Welcome Back Message from Dr. Soranno

Dear Families and Staff:

We are looking forward to the 2020-2021 school year! Throughout the pandemic, science and data have continued to inform our decisions, and early on we made the decision to err on the side of caution for our staff and students by going virtual to open the school year. We rely on the facts presented by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Wayne County Department of Health and Human & Veterans Services as we coordinate, plan, and prepare for returning students to school in the fall. In collaboration with our Admin Staff and our Task Force, we have been strategic in our processes, always keeping the safety and well-being of our students and staff at the forefront, while also considering the information gleaned through parent and staff surveys.

One of the things we are most proud of is that we made our decision very early on in the process, so that our teachers and administrators would have the time to plan curriculum for our students that is current and adopts the strategies and high-power standards that our students need to be successful. We are also pleased that we have a tremendous Technology Department that has been with us for three years; and they have been working with our teachers and will continue to work with them throughout this pandemic on curriculum and strategies. These coaches are in-house staff that are here to work with both our staff and parents. They will be there side by side, guiding our staff so that we do not have to purchase online, canned programs that may or may not meet our students’ needs. Our curriculum will be geared towards our students and our students only!

Our Families can plan for the following:
  • Remote learning will begin the 2020-2021 school year; and we will transition back to in-person learning as the conditions allow. We will monitor health protocols, data around COVID-19 transmissions in our local area, and just how we went out looking at what was best for our school and community health, we will go back with the same considerations.
  • Some students from high-needs groups, such as Newcomer English Language Learners who have been in the US for less than one year, and students with disabilities who have high needs may be given the opportunity for some limited, in-person learning. This is true only if we do not go to Phase III, which would be called by the Governor. An additional letter, as well as a phone call, will be coming to you from the Special Education and Bilingual Departments in the near future. This call and letter will only be sent to you if your child meets the criteria.

Fall Remote Learning:

As educators, we know that learning in-person provides the best environment for teaching and learning. As parents and educators, we also know that science Maslow’s Hierarchy, also states that scientifically children and staff cannot conduct themselves efficiently if there are high levels of feeling like the situation is dangerous. Our bodies go into the fight or flight motion and we shut down. Beginning the school year remotely provides us with a safe environment and we will assess when the time is right for our children to return to school. Students will begin the year with their assigned teacher and continue with that teacher when we return to Face-to-Face learning. The schedule of remote learning will be sent by the building principal and the teacher. Teachers are available five days per week, as well as our principals. You can reach them through appointment by calling, emailing, or calling the school office and leaving a message. There are NO Face-to-Face meetings, so please contact the staff through one of these methods. Our quality instruction will be:
  • Real time (synchronous) and independent (asynchronous) opportunities for learning will be available throughout the regular scheduled day. Preliminary schedules for elementary, middle school and high school will be sent through those respective schools.
  • There are strict guidelines put in place to ensure appropriate ranges for screen-time use throughout the school day, so make sure your child takes advantage of this support to allow for growth.
Remote Learning:

Parents should know that remote learning will be more vigorous than the emergency measures put in place in March, 2020. Remote learning enhancements for the 2020-2021 school year include:
  • Chromebooks and devices provided to all students and teachers
  • All teachers are trained in Google Docs and Google Classroom effective August, 2020
  • All teachers will have available, trained Technology Coaches familiar with our Academic Goals, our staff, and our students on a daily basis; one per building
  • Google Classroom as a standardized learning platform
  • Our own staff members teaching; minimal use of computer software. Only for enrichment!
  • Increased contact time with Special Education staff
  • Increased contact time with Bilingual staff
  • A very structured daily schedule
  • All students will receive feedback and grades; lower elementary will continue with the same grading we have always used
  • Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will receive progress monitoring, as well as the grades they normally received in the Face-to-Face setting
  • Increased mandatory expectations for learning, including content that will be graded, the administering of Formative and Summative Assessment, as well as Project-Based Assessment will be utilized! All work will be graded and accounted for and the expectation that it is completed will be monitored and dealt with by staff
  • Daily attendance will be taken
Please stay tuned....

As we consider classroom instruction, our special needs populations, transportation, food services, and maintenance operations, the high degree of complexity and costs associated with mitigating health risks during the pandemic are extensive. There are still many unanswered questions as we continue to seek clarity from Wayne County Department of Health, Human and Veteran Services on screening, testing, tracing and reporting protocols; await guidance regarding pupil accounting; and anticipate funding allocations that would help us more accurately align expenditures with available resources.

You will be receiving letters from the Food Service Department regarding food pick-up times and days. Please wait for this notification to come to you. You will need to fill out all paperwork for registration purposes just as every other year. Please wait for further directions from that department.

Through all of these challenges, I am proud to say that the Board of Education has been supportive throughout this whole process, always putting students and staff first. My Administrative Team has worked throughout the summer and has been exemplary in their thoughts of students and staff first. Our teachers have worked throughout their summer, planning for their students and making sure our students are going to have a well-rounded education. They are top notch! We firmly believe that beginning our year online and making careful decisions based on science and what is right for the safety or our entire community fits for our district.

We will continue to update staff and families with pertinent information; please watch for further communications. Plans/information will be posted on the district website. As we open our “virtual doors” to our schools on Monday, August 31,2020, we will be prepared to provide our students with a quality education where we can continue to build positive and supportive relationships with our students and our families. Eventually, when we are ready to transition safely to in-person instruction, our students and teachers will have already built a solid foundation.

Teachers will have two days of online learning on August 27 & August 28, 2020. Please wait to hear from the Technology Department for further information. Teachers may participate in PD from home or their classroom.
Support Staff schedules will come from the building principals. Support Staff is required to participate in the online learning on the morning of August 27, 2020 - please wait for follow-up email from the Technology Department for more information on any additional training you may participate in.

The ENTIRE staff is required to participate in the morning PD session on August 27, 2020, from 8:00-11:45 a.m. Attendance will be taken before & after the PD, as well as being monitored throughout the session.

The clerical staff will have the option to participate in the Google sessions on the afternoon of August 27, 2020, as well as August 28, 2020.

I personally want to thank each and every one of you for the input you have shared over the last several months as we have made this transition to online learning. A special thanks to our School Board members, our parents who served on the District Task Force, everyone who served on the individual school task forces, and our administration and teachers. A special thank you to Joe Anheuser, our School Crisis Supervisor, for all of his additional work; to our Finance Director, Sandra Gutenschwager; the Operations Director, Elfriede Hervey; our Food Service Director, Martha Herringshaw; our Psychologist/Special Ed Director, Dr. Richard Lucido; and our Bilingual and Compensatory Grant Coordinator, Jacqueline Parker, for all of their hard work throughout the summer months. Thank you to our secretaries who have continued to work to help support us throughout the summer. A hearty thank you to our maintenance staff for cleaning and making our buildings beautiful and adapting our schools for when we do return to face-to-face learning down the road. I cannot say thank you enough to Austin Bright, Technology Coordinator, and the Technology Coaches and Department, who have been working endlessly around the clock for months to make sure we have the tools and training to be successful! With their hard work and daily assistance, we will all be well prepared for online learning, parents and guardians included!
Please note that computers will be deployed by our Technology Department by appointment; please watch for further information via email and our website. I also want to thank our parents for their patience as we navigate these trying times. These times are not easy, to say the least, but we want to provide a quality and powerful learning environment for our students throughout this school year, whatever platform we are using.
Educationally yours,
Dr. Kimberly Soranno
Superintendent/Curriculum Director
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