Remote Learning Update Letter April 27, 2020
Remote Learning Update
Dear Parents, Students and Staff,
As we all continue to deal with this pandemic crisis and now enter the fourth marking period, it is my hope that all of our staff, students, parents and our community remain safe and healthy, both physically and emotionally, and continue to follow the guidelines set forth by Governor Murphy and Manchester Township. Our staff continues to communicate with parents and students and also continues to explore and learn new instructional platforms to meet the individual needs of all of our students. Most importantly, staff from each school have been reaching out in a variety of ways to show our students that they miss them and truly care how they are doing outside of school. I have received many emails thanking staff members from parents and these emails are greatly appreciated. Our counselors have also been available and have provided support where needed. Our food service and essential staff have distributed meals to those families who participate in our free and reduced lunch program, even when school was on spring break. We all realize that all of our families are experiencing a difficult time and there are many other needs in addition to student learning that are critical as we work through this crisis. As you are aware, Governor Murphy has extended school closing from April 30 to May 15. Therefore, administrators and staff will continue to assess what additional help can be provided for our students and families.
Remote Learning Options
I also appreciate your patience and understanding as we all work through this new remote instructional platform. Our staff had no real time to prepare for this type of instruction and I applaud their efforts at this point. We started by loaning over 400 chrome books for students for use at their home. Additionally, a large amount of learning packets were developed by teachers where computer learning was not productive due to the special needs of a student or for students at a young age. However, we all realize that this type of instruction can not replace the classroom teacher working with students. Many of our students have excelled in this learning, however some of our students have struggled with remote learning for a variety of reasons.
Our staff is continuing to develop new methods of instruction, which includes recorded lessons. Due to this flexibility, many students and families have benefitted from this type of instruction, however, despite all of these improvements over the first few weeks, we know that there are still some students having difficulty. There have been some requests to include live instruction. Under certain circumstances this is another positive option for our staff to provide targeted assistance and instruction that will benefit our students. However, there are disadvantages to using this platform exclusively. Briefly, there have been security and privacy issues which have occurred in several school districts and there are issues with scheduling for students who are unable to be at a computer and participate with the on-line classroom lesson at a specific time due to the many family situations that are a result of this crisis. These students currently have been able to complete their work after the designated hours with a recorded or other non-live strategy, but may not be able to participate in live lessons. Finally, some staff members are unfamiliar with this strategy and need time to develop lessons using this approach. This being said, teachers have the option to utilize the live learning option if they feel it would benefit some of their students. The live sessions can be run through Google Meets and may be provided to small groups of students or individual students. This can serve as another option to provide immediate direct feedback and clarify concepts where students are experiencing difficulty. The use of this strategy would be determined by the teacher and would require parent permission.
We know that students have different learning needs and it is important for parents to communicate with teachers to notify them if a student is struggling and determine the best strategy as we move forward. I know that our staff has been very understanding and flexible during this time. It is important that our teachers have options and they can determine the best method to deliver instruction and provide assistance based on the needs of their students. Now, more than ever, it is critical for parents to communicate with teachers regarding their child’s progress.
I appreciate your support for our district and your understanding of the work that is required by our staff to provide meaningful instruction to our students. We also understand that our families are all making sacrifices during this crisis and we appreciate all of your efforts for your children.
If you have any concerns, please communicate with your teacher, your building Principal, or anyone in our Central Office and give us the opportunity to address your individual issues. Working together is the best way to insure your child’s success.
Grades for Third Marking Period
The third marking period was extended until April 24. Grades will be available through the parent portal beginning April 30. The grades will be based on a combination of in class and remote learning. Teachers will be flexible in understanding the unique situation created by this pandemic crisis. Students who have not completed the required work may be issued an incomplete and given an additional two weeks before a final third marking period grade is assigned. Further information will follow regarding end of the year assessments as well as the determination of fourth marking period grades.
Unfortunately, at this time, we are looking at our upcoming scheduled activities in each of our schools to determine what events must be cancelled. These are difficult decisions as I know many of our students and parents look forward to these end of the year activities but, because of the restrictions and for safety reasons, some events will be cancelled and some will need to be modified. We are particularly sensitive to our senior events and we will continue to discuss possibilities in keeping certain events while complying with the regulations. Please review our website regularly to keep informed of the status of each event as we will be making announcements shortly.
Again, thank you for your patience and understanding as we all work through this difficult and unprecedented time. Please stay safe and healthy.
Superintendent of Schools
Manchester Township School District