3.27 Letter to parents regarding moving forward with Distance Learning

Starburst

Dear Parents and Guardians:

We are all experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and now with a state-wide Stay-at-Home order from Governor Little yesterday afternoon, we are all living through unchartered territory. The State Board of Education also ordered the closure of schools until April 20, 2020. The Emmett School District is working to create a distance learning platform that will accommodate our students and staff during this extended closure. The Emmett School District is working hard to create an education system that we will be able to push out starting Monday, March 30, and continue education with our students.

Distance Learning:
With that being said, we are going to need the help of parents and guardians. We will not have access to every home and every home will have a different configuration of computers, internet, and other devices that students will be trying to use. Please understand that the teachers have had three days of work time to put something together, and it is actually quite amazing what they have put together. The School District is working hard to create a distance learning education system that we will be able to push out to secondary students starting Monday March 30, and elementary students starting April 12.

What Does This Mean To You:
Our plan is tailored for each student level and school principals and teachers will be reaching out to you with information regarding equipment, lessons, expectations and teacher “office hours.” If your child has special educational needs, you don’t have internet access, our staff will be working with you, individually. Please ask them questions. We do not want to overwhelm your children or you as we provide education content and instruction during this time.

Technology Support:
We understand not everyone is equipped with computers and reliable online access to support distance learning or working from home. Building staff has reached out to high families to determine needs. We are looking at plans to support both online and traditional learning during this closure

We Are Still Working:
Governor Little’s stay-at-home order emphasized the social distancing we need to flatten the curve. We will have limited office staff at each school and the District Office, but the buildings will be closed to the public unless you have an appointment, or you have been directed to come to the school (probably a specific location. It’s best to email your teacher or call your school office, during regular school business hours, starting Monday, if you have a question.

Teacher Office Hours:
In addition to preparing lessons, ect, teachers (in most cases) are expected to be available through Google Meet and email during the following times to meet with parents and students 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 7:00pm - 8:00 pm Monday, Wednesday and Thursday
Staff are expected to be available through Google Meet for parents and students
depending on grade level and online capabilities at home. Some grade levels will use other platforms to communicate. Your teacher and/or building administrator will clearly define what platform will be used.

We have received different questions from parents, who are wondering what the rest of this school year will bring in different areas. We will address a few of those questions below:

+ Kindergarten Registration: This will be rescheduled once we are able to have allowable group gatherings.
+ Prom: An alternative date has been scheduled for mid May, should we be able to return and be in large groups.
+ Graduation: At this time we don’t know if the Idaho Center will be available for graduation. We will continue to monitor the situation and inform students, parents and staff as soon as we are able with graduation updates. Those seniors that were on-track to graduate will still graduate.
+ Athletics: The Idaho High School Activities Association is following the orders from the Governor, as well as the Idaho Office of State Board of Education soft closure requirements. For now all spring sports are cancelled; when this changes we will let you know.
+ Civics Exam: This exam is included in our State’s Constitution and cannot be waived; your senior student will hear from your Principal if they are in need of completing this exam prior to graduation.
+ College Entrance Exam: The Idaho State Department of Education is exploring options to provide students, who want to take the SAT, an opportunity to do so at the state's expense this summer or next year. As these details are decided we will share.
+ State Testing: Currently the requirement for ISAT testing in grades 3 – 12 for ELA, Math and Science is suspended for the Spring 2020.

Free Meal Distribution:
The district will continue to offer breakfast and lunch pickups at Emmett Middle School from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm to all students, five days a week. There is no charge for this service. Travel to pick up meals is considered an essential and our staff is committed to providing meals for students. Children must be there to receive meals and can pick them up without an adult. Children and staff will be expected to adhere to the social distancing mandate from the Governor and CDC.

Our Commitment to You:
Finally, please communicate with us. We are building a completely new way to deliver education and are doing it over a very short implementation time. There are going to be issues, frustration, and questions. We will address them to the best of our ability. We have almost 2,700 students in the district and a skeleton crew at the school buildings. We will do the best job we can, and together, we will get this educational platform working.

Let’s All Take a Deep Breath:
Our No.1 priority is our staff, students, and the community's safety. Please understand that we will continue to monitor and adjust the plan as mandated by our State Board of Education and our Governor. We will all need to practice patience, flexibility and understanding as we adapt to this “new normal.”

Sincerely

Craig Woods, Superintendent