Principal Richards’ Message, 5/1
May 1, 2020
Good afternoon GMHS families!
I hope this letter finds everyone healthy and safe. The challenges of the pandemic continue to impact us all in many different ways. My hope is people are taking care of themselves physically, mentally, and taking advantage of this time to reflect on their own lives and the many things to be grateful for. I tend to be an optimist and truly believe when the pandemic passes, we will all become stronger individuals and a better society. As we navigate through these uncharted waters, I want to ensure we are providing consistent communication and academic support to our parents, caregivers, and students, even from afar. This is challenging when information is fluid and the future is uncertain. With that said, here are some of the latest GMHS updates as of today.
The Georgetown Connects is the second phase of our students’ remote learning and is up and running. This phase moves the curriculum forward but at a slower pace. Students are not expected to complete the same amount of work or at the same level before the school closure began on March 17th. Commission Riley from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has provided schools with guiding “power standards” for Math, ELA, Science, and Social Studies. Many of these standards are currently embedded in the work teachers are assigning students. Our department heads (Mr. Hastings – Social Studies, Ms. Cauthron – Science, Ms. Felides – Mathematics, Ms. Viera – English) are overseeing the work and will ensure all our students are set-up for success.
With this new way of learning, we are all thinking differently about how students process and retain information. This paradigm shift is also the case when grading students. Now that we are in the remote learning world, during the fourth quarter the only notations teachers will be using in the Portal are Credit (CD) and No Credit (NC). Credit (CD) is the universal code to record that a student has engaged in or completed an assignment. No Credit (NC) is the universal code to record that a student has not submitted an assignment or has not been engaged. NC should be interpreted as an Incomplete (I) if a student plans to complete the work but is past the due date. Incomplete (I) is a code used as part of the traditional grading system. This was used during the third quarter and represents a student who is currently in the process of completing work for that quarter but needed additional time. If your child received a grade of No Credit (NC) or Incomplete (I), during the third quarter, they are encouraged to revisit the work and submit during the current (fourth) quarter. If the work is submitted to the teacher, the notation in the Portal will change to Credit (CD). I recommend students be proactive and reach out to their teachers by email or attending the teachers’ office hours to create a plan to receive Credit (CD).
In order for students to receive Credit (CD) for a class, I highly encourage all students to remain engaged in the work teachers assign. This does not mean every assignment must be completed at the highest level. What we are asking students to do is to manage their personal lives first and then focus on school. Students’ social and emotional wellbeing continues and always will be the top priority. If your student is stressed because they have not completed an assignment to their highest ability or missed a due date for an assignment, please remind them that these are different times and teachers will work with them. Maintaining a healthy social and emotional wellbeing while engaging in school work to the best of their ability is the goal. Balance is key during this unprecedented time. If your child is unable to maintain their balance, please reach out to their teacher and/or guidance counselor.
Teachers will continue to use one platform, Schoology, to post assignments, due dates, and provide feedback. Please keep in mind feedback is for students to measure their own personal growth and does not equate to a grade. Students should use the features in Schoology to organize their work and schedule their day. If you or your student have any questions on Schoology, please contact either Liz Marchetti, email@example.com, or Ms. Sandra Schwarzkopf firstname.lastname@example.org They are both skilled in the use of Schoology and will be able to demonstrate some of the advanced features for both parents and students.
I have received messages of concern from students and parents about how students’ GPAs will be calculated and what a transcript will look like this year. At some point, before the school year ends, Commissioner Riley will provide schools with guidance on if and how schools will record this information. This information will provide a framework for schools to work off of and to ensure consistency. Once this information is shared, I will pass it along to our students and families.
I would like to reassure everyone that the end of the school year celebrations will move forward. I have and will continue to meet with students and class advisors about graduation, prom, and award ceremonies. Decisions will be based on the framework of SAFE. A SAFE event is one that successfully meets these criteria: Sensible, within given health and safety guidelines; Accessible, so that all can participate; Feasible, in that the event can be reasonably conducted; and Every student is included. By using this framework as our guide, we will be able to make the best decisions for our students and community.
Since we are not returning to school this year, many teachers and students have inquired about retrieving items from the school building. At some point, everyone will be able to retrieve items from classrooms, lockers, and return equipment, books, and instruments. Once Governor Baker provides more direction on public gatherings, Carol, Mike, and I will develop protocols and procedures for everyone to retrieve their belongings. I will keep you posted.
I want to end my message by saying thank you to all the teachers, staff, parents, caregivers, and students during this uncertain time. Your flexibility while we create a remote learning school is much appreciated and necessary to ensure our students’ learning continues. One thing I do know is our environment to educate our students will continue to challenge us and change over the next few weeks. I am confident, no matter what the future holds for us, we will continue to support each other and conquer whatever obstacles come our way.
All my best,