Hearst Family Update

August 24, 2020

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Principal's Message

Good evening, Hearst Families,

We officially welcomed instructional staff back to work today and had a great day of learning and collaboration. You'll soon be hearing directly from teachers via Bloomz, welcoming you and your kids to the start of the new year. In the interim, below are a few updates about student schedules, technology, and materials and supplies for Term 1. In addition to checking Bloomz for updates, please be sure to bookmark and visit the DCPS ReopenStrong website at: https://t.e2ma.net/share/inbound/t/91xj9f/1zepw9f. There you'll find lots of information and resources to support virtual learning, including links to the Parent University presentations. One such presentation was about Canvas, our online learning management system that every student will use daily. In case you missed last week’s Parent University presentation, you can stream “Accessing Learning Online - Canvas 101 for Families,” on YouTube.

Another helpful link is to the audio recording of the family town hall last week, which can be found here: https://dck12-my.sharepoint.com/:u:/g/personal/jennifer_geoffroy_k12_dc_gov/EYzLl9XE-mRHlmUVzI0QsYkBh_YL70zEdtVfBxQfNk1CWw?e=EBT92k.

Thank you for your partnership and flexibility and I hope to see you at Wednesday's town hall,


News and Announcements from Hearst

Upcoming Key Dates

  • Wednesday, August 26, 3:00-4:00pm - Hearst Town Hall Meeting for Families (https://virginia.zoom.us/j/97912830321?pwd=eDNGNjUrcW9yY0hHcHhVUEpvSy9RQT09; Meeting ID: 979 1283 0321; Passcode: 431483) This meeting will be recorded and shared for families who are unable to participate live.

  • Monday, August 31 - First day of the 2020-2021 school year for K-5 students
  • Thursday, September 3 - First day of instruction of the 2020-2021 school year for PK students
  • Wednesday, September 16, 3:30-4:30 - Back to School Night (additional information will be shared soon)

Student Schedules

The transition to virtual learning has led to many challenges for many in our community and in an attempt to help families create predictable routines for kids at home as well as best meet kids' learning needs, we offered families the option for kids in our K-5 general education classes to engage in live, synchronous instruction in either the mornings (8:30-11:30am) or afternoons (12:30-3:30pm). I closed the survey on Friday and at that point, seventy-six percent of families who submitted survey responses requested the morning block for their kids. While I hoped to place everyone in their preferred learning times, our school focus on equity meant prioritizing the requests and needs of our students furthest from opportunity. This means that 40 students who requested the morning block were placed in the afternoon block. I understand this may provide scheduling challenges for families who had requested and did not get assigned the morning block, but know that if your family was not assigned your requested time, I was able to keep siblings together if that was noted as a priority in your survey response.

If they haven't done so already, teachers will be sharing kids AM/PM groups by the end of the day tomorrow, so please be on the lookout for this information as well as an overview of these AM & PM learning blocks. While K-5 students will have three hour blocks of live instruction, I want to be clear that particularly in the first weeks of school, kids will need your support in navigating move to and between live instruction meetings during these 3-hour learning blocks. Teachers will be modeling for kids how to use the learning platforms during live sessions but as with any technology, there will be glitches and frustrations that arise, and we ask that you stay close by in order to help your kids with any challenges they may face.

It's also important to note that these morning and afternoon blocks are divided into 30-minute sessions. To allow kids breaks and time to transition between subjects, no live lesson will be longer than 25 minutes. Also, in Weeks 1 and 2, our focus will be building stamina and routine for students. All blocks will start according to the schedule that your child's teacher will share. Morning/Afternoon meetings will run for the whole scheduled time (25 minutes) and in order to be developmentally responsive to kids, Grades PK-1 will have 10-15 minutes of direct instruction per 30 minute block, Grades 2-3 will have 15-20 minutes of direct instruction per 30 minute block, and Grades 4-5 will have 20-25 minutes of direct instruction per 30 minute block. When teachers are not providing direct instruction, they will still be on camera, available to support kids as they work independently. We will gradually increase the length of direct instruction from the teacher over the first six weeks of school with the goal of building student independence over this time.

A few other schedule notes:

  • There will be no live instruction on Wednesdays to allow staff time to plan, provide feedback on student work, and engage in professional learning.
  • At this stage, the plan is for all classrooms to have one Inner Core subject (Health/PE, Spanish, Music, Art, Library) Term 1. This decision was made to minimize the number of classes that students have to navigate while they are becoming fluent in the use of our learning platforms in the first term.
  • If there are any schedule changes for your child, we will notify you at least 1 week in advance

As a final note, given the complexities of creating class lists that balance a myriad of information about kids, equitably scheduling kids into AM and PM blocks, and ensuring that all kids have access to the appropriate learning platforms next week, we are unable to make changes to homeroom or AM/PM assignments at this time. Thank you for your understanding!

Technology Updates

Thanks to all those who completed the technology survey. If you submitted the survey on or before July 31, Ms. Johnson has reserved a device for you to pick up between 10am and 2pm, Monday through Friday. If you completed the technology survey after 7/31 or haven’t yet submitted survey, please email kestaganer.johnson@k12.dc.gov directly to reserve a device.

If you have or are purchasing a device, DCPS has made the following technology recommendations:

  • a preferred device runs either Windows 10 or iOS
  • has a dual-core processor and 4GB RAM (or higher)
  • internet access with unlimited data
  • a keyboard to work from - this can be an internal keypad or external keyboard, so long as students can type
  • child-friendly headphones if that is your family’s preference
  • learning at home with an iOS or Android mobile phone is not recommended.
  • Kindle Fire tablets do not support DCPS learning at home tools such as Canvas and Microsoft Teams.

One important note for families that have borrowed DCPS devices. The DCPS devices have internet filters on them and because of this, students are prohibited from using certain sites such as YouTube. If your child is attempting to access a link provided by a teacher and receives a message that the site is blocked, please notify the teacher as soon as possible.

Student Supplies and Student Belongings Pick Up

Our staff have put together school supply lists for each grade level and they can be found at: www.schooltoolbox.com. These supply kits contain recommended supplies for Term 1 and can be delivered directly to your home. If your family already has supplies on the list, you do not need to order to complete supply kit but can pick and choose items that you need. Additionally, if you would like to order to supplies from a different supplier, you can do so using the lists provided. Two final notes, if your family is unable to purchase supplies for your kids, please email Tandra.Brown2@k12.dc.gov and she will ensure that your family receives supplies. If you would like to donate a supply kit to a family in need, you are able to so do via the www.schooltoolbox.com site.

In addition to the recommended supplies that teachers have identified, DCPS is also providing learning materials for Term 1. We are hoping that all of these materials will be delivered to Hearst by Wednesday so that we can distribute the supplies on Thursday and Friday. However, we do not yet have a delivery date for the materials and may not be able to distribute them until next week. Keep a lookout on Bloomz for an update on when these Term 1 materials are available for pick up at Hearst.

Finally, there is still time to pick up student belongings from the previous school year. Student belongings are located in the gym and can be picked up from 10-2 Monday through Friday. If you are unable to pick up your child's belongings during the available windows, please reach out to kestaganer.johnson@k12.dc.gov to make alternate arrangements.

Welcome Notes from Our New Hearst Staff, Part 2

Ian Norden, 3-5 CES Partner Teacher

My name is Ian Norden and I will be working at Hearst Elementary School starting this coming school year. I have lived in Connecticut, California, Pennsylvania and now Washington D.C. I am excited to learn more about the city and become part of its community. Through my experiences abroad and living in a number of different places in the U.S, I value empathy and understanding. I enjoy seeing new perspectives and meeting new people. I also enjoy watching movies and playing tennis when I have the opportunity.

Caroline DeWerd, School Psychologist

Caroline DeWerd is excited to be a School Psychologist this year at Hearst! She enjoys connecting with staff members, students, and their families and is looking forward to building a relationship with the Hearst community through her new role. Ms. DeWerd views herself as an advocate for children and families and is dedicated to improving outcomes for all students. She began her career as a practicum student with Miami-Dade Public Schools and as an Intern with DC Public Schools. During this time, Ms. DeWerd worked with students ranging in ages from PreK to high school. She collaborated with both school staff and families in developing plans that offered educational supports and/or services necessary for students to be successful in school. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in School Psychology from Barry University, in Miami, Florida. Ms. DeWerd’s hobbies include reading, hiking and listening to music and/or podcasts during her free time. This year, she is looking forward to getting to know the Hearst community, and supporting its staff and students to grow into strong, healthy, and thoughtful learners.

News and Announcements from DCPS

Reminder: Immunization Policy for In-Person Attendance

As a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, District health care providers have recorded an extremely low rate of pediatric immunization administrations. According to DC Health, the rate of pediatric immunization administrations has dropped by 70 percent in the District as families have avoided or not had access to well child care during the emergency period. Due to this, many children in the District are not fully immunized, creating a high risk for an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable infectious disease such as measles among our students. DC Health has advised that such an outbreak of another infectious disease could be as much, or even more, of a public health risk for school communities than COVID-19 itself, and would add another complex obstacle for school operations this year.

District law and regulations require schools to verify immunization certification for all students as part of attendance (DC Official Code § 38–501 et seq. and DCMR 5-E § 5300 et seq.). Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, all schools will be required to enforce this District immunization law by requiring immunization certification as part of school attendance, including notifying and potentially removing non-compliant students from in-person instruction after a 20-school day period until they obtain the necessary immunizations (DC Official Code § 38–505).

Please carefully review the attached Immunization Policy for In-Person Attendance which provides guidance on the implementation of this law beginning next school year. To prepare schools and families for this policy, OSSE is encouraging school leaders to review this policy and ensure immunization compliance is part of planning for the start of school. We request your assistance with communicating immunization requirements to families now to ensure their children are protected from vaccine-preventable infection, and to give them as much time as possible to make appointments with their health care providers and receive necessary immunizations before the start of school. DC Health will continue to encourage District health care providers to notify patients of missing immunizations and prioritize immunization appointments.

News and Announcements from Other Organizations

Grocery and Meal Sites

Grocery sites and meal sites continue to operate across the District. At dozens of sites, anyone under the age of 18 can walk up for a free meal, Monday through Friday. Additionally, families can continue to access free bags of fresh groceries at schools across DC.

Find a full list of meal and grocery sites HERE.

Download the DC Access Mobile App to Apply or Recertify for Benefits

Because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may end the automatic recertification of public benefits, District families who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be required to recertify starting in September.

Residents can use the new DC Access mobile app to apply or recertify for cash, food, and medical benefits. In addition to DC Access, District residents can visit dcbenefits.dhs.dc.gov to apply and recertify. Learn more at dhs.dc.gov/dcaccess.