Thursday Thoughts: Planning for Fall 2020, Summer Institute and more

What a week this has been! I hope everyone has had an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the simple pleasures of this summer season.  It is so important to find some time away from the sometimes stressful world events, and take in the beauty and growing community that we are fortunate to find in the Pacific Northwest. Imagine the possibilities…

Planning for Fall 2020

Earlier this week, I announced that Northshore is planning to begin the 2020-21 school year with Northshore Learns 3.0 – a more robust and flexible 100% distance learning model, which will ultimately include a staged approach for in person re-entry to school. This decision was reached after months of listening to our students, families, and staff, as well as thoughtful planning with our labor groups. It is one that, at this time, is the safest and healthiest option for all of our students, staff and the families they go home to.  We will continue to monitor health and safety data from all relevant sources as we plan forward; together, all things are possible. 

Guidance from Seattle King County Public Health indicates that with the current community transmission rate data, it is not safe to reopen schools in person at this time. Further, with our state’s COVID-19 cases surpassing 50,000 on Thursday, and Governor Inslee’s recent reduction in the number of congregants in Phase 3, we do not find reopening school in person feasible now. As the science of COVID-19 continues to evolve, and our understanding of the impact of young people on the possible community transmission rates become better known, we have a responsibility to better understand that our school district is not an island. Further, with the significant number of high risk staff we have in critical positions, the task of reopening schools in person is compounded. 

We have developed a Northshore Learning Model Status page, which will be used throughout the school year. As you will note on this page, there are three scenarios for teaching and learning; 100% In-person Learning, Hybrid Learning, and 100% Distance Learning. Under these scenarios, there is a breakdown of in-person/distance learning hybrid stages that allow our educational model to pivot at any time between the three scenarios. These six stages will be determined by the impacts of a changing health situation, available resources, and direction from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), our Governor and our Health Department(s). As the public health situation continues to evolve, the District, the Northshore Education Association, and other labor groups will continue to work together to adjust. 

On Wednesday, July 22, Northshore Education Association President Tim Brittell and I discussed our decision on Northshore Learns News and answered some of your questions. Now, our implementation team comprised of staff and representatives from labor groups are engaged in the more detailed planning and exploration of the many concerns, ideas and solutions that we continue to receive from you. I will provide updates as appropriate and share full details at the beginning of August.   

One of the early updates includes our work to make distance learning easier on everyone involved – our students, staff, and our parents and guardians. In our survey of parents and students in the spring, respondents reported overwhelmingly that having one centralized location or online platform for all school work would make distance learning easier.  In an effort to meet this need, we are well underway with our implementation of Schoology, our new learning management system (LMS). Schoology will be the foundational platform that will provide all students, teachers, and parents access to learning resources. 

On the topic of a learning management system, we have established three teams to plan for a successful implementation.  One team is working on the technical configurations necessary to get every user into the system.  Another team is working on developing the common learning content and resources that will be available to teachers to include in their classes.  A third team is working on developing our “Training Triangle”, which will ensure that all staff, students, and families have the resources they need to successfully work within the system and support student learning.  We are working hard to provide parallel language and training for this integral aspect of our learning model moving forward into the coming year.  Imagining the possibilities…

Staff Summer Institute

Our annual staff Summer Institute will be held August 17-20, with an emphasis on supporting staff as they learn the functions and features of Schoology as well as other aspects of our learning program moving forward.  Parent orientation sessions are being planned and will be offered in late August and through the beginning of September, with flexibility in terms of date and time as well as language. Students will have access to a “Getting Started Toolkit” which the​y will engage with in the early days of school to familiarize them with our new way of organizing learning.   

Schoology has great online resources with information about how the platform works and how the system meets the needs of a variety of users. Find more online by visiting their YouTube page. On this page is a list of videos about Schoology. One of them is a video of the parent/guardian experience. This system is both exciting and new to our Technology Department and our teachers who will be trained on Schoology in August. Ultimately, our goal is to provide Northshore families with the seamless experience in the video. Understandably, there will be a learning curve and will take time, so I ask for your grace while we all engage in complex preparations for the fall.   We will again practice patience over perfection as we work together to provide the best possible and sustainable educational experience we can for each of our students.  We are Northshore!!

2020-21 Sports Season Calendar

In more news related to the 2020-21 school year, I also want to share that the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Executive Board took action on Tuesday to modify the 2020-21 WIAA sports season calendar in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes will create four WIAA-sanctioned seasons and will also move moderate- and high-risk team sports, originally scheduled for the fall season, to the WIAA Season 3.  Learn more here.  Likely, these recommendations will continue to evolve as the pandemic data evolves. 

Needless to say, the start to the 2020-21 school year will be unlike any other in our history, and I will be the first to tell you that it will have its ups and downs as we are engaged in a heavy lift and doing work in a way we have never worked before. I will tell you something else; this is our opportunity to stand up as One Northshore and commit to achieving success together. As we well know, and research consistently supports; learning best happens in community. As we continue to communicate and innovate together, and as we let our students know that we are listening, we are all there for them, and we will make this year the best that it can possibly be, we will be successful. Our students are watching us. Let’s show them that, together, we can do this. Imagine the possibilities…  

And so, in thinking about the work ahead of us in its entirety, and as we advance a more just educational experience for all amidst the myriad challenges confronting us; this quote from John Lewis reminds us to; "Take a long, hard look down the road you will have to travel once you have made a commitment to work for change. Know that this transformation will not happen right away. Change often takes time. It rarely happens all at once. In the movement, we didn't know how history would play itself out.”  I trust that history will be kind to us as it looks back on our work during these challenging days; together, all things are possible…Please stay in touch and I wish each of you a safe, healthy and joyful summer season.

Warmest Regards,

Michelle Reid, Ed.D.



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