Dear Pelham Parents and Community Members,
As a follow-up to yesterday’s email, please know that the District received overwhelming response to the parent reopening forums this Thursday, August 20 with more registrations than the maximum allowed in Google Meet (250) as well as hundreds of questions. To ensure that as many parents/guardians as possible can participate, each of the three forums will now also be streamed over YouTube Live. On Thursday, approximately 15 minutes prior to the respective meeting start times, registrants will receive an email with both a link to the Google Meet and the YouTube Live stream. If you are unable to login to the Google Meet because it is at capacity, please use the YouTube live link. Additionally, all three meetings will be recorded and posted to the District website. Please know that we will do our best to incorporate the answers to the most frequently asked questions into the presentations and that our Principals will be holding meetings to share school-specific information closer to the start of school. Please continue reading for a variety of important updates that were discussed at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
School Calendar Changes
Last night, the Board of Education approved an updated 2020-21 school calendar that includes a number of key changes. Most notably, the first day of school has been changed to Thursday, September 10 to allow two additional Superintendent’s Conference Days at the start of the year for teachers and staff. These two additional days will provide important professional development and planning time for staff to prepare for the challenging year ahead. To accommodate this change, previously scheduled school closures for students on December 4 and March 19 will now be regular school days. Please note that September 10 will be a noon dismissal for students in grades 1-5. Additionally, our Kindergarten teachers will be using the first four days of school (September 10, 11, 14 & 15) to schedule individual, in-person transition meetings with their students. Finally, all previously scheduled 2-hour delays for professional development will be canceled.
Hybrid Model & Schedule Update
As we continue to plan for the hybrid learning model, the District has been working with teachers to refine a schedule and plans that will help keep our students and staff safe and provide rich and robust academic experiences while navigating the challenges of managing both in-person and remote instruction. Priorities include:
Allowing additional time for students/staff to navigate the logistics of the buildings, particularly arrival, dismissal, lunch, and recess
Supporting students who are learning from home
Reducing screen time to enable focus and persistence in learning tasks
Providing teachers sufficient time to learn new technologies and tailor lessons and assignments for delivery in both a virtual and in-person setting given the additional complexity the hybrid environment presents
With that in mind, the following calendar/schedule changes will be in effect under the hybrid model:
All Wednesdays during weeks where there are five school days will have a noon dismissals for students. The afternoons will be used for teacher planning and professional development. During shortened weeks (due to holidays or previously planned breaks), Wednesdays will be full days.
Virtual Office hours will be available before and after school for elementary students who are learning remotely.
A virtual academy period will be held daily for middle and high school students who are learning virtually, during which students can ask questions and receive more direct time with their teacher(s)
Elementary school days will be 9am-2:15pm for students with a staggered dismissal occurring from 2:15-2:45pm.
The Middle and High School schedule will run from 8:20am-2:15pm (Zero period begins at 7:40am) with slightly shortened periods to allow for staggered transitions between classes. The MS/HS academy period for virtual students runs from 2:20-2:55pm.
The Elementary and MS hybrid daily schedules are available on the District's Reopening website.
Full Virtual Option
Finally, while we have and are continuing to implement a number of health and safety precautions to keep our students safe for in-person learning under the hybrid plan, we recognize that many parents are not comfortable sending their children to school. As such, we are making a full virtual option available for any student.
Students who participate in this option will view classes remotely via the live stream that will be in place for those who are already learning at home using the hybrid model. Students using the full remote option will be assigned to regular classes, will view the day's instruction remotely via live stream, and will have access to all lesson materials and activities through Google Classroom. Understanding that those students at home will not have the same level of interaction as those in the classroom, virtual learners will have the option to participate in dedicated office hours (elementary) or academy period (MS/HS) every day where teachers can answer questions and help students advance in their learning. This approach will allow remote students to access the same classroom learning experience as their in-person peers and provide the same learning tasks to be completed at home. Daily attendance, as with the hybrid model, will be required. It is important to note that the schedule was built with attention to reducing screen time.
Parents/guardians who wish to enroll their children in this virtual option should complete this form by Monday, August 24. We ask that families who wish to utilize this option do so for at least the first trimester/marking period.
Those parents/guardians who requested virtual learning due to health reasons through the survey sent last week do not need to resubmit.
We will continue to refine and update these plans through the remaining weeks of summer and when the school year begins. We know that there are no plans under these circumstances that will be ideal for every family, but are working to provide flexibility within the constraints this pandemic has placed on us all. We appreciate your continued patience and support as we work together to begin the school year under these most unusual circumstances.