Welcome "back"... You have read wonderful messages from Dr. De Jarnett over the course of the spring break. I hope that you had the opportunity to read his message from Friday, April 3, 2020
) about next steps for all of D-E.
This follow-up message, while extensive, provides special Lower School (LS) information about our next phase in distance learning, "Phase II" -- including our new LS Online Distance Learning Guidelines. I have also included below an update from Trevor Shaw, D-E Director of Technology, with important tech safety/security considerations.
The Lower School has spent time during the spring break planning our next distance learning cycle, beginning tomorrow, Monday, April 6. We have reimagined many aspects of the LS day; always keeping the children at the center of our design and planning.
In order to best achieve success, I ask that you take some time to read through both this letter and its companion piece – our LS Online: Distance Learning General Guidelines PDF (click here to view). Through this information we hope you gain a better understanding about various layers of our new programming.
This information is also available on our new Parent Distance Learning Resource Board, which can be viewed once you LogIn to MyD-E. See below.*)
As you read, please keep in mind that we are striving to strike the right balance between thoughtfully planned curriculum continuation and the need to be nimble and flexible for the diversity of student and family needs.
We have planned robust days that incorporate time to connect with classmates and teachers, time to work independently or with the help of an adult, movement activities, and time where we would like students to step away from the computer to read, create, or to rest.
We are also excited about maintaining a connection with D-E 360° and ask you to learn more about afternoon offerings for LS students through our new Bulldog Club Digital Hangout link.
D-E Lower School Distance Learning Launch Pad – “The Launch Pad”
For those families that did not take part in the Spring Break Activities, the Launch Pad is a new “container” designed for ease of use; facilitating streamlined access to student schedules and other important resources. Click here
to view “The Launch Pad”
The Password to The Launch Pad is: bulldogLearn
Please take some time to explore the various links and to review the schedules for the week of April 6, 2020. There are some helpful links on the sidebar and a connection to www.d-e.org/covid.
Approach to the School Day:
While our expectation, and hope, is that all children will be present for the school day, we are mindful of three (3) important things that impact LS children – parent schedules, student stamina, and screen time. More guidance about these items are provided by clicking here
for our LS Online: Distance Learning General Guidelines.
(*Note: I encourage you to "Bookmark" both these Guidelines
and The Launchpad
website pages. You can also link to these website pages on our new Parent Distance Learning Resource Board, once you LogIn to MyDE. See below.*)
We invite and encourage families to view the complete schedule in The Launchpad
for your child/children for the week of April 6, 2020. Based on your family’s needs, making decisions about which aspects of the schedule are viable for attendance each day will help to reduce stressors.
Classroom teachers will be sending home “Welcome Back to School” information on Monday, April 6, 2020 that will provide important details and some additional guidance about the scope of activities listed on the weekly schedule. Their communiques will also outline how they plan to partner with you during the coming weeks.
If you need further guidance about this, please Email me, Kim Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Susan Abramson at email@example.com
. We are here to help!
Lower School Schedules:
Thoughtfully crafted schedules seek to balance opportunity for children to connect, create, learn, play and rest. Classes on the schedule viewable on The Launch Pad that are Blue are indicators of times when students will connect with teachers synchronously through Zoom. Classes that are White are indicators of asynchronous work times.
Start times and end times are provided as a guide. Each new activity will begin at the start time; however, depending upon the age of the students, synchronous instruction may only last for 10-20 minutes.
Our experience with the spring break activities, coupled with research of other school models, indicate that maintenance of a 30-minute instructional Zoom meeting can be a challenge for young learners. Teachers are planning ways to incorporate breaks and independent work during those times but may also ask students to log off to take an early “offline break”.
Families can expect to see additions to the schedules as we pace ourselves through the coming weeks. In some cases, additional Special Area classes will be added to the schedule. We also hope to provide times for students to gather for Early Childhood Sing-Alongs, Lower School Assemblies, and other group activities as we solidify our routines with the new schedule.
During the week of March 16, 2020, we collected feedback from families and faculty that helped to shape Phase II. I would like to share words of thanks to all of the Lower School Parent Reps who gathered and shared feedback with me each day, while also managing their own home fronts.
In order to make Phase II a successful experience for all, it is very important to continue to receive your feedback. Pat Boig firstname.lastname@example.org
and Helen Jerome email@example.com
will be the collectors and curators of general feedback specifically from Lower School families. The main guiding questions for feedback that they will gather are:
- What are you experiencing from your end – highlights and challenges?
- What are some suggestions that you offer to “Make it Better”?
Support from Pat and Helen will allow for broader examination of overarching parental experiences, trends and patterns across the Lower School age-ranges. Those items will be reviewed collaboratively with me, Susan and LS Faculty.
Please note, that this feedback loop does not preclude families from sending questions to your child’s teachers, to Susan, or to me. We want to hear from you, as your emails keep us connected and motivated! We are definitely available to connect with you daily.
Words of Gratitude and Encouragement:
As I write these final thoughts, I think of my grandparents, born in the early 1900s. They were survivors of many of history’s challenging moments – the Great Depression, multiple economic recessions and world wars. As African Americans growing up in the South, they were survivors of the Jim Crow era, participants in the Great Migration, and came face-to-face with so many horrifying events. I am sure that you too can share stories of family and friends from older generations that survived events that were unimaginable.
The point of my recollection is not to end this note with despair but to share the gifts of their survival that have been instilled in me. I hope that those gifts are transferred to your children, and to the children around the world. What are those gifts? Gifts of fortitude, resiliency, hope, and belief in the unyielding power of love. It is my hope that they will see us display those traits as we take these next steps together.
As we return to school under new conditions, we will form a series of new routines and habits of teaching, learning, playing, and connecting. Our plans must make sense for the children to be able to grow, find their independence, and tap into new wells of creativity, while the adults around them manage a world that seems a bit uncertain at best.
The LS faculty and staff have reimagined a new way forward. They hope to offer memorable experiences. I want to publicly thank them and Susan for taking up this charge quickly, and without hesitation; learning new methods of delivering instruction while managing their own families and fears.
A reminder that we will only have distance learning classes this week (only) from tomorrow (Monday, April 6, 2020) through Wednesday (April 8, 2020). As was always planned in the School calendar, there will be no distance learning classes on Thursday, April 9 - Friday, April 10, due to the upcoming Passover / Good Friday and Easter weekend.
Finally, as noted by Dr. DeJarnett, we have chosen Monday, April 27 as our first "pivot day"-- a day "off" from school with no distance learning with no distance learning classes.
Any changes we make would begin after that.
Thank you in advance for your partnership with this distance learning plan and for supporting all of us who have thoughtfully planned this phase of the school year. We walk bravely with you, linking arms with you, as we all take care of our families and the global community.