Despite some very unusual circumstances, we are off to a really good start to the 2020-2021 school year. Our students came prepared to learn and our teachers are working hard to make the best use of time when they see students in person as well as times when they can only access them virtually. I know that this set-up is not the ideal, but it is what we have for right now given the rules and guidelines that we need to abide by. We are going to work to make our current situation be the best that it can be and hope for more time with our students in the future.
I know I speak for my entire staff at Old Town High School when I tell you that we were very excited to see students in-person this week. We got into this business because we enjoy working with kids and the last few months without them has not been easy for us. Thank you for sharing your student with us - we are blessed to do what we do and we often learn as much from them as they do from us.
Here are a few words that you likely have heard students and other educators use interchangeably, but this is what they mean for Old Town High School to begin this school year.
Hybrid Days - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
***All students are engaged
*Accomplished through - in-class, google meets, video, x, y, z
Virtual Day - Wednesday
***Google meet required
Office Hours - every Wednesday from 1pm to 3pm, others - as teachers feel necessary
Communication between parents and teachers is going to be vital during this time of hybrid learning in schools. My expectation with teachers is that they reach out to you initially so that you know how to get in touch with them and then they communicate with you again - if your student is in danger of failing their class.
It will be crucial that we have the most up-to-date phone numbers and email addresses in order to keep the lines of communication open. If anything changes with regard to your contact information - please let us know as soon as possible.
If your student is having trouble connecting to a class, they should reach out to the teacher. Please know that the teacher might not be able to get right back to them as they are conducting the lesson during that time. They should try to refresh the google classroom page, but may need to wait to hear back from the teacher.
If you reach out to a teacher, school counselor or administrator via email or you leave them a voicemail, my expectation is that they return your call or email within (2) school days.
Masks - Thank You
I cannot express to you the gratitude that I have for the manner in which all of your kids have behaved given the rules and guidelines. Students came with masks of their own - nearly 100% of them. They have an understanding of distancing, though we do have a little bit of work to do with them in that regard. They seem to understand the importance of following these rules in order for us to progress in the correct direction.
Calling in when your child is sick
As in years past, we would like for you to call and let us know if your child is sick and will not be attending in person instruction, or if they are too sick to participate in virtual instruction. We will then enter that information into Infinite Campus in order to inform our teachers.
What does sick mean?
When in doubt - keep them home and have them participate virtually. If your child has symptoms of COVID19 or is being tested, please reach out to our school nurse - Jana Caron. Her email is email@example.com and her phone number is 827-3910 x2323
Lunch - Free until December 31
School hot lunch is free from now until December 31st. Any child who would like to eat school lunch - can do so at no cost. This is a great chance for students to try and see if they might like it. If you have questions, you could contact our RSU 34 Food Service Director, Stephanie Salley at 827-3910 ext. 2218.
Missing class time
As in past years, students should arrange to do any driving required for driver education during study hall time only - regardless of whether the student’s schedule for the day is hybrid live or virtual.
Also as a reminder - students are not allowed to miss class meetings because of a job. Virtual class time is much more structured than last spring. Students will have assignments with due dates/times or virtual meetings to count towards attendance. Late assignments will result in absences.
We have had a few bumps in the road with our virtual attendance. If you feel that your student was marked absent incorrectly, please contact the teacher to fix that. Teachers are the ones who need to fix the virtual attendance. It is a slow process as the change won’t be seen until the next day. Teachers are able to go back and fix attendance for the previous 5 days.
At this time, we are not currently able to accommodate day switches without a valid reason to do so, such as transportation or aligning with other family members who attend other schools on a particular day. If you feel like you have a valid case for a scheduling day switch, contact Amy Ketch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 827-3910 x. 2324.
Please rest assured that teachers are cleaning the desks in their classrooms between each block during the school day(sometimes with the assistance of students). In addition, custodians are doing a more thorough cleaning of each desk and classroom area in the evening. We are also providing hand sanitizer for students and encouraging them to use it before and after every class.
Work for ‘Always Virtual’ students
We have asked teachers to bring books and other work materials for our ‘Always Virtual’ students to the Main Office at OTHS. If parents/guardians could drop by and pick them up, that would be wonderful. The office is open between the hours of 7:30am and 3:30pm. If you need other arrangements, please contact me at email@example.com or call my office at 827-3910 ext 2303.
We are asking - that students arrive at school as close to 8:15am as possible. To start the year, we will not be opening the doors prior to that time. I know that in some cases rides from parents will make this an impossible request, but please do the best that you can.
I know firsthand that parenting is a difficult enough job without having to take on the added burden of educating your student as well. What we really need from families is more along the lines of a study hall monitor. We will provide the content, the instruction and support, but we need your help to know when things are not going well at home.
I have tasked our teachers with doing their very best to provide a great experience for our students when they are in the school and a consistent, rigorous experience when they are virtual. This is a challenging task and there are certain to be some bumps along the way, but we will work together to achieve this goal.
Here are some things that you can do that will help your student, your teacher and perhaps yourself along the way.
Know your student’s schedule and hold them accountable for attending not only their hybrid in-person days, but also virtual days.
Create a space for your student to work that is comfortable, private and allows them to concentrate and focus.
Provide any materials that they may need to stay focused on the task of virtual schooling.
Remind your student to check their email frequently for messages from the school.
Check Infinite Campus often. Know your student’s attendance history and their current grades.
Reach out to us here at Old Town High School for help - if you find yourself or your student struggling. Contact a teacher, a school counselor or an administrator.
We are here to listen and we want to help in any way that we can.
The guidance staff will have a few more opportunities for students to change their schedules. Details were emailed to students on Sunday.
COVID School Advisory Council
For the 2020-2021 school year, each school is forming a continued input/feedback team of parents and staff, called the “COVID Advisory Council.” (AES and VRS will have one combined council). The school principal will chair the team, which will have these responsibilities:
Receive and share input about what is working as intended, and what can be improved on
Review emerging research
Review public input
Report to the Board with issues discussed, and whether consensus exists on any recommendations
The membership of each school’s team includes:
(Ex Officio: Superintendent of Schools, Director of Curric/Instruction/Assessment, Special Education Director, School Nurse)
Chair: Building administrator(s)
4 Parent Representatives
If you are interested in being a parent representative, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email, please indicate if you’re comfortable with the current RSU #34 plan, if you think the plan is too cautious, or if you think the plan is too risky. We will seek to have a balance of parent perspectives on the team.