Dear EVCS Families,
I want to thank everyone who attended our PA town hall meeting on Wednesday evening, and say thanks to everyone who has shown up, asked (so many) good questions and been so engaged throughout the summer as we have planned the complicated logistics for reopening school this fall. Your engagement and collaboration is essential always, but especially now. I know that many folks were not able to join on Wednesday so I’ll share an overview of the big ticket announcements and resources here.
Our school’s re-entry planning team, made up of teachers, staff and parents, has been meeting weekly and has drafted a framework for how blended learning will work at EVCS. Our plan takes into account all of the latest protocols and guidance from the Department of Education and from public health officials, it centers our school’s core values of Kindness, Inclusion, Social Action, Self-Awareness and Joy of Learning, and most importantly, it prioritizes the health and safety of our students, staff and families above all else. You can read through the key features of our plan here, from the slides I shared on Wednesday. And more detailed information about health and safety protocols that will be in place for all schools is available on the DOE website.
Our school’s instructional model this fall will ensure that all students, whether they are learning in school or at home, will be actively engaged in instruction five days a week. All students who are able to learn in-person will come in to school one-third of the days and learn at home remotely on the other days. Students opting for in-person instruction will be assigned to small groups or “pods” of roughly 9 students that will remain consistent throughout our time in blended learning. All students, whether they are participating in blended learning or not, will have the benefit of working directly with all three teachers on their grade level, but when students come in for in-person learning they will always work with one specific teacher. We are working on forming groups and schedules and will share information with families regarding which days of the week children will be learning in school and who their “homeroom” teacher will be before the end of next week so you can coordinate your plans.
All of our students, whether they are participating in fully remote or blended learning, will spend the majority of time learning remotely so we are planning for the online features and platforms to be the backbone of our instructional plans and for there to be continuity and coherence on the grade level, so that the content, rigor and quality of teaching and learning is consistent for all students. Remote learning this year will include synchronous and asynchronous instruction every day, and all students will start each day with a live morning meeting and end each day with a live closing circle. We will have consistent, regular weekly schedules for synchronous remote instruction so families can plan accordingly. It’s very important to us that our students who will not be learning in the school building this year continue to feel connected to their classmates, teachers and school community, and we have prioritized this in our plans.
We know that these last several months have taken a toll on many of our students academically and emotionally, and we will of course be planning to address our students’ needs, whatever they may be. Responsive and differentiated instruction has always been at the heart of what we do at EVCS, and there has never been a time when this approach has been more important than now. We also recognize that some of our students will need more intensive supports and may benefit from more frequent in-person learning sessions. We have built in some flexibility to our three-cohort programming model to allow for a small group of students on each grade level to attend school in-person more than one-third of the days, or with more than one pod of students. Our planing team will be developing criteria for how we will prioritize student needs to make this opportunity available to students, and we will be reaching out to families on an individual and rolling basis to discuss. If you feel that your child needs or would greatly benefit from more frequent in-person instruction I invite you to reach out to me directly to discuss. Equity means that everyone gets what they need, and this is essential to our approach at EVCS.
I know many are wondering exactly what day we are starting and what our school schedule will be. The DOE has not confirmed the official start date or released the school year calendar yet, but the first day of school for students is tentatively scheduled for September 10. It’s possible that the city will respond to calls for pushing the start date for in-person instruction back a couple of weeks to allow schools more time to prepare for that. We will make sure to keep everyone posted once we know for certain. Our school day for students will start at 8:30 for in-person and remote instruction, and will end each day between 1:45 and 2:00 to allow for a staggered dismissal. Please note that the school day ends earlier this year because student lunch will overlap with instructional periods.
I know it’s a ton of information to process! Please reach out if you have any immediate questions or if you want to schedule a time to talk through some of these items. And there will be another opportunity to come together for a town hall style meeting in the last week of August, so please look out for an invite from the PA. I hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe and that you find joy and relaxation in these last weeks of summer. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.