March 25, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians.
As you are aware, Governor Cuomo has mandated that all schools remain closed throughout New York State through March 31. Given the uptick in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 across the state, we anticipate that date will be extended. Please be aware that we are starting the shift from “enrichment learning activities” to “online instruction” which will begin on Monday, April 6, 2020. Please review the information below with students in order to ensure that our expectations are clear and the transition will be smooth.
- Beginning on April 6, elementary teachers will be posting daily assignments and morning messages to students via their own Google Classroom by 9 a.m., Monday-Thursday. This will be a shift from the current grade level Google Classrooms that list multiple learning activities. Students should try to complete these assignments on that school day. No new assignments will be posted on Fridays! That will provide students extra time to catch up OR enjoy some family time.
- In this new model, general education and special class teachers will have their own Google Classrooms and support services, such as: AIS, ELL, or Integrated Co-Teachers will post differentiated assignments so their students can experience success. Unified Arts teachers will also post fun activities for music, art and physical education there.
- Teachers and administrators will be monitoring assignments closely so that students are not overwhelmed with unrealistic expectations. (We apologize that in our urgency to get instruction out to students, the workload may be impossible to keep up with. That is why we asked them to stop posting and give students time to catch up. We have communicated this to teachers clearly.)
- Students must begin NOW to develop the habit of logging into Google Classroom on a daily basis. Start with the grade level Google Classrooms now and transition to teacher-specific Google Classrooms on April 6.
- Teachers will be posting “office hours/contact” times in three-hour blocks on their Google Classrooms so that students are aware when they may be asked to participate in virtual lessons via Google Meet or have direct access to teachers for guidance and support on their assignments.
- Teachers will also have time in their work day to respond to and reach out to students and parents via email. Response time should be no more than 24 hours. We have asked elementary teachers to reach out to all parents for their email addresses if they do not have them already. Please respond as soon as possible.
- Administrators, school psychologists, and social workers may also be reaching out to students and/or parents between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.
- Teachers will begin scoring assignments and maintain grades for the Third Trimester starting April 6, 2020.
- Building administrators and grade level chairpersons will be meeting virtually over the next week to clarify grading expectations and teachers will post them in their Google Classrooms.
We are very sensitive to the notion that COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the lives of our students, families and staff. We are trying to be respectful of the stress and anxiety that everyone is dealing with while trying to balance our responsibility to educate students during this tumultuous time. The home-school connection has never been more important to the success of our students and we are going to need to rely on all of you now, more than ever. We share the common goal of teaching the children and providing the guidance and support they need to move forward this school year with new content, concepts and curriculum. Therefore, if any of your child’s contact information needs to be updated, please email the teacher and copy the building principal. All district emails follow the format: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the near future, we will have to overcome many obstacles, including student access to devices and the internet. Therefore, we are offering our families opportunities to pick up one more Chromebook per family. If you need one, please email: email@example.com and you will be assigned an appointment to pick it up. Please be cognizant of the fact that we have a limited number to distribute.
Please understand that we are doing our best to meet our students’ needs. We are aware that this plan will have to evolve over time based on new, unexpected circumstances that we have not even thought of yet. We will continue to keep you informed as best we can, but you must be the “teacher in the room” and encourage your child to reach out to the teacher for extra support and guidance. The school counselors, social workers and psychologists that work in the buildings are still available for consultation, especially to special education and 504 students who may need extra support with this learning format.
Please refer to the district website about other important news and notes on a regular basis. For example, we will be posting information about cancellations and postponements as decisions are made and we will be asking students and parents to send photos to the yearbook coordinators at the buildings in order to include documentation of this historical situation in our yearbooks.
In closing, we would like to thank all of you for your patience and support as we navigate these new waters. The Pine Bush Central School District community continues to be the best place to live and learn because of your dedication and love for your children! Please stay safe and healthy.
Tim O. Mains
Superintendent of Pine Bush Schools