Cougar Connection

An Update from your Mankato East Administration Team

November 12, 2020

Distance Learning for All Students

Dear Cougar Students and Families,

As you have no doubt heard, MAPS has made the difficult decision to move to Distance Learning for all students in the face of rising COVID 19 cases. This means that all of our Mankato East Cougars who are currently participating in the Safe Learning Plan (hybrid) will transition to fully distance learning.

This transition involves several changes to the way that we will record attendance and participation moving forward for all students. Please read through the following information carefully so you are prepared to start in our revised Distance Learning format next Thursday, November 19, 2020.

Distance Learning Details

All students enrolled at Mankato East High School are now considered Distance Learners. With all students on the same learning model, it will essentially be like 'regular' school only online. If there were no pandemic, all students would be in school and following the normal routine and daily bell schedule. Everyone being a distance learner will be very similar.

We recognize that this is a big change for students. Many students have adopted their own schedules and ways of doing things since the school year started. However, now that we are all on the same learning model, the Department of Education has specific guidelines we are required to follow.

Moving to distance learning this time will not be like it was during the statewide shutdown last spring. There are stricter requirements for accountability, attendance, grading, and rigor in place that impact all aspects of planning to move to this learning model.

This includes the following changes for all students:

  • Students will follow their assigned class schedule.

  • MEHS will provide a revised schedule for all students (below).

  • Students are required to attend synchronous sessions with their teachers at their scheduled class period.

  • Teachers will host a synchronous Google Meet for each class period. Students will receive an invitation in their email and Google Calendar for these Meets.

  • Attendance will be taken each hour.

  • Attendance will be verified through participation in Google Meets and/or through Moodle.

  • MEHS will offer live interaction learning opportunities for students Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays each week.

  • Wednesdays will continue to be a Distance Learning only day. Students may sign up to meet with their teachers during office hours.

  • One Wednesday per month set aside as Staff Development will remain a Distance Learning only day with no in-person contact with teachers.

Revised Schedule

During Distance Learning, MEHS will follow this schedule:

Big picture

What?! That's a lot of time in front of a computer!

That is a lot of time in front of a computer and no one wants our students to spend a whole day tied to their screen. There is flexibility built into this schedule in the following ways:

  • Teachers will take attendance during the first 10 minutes of each Google Meet.

  • Depending upon the activity or lesson, students may participate as long as necessary for them to understand the required material.

  • Classes are not required to run the entire period, but teachers will be available should students have questions or need additional support.

  • If a student is unable to attend the scheduled Google Meet, their participation will be verified through Moodle and completed learning work.

  • Attendance will not be taken during Study Hall, if students have an assigned study period, this is a time open for them to work on assignments and/or have a break from their devices.

  • Attendance on Wednesdays will be assumed Present for all students.

  • Cougar Connection will be a time when students can reach out to the Cougar Connection teacher for any support they may need. The teacher may set up short check-ins with students on a periodic basis.

What about my work schedule!?

Many students have already asked about this change in the school schedule and are worried about the impact this has on their work schedules. We understand that many students have used the distance learning or hybrid schedule as an opportunity to work more hours at their jobs.

We stress that if this were a regular school year, attendance during the normal school day would be the expected priority for all students. However, we know this isn't a normal year. Given this, we will strongly encourage students to do everything they can to arrange their work schedules to fit within the school day schedule we have provided. If this does not work and a student misses a scheduled class Google Meet, they will be marked absent.

Absences will be tracked, but we will verify those absences with student log-in to Moodle, learning task completion, and passing grades. Verified absences will be converted to present in the attendance tracking system.

That's confusing. Just tell me what I need to do for attendance.

Ok, let's make this simple.

Students can participate in school in the following ways:

EASIEST OPTION: Log in to the Google Meet at your class time per the schedule. Your teacher will take attendance.

SLIGHTLY MORE WORK FOR YOU: Let your teacher know (email) that you won't be able to attend the Google Meet, but you will log in to Moodle to do your work. Your teacher will verify your Moodle work and mark your attendance.

YOU ARE AN INDEPENDENT, MOTIVATED ROCK STAR: Do your work in Moodle, stay on top of your classes, and keep your grades consistent. Your attendance will be verified based on your work and grades. You will be marked as present for daily attendance.

Students on Special Plans

Students who receive special services during the school day will continue to have access to their individualized services. Only students who qualify for specific levels of service will be allowed to attend in-person for a shortened day three times per week. Case managers will contact the families of qualifying students.

How long will this last?

Unfortunately, we don't know yet how long we will need to remain in a distance learning model. It is our hope that case counts stabilize after the holiday season and that we can return to a hybrid or in-person learning model as soon as possible.

We will truly miss having students in our building. Although our time together this year has meant social distancing and wearing masks, it has been wonderful to have students here with us each day. Every one of us is here because we love teaching and we care about our students. Without you, East is just an empty building. None of us want to close the doors and retreat to seeing you only in a virtual world. You are what makes East a special place to be.

Without a doubt, this is going to be hard. There really isn't any way around that. It will be tough to adjust to this new schedule and painful to feel like we are moving away from returning to normal rather than getting closer to things going back to the way we'd like for them to be. Please remember, we are all here for each of you. Reach out when things get difficult. Reach out if you need help. We will do everything we can to make this transition as successful as we can for you.

Until we are all back together at East, be safe, stay healthy, and we'll see you online.

East Administration Team