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Continuity of Learning Updates April 24, 2020

April 24th, 2020

The following update was sent to the HCPSS community by Superintendent Michael Martirano on April 24, 2020:

This has been a very special week for elementary and middle school teachers and students. While middle school students reconnected with teachers and classmates in virtual classrooms, elementary students became acclimated to distance learning routines and procedures and are ready for online check-ins beginning on Monday, April 27. Overall, phase 3 of continuity of learning has been going very smoothly, a reflection of our careful preparation and deliberate intentionality in ensuring teacher preparation, technology readiness and equitable access for all students. We have encountered and addressed challenges along the way, and we are refining and adapting as the journey continues. More information about elementary, middle and high school continuity of learning can be found on our website.

Often, it is the periods of greatest stress that make us most creative and resourceful, and that has certainly been true during these past six weeks, when we have all had to adapt to new modes of living, learning and working. Navigating our school system through this period has made it necessary for our leadership team to tackle this challenge as a valuable opportunity for our system to build processes and infrastructure to sustain continuity of learning no matter how long schools are closed. As a result, we now have more robust capacity in technology devices, online instruction protocols, professional readiness, web-based resources and other tools. These give us a solid foundation to build on that can lead us to many exciting learning opportunities for the future.

As we acclimate to distance learning and receive additional state and federal guidelines, we will continue to adapt, provide additional supports and resources, and work together to ensure that we support our students during this time.

New Continuity of Learning Website and Help Function. Our HCPSS website has been a mainstay of our system’s continuity of learning program, with over 1.5 million total page views and 15,000–30,000 average daily visitors between March 12 and today. I am pleased to announce that our Continuity of Learning website has been restructured to give you an even more user-friendly and easily navigated resource, providing information essential for ensuring students continue to learn and thrive. The new site features pages with schedules and information dedicated to high school seniors and students at each level. All of our previous content remains online and can be accessed via the new Continuity of Learning site.

I am also pleased to announce the new HCPSS Help site, which is grouped by subject to allow quicker and easier navigation, and includes a convenient new keyword search function. This new Help site will make it easier for parents, students, staff and community members to quickly find answers to their most frequently-asked questions.

Attendance. Regular and active student participation is the key to student achievement and growth, both in the traditional classroom setting and during distance learning. Students are expected to engage in Continuity of Learning lessons and activities every week. Beginning Monday, April 27, 2020, teachers at all levels will document student attendance using a point system based on student participation in learning activities each week. Students earning the required minimum number of points will be marked “present” for the week; those earning fewer points will be marked “absent.” Specific indicators that will be used for each level are provided online.

Redistricting. While school building closures have required some modifications to the process, supporting students and families through the transition to a new school is of utmost importance and continues to be a priority as we move forward. As soon as the Board’s decision was announced on November 21, 2019, staff in all divisions moved quickly to assure a smooth transition to the adopted school boundaries for the next school year. Many students and families have already been welcomed by their new schools, and schools have made plans to host student visits, open houses, summer activities and other “getting acquainted” activities for new students and families. Staff will continue to share between schools all important information to ensure each child will thrive in their new placement. More information on the transition process and supporting students at a new school is provided online.

I know this time has been difficult for everyone. Families are navigating working from home while caring for and supporting their child’s learning. We are all missing the personal interaction with family, friends and colleagues that we regularly enjoyed prior to the COVID–19 outbreak. As a school system, we are working to give students and families as much support as possible, from our daily food distribution to ensuring all students have access to their teachers and counselors, as well as technology and other resources to support their learning.

As a father and grandfather, I miss seeing my family in person and, like many of you, have had to celebrate birthdays and holidays virtually. During this time, more than ever, it is so critical that we tend to the ones closest to us. This weekend, I encourage you to take time to reach out to extended family and friends.

Best wishes for a peaceful and healthful weekend.

Additional Updates

School Calendar Revisions

The Board has approved changes to the 2019–2020 school system calendar. HCPSS is now scheduled to be open on both Tuesday, April 28 and Tuesday, June 2, 2020, as the elections on these days will take place almost entirely by mail and schools will not be used as polling places.

Upcoming Public Hearings

Due to the COVID–19 crisis, Board meetings will be held virtually, live on the HCPSS website and on Comcast 95/Verizon 42. Community members wishing to testify should register online using the following links. Specific instructions on testifying virtually will be emailed to each registrant prior to the public hearing.