Hearst Family Update

September 12, 2021

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Principal's Message

Dear Hearst Families,

Thank you for another smooth week at Hearst and your flexibility and grace as we continue to work through all of our new procedures and routines. This week's update is chock full of information about the coming week and beyond, including additional logistics about Back to School Night and answers to FAQs from families about our health and safety protocols. I hope that you've enjoyed the weekend and the gorgeous weather we've had!

Please reach out with any questions and be well,


News and Announcements from Hearst

Upcoming Key Dates

  • September 14 - Picture Day 9:00-1:45; PTA Meeting and Back to School Night, 6:00-8:00pm (see below for additional information)
  • September 16 - Fire Drill, Yom Kippur
  • September 22 - LSAT Meeting, 4:30-5:30

Asymptomatic Student Testing on Tuesday

As a reminder, our asymptomatic testing window will be every Tuesday from 2:15-3:00pm. During a typical week, we will test a random sample of 35 students each week and attempt to test at least one student from each homeroom each week. Here are a few things to know about asymptomatic testing :

  • Teachers will be provided with names of students to be tested and those students will be escorted by staff to our testing location.
  • Because the test is a saliva test, students identified for testing cannot eat or drink an hour before their testing window.

Families of kids who are tested will receive notification that their child was tested and information on how to access the online portal where they will be able to view results. Your child may indicate that they were pulled for testing but they were not given a letter with online portal log in information. If this is the case, this means that your child did not produce enough saliva to fill the test tube. Please reach out to Ms. Johnson (kestaganer.johnson@k12.dc.gov) with any questions and/or if you would like to opt your child out of asymptomatic testing. If you wish to opt-out your student from receiving any COVID-19 test at school, you must complete the available at osse.dc.gov/page/school-based-covid-19-testing and email it to the school at kestaganer.johnson@k12.dc.gov.

Back to School Night Logistics

Our Back to School Night is on Tuesday, September 14 from 6:00-8:00pm. From 6:00-6:30 there will be a PTA meeting and from 6:30-6:45 I (Jen) will do a brief presentation. Please use this link to access both the PTA meeting and my presentation on Teams. From 7:00-7:30, families should visit their child's classroom meeting and a link for this meeting will be sent by the classroom teacher. From 7:30-8:00, families will have the opportunity to take part in the classroom presentation for a second child (if needed) and a link to this meeting will be sent by classroom teachers. Please note that the 7:00-7:30 and 7:30-8:00 sessions are repeats of one another and both will be recorded and shared with families in the event that you are unable to attend either session. Look for a Bloomz post on Tuesday morning with links to all of our Back to School Night links for all staff.

Girls on the Run

Girls on the Run, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is a physical activity-based positive youth development (PA-PYD) program designed to enhance girls’ social, emotional, and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. The program’s intentional curriculum places an emphasis on developing competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution in young girls through lessons that incorporate running and other physical activities. The life skills curriculum is delivered by caring and competent coaches who are trained to teach lessons as intended.

This fall Girls on the Run will be offered here at Hearst for girls in grades 3-5 and will be coached by Ms.Duvall and Ms.Boone! There are a limited number of spots available each season. If you are interested in signing your student up for the program, please use this link. ( https://www.gotrdc.org/Register-Now )

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Ms.Duvall at cassi.duvall@k12.dc.gov

Birthday Party Policy

A few of you have asked about the student birthday party policy and it has been updated below to reflect our current health restrictions.

One day per month teachers may celebrate all student birthdays in their classroom for that month. On this day, parents are welcome to bring individually and professionally wrapped treats (i.e. nothing homemade) for students. All celebrations will take place outdoors and parents are welcome to attend the class celebration. Parents should connect with their child’s teacher to learn more about when this celebration will be specifically for their child’s class. Please note: invitations for special celebrations outside of the school day may not be distributed in the classroom or in the hallway to avoid concerns about the exclusion of students. The main office at Hearst will also not distribute invitations.

FAQs From Families

Q: Guidelines on indoor lunch
First, we already see the efforts you all are making to minimize indoor lunch and are truly appreciative of that. I know you touched on the times when indoor lunch would need to happen in your last Bloomz post, but some parents are wondering if there are any more specific guidelines on when indoor lunch will happen. For example, is the rule that when the permanent tents arrive that lunch will be outdoors even if raining unless there is threat of lightning?

A: We have not yet created additional guidelines around outdoor lunch given beyond what has been previously shared. Once the large tents arrive and we have a sense of the space they will cover and how we'll arrange them on our campus, we'll be able to provide additional information on how these tents will impact the call for indoor or outdoor lunch.

Q: Indoor lunch and snack

Parents were wondering if the school has established a uniform approach to mask guidance on indoor lunch and snack. For example, for snacks, some teachers are suggesting students lower their masks for biting and raise it for chewing to reduce the amount of indoor maskless time. We know there is only so much teachers can do on this, but wondered if a uniform school-wide approach could help.
A: When eating indoors, we are suggesting this to kids but, as you note, there is only so much we can do on this because kids will sometimes forget to raise their masks back up. Know that we provide reminders often and explain the importance of being masked as often as possible.

Q: Outdoor classes
Parents are wondering if teachers have the option of bringing classes outdoors and can use the picnic areas when they are not in use for lunch.

A: Teachers are bringing classes outdoors when it makes sense to do so instructionally and using the picnic tables both for outdoor learning as well as outdoor snack time. While I know there are many in our community who would like kids to have all learning activities outdoors, we also know that we have multiple mitigation strategies in place (masks, HEPA filters, MERV-13 filters in the HVAC, air quality monitors, etc.) that help keep our classrooms as safe as possible for indoor learning.

Q: Support for outdoor lunch in winter

Parents wondered if the school would want to use heat lamps to make outdoor lunch more possible when the weather gets cold and if DCPS has made any provision for this. DC doesn't get that cold and kids are resilient, so it may not be necessary. But, if this was something the school was considering and DCPS is not already providing resources, we wanted to see if the school could use support from the PTA (especially since supply chain issues remain a problem).
A: DCPS has not yet made provisions for heat lamps and this is something we'd appreciate the parent community explore purchasing for the school.

Q: Percentage of staff that are vaccinated
Some parents were hoping you could share the percentage of staff at the school who are vaccinated, understanding that individuals' vaccination status cannot be shared.
A: Staff are not required to share their vaccination status with me, therefore I do not know the percentage of staff vaccinated.

Q: Quarantine support
Parents are wondering what quarantine support will look like for students who are exposed at school.
A: As shared in the 8/18/21 information session, students who are required to quarantine will be provided with a DCPS device for learning at home. Course content will be available via Canvas for students learning at home. Instruction may be fully virtual, a mix of simultaneous in-person and virtual instruction, or self-guided, depending upon the number of students quarantining and the availability of the teacher. Families will be informed about when and how virtual instruction will be provided.

Q: Close Contact Definition
Parents have some confusion about how close contacts are defined right now and how masking plays a role in this. We were wondering if you could provide an explanation of how that is working now at Hearst/in DCPS.

A: As shared in the 8/18/21 information session a student in a school setting is considered a close contact if they are within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes within a 24-hour window within 2 days prior to illness onset or positive test result. Per CDC and DC Health guidance, students are NOT considered close contacts if they are within 3-6 feet of a fellow infected student if both students are consistently wearing well-fitting masks, and other mitigating factors are in place (physical distancing, increased ventilation, etc.).

If you have additional questions, please be sure to first check https://dcpsreopenstrong.com/health/ for the DCPS policies and protocols we are following at Hearst.

Reminder: Grade Level Admin Contact

Please contact Principal Geoffroy if you have any questions or concerns related to K, 2nd, 5th, CES and Dr. Chen for PreK, 1st, 3rd, 4th, Inner Core and ELL. Thanks!

Reminder: Beginning of Year (BOY) Assessments

Diagnostic assessment will take place in our classes over the next three weeks. Students will take the following tests according to their grade levels:

  • i-Ready Math - K-5
  • DIBELS - K-2
  • TRC - K-1
  • Reading Inventory (RI) - 2-5
  • iReady Reading - 3-5

DIBELS and TRC are beginning reading assessments conducted one-on-one with an adult while the RI and iReady diagnostic assessments are computer-based and adaptive so questions will be easy, challenging, and just right.

In preparation for BOY testing, please encourage your child to:

· Take their time and not rush

· Read each question and answer choice carefully

· Try their best, even if they get to a question they haven't learned yet.

· Check answers before going to the next question

Please reach out to Tara Souza (math) or Janna Walker (reading) if you have any questions about our BOY assessments.

Reminder: Quick Attendance Notes

Please contact the office attendance by emailing attendance@hearstes.org if your child is going to be absent or tardy and include any documents (note from doctor/dentist, etc.) in your email.

After one unexcused absence, families will get a robocall from DCPS; after 3, they will get a letter from the school, after 4, a call from your child's teacher, and after 5, an invitation to a Student Attendance Conference. Between this and, of course, our ability to contact trace during Covid, it’s more important than ever before that Hearst’s attendance data is accurate and timely, so we thank you so much in advance for your help in notifying us of any absences.

Reminder: School Supplies - bring towel for outdoor lunch too!

We are happy to announce that we have chosen to create prepackaged school supply kits for the coming school year that can be ordered through School Tool Box. School supplies can be ordered at www.schooltoolbox.com and will be delivered to your home (note: please do not deliver them directly to the school as we do not have the ability to receive individual supplies for all of our students). For more information, see the flyer below.

News and Announcements from DCPS

Reminder: SY 21-22 Calendar Updates

The SY 21-22 calendar has been updated to incorporate the Juneteenth holiday and the updated version is available on the DCPS website. Please note, the last day of school for students is now Thursday, June 23.

Reminder: Student Immunization Requirements for In-person Attendance

Schools are reminded to alert families about the importance of submitting health forms, including updated immunization records and Universal Health Certificates. All students must have updated immunization records on file with the school. Students who are not compliant with their immunizations are not to attend past 20 school days, until appropriate records are submitted. View OSSE’s Immunization Attendance policy here. Please email health forms to manik.hinchey@k12.dc.gov or send them in with your students.

News and Announcements from Other Organizations

New Adaptive Outdoor Tennis Program

I am the director of a new outdoor tennis program called ACEing Autism, Washington to be held at the Rock Creek Tennis Center on 16th and Kennedy Streets, NW (home of the recent Citi Open Tournament) from September 25 to October 30, 2021. I am hoping that you would be willing to spread the word about this program to the Hearst Elementary School community. I've already let the PTA Co-president, Kerry Schwed, know about it.

ACEing Autism is a national nonprofit organization that provides affordable weekly tennis clinics to children (5-18 years of age) on the autism spectrum. Each participant is paired with 1 or 2 volunteer instructors based on their needs. The program uses the game of tennis to foster the enjoyment of fitness, improve gross and small-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, communications, social skills, and self-esteem.

I was the lead teacher of the ACEing Autism classes at the Wheaton Indoor Tennis Center until COVID-19 put things on hold. I miss teaching those classes and know firsthand what a positive impact the program has on the students and families, so with the support of many people, we decided to start up an outdoor program in D.C. The Wheaton location may start again at the end of October.

Participants can sign up on our website: https://aceingautism.org/locations/washington-dc/. We are also looking for volunteers to assist the students during the classes. Student volunteers (16 yrs. and older) get SSL hours. Special Education or other teachers and Hearst ES parents would also make wonderful volunteers. Interested volunteers should send an email to washington@aceingautism.org.

I've attached a flyer in hopes that you will display it at your school.

To learn more about our national organization, please visit our website at www.aceingautism.org or feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and support of our program.

Rachel Bloch, Program Director

ACEing Autism, Washington, DC

(240) 506-4813