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Dear Georgetown Middle and High School Families and Students,
I reach out to you with both concern and optimism for the next few weeks where our students and faculty will continue work from home. Though the circumstances were not foreseen or ideal, I am optimistic because it will teach some valuable lessons to our students. First off, our students must learn that the opportunity to go to school and acquire knowledge with their friends is a blessing. It is not guaranteed to most of the children in the world, but sometimes our students take it for granted. I hope they take the time to reflect and recognize how much their teachers and administrators love them and push them to be their personal best.
Over the past few weeks, teachers and administrators have been working hard to provide students with enrichment learning materials. Now that we have been informed by Commissioner Riley that we will be out of school until May 4th, we have all been preparing for a deeper learning experience through remote learning called Georgetown Connects. This will allow teachers the opportunity to move forward with the curriculum and provide a deeper level of learning for our students. Superintendent Jacobs will be sending a more detailed announcement later today.
With Georgetown Connects, teachers will use a common platform which many of our students are familiar with, Schoology. Teachers will start to introduce a new curriculum and will be assigning schoolwork along with due dates starting Monday, 4/6. All work will be counted as Credit or No Credit. If a student is unable to meet an assignment deadline, I encourage them to reach out to their teachers prior to the deadline. For the past three weeks, participation was optional but with Georgetown Connects, we are expecting all students will be engaged as they would if they were in school.
To help streamline communication between the students and teachers, each teacher has established two one-hour office hours each week. On Monday, 4/6, they will be reaching out to their students with the work for the week and their established office hours.
To help students structure their school day, a suggested school schedule has been developed. The schedule will assist students to identify specific days when subjects will be taught, organize their time, schedule teacher office hours, and assist in remaining focused. Teachers will post curriculum materials and office hours in accordance with the schedule. Below is the suggested schedule.
Lastly, our world changes quickly. This global crisis is a great reminder that the world is moving to a more virtual learning and working spaces. Our teachers are excited about moving the curriculum forward and the virtual learning opportunities they have created. I commend them on overcoming the challenges to make this happen is such a short period of time. We are all here to support our students, families, and community. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me, the administration, faculty, and staff members if you have any concerns or questions.
In closing, please be safe and kind to one another.
GMHS Virtual School
Recommended Student Schedule
|8:00-9:00||Teachers’ Office Hours|
|9:00-10:00||A||B||C||D (Blue)||E (Blue)|
|10:00-11:00||Teachers’ Office HoursMid|
|12:00-1:00||Teachers’ Office Hours|
|1:00-2:00||D (White)||E (White)||F||G||Journaling/
|2:00-3:00||Teachers’ Office Hours|
|3:00-4:00||Teachers’ Office Hours|
- Teachers will submit work for the week by Sunday evening. Please be patient for the first week as some teachers will be establishing their classes.
- Students are recommended to use the template as a guide for structuring their school days.
- All student work will be counted as Credit/No Credit.
- Students should meet the set deadlines established by the teachers. If a student cannot meet a deadline, they should contact their teacher in advance.
- Students should take advantage of the teachers’ office hours if they have questions and to check-in.
- Students should incorporate time into their day to exercise, socialize with others online and/or at a safe distance, participate in mindful activities, and get enough sleep.
- Mental Health and Well Being
- 6 Pocket Mindfulness Activities
- Mayo Clinic Mindfulness Activities
- How to Become More Mindful in Your Everyday Life
Remote Learning Plan
These are strange and unprecedented times that require a different approach to teaching and learning. “School”, as we knew it three weeks ago, has completely changed, yet our mission has not. While the challenges are many, educating our children is still Job 1, even though our approach must change. Georgetown Connects is our district’s way of implementing a remote learning plan that continues, first and foremost, to support the social, physical and emotional wellbeing of our students as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of learning at home. Beginning Monday, April 6, 2020, we will build upon the model we have been using to provide reinforcement and enrichment by adding additional structure, routine and meaningful connections with teachers and other school staff.
Remote learning will never replicate the classroom setting with regard to content, pace and rigor of the curriculum or the valuable interaction between students and teachers. However, our goal in Georgetown Connects is to continue engaging students in academically meaningful ways that include online learning and opportunities to explore the natural world, pursue topics of interest, apply creative and critical thinking and engage in self directed learning. Our goal moving forward focuses on deeper learning and higher levels of student engagement so every child can succeed with remote learning. We know that some students will require additional support and challenge, and Georgetown Connects can be customized to meet their needs.
We do not know what the future holds in the next couple of months, but you have our promise that we will do our very best to implement Georgetown Connects with the best interests of our staff, students and families in mind. Please understand that the next couple of weeks will be an adjustment, but very shortly I am confident that we will settle in and things will move along smoothly.
I would like to bring your attention to several important components in our Georgetown Connects plan which are highlighted below.
- How to Access Information
- Focus of Learning
- Expectations for Students
- Meaningful Engagement Strategies
- Feedback and Grading
- Supporting Students
1. How to Access Information
Penn Brook- In order to consolidate access to information, all Penn Brook teachers will use Google Classroom to post assignments and notifications, provide links to resources and exchange feedback with students. Assignments will be posted on Google Classroom every Sunday evening for the week. This may include a daily schedule, assignments and a choice of enrichment activities.
Middle High School- All teachers in grades 7-12 will use Schoology to communicate with students. All assignments, rubrics, instructional and supplemental resources and feedback will be done on this platform. The school has developed a revised schedule identifying specific days when subjects will be taught throughout the week to help students organize their time and focus. Subject area teachers will post information for students in accordance with this schedule.
2. Focus of Learning
Teachers will continue to deepen understanding and reinforce skills that have previously been taught until they are ready to move forward with curriculum. In order to provide some normalcy and consistency for students, teachers will move forward with the curriculum, although expectations for content will be modified significantly due to our remote learning schedule and the need to continue to offer enrichment opportunities. For the first couple of weeks of Georgetown Connects, teachers and students will need time to adjust to using remote learning tools, so they will continue to provide deeper learning and reinforcement of existing content and skills. A major goal of teachers is to ensure that lessons are accessible to the range of learners in your classrooms.
Remote learning does not just mean online learning. We will consider the amount of screen time we are expecting of students and will balance this with other activities that allow for self directed learning, choice and access to other disciplines (physical education, music, art, library, technology electives) that support the whole child.
Students should be able to complete most assignments independently, and parents should provide a level of support similar to what is required for homework. We recognize that many parents are working from home, and it can be difficult to take on the role of teacher. With this in mind, Georgetown Connects is set up to provide students with greater structure, routine, opportunities for academic engagement and meaningful connections with teachers for instruction and support.
3. Expectations for Students
All students are expected to actively engage in the remote learning opportunities assigned by their teacher(s). For the past three weeks, participation was optional but in Georgetown Connects w e are expecting that all students will be engaged as they would if they were in school. While traditional grades will not be given at the secondary level, student engagement will be tracked on a Credit/No Credit basis. A priority for teachers will be to provide meaningful and timely feedback and for students to be actively engaged. Students who are not engaged will be contacted by their teachers to encourage participation and offer assistance. In addition, if at any time the teacher or parent becomes concerned that a student is disengaging or struggling emotionally, he or she will reach out to the other to coordinate additional support and resources for the student. Nothing is more important than students feeling connected to the people who care about their well-being.
Students should plan to spend up to 3 hours per day on remote learning activities. This will be determined by the developmental age and independence of the students. Teachers will convey expectations for time spent to students and families directly . The scheduling of remote learning is at the discretion of the family, unless there are specifically scheduled remote meetings, lessons or classes that are arranged with the teachers.
Students are expected to behave in accordance with school rules while participating in remote learning. Cyberbullying, harassment and abuse of the remote learning process will not be tolerated and may result in suspension from remote learning, as well as additional consequences when school resumes. Adherence to the Acceptable Use Policy is expected.
Students should select a place in their home where they can participate in any remote learning opportunities, especially video conferencing. We encourage students to be mindful of their on- line presence and the need to protect people’s right to privacy.
4. Meaningful Engagement Strategies
The first priority of teachers is to maintain meaningful connections with students. We realize that this is a challenging time for them, and now it is even more important for them to have the chance to regularly connect face to face with their teachers and peers. We will accomplish this in a couple of ways.
Office Hours- Teachers will schedule office hours two times per week for one hour at their convenience so parents and students can contact them by phone or email. Video conferencing should be arranged in advance. Each teacher will post their office hours on the platform they are using, either Google Classroom or Schoology. Since teachers will be using their private phones, you should expect to see their number blocked. Teachers will be keeping track of their outreach and communication, and if something comes up outside of office hours, teachers will respond at their earliest convenience.
Video Conferencing- Teachers will use Zoom or Google Meet to reach out and make personal connections with their students at least two times per week. This is primarily to promote a sense of community, provide a chance for classes to learn together and to provide emotional support individually and in small groups. Student support staff will also reach out to check in with students to make sure they have what they need, provide assistance, and/or answer questions. In participating/allowing children to participate in the school district’s online/remote learning activities, it is understood and agreed to that children’s images and voices will be transmitted over the Internet, into the homes of other students and staff, and that the school district, while taking measures to ensure secure transmission, cannot guarantee or warrant complete confidentiality of students’ voice or image while participating in online learning. It is important that we continue to respect the privacy and intellectual property rights of our school community – our teachers and our students.
5. Feedback and Grading
Assignments at the elementary level will not be graded, but teachers will provide feedback and encouragement to their students. Feedback will be based on criteria such as rubrics for long term projects, grade level standards, and learning objectives. Digital platforms such as MobyMax will be used to track student progress and provide insight for student learning.
At the Middle High School, rubrics will be posted with each assignment and used to provide feedback to students. As part of the grading process, students will have the opportunity to self-reflect on their level of learning, and teachers will consider this as part of the assessment process.
As noted above, completed assignments at the Middle High School will receive a grade of Credit/No Credit based on the performance of the student and the quality of their work as measured against the rubric. A grade of Credit will not be earned simply because the student completed the assignment. While traditional grades will not be given during this extended closure, student engagement will be tracked at the secondary level. I want to reinforce that students are expected to complete all of the activities assigned by their teachers. If needed, students may ask for assistance with issues that may be hampering their progress such as time management, organization or managing expectations. Teachers will inform parents when a student is in danger of not receiving credit, and credit will not be withheld if lack of engagement is due to access challenges.
In times like these, we are mindful that our staff, students and families are all dealing with this public health crisis in different ways. As much as we might want to move full steam ahead with “school”, we also want to be sure that no students are left behind. Providing equal access to remote learning and enrichment activities on a Credit/No Credit basis levels the playing field for students that might be facing major life challenges, family obligations, loss of income, family
and student health concerns, disability, language challenges, etc. We share the concern expressed by many students, teachers and parents at the high school level who are worried about the effect this closure will have on credits and transcripts. At this point, Georgetown Connects supports the recommendation of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to suspend the use of letter grades during this time of school closure; however, we look forward to resuming the traditional grading system when school reopens.
6. Supporting Students
In accordance with federal and state law, students with special needs will receive services in accordance with their IEP and the requirements of FAPE. Services will be adapted remotely to the extent possible as part of Georgetown Connects. Case managers will work with parents to create schedules that work for all parties.
Classroom teachers, math and reading interventionists, counselors and behavior specials will meet regularly and work together to support students who might be in need of academic assistance and behavioral support. Students and parents should reach out with any questions or concerns to the staff member with whom your child has worked.
I want to acknowledge the hard work of the administrators, teachers and staff who have committed countless hours and taken great care to plan and execute Georgetown Connects. As with any new plan, we expect there may be some bugs to work out, but I want to thank you in advance for your patience and commitment to working with us. We are all in this together, and there is no right way to proceed, so I will end where I began. Our primary goal with Georgetown Connects is to support the social, physical and emotional well being of our students during this time of uncertainty and school closure. They need us right now and we are there for them!
April 3, 2020
Class of 2020 letter
Good afternoon Seniors:
I hope all is well. I want to take a moment to reach out to you directly in this uncertain time to provide any updates about important senior events that you may be thinking about now that you are completing thirteen years of education and are looking forward to celebrating this major milestone in your lives.
We are moving forward with planning senior celebrations based on the current information we have with a date of May 4th as a possible return to school date. However, we will be prepared to adjust this based on how the current situation evolves. We do not know what this looks like but we are staying the course, and moving forward with all of the planning that goes into celebrating our seniors and their accomplishments. This includes award and scholarship ceremonies, prom, graduation and any other senior class events that traditionally occur. This will ensure that if we are able to hold these events we will be ready to do so.
What is happening now as we are planning for both scenarios:
Superintendent Jacobs, myself, and all administrators and department heads are working on senior planning while keeping updated on what is happening in local communities and the state.
Georgetown school administrators are all connected with administrators from area school districts to share ideas about how to proceed with these senior events in case we are not able to hold these events in the traditional manner.
Assistant Principals, Mr. Prescott and Ms. Lysen, will be holding meetings with the Senior Class Officers from this point on to keep them updated on the status of senior events and planning. We ask that all class of 2020 members reach out to your class officers with any questions or concerns you may have so they can share these with the Assistant Principals during their meetings.
We are all focused on how to make your senior year a special time for you even in the midst of all of this uncertainty. I miss seeing you on a daily basis and hope that you and your families are all staying safe.