AUGUST 2021 PROPEL SCHOOLS UPDATE

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND GOOD NEWS FROM DR. TINA CHEKAN

Propel Schools Families,


We hope you enjoyed a healthy, safe and productive summer break! We are so excited to welcome our scholars back to school on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, on our 5-days per-week in-building schedule for all scholars.


100% Remote Learning protocol will only be utilized in cases of weather-related or other emergency conditions, including guidance received from the Governor of Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania Department of Health or the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE.) If these conditions should ever occur, you will receive notification from us regarding specific details and processes.


The health and safety of our school communities are of vital importance to us. Our updated Health and Safety Plan outlines the measures that we are taking to keep our schools healthy and safe so that scholars can learn and grow. Please note the following important items about health and safety in our school communities:



  • Masks are required to be worn during all scholar bus transportation
  • Masks are required to be worn during our Afterschool Program
  • While in our school buildings, everyone (staff, scholars and visitors) is required to wear a mask. Scholars will be able to temporarily remove masks while actively eating and drinking, as well as during outdoor recess time. We will incorporate short mask break times into our school day
  • Masks will not be required for athletes during athletic practices or contests
  • Masks will be required for all spectators attending athletic contests


Please review your scholar's health on a daily basis, using our symptom tracker. If your scholar is exhibiting any symptoms listed on the tracker, do not send your scholar to school.


If a scholar becomes ill while at school, the parent/guardian will be called and is expected to pick the scholar up immediately. Scholars who become ill while at school will be removed from the classroom and cared for by the school nurse in an area separate from other scholars until the parent/guardian's arrival.



Although Propel Schools will not require COVID-19 vaccination for members of our school communities, we actively encourage school community members to check with their healthcare providers about COVID-19 vaccinations. All Pennsylvanians ages 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine. Free vaccines are available from a variety of community resources, including UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. More information from UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh about the COVID-19 vaccine for children can be found HERE.


Please keep reading for additional important information regarding a smooth start to our school year! We thank you for your continued support and for choosing Propel Schools! We are #PropelProud to be YOUR partner in education!




Dr. Tina Chekan

CEO/Superintendent

TRANSPORTATION UPDATE

Although Propel does not provide transportation for scholars, we are diligent in our collaboration with resident school district transportation teams. The school district in which you reside (your resident school district) provides your scholar with transportation to and from school each day.


In our planning for the 2021-2022 school year, Propel began working with resident school district transportation teams in the early summer. We are #PropelProud to enjoy mutually respectful and collaborative relationships with over 20 school districts throughout the greater Pittsburgh area.


News about the nationwide shortage of school bus drivers has been prevalent in recent months and is making transportation planning challenging for many school districts, including Pittsburgh Public Schools. Megan Patton, Transportation Director for Pittsburgh Public Schools, has assured us that our scholar transportation structure will remain the same as it was last school year for all Propel Schools.


As the school year begins, please know that we appreciate your patience and understanding as resident district transportation teams may have to adjust and modify bus routes and pick-up times to ensure maximum efficiency and safety.


As Propel does not provide transportation, we are unable to make changes to bus stop locations or pick-up times. If you have questions or concerns about your scholar's transportation, the most efficient way to relay your concerns (or find answers to your questions) is to reach out to your resident school district's transportation team directly. Contact information for resident district transportation teams can be found on the school district's website.

TECHNOLOGY DEVICE DISTRIBUTION - ACTION ITEM FOR FAMILIES

Propel Schools is proud that we are able to offer 1:1 technology to our scholars! This means that every scholar has a device to use, both in the school building and to use at home for school-related purposes. Scholars in grades K-2 will be loaned an iPad and scholars in grades 3-12 will be loaned a Chromebook for use in the 2021-2022 school year. Please note the following:



  • If your scholar did not return the device that was loaned to them last year, they will not receive an updated device for this year. If you have a device from last year yet to return, please reach out to your school's leadership team for more information.
  • Devices will start to be distributed on Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Families MUST complete technology device lending agreements prior to a device being distributed to your scholar. All families must complete one lending agreement per scholar.
  • Families with scholars in grades K-2 MUST complete an IPAD LENDING AGREEMENT- one per scholar.
  • Families with scholars in grades 3-12 MUST complete a CHROMEBOOK LENDING AGREEMENT - one per scholar.


To learn more about using ScriptApp to complete these forms online, please click HERE.

2021-2022 PROPEL SCHOOLS HANDBOOKS FOR FAMILY SIGNATURE

Each year, Propel Schools provides all families with access to the Propel Schools "Scholar and Family Handbook" so that important information and school community expectations are clearly outlined. All families are required to review the handbook with their scholars and sign an acknowledgment page. This assures that scholars, schools and families are all aware of expectations regarding behavior, attendance, dress code and many other vital topics.


Among the other vital topics covered in the handbook are policies and procedures regarding appropriate and healthy scholar use of the internet at Propel Schools. We want our scholars to be safe online and be aware of the potential pitfalls and dangers inherent in the digital world.


Scholar access to the internet at Propel Schools will not be granted until Propel receives a parent or guardian’s acknowledgment of the 2021-2022 Scholar and Family Handbook, which outlines expectations for responsible use of technology and the internet.


We thank you in advance for reviewing the handbook with your scholar and then digitally signing the acknowledgment page so that your scholar will be permitted to access the internet while at school.


Families of high school scholars are required to sign the acknowledgment page of the 2021-2022 Propel High Schools Handbook.


Families of scholars in grades K-8 are required to sign the acknowledgment page of the 2021-2022 K-8 Scholar and Family Handbook


After signing the acknowledgment via the links provided above, an electronic copy of the handbook will be sent to the email address you submitted to ScriptApp when starting your signature submission. Please keep the handbook on file for future reference. PDFs of the handbooks are also available on our website.

YOUR PARTICIPATION IS NEEDED! PROPEL FOOD SERVICE DEPARTMENT'S ANNUAL FAMILY SURVEY

Again this year, Propel is proud to participate in the CEP (Comunity Eligibility Provision) program. This program allows Propel to offer free meals (breakfast and lunch) to all of our scholars WITHOUT families having to submit application paperwork for free or reduced school meals eligibility.


To be a part of this wonderful program, Propel must work with the PA Department of Education (PDE.) PDE requires Propel Schools to demonstrate that 40% of scholars would qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.


Although Propel families do not have to submit an application to be a part of CEP and access free school meals, we do need your assistance in helping us demonstrate that 40% of our families meet the income threshold necessary to receive free or reduced-price school meals. You can do this (PLUS have a chance to win a $500 gift card) just by completing a short survey available now in our Skyward system.


Following the directions linked HERE, you will be able to log into Skyward and complete the Food Service Family Survey PLUS access your scholar's "Other ID" number, which they will need to have so that they can have free breakfast and lunch at school.


If you need your Skyward password reset, your school's administrative assistant can make that happen quickly and easily.


Upon completion of the survey, your family's name will be entered in a drawing for a $500 gift card. Your scholar's/family's name will then be removed from the data that you have shared with us. Your answers to the survey questions will not be linked to your name in any way. The survey results that Propel will share with PDE will be completely anonymous.


The deadline for families to complete the survey and be entered into the drawing is August 27, 2021. We thank you in advance for your help so that we can be sure that ALL scholars have access to the nutrition they need to grow physically and academically!

ACTION REQUESTED -- ADDITIONAL SCHOLAR FORMS FOR FAMILY COMPLETION

In a Connect 5 family email shared in July, our school teams are in need of family completion of the following scholar information forms (one per scholar)


SCHOLAR EMERGENCY CONTACT FORM


PHOTO/VIDEO OPT-OUT FORM (Only necessary for families to complete if you DO NOT WANT/PERMIT your scholar to be photographed/videotaped)


SCHOLAR HEALTH HISTORY FORM

SCHOOL UNIFORM PIECES AT GREAT PRICES!

While Propel Schools families can purchase school uniform pieces from any store, families have asked for support in finding high-quality, economical uniform pieces for their scholars, without the added work of searching for special sales.


As a result, Propel has teamed with "Family School Uniforms" to provide families with another option for purchasing school uniforms. As previously stated, families can purchase uniform pieces from the store that best suits their needs and budget -- this is simply an option for those who may wish to use it.


Please click HERE to visit the Propel Schools Family School Uniforms webpage.


** Please note that Propel Schools cannot answer questions about uniforms, orders, billing, or returns. Questions about uniform purchases and all associated concerns must be brought directly to the vendor.

PROPEL'S NEW ATTENDANCE SPECIALISTS LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING OUR FAMILIES THROUGHOUT 2021-2022!

Now more than ever, regular school attendance matters for academic achievement and growth. During the 2020-2021 school year, only 66.5% of Propel scholars attended school regularly. This means that only two-thirds of our scholars, who were enrolled in a school for 90 or more school days, and were present 90% or more of these school days.


To boost our scholar attendance rates, Propel Schools has added a team of Attendance Specialists who will engage with and support families who may be facing obstacles in regular scholar attendance. These school-building-based specialists will also reach out to families of scholars who display great attendance habits to congratulate them on their commitment to regular school attendance for their scholars.


Attendance matters for all scholars, especially for our very youngest learners!



  • Attendance excellence starts early! Nationally, more than 10% of kindergarten and first-grade students are chronically absent.
  • Young students who are chronically absent are less likely to read on grade level by third grade. This makes them four times more likely to drop out of high school than those in third grade who are proficient readers.

PROPEL SCHOOLS WELLNESS POLICY AND CLASSROOM PARTY FOODS

Our Wellness Policy is a framework that allows for our scholars to learn healthy nutritional habits. Under this policy, scholar classroom celebrations (birthdays and other special scholar days) should align with our policy.


This is an excerpt from our Wellness Policy that addresses classroom celebrations. Please note that all snacks/foods shared by families to celebrate special scholar days must align with this list. Please note that all shared foods must be prepackaged. No homemade foods are to be shared, as food allergies can be common and, in some cases, lead to severe reactions.

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PROPEL'S AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAM IS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS!

Applications are now LIVE for our award-winning Afterschool Program! To learn more about the program and how to apply, please see the FLYER. The program application can be found HERE.


For questions about the program or the application process, please email the Afterschool Team at: afterschoolmagic@propelschools.org

SCHOLAR EDUCATIONAL TRIP REQUEST FORM FOR 2021-2022

If your scholar will miss days of school due to an educational family trip, please submit the EDUCATIONAL TRIP REQUEST FORM one week in advance of the trip, for each scholar who will travel. This form provides families with important information about scholar attendance requirements as well as timeframes for making up missed school work. Please note that school leaders will review each request individually and reach out to families regarding approval of the dates of scholar absence. Questions? Please reach out to your school's leadership team.

PROPEL NORTHSIDE WELLNESS CENTER WELCOMES ALL PROPEL FAMILIES!

All families are welcome to visit our Northside Wellness Center and take advantage of the support services that are offered! Please see the flyer for details and dates!
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2021-2022 PROPEL SCHOOLS CALENDAR

The 2021-2022 calendar can be found online and downloaded HERE.
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GET SOCIAL! FOLLOW PROPEL SCHOOLS ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS!

Follow Propel Schools on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Like, comment on and share the posts to help spread the word about how our educators redefine school and our scholars defy expectations.