Pawprint Letter to Parents

March 27, 2020

Dear Families and Caregivers:
I am writing to follow up the letter you received from Superintendent Hopkins to provide you with important information about the high school’s plan for moving forward with remote/distance teaching and learning during the school closure.
As Superintendent Hopkins shared, we will be providing remote/distance teaching and learning for all high school students starting Monday, March 30, 2020.  Since the school district made the decision to close our school due to the ongoing pandemic, I have been working with district administrators, my Assistant Principals, the members of my leadership team, and many of our faculty to develop a plan that provides our students with a quality education through an online/remote format.  I am happy to say that after reviewing the plan Thursday afternoon with Superintendent Hopkins, we feel we are ready to get started.
Before I go any further, I want everyone to know that on behalf of the faculty and staff, we hope all of you are healthy and are making the best of the situation we are all in.  In addition to the obvious benefits that come with teaching and learning, we hope this experience will be a positive aspect of your days ahead.  This approach to teaching and learning is new to everyone and with this in mind, our plan is similar to a train pulling out of the station.  We will start slow, make sure everyone is onboard, and pick up speed when everyone is ready.  Despite all of the planning and preparation that has gone into making this a reality, it is not perfect and there will be a learning curve for everyone.  If at any point along the way, you have questions or concerns, please let us know so that we can either answer your questions, or work with you on a solution to your concerns.  We believe that if we all work together and bring a “We can do this.” attitude, we will make this work and everyone will benefit.
You will see on the document “Weekly Schedule (Remote/Distance Learning)”  that every week will follow the same schedule.  Considering what is happening around the world and recognizing that everyone’s situation is a little different than others, we decided to go with a balance of structure and flexibility so that everyone can be successful.  We want this experience to be as fun and enjoyable as possible, not one that adds stress.  With this in mind, the focus of every Monday will be for advisors and advisees to check in with each other, to ask and answer questions, and provide assistance if needed.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be our teaching and learning days.  Tuesdays will be for O-Day classes and Wednesdays will be for B-Day classes.  Our primary mode of operation will be online using the school issued laptops and/or other personal technology devices (I-Pad, Smart Phone, Tablet) that people may have access to.  Teachers will facilitate lessons through a combination of resources including live instruction using Google Meet, recorded instruction, and online resources.  Teachers will have lesson and assignment information available on their website, Google Classroom, or Google Drive for students to access.  Students who do not have internet access at home will be able to access instructions and assignments in three ways:

The wireless network at each of the elementary schools, the middle school, the high school, and central office are available for use from outside the buildings.  Students can also use available public wifi. 
High School: T-Wing parking lot is best (left side of the school), main entrance area is okay.
Middle School: Front facing the road is best, the right side of the building is also very good.
L.E.R.: The front circle is good.
Riverview: Along the right side close to the building and front are very good.  Outside
the cafeteria is good.
Pittston/Randolph: The front circle and along the gym are good.
H.T.: Next to the cafeteria is best.  The front circle close to the building is ok.
Central Office: Closest to the building is best.

Students who have a smartphone can download the Google Meet app and access live instruction when it is used by their teachers, access teachers’ Google Classrooms, Sites, and Documents.
If the first two options are not viable, students can sign up to get a paper copy of assignments and instructions each week.  These will be available for pick up and drop off at the high school on Mondays between 2pm and 6pm.  This time may be adjusted if we feel it will improve this aspect of our plan.  It will be important that students inform their teachers and/or their advisor that they need a paper version of assignments and instructions so their teachers can have a copy ready for pick up on Mondays.

You will also see that we have included time for academic support on Thursdays and Fridays to help ensure every student has the opportunity to be successful.  Teachers will have “Online Office Hours” to provide their students with academic support and additional instruction based on student needs.  Teachers will be available via email, Google Meet, and Google Docs between 9am and 11am and 12pm and 2pm on these two days.  Teachers may make arrangements with individuals and groups of students at times other than these if there is a need to do so.  We also have support in place for our students who have IEP, 504, and ELL plans.  Our special education case managers, the school district’s 504 coordinator, and ELL coordinator will be closely monitoring the weekly performance and participation of students on their caseloads.  When needed and appropriate, the student’s teacher, an educational technician, and/or the student’s case manager will provide academic support to address accommodations.
I hope this information is helpful and provides everyone with clarity about our programming for the next several weeks.  None of us truly know how the pandemic will unfold.  With this in mind, the administration, faculty, and staff are committed to educating our students through a remote/online format until we can return to the building.  Together we will make this work.  I hope all of you stay healthy, take care of each other, and participate in our programming to the best of your ability.  Go Tigers! 

Chad Kempton
Gardiner Area High School