CSD Back to School Update
Details on Virtual Learning, Community Support, and more
Greetings CSD Families,
City Schools of Decatur made the difficult decision earlier this week to start the school year in a fully virtual setting. Also, the Board approved changing the start date for students to August 17 and canceling fall break. We know that this is far from ideal for our community and our students. However, due to the high level of COVID-19 spread and ineffective mitigation efforts in DeKalb County and the surrounding metro area, we cannot safely bring students and staff back to our schools for traditional face-to-face instruction at this time. We understand our parents, staff, and students have many questions about how full virtual learning will work as well as what virtual learning will look like compared to how we ended last year.
Below are additional details regarding virtual learning, community supports, meal services, athletics, and technology. We will send out information soon through a virtual learning readiness form about how families will indicate the need for meals, technology, and other community resources.
All updates provided to the community, as well as additional information, can be found on www.csdecatur.net/opening2020.
Virtual Learning Details
During June and July, a team of CSD educators and community experts worked together to develop best practices and expectations for online teaching and learning, recommend resources, and design teacher training. The team members:
Conducted research to identify resources around virtual learning best practices and determined cross-sections between survey results and best practices.
Analyzed survey feedback from parents, students, and teachers regarding virtual learning this spring. Based on the results, we developed guiding principles regarding virtual learning.
With support from Dr. Mari Banks, our Equity Coordinator, the team ensured decisions were made with attention to racial equity.
Identified Pre-K-12 “must-dos.” Using community feedback and outside resources, the team developed broad guidelines of what all teachers and students will do when participating in virtual learning.
Developed specific learning expectations within grade bands.
Additionally, the Special Education Department analyzed the implications of health and safety recommendations on IEP placement options and identified ways to continue the provision of services.
General information based on the work of this team can be found in this virtual learning overview for families. We will continue to provide details and updates regularly. We are currently finalizing academic and social-emotional resources, daily schedules, and developing professional development in anticipation of our teachers reporting to work on July 28.
Decatur Education Foundation - Community Resources
Family Support Partnership: Decatur Education Foundation and City Schools of Decatur
Where we find ourselves
This is a challenging time to be in education, and it seems that there are no easy solutions to educate our students during a pandemic. Since 2002, Decatur Education Foundation has been a key partner of City Schools of Decatur with a mission of connecting people and ideas to solve the challenges facing our students. Our collective goal is to ensure all students are supported and that families know where to turn to for resources to ensure equity across the district.
Decatur Education Foundation is committed and well-positioned to work with City Schools of Decatur and partners across our community to meet the ancillary needs of students and families so they can take full advantage of the virtual learning environment.
We identified five key areas of focus, and we will ask parents to indicate their needs via the district’s forthcoming virtual readiness form.
Childcare/Virtual Learning Support
DEF and CSD will work to identify families that need a safe place for their children to go while schools remain closed. DEF is working on a coalition of providers who can provide safe, small-group spaces for families who need that. DEF is also looking at ways to provide financial support to those who cannot cover the cost.
DEF has a tutoring program that utilizes Decatur High School students and matches them with students in our programs who need tutors. This year, we anticipate a greater need for tutors to support virtual learning and will expand the program to meet the need.
DEF currently facilitates two mentoring programs and supports CSD’s idea of expanding mentoring to support students who might need additional adult support during virtual learning.
Student Behavioral Health
DEF and CSD have already established a strong partnership to support behavioral health and will continue to work to provide support to students in the coming weeks and months. This support will look different while students are in the virtual learning model and DEF will continue to financially support CSD’s efforts to meet student needs.
DEF and CSD understand parents also need support during these hard times, both with the practical challenges of turning their homes into learning spaces as well as the mental health challenges of continuing to parent children who are displaced from regular life, often while managing the stress of exacerbated financial challenges. We are working on resources that will provide support to parents in the coming months.
If you have any questions or would like to offer support or resources, contact the Decatur Education Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-377-0641, or visit decatureducationfoundation.org/.
Athletics and Activities
At this time, GHSA is allowing school districts to continue with Fall athletics and extracurriculars. Most of our Fall athletic and extracurricular programs have begun or will begin preseason voluntary workouts in the next two weeks. The official start dates are as follows:
Football: July 27
Softball: August 1
Cross Country: August 1
Volleyball: August 1
The DHS Marching Band has also been doing voluntary preseason work, and they will hold their band camp beginning July 20.
All programs are currently working outdoors. At this time, we are not permitting any athletes or coaching staff to enter our facilities. We are adhering to all GHSA COVID-19 and CSD guidelines. When CSD moves to a hybrid or full return to school, Mr. Thomas will provide parents with more information about eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities if you plan to continue with full virtual learning for your child.
You may contact Rodney Thomas, Athletics and Activities Director, at email@example.com with any questions.
Beginning Monday, August 17, the Nutrition Department will provide meals for pickup and delivery for CSD students between the hours of 10:00am and 12:30pm during the virtual learning period. Meal service and delivery will be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. CSD students will be offered meals to cover 10 meal periods: 5 lunches and 5 breakfasts. Parents can enroll in this meal program via a virtual learning readiness form being sent to families in the near future. The response data will determine meal pick-up and delivery sites. Meal packages will be offered at the CSD student’s current meal cost status. Students may receive free meals if they:
receive benefits from SNAP or TANF
are foster children who are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court
are children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant
qualify for free or reduced lunch according to USDA income guidelines
Students who do not qualify for free or reduced lunch according to USDA income guidelines will be charged the current CSD meal price. To support these efforts, we will encourage all parents who will need to pay for meals to create a meal pay account in their CSD Infinite Campus Parent Portal account.
Meal prices are subject to change, but any changes will be communicated with significant advance notice.
Parents and guardians of students with special diet considerations should contact Sarah Catherine Black, Nutrition Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-491-3133 so an appropriate meal plan can be formulated for their child.
If you have a CSD Chromebook or hotspot:
We invite each family possessing a CSD Chromebook or hotspot to hold onto it/them and continue using the device(s) during virtual learning. We encourage you to power on the device and connect it to the internet over the next few days to ensure it functions well. We will reach out directly to families who have a CSD Chromebook and/or hotspot with follow-up steps if their device became damaged or nonfunctional in the last few months.
If your family purchased its own equipment or broadband subscription and you no longer require CSD’s equipment, please email email@example.com to alert us. We will work with you and our staff to collect the equipment safely.
If you need a CSD Chromebook or hotspot:
The upcoming virtual learning readiness form will allow families to submit a request.
Virtual Learning Readiness Form
We will publish a method for families to indicate their individual students’ needs and readiness for things like technology access, meal service, and the like. We will also ask for information about supports parents might need. We will email information about accessing the form via email and on the website in the coming days when it is ready.
Virtual Town Halls
To support parents and students in a successful start to the virtual setting, we will host several virtual town hall meetings via Zoom in a webinar format. Information about how to access the live and recorded sessions will be communicated via district and school communications.
Planning for Transition to Quadrants 1, 2, and 4 - Hybrid Instruction and Full Return to School Planning Teams
CSD is committed to bringing back as many students and staff back to our school buildings as soon as it is safely possible. Each school is building a team of parents, staff, and, if appropriate, students to serve on a committee that will support principals to identify steps and provide feedback on decisions, as well as serve as a conduit for communication from stakeholder groups. Principals will share information about how parents and staff can submit their names to serve on this committee. Look for additional information from your school principal after August 17 regarding how to submit your name for this team.
We continue to use CDC guidance and data from the Georgia Department of Public Health and the DeKalb Board of Health to determine the level of community spread. Mitigation strategies are being monitored and assessed by our District School Health team.