Dear Pelham Parents and Community Members,
As you know, recently we asked all K-12 parents and students in grades 6-12 to complete surveys on our distance learning efforts to better understand what is working and what adjustments could be made to improve the experience. We have since been working hard to analyze this feedback, identify where there were common themes, and determine prudent and feasible changes to the program that would help as many students with their learning as possible.
As has been the case since the outset of these efforts, the reality is that distance learning is working better for some families than others. Many have been able to adapt to this work and find it meaningful and challenging, while others are struggling to strike the right balance. We know that working from home and challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic affect different families in different ways. This is to be expected, and we will continue to strive to meet the needs of all students academically, socially and emotionally.
Overall, the majority of parents and students expressed satisfaction with the program with 60% of elementary parents, 68% of middle school parents, and 61% of high school parents reporting their experience with distance learning to be good, very good or excellent. Those numbers were slightly higher among middle school and high school students at 71% and 64% respectively. The full quantitative data from the surveys is available on the District website.
However, through reading responses to open-ended questions and the many emails we have received over the past few weeks, it is clear that there are areas in which we can approve, particularly at the elementary level. Below are some changes that you should expect to see over the next few weeks:
Moving forward, teachers will be using the morning session to support a balance of social-emotional connection and learning related to the day's lessons
All students will now be expected to participate in the afternoon sessions. Teachers will use these sessions to provide meaningful feedback and/or support to students on the day's lessons. Please note that teachers will use this time flexibly to best address their instructional objectives and the needs of their particular students. Examples may include using the time for small group work, full classroom sessions, and /or individualized instruction, etc. Specific information will come directly from your child's teacher
We will continue to use the two day lesson format, which allows flexibility for families to complete synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities. Directions will be added to the lesson plans to assist parents to better facilitate and/or extend learning when needed
Resources are being added to improve asynchronous instruction within distance learning lessons with a focus on progressing through the regular curriculum in core subject areas (ELA, Math, Social Studies, Science). These materials will provide consistency across the grade level
The District is working to implement tools that allow students to submit additional work so that teachers can monitor growth and provide meaningful feedback.
At the middle and high school level, students will continue to meet with their teachers according to the distance learning schedule. While we will not be giving final exams or Regents exams, students must still demonstrate mastery of the core curriculum for each course, therefore participation in these sessions and completion of posted assignments is required for students. It is important for parents to know that while there are no scheduled class sessions on Fridays, our teachers are very busy working to plan lessons collaboratively, participating in faculty/department meetings and professional development, participating in team meetings, and meeting with students individually or in groups on a case-by-case basis. Having this time is also essential for allowing our clinicians and special education teachers to meet with students in those programs that would otherwise not be possible during the week.
I would like to thank everyone for their participation in the surveys and for the feedback you have provided. As we continue through the remainder of the school year, we will continue to monitor and adjust the program to the best of our ability and thank you in advance for your continued patience as we navigate this pandemic together.
In closing, I want to thank our faculty and staff, especially in light of today being the beginning of teacher appreciation week. This shift to distance learning has been difficult on all involved, and without their flexibility, ingenuity and passion for our students, none of this would be possible.
Thank you for your continued support.
Cheryl H. Champ
Superintendent of Schools
Social Distancing Guidelines
- Stay home as much as possible, even if you feel healthy
- Refrain from congregating in groups and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others
- Refrain from social gatherings, playdates and sleepovers with friends
- Do not visit public playgrounds
- Use caution when visiting grocery stores/pharmacies and consider delivery services for food and groceries.
- When maintaining social distancing is not possible, cover your nose and mouth with a cloth or mask when you leave home.
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Contact Information for Social Workers and Student Assistance Counselor
Our social workers and student assistance counselor continue to be available to support those who are experiencing hardships and need assistance. Please feel free to contact:
- Kristin Quintano, Social Worker, 914-738-3434 x1295
- Sharon Charles, Social Worker, 914-738-8190 x1218
- Kelley-Anne Lonergan, Student Assistance Counselor, 914-738-8182
Information on Community Organizations Offering Assistance
Additionally, organizations such as Pelham Together, the Junior League of Pelham and our faith community have offered their assistance with those families with a variety of needs, including food, child care, and other demands of day-to-day life. The Pelham Civic Association is also available for families that have fallen on hard times due to this pandemic. Please feel free to reach out in confidentiality for potential assistance to Richard Davidian, Vice President, Community programs at Richard.Davidian1@gmail.com (914-552-0872) or Dr. Stan Trocchia, Chairman, Good Neighbors program Goodneighbors@pelhamcivics.org.