Dear Danvers Families,
We hope that this letter finds you and your family safe and well. It is hard to believe that we have been away from school for 9 weeks and are starting our 3rd week in Phase III of our remote learning. As part of this communication, we are sharing a letter from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education which highlights the different phases of remote learning we have experienced and provides a brief picture of Phase IV – preparing for the next school year. In addition, the letter also includes a 2-page handout on School Connectedness which highlights the Commissioner’s guidance for Phase III of remote learning.
We also want to take the time to thank you for being our partners in educating your children. This unprecedented time has turned our way of educating students upside down. Not only are many of you working remotely or as an essential worker, but you are also working to support your children as they participate in remote learning experiences. We are aware of the different needs of our families and have planned our remote learning approach with equity in mind. That being said, we wanted to provide other resources, as you may need something different to keep your child(ren) engaged for the last four and half weeks of the school year. First and foremost, please know that our number one goal for remote learning is to keep your children engaged in their learning and connected to their school community.
Finally, since we have completed two weeks in Phase III of our remote learning plan, we would like to get your feedback on this plan. We would appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to complete this survey. Once we’ve completed the school year, we will focus our energies on Phase IV – planning for the opening of school in the fall. While our hope is that we are all together in school in person, the reality is that we may have a need for remote learning for some periods of time during the next school year. Your feedback will be important as we plan for the next phase of reopening our schools.
Lisa Dana, Keith Taverna, and Mary Wermers
The beginning of May brought beautiful weather along with the reality that we are not going back to school today and will end the school year away from one another. Given this new reality, on April 24th, the Commissioner of Education released new guidance for the state’s approach to remote learning. The good news is that we are on the right path with our remote learning plans. The Commissioner’s guidance highlighted two areas we’ve begun to strengthen – new academic content and student connectedness.
During the week of April 6th, many of our teachers started to shift to teaching new content after spending the first weeks of remote learning reinforcing previously taught content. With the Commissioner’s guidance document released on April 24th, we are now able to focus our work on prerequisite standards – content that all students should learn this school year. This past week, teachers at all levels reflected on what they taught in the first two-thirds of the school year and determined which standards they must cover for the remaining weeks. They embarked on collaborative lesson planning and will begin to transition to covering these new standards as soon as they close out the content they are currently covering.
In addition to focusing on new content, our teachers also strengthened their commitment to connect with students. The Commissioner stated in his guidance: “A quality remote learning program will ensure that opportunities for connection are woven throughout core instruction and enrichment opportunities. Separate group or individual check-ins focused on students’ social-emotional health and well-being are also highly encouraged for all students.“
In Danvers, we were on that path by setting up varied opportunities for teachers to connect with students. To that end, in our family communication on April 24th, we sent guidance on the use of Google Meet by stating our expectations for students while participating in these sessions (see below). Our approach to student connectedness looks different at each level. At the Elementary level, teachers are providing two forms of live virtual meeting opportunities. Currently, classroom teachers are hosting a class meeting once or twice a week as an opportunity for students to connect with their teacher and their classmates. In addition to this, beginning the week of May 11th, each grade level team will offer office hours twice a week. These are optional opportunities for families to join a Google Meet and ask questions about content or particular assignments and get feedback from their teacher. At the secondary level, teachers will continue to hold daily 30-minute office hours to provide feedback to students on new academic content as well as host opportunities for students to connect in other ways (Team meetings, co-curricular activity check-ins, etc).
This week, May 4-8th, is teacher appreciation week! We’d like to express our gratitude for the Danvers teachers especially as they have quickly transitioned to remote learning while balancing the care of their own families. During this pandemic it has become clear that teachers play a very important role in the lives of our students and families. Please join us this week in showing appreciation for teachers, teacher aides, and Title I tutors along with our nurses for Nurses’ Day (May 6th). Also, know that we appreciate our families who have become our partners in teaching through our time in quarantine. We know you may find it challenging to work with your child(ren) on school work but we hope that we’ve provided the structure and materials to assist with this important task. Please find some additional resources to support you at the end of this letter.
Finally, we are mindful that each and every family has unique circumstances that they are facing during these challenging times so we want to remind you that we are here to support you – be it the need for support with a daily lunch, support with technology or Chromebook repairs (please contact school principal), or support with remote learning. Do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.
Resources for supporting your student with remote learning:
How to Support Your Children in Learning at Home (elementary)
Expectations for students during Google Meet sessions:
Here are some guidelines for student participation in a Google Meet (Hangout). All students must follow the Danvers Public Schools Acceptable Use Policy .
Expectations for students during Online Class Meetings:
- Appearing in a video meeting is a choice. You are also welcome to be a silent observer by simply muting your microphone or camera.
- Our teacher and classmates will see what is behind you. Make sure it is appropriate and not personal.
- Find a quiet space where you will not be distracted by family members. Let your family members know that you will be participating in an Online Class Meeting.
- Think of the space you are using as your classroom. This means dress as if you were in school and keep your conversation school appropriate.
- You should only be having a teacher led conversation while the teacher is present. When the Online Class Meeting is over the teacher will end the call for the entire class.
- You may not record the video call as video, audio, or still images (screen captures, etc.) because it is illegal to record or take pictures without the person’s consent.
- You may not invite others (share the link) to any Meet hosted by a Danvers Schools staff member.
An age-appropriate form of this statement will be read at the start of each Online Class Meeting: “Whenever we participate in remote learning through the use of video communication, it is important that we continue to respect the privacy/confidentiality and intellectual property rights of our school community for both students and teachers. By participating, you as students agree that you may not save, record, share, or post a session or any photos/screenshots from a session. I also agree that I will not save, record, share, or post a session or any photos/screenshots from a session. Please remember that all school rules and acceptable use policies apply during these remote learning sessions.”