-person instruction, only done online.
Each class period will be divided into 45 minutes of synchronous learning followed by 45 minutes of asynchronous learning. It will mirror the in-person bell schedule and closely follow what is happening in the physical classroom.
Synchronous learning will involve real-time, live instruction with the classroom teacher utilizing Google Meets (similar to Zoom) technology. With 45 minutes of synchronous instruction, many of the routines utilized by teachers in an “in-person” setting can be duplicated in a virtual session (lecture, whole-group discussion, small-group discussion, philosophical chairs, Socratic dialogue, lab demonstrations, etc.).
During asynchronous learning, students can utilize their critical thinking skills to develop responses to questions or problems posed during synchronous instruction, demonstrate the creation of knowledge through research and project work, or complete other homework assignments. Teachers are still available during asynchronous instruction time to provide feedback to students virtually through small-group or individual virtual sessions and real-time feedback through online tools such as Google Docs.
Additional information about our Virtual Empowered Learning opportunity can be found here.
What Does Socially Distanced “In-Person” Instruction Look Like?
Here are some details about what a day on campus will most likely look like:
Facial coverings will be required at all times in the building. Exceptions may be made for eating/drinking, actively exercising, or some activities related to electives that may not be accomplished with a mask. Clear "face shields" are not an alternative unless there is a special circumstance approved by the nurse. Students are encouraged to bring their own masks, but we will give them one if they cannot supply their own.
Students will be allowed to enter the school building at 7:40 a.m. (first period class begins at 8:10 a.m.). Unless students need to eat breakfast in the cafeteria, they will be required to go immediately to their first class of the day. Because of our safety guidelines, students will not be allowed to socially congregate before their first class.
We will not be issuing lockers this school year. Students will take their materials from class to class throughout the school day via backpacks.
Students will have assigned seats during all classes and cafeteria times every day. Assigned seats are necessary for the school to conduct contact tracing should there be a confirmed COVID-19 case at Cedar Park Middle School.
Desks in classrooms will be facing forward and socially distanced as far apart as possible. Depending on the number of students who choose the in-person school option, we cannot guarantee the recommended 6 feet of spacing between student seats will occur.
Students will be able to collaborate electronically on documents using their mLISD devices or within the classroom from their socially distanced desks. Students will not be allowed to work together in physical groups this school year. Hands-on labs will be performed individually with lab materials cleaned before use by each student.
Teachers will facilitate in-person instruction from the front of the classroom while maintaining social distancing from students whenever possible.
Social distancing will be enforced at all times. Students will be seated as far away from each other as space allows. This includes walking in the hallways and lunches. Students will be encouraged to walk directly to their classes and not congregate in the halls.
Students will need to bring a water bottle to school every day. Water fountains will be turned off in all LISD schools this year. The district is developing options to allow for students to refill their water bottles while at school.
In order to increase social distancing at lunch, CPMS is instituting two lunch periods for each grade level (6 lunches total). Students will sit in assigned seats during lunch with as much social distancing between each student as possible.
At the end of the school day, we will stagger student release from their last period class.
We will send out additional campus information about student technology, supply lists, open house, and other beginning of the year topics in the near future.
I know the decisions you are facing as a family are difficult and challenging. This unprecedented pandemic brings many changes and considerations. Learning will always be the focus of our school, but other top priorities include safety, building relationships and connections, and finding ways to support the whole child. We miss each one of our students and look forward to seeing them virtually or in-person.
Dr. Keith Morgan
Cedar Park Middle School