I trust this note finds you and yours having a safe, healthy and joyful summer season. I want to update you on our Fall 2020 Reopening Plan.
On July 21, I shared the plan for Northshore students to begin the 2020-21 school year online with a staged approach for in-person re-entry to school buildings. This decision was made after months of listening to feedback, exhaustive research on the possibilities, and following the county and state COVID-19 updates. Nothing would make us happier than to have our students back in our buildings for in-person instruction, social development, and everything else that students, staff, and families expect during K-12 education. I also miss meeting with students for Breakfast Club and seeing students and staff in their classrooms and activities! However, it remains clear that we are unable to safely send our students and staff back into school buildings at this time.
Today, I am sharing the details of Northshore Learns 3.0, a distance learning instructional model that offers more – more community-building, more rigor, more positive outcomes, more socially and racially just instruction and practices, and more flexibility that allows us to pivot as the COVID-19 health situation changes. We heard you. We studied your feedback and more than 100 staff and labor group representatives spent the month of July collaborating and innovating to present the best possible instructional model for our students, staff and families.
Beginning a new year online will be very different for all of us, and many students and staff will even be starting at a new school. One common thread throughout your feedback was the need for connections and community-building between students, as well as between students and staff. We agree that community is critical to the success of every student. Therefore, the activities and work during the first few days of school will be focused on community-building, setting academic expectations, and training students and families on tools for success.
One of these tools is a learning management system, which is a common system-wide platform that is user-friendly for staff, students and families. Ultimately, our technology team says this will be the single destination for students to go for their homework and parents/guardians to track their students’ progress. We will share more details in the coming days as our technology team completes implementation planning of the new learning management system.
Students can also expect a more rigorous educational experience that will include real-time (synchronous) learning and flexible-time (asynchronous) learning. Attendance will be taken and will be important. Also, while grades will continue to adhere to the principal of doing no harm when grading student performance, they will be equity-driven and more closely align with traditional grading in Northshore.
Preparing a flexible instructional model for the fall is a complex process with many elements to consider. That includes our commitment to social emotional learning and a just educational experience. Over the course of each week, teachers will integrate social justice, racial justice, and/or social emotional learning into each class.
Also, a great deal of time and attention was invested in students requiring special services. In both distance and hybrid learning environments, we are reimagining what school looks like for our students requiring special services, and how their needs are met. By allowing staff the option to deliver services both within scheduled class time and outside of the standard school day, as schedules permit, students will have a wider range of times to access services.
During this time of online learning, we will continue our commitment to inclusive practices to help students feel a sense of belonging, ensure access to course materials, and receive the necessary supports to achieve learning goals. This commitment includes establishing and supporting a class climate that fosters belonging for all students; setting clear student expectations; and selecting course content that recognizes diversity and integrates culturally relevant materials.
There is still work to do, including the finalizing of details around professional development for staff, training for students and families, addressing childcare and nutrition needs, as well as working to maintain sound financial stewardship. And as this health situation continues to unfold, we will continue to listen, reimagine and pivot as needed. We have also developed health and safety protocols for the stages in which staff and students can engage in a staged return to buildings. I ask that each of you work with your students to practice good handwashing skills, teach them about social distancing and help them get comfortable wearing a mask. If and when the health situation allows for a safe return to school buildings, these healthy practices will be critical to the health of the school community.
I continue to appreciate the engagement from our parents, guardians, students and staff members who provided feedback over the past several months. I am also grateful to the 100+ person team, including to our labor organizations, who reimagined the possibilities this summer, resulting in Northshore Learns 3.0, an instructional plan that provides more of what we all want – community and excellence in education.
I will continue to provide additional information as it becomes available. In the meantime, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with Northshore Learns 3.0 and begin talking with your students about the promise this coming year has. After all, they are dependent on you and each of us to set the tone for an exciting and successful new school year. In addition, I invite you to tune in tomorrow morning, Wednesday, August 5, at 8:00 a.m. for our Northshore Learns News segment on YouTube or Facebook.
Thank you for all that you do for your students and the trust you have placed in the Northshore School District; together, all things are possible.
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Northshore School District