CSD District Dispatch

News from around CSD: December 11, 2020 edition

The City Schools of Decatur District Dispatch provides parents, students, staff, and community members with the latest news from around the district each month. To view a mobile-friendly version of this newsletter, please visit https://www.smore.com/j9gzh.

Table of Contents:

  • Board of Education Information
  • General CSD News
  • District News from the Wilson School Support Center
  • Holiday Message from CSD
  • School "Shout Outs"
  • Messages from our Partners

Board Meeting Information

Did you know all of the Board Meetings for this upcoming year are listed on the district's calendar, https://www.csdecatur.net/calendar? The next Board Meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 12 at 6:30 pm. Details can be found at the bottom of our home page under Announcements.

These monthly Board Meetings often occur on the second Tuesday of the month. Check this page https://www.csdecatur.net/boardmeetings for more details and the next meeting date. Also, the Board agenda can be found at www.csdecatur.net/board prior to each meeting. Previous Board Meetings can be viewed in our Board of Education Meeting Video Library at www.csdecatur.net/boardvideos.

The most recent Board Meeting held on December 8 can be viewed here.

General CSD News

Learning Choice Selection

Please remember to make your learning choice selection in Infinite Campus.

Thank you to all who have already made their learning choice selection. Even if you previously made a learning choice earlier in the fall, you need to make a choice again. Your selection is due by Sunday, December 13.

The Pre-K - 5 learning choice selection will be valid through April 2 (spring break). Families will have another chance to update their selection if CSD makes a major change to the learning options. Families that have a drastic change in circumstances can contact their principal to make changes.

To plan for mitigation and organize classes, we are expanding the learning choice options:

  • Return to in-person learning

  • Return to in-person learning, and willing to continue virtual learning if needed

  • Continue virtual learning

  • Continue virtual learning, and willing to return to in-person learning if needed

This wider range of choices will allow us to ensure in-person class sizes are small enough for social distancing and that there is a balance of students in virtual and in-person classes. If you select one of the options indicating a willingness to switch learning choices, your school may ask you to do so.

These are tough decisions for everyone, and we ask that you think carefully about the best choice for your family and your child(ren). Please log in to the Parent Portal to make your selection (once logged in, click More and then Learning Choice Survey – click here for video directions). If you have difficulty logging into the Parent Portal or finding the Learning Choice Portal, please contact your school’s administrative assistant.

Ready to make your decision, visit this page for instructions on how to submit your choice.

Want more information?

We encourage you to review all information your student’s school has sent to you over the last few days regarding their in-person learning processes and procedures.

We proactively planned during our summer training and planning for the possibility of reassigning students. We provided teachers with district-wide pacing guides, resources, and instructional expectations. Like students who select in-person learning, students who select the full virtual option may have a different teacher assigned for their academic classes. We know that changing a teacher mid-year is never ideal. In particular, we know that in the midst of this pandemic, students have developed even stronger relationships with their teachers. We will do all that we can to minimize the number of changes.

All Pre-K - 5 schools have now sent an email to families with additional information. You can find a link to that information on your school’s website and under the School Specific Information Regarding In-Person Learning page on the district website.

To view more details, plans, procedures, and explanations, please visit this page. There you will find more details about the following:

See additional K-5 virtual learning information below in the Curriculum and Instruction section of this newsletter.

As a reminder, your selection is due by Sunday, December 13. The sooner you respond, the sooner we can finalize our plans; please make it a priority to respond as soon as possible. If we have not heard from you by the time we need your response, your school will contact you. If you do not make a selection, the default will be virtual learning.


A few calendar reminders:

  • Holiday Break December 14-January 4

  • Teacher Workday January 4

  • Virtual learning as currently implemented from January 5 through January 15

  • January 6 will be an instructional day instead of Wellness Wednesday for K-12 students

  • The last Wellness Wednesday will be January 13 for K-12 students

  • No school for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day January 18

To view CSD's school calendars, visit www.csdecatur.net/calendar. For Pre-K specific information, visit https://www.csdecatur.net/domain/1760.

District News from the Wilson School Support Center

Curriculum and Instruction:

Additional Information About Virtual Learning for K-5

CSD will continue offering a full virtual learning option for families that wish to continue with that model. We are committed to ensuring that students who remain in the virtual learning environment experience the same or better quality of learning that they have become accustomed to this year.

Virtual Pre-K

Parents will continue to have the option of keeping their student(s) in the full virtual format. Virtual classrooms will continue to follow the current virtual instructional model. A balance of synchronous and asynchronous instruction will be provided, teachers will continue the 1:1 family check-ins, and students will attend their virtual classroom Monday-Friday. At-home materials will be provided to supplement instruction.

Virtual K-5

Virtual learning will be provided for students every weekday. The schedule of when students attend their classes may be adjusted, but the amount of instructional hours will remain consistent. For example, a student may have had math in the afternoon, and now their math class may be in the morning. Parents should also expect the same amount of synchronous learning time that their child is currently receiving. We are adding additional instructional time on Wednesdays. Students will attend their virtual classes Wednesday mornings and have asynchronous activities to complete Wednesday afternoons. We will also use Wednesdays as a time to provide additional enrichment and remediation opportunities. All in all, the instruction for students who continue to engage virtually will not change dramatically.

Class sizes for students in the virtual setting may change. CSD is committed to always keeping our student to teacher ratio as low as possible, regardless of the setting. We are committed to keeping classes of less than 30 students in the virtual setting. We will make every effort to keep within our typical class size of 24. Our teachers in the virtual setting will continue to work with students in small groups and all necessary supports will be provided.

Like students who select in-person learning, students who select the full virtual option may have a different teacher assigned for their academic classes. We know that changing a teacher mid-year is never ideal. In particular, we know that in the midst of this pandemic, students have developed even stronger bond with their teachers. We will do all that we can to minimize the number of changes.

We proactively planned during our summer training and planning for the possibility of reassigning students. We provided teachers with district-wide pacing guides, resources, and instructional expectations.

Enrichment Options for the Break

The break is a great time to dig into resources on the CSD Enrichment Site. If you could not join us in our Computer Science Week activities, we have compiled resources for students of all ages to learn about and practice coding.

Equity and Student Support and Communications Collaboration

We want your opinion on our new Equity webpage!

We are working to create a new page to highlight CSD’s Equity work, and we want stakeholder feedback to evaluate clarity and organization. If you are interested, please sign up here. Thank you to all who have already signed up to be a part of this evaluation. We will be in touch soon with the details of the focus group meetings that will meet in January and February.

Staff Support

Join the CSD team as a Substitute!
City Schools of Decatur (CSD) is looking to hire additional substitutes, so right now is the perfect time to apply for this flexible part-time position! CSD is hosting a virtual job fair to recruit new substitute teachers next week, Monday, December 14 and Tuesday, December 15. To find out more about this virtual job fair, visit https://www.csdecatur.net/substitutes.

20-21 CSD Substitute Pay Rate Increase:

We would like to thank all our CSD substitutes for your continued commitment to supporting the students and faculty of CSD. We are delighted to announce new pay rates for all substitutes that will take effect on January 4, 2021, which are as follows:

  • Substitute Teacher – $145/day (Certified) - $100/day (Non-Certified)

  • Collaborative Teaching Substitute – $165/day (Certification Required)

  • Substitute Paraprofessional/Clerical – $100/day

Information Services

Users of CSD hotspots will see a change in their equipment's behavior over the next few days: the hotspot's "network" will change to "GADOE," and the password will change to "Verizon2020". We're sorry for any disruption this causes.

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School Shout Outs!

Each month, the District Dispatch features shoutouts from parents and students to our excellent teachers and staff at one of our schools. This month we are featuring Westchester Elementary School teachers and staff.

If you would like to shoutout your child’s teacher or a staff member, send an email to Sarah Jones at sjones1@csdecatur.net. Also, at the end of the school year, nominate your child’s teacher for the Extra Mile award. Keep an eye out for more information on how your student can nominate a teacher or staff member as we get closer to the end of the school year.

  • I wanted to give a shout-out to Mrs. Wertz. :-) Mrs. Wertz has planned fun seasonal crafts for our kids. She takes the time to prepare craft kits for each child and drops them off at our homes. My daughter is delighted to get a glimpse of her in person and has really enjoyed the projects. It's been a wonderful way to bridge the virtual divide.
  • Shout out to Mrs. Frix and Mrs. Walsh for their continued support and enthusiasm. Thank you for fostering an amazing virtual community for your kindergarten class. We love you!
  • A shout out to Lori Frix and Julia Walsh! Through this first half of the year, their dedication and patience with their students has been present every day. The care with which they communicate with the students and successes they have teaching Kindergarten in a virtual format is spectacular. The preparation work week in, week out has been steady and significant to us as parents and our son. They take time to deliver new materials to homes when needed and are always available to discuss ways to improve learning. Thank you Lori and Julia!
  • We’d like to give a shout out to Mrs. Howarth for creating such fun and creative art lessons! And for always being very positive in her feedback to students.
  • We’d like to give a shout out to Coach Henry for her continued energetic positivity and for making PE so very fun!
  • Thanks to Lori Bigham and Julie Parker and all the other wonderful teachers at Westchester!
  • Mrs. Parker makes learning phonics interesting and fun! She communicates very clearly and is so positive! As a parent, I have learned some phonics rules I didn’t know!
  • I would love to shout out Mrs. Chandler for all the extra help she gives my son and Mrs. Howarth for the pencil sharpener because he lost his, and she was so nice to make sure he had one in his reading package.
  • Coach Henry for being so understanding when Miguel has his knee problem but gives him easy stretching to do.
  • Ms. Renaux has gone above and beyond this year teaching virtually. She is on virtually from 8:30-3:00 with her students and is ALWAYS available for questions or comments for students. Plus, she laughs a lot WITH her students. I hear her, and it brings joy that even though it is hard to teach right now, you find time to share the joy with your students. I am more than grateful for consistently making virtual learning the absolute best that it can be for students, and I know she works very hard for it to be easier on families. Ms. Renaux is an excellent teacher as she models patience, perseverance, and endless kindness. Thank you!
  • Ms. Gwaltney- Oh, her laugh and humor are contagious! I can't imagine our school without her, and I feel so privileged to have her in my child's virtual classroom each day. She is an amazing human who truly loves teaching music and engaging with students in meaningful ways. She is always ready to help as she supports Ms. Reanux's class as well as teaches excellent music lessons. Thank you!
  • Thank you to Mrs. Querubin for seeing and making connections with all her students! She makes time for speaking with each of them and listens with such enthusiasm to all of their sharing. Her attention to the unique needs of her students, even virtually, is so wonderful to see. We so appreciate her energy and love this year!
  • Thank you to all the specials teachers for the hard work and the connections they make with students! Mrs. Gwaltney, Mrs. Howarth, Ms. Nesbitt, Coach Henry, and Señora Rodes are all so engaging with their students and give them time to participate and feel heard. It's amazing to see and hear what they are able to do in this challenging environment.
  • Shout out to WE PE Coach Henry! She has been an amazing co-leader assisting in daily crew meetings. Shout out also to the incredible Mrs. Parker for 1st grade this year. In these challenging and uncertain times, I am so grateful my daughter has two amazing teachers to inspire her (and honestly, me too!) to learn and grow every day.


We received so many shoutouts from our parents and students that we could not include them all here! We have created a webpage dedicated to appreciating our wonderful teachers and staff. You can find the additional shoutouts on this page https://www.csdecatur.net/shoutouts.

Messages from our Partners

Decatur Education Foundation News:

Mathnasium has been a proud and generous sponsor of DEF for several years. They offer both virtual and in-center math instruction for students from 1st to 12th grade. Their program is customized to each student and can help both struggling students in need of support and advanced students in need of a further challenge. As a way of giving back to the Decatur community, Mathnasium has provided scholarships for several students in our AIM Scholars Mentoring Program. They’d like to do more, so they are offering a year-end promotion for new families!

For every new Decatur family that registers with Mathnasium using the code DEF_Math until 12-31-20, Mathnasium will provide a free assessment and waive the $149 registration fee! And for every 10 families who enroll, they will offer an additional DEF scholarship for a Decatur student in need! Click here to schedule your free online assessment: BOOK AN ASSESSMENT WITH MATHNASIUM

Are you a Decatur High School Alum? If you’d like to see our inaugural Decatur High School Alumni e-newsletter, go to www.decatureducationfoundation.org/alumni to view it. While there you can fill out an update form to let your fellow classmates what you’ve been up to since the good ol’ days.

Decatur Summer Camp Registration Opens January 2

Summer Camp 2021 registration opens on January 2 at 9 a.m. online. Look for the Camp Edition of the Playbook on the City of Decatur website on or after December 10 to plan and select your camps for Summer 2021. Note: The City will use a new software system for camp registration in January 2021. See instructions below for how to create a new family profile in CommunityPass.

How to prepare for Summer Camp Registration:

  1. Create Your City of Decatur Family Account in CommunityPass – the City's new software for Active Living and Children and Youth Services programs. Visit the CommunityPass website and select "Create an Account".

  2. Add family members to the account in the My Account > Account Information area. Ensure all campers have been entered.

  3. Complete the Summer Camp Information and Release Form before January 2 at 9 am. The form is a prerequisite to registering for camp so completing it ahead of time will expedite your registration.

  4. Spend some time with the Camp Playbook and map out some first and second choices for each camper in your household. Check out pages 10-11 for week by week camp options, grades and ages, etc.

Questions about camp registration for 2021 or the new CommunityPass software? Contact cys@decaturga.com.

About the CSD District Dispatch

If you would like to submit news for the District Dispatch, please feel free to submit it here or by emailing Sarah Jones, Communications and PR specialist, at sjones1@csdecatur.net. Also we love photos! Please share your photos with us and we will share them with the district here and on CSD’s social media pages. You can also tag us in your photos once you've liked our page or you can use the hashtag #CSDdistrictdispatch.