AUGUST 16, 2020

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A Message from the Superintendent

Dear Students, Staff, and Families,

On behalf of the Board of Education, thank you students, staff, and families for your contribution to successfully launch the 2020-21 school year this past Monday. Thanks to our technology department and school site support staff and principals for helping our families connect to the virtual classroom, whether it be recover passwords, access class codes, or navigate the technology. And thanks to our families and students for being patient while we problem-solved and addressed issues as they arose. And thanks to our teachers for adapting seamlessly to new learning environments, and in some cases new curriculum or grade-level assignments, as our principals and counselors balanced our hybrid and virtual school classrooms. We will continue to balance classes as we usually do the first few weeks of school as we identify no-shows, register new students, and confirm enrollment. Thank you in advance for your continued patience throughout this process.

We have never opened a school year with our school buildings closed. We have never experienced a back-to-school year with the uncertainty of a pandemic turning many of our student's, staff's, and family's lives upside down. And never before have we experienced such a disproportionate burden on our most vulnerable populations, including students with complex learning, health, and social needs, as well as families who were already experiencing socioeconomic barriers in their lives. We have bolstered our student support team to increase our outreach services to students and their families. Our academic, social, and human service team of education specialists support both our students and their families, and work closely with our teachers to provide and coordinate services to help our students succeed.

As the leader of our school district, I am proud of how our community has come together to make the most of a difficult situation. While distance learning has its challenges, together we can thrive until such time we resume in-person instruction. But until that time comes, our students will continue distance learning while we all unite to protect our community and members of our Alvord family who are at higher risk for the virus.

I observed many virtual classrooms last week while I visited schools. It was obvious to me as an observer that our teachers are utilizing best practices for distance learning, all of which are student-centered approaches. In virtual learning environments, teachers assume more of the role of facilitator or coach. Parents who are observing their children during the virtual school day will notice how teachers are striving to strike the perfect balance between synchronous (live with the teacher) and asynchronous (working independently) learning. In the virtual classroom, it is context, as well as content, that matters most. Our teachers have adapted well to utilizing "marketplace" technologies to drive and support learning. And our students will continue to get better and better everyday as they practice and eventually master the use of 21st Century learning tools.

Leveraging technology as a teaching and learning tool has been a goal in schools since the large-scale induction of computers in the early 1980s. The silver lining for students (and teachers) during this pandemic is that they are developing new skills in the process of learning at a distance, leading to independent learning skills (lifelong learning). For our teachers and instructional support staff, electronically-delivered instruction provides new channels to deliver instruction. As more and more people conform to technology, technology will conform more and more to the diversity of the people using it, leading to increased equity and more favorable outcomes for previously underrepresented student populations.

The most frequently-asked questions I've received this week have to do with technology, information systems, laptops and connectivity. Here's the questions and answers:

Q: What do I do if my information in Aeries is not current?

A: All families are expected to log-on to Aeries and complete the data confirmation process, usually prior to registration.

Q: How can I access Aeries if I forgot my password? (See images below)

A: Choose Aeries Parent Portal. Choose Forgot Password. Reset your password.

Q: How can I get help with technology?

A: Call the Technology Help Desk: (951) 509-5180 or email Chromebook Support.

Q: How can I get connected to the Internet or improve my connection to the Internet if multiple users are all sharing the same bandwidth?

A: We recognize that a district as diverse as ours has inequitable starting points when it comes to levels of access to computers, Internet speeds, and service quality. While teachers utilize a combination of low-bandwidth (asynchronous learning) and high-bandwidth strategies (synchronous web conferencing, video streaming, etc...), our technology support plan is designed to provide all students with an equal opportunity to learn. To that end, we asked all families to complete a technology needs-assessment in July so that we could provide computers and Internet hotspots to connect to the Internet, to our families in need. If your technology needs have not yet been met, please contact your principal immediately. Verizon is our partner for the connectivity service and we do rely on them to connect our Internet hotspot devices. In some cases there are delays, but those delays are short term.

Q: How can I access the Google Classroom if my children forgot their password?

A: You can complete and submit the Password Reset form here and your password link will be emailed. Or, you can call your school. Students access Google Classroom using their Google email account. Your school site staff is ready to help you recover your password and access Google Classroom.

Q: How can I learn more about Google Classroom?

A: Watch the Google Classroom 101 webinar or contact our Family Engagement Coordinator, Mr. Cisneros, via email here or phone 951-396-0126.

Google Classroom 101: A Parent's Guide
Google Classroom 101: Una Guía Para Padres

Q: Can I use my mobile phone to access Aeries and Google Classroom?

A: Yes. It's even easier if you download the Mobile App (English or Spanish) to quickly access all of our school apps, including Aeries, Google, Class Dojo, SeeSaw, Imagine Learning, and more. You will also have easy access to all school and district Notifications. And, although not as efficient as using a laptop, a student can access the virtual classroom through a mobile phone too.

Q: Is the HALF-Time and PRIME-Time afternoon school program available?

A: Yes. But it will be virtual only until students return to in-person instruction. The program begins this Tuesday, August, 18.

Q: What is Half-Time?

A: HALF-Time is an intervention program for elementary school students. Students join the program via a Google Classroom.

Q: What is PRIME-Time?

A: PRIME-Time is an intervention program for middle school students. Students join the program via a Google Classroom.

Q: Can any student join the after school program? Is it free?

A: Yes. It is free and your child can join the program via a Google Classroom set up by your school's Expanded Learning Facilitator. Check your email Monday afternoon for the classroom code that will allow students to access the program. Or, contact your school for more details.

Q: What time is it offered?

A: It is from 2:30 PM to 5:45 PM Mondays through Thursdays.

Q: What is offered?

A: ELA, Math and Enrichment sessions will run concurrently. Students can choose to join one session or all sessions which include STEM, Music, Art and Physical Fitness activities. See the complete schedule below.

Q: How can I learn more about the after school program?

A: Call (951) 358-1682. Or email our Director of Expanded Learning here. Or contact your school and ask for the Expanded Learning Coordinator.

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Here's a list of our schools and their contact information and web sites for your convenience:

Alvord Alternative Continuation map: (951) 509-6120

Alvord Continuation map: (951) 358-1715

Arizona map: (951) 358-1675

Arlanza map: (951) 358-1600

Collett map: (951) 358-1605

Foothill map: (951) 358-1610

Hillcrest map: (951) 358-1755

La Granada map: (951) 358-1615

La Sierra map: (951) 358-1725

Lake Hills map:(951) 358-1620

Loma Vista map: (951) 358-1685

McAuliffe map: (951) 358-1625

Myra Linn map: (951) 358-1630

Norte Vista map: (951) 358-1740

Orrenmaa map: (951) 358-1635

Promenade map: (951) 358-1650

RMK map: (951) 358-1655

Stokoe map: (951) 358-1640

Terrace map: (951) 358-1660

Twinhill map: (951) 358-1665

Valley View map: (951) 358-1670

Villegas Middle School map: (951) 358-1695

Wells map: (951) 358-1705

The last frequently-asked question I've received is about the State's system for granting waivers for elementary schools to reopen for in-person learning while the county remains on the State's Watch List. At this time, the County of Riverside is not accepting waivers. When the time comes that they do consider waivers, they may be granted based on local community epidemiological data, other public health interventions, and in consultation with the California Department of Public Health. A waiver may only be granted if it is requested by school districts in consultation with labor, parent and community organizations.

On behalf of the Board of Education, thank you again for your contribution to supporting our students and schools.

Stay healthy. Be well.

In partnership.

Allan Mucerino

Superintendent of Schools

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