Elementary Parent Alert - 11/6/20

Elementary Parent Alert - 11/6/20
Posted on 11/06/2020

Paren AlertFriday, November 6, 2020

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian of Elementary Students:

The Middletown Area Education Association (teachers’ union) recently approached the School Board and Administration to request additional planning time for elementary teachers. Most elementary students have been attending school five days per week since school began, but several students have been participating in a scaffolded or full remote model that allows them to be in person a few days per week and online the remaining days. The scaffolded and full remote models have benefited the District in promoting proper social distancing of six feet apart in our elementary schools; however, teaching simultaneously in both the in-person and virtual environments has created a stressful situation for our teachers. The elementary teachers do not have the benefit of the virtual Wednesday schedule that MAMS and the High School have this year due to operating a cohort, hybrid model. The School Board and Administration are cognizant of the fact that many parents cannot take off work every Wednesday to supervise their elementary age children. The compromise that was recently reached involves the pilot of a series of half-day early dismissals for elementary students during this second marking period in order to provide additional planning time for elementary teachers. These planned half days will occur on the following Wednesdays:

· Wednesday, November 18
· Wednesday, December 16
· Wednesday, January 13
· Wednesday, January 20

On these scheduled half days, elementary students will attend school in the morning as usual (either in person or online) and be dismissed at 11:25 a.m. (Fink & Reid) and 11:55 a.m. (Kunkel). Lunches will be served prior to dismissal. During the afternoon hours, students will be expected to work asynchronously on school work since the District must count those hours toward the required 900 hours of instructional time for 2020-21. The work assigned to students will be meaningful practice or enrichment work that can be done independently on the iPads or paper and pencil with little to no assistance from adults and should take the students approximately 2.5 hours to complete.

Students who have no available child care on those afternoons will be able to remain in their respective school buildings and be supervised by the instructional aides and other available paraprofessionals. Those remaining students will be spread throughout the building with proper social distancing and expected to do their asynchronous work independently. Dismissal for those students who stay in the afternoons will be at the regular times of 3:15 p.m. (Fink & Reid) and 3:45 p.m. (Kunkel).

The District respectfully asks that the child care offered by the School District on these half-days be used as a last resort for families who have no one else to supervise their children.

The District is also asking parents’ assistance in another way that will help our elementary teachers. Several teachers have shared that one of the biggest challenges they have experienced during the first marking period has been the uncertainty of knowing which students would be physically coming into school each day. The District kindly asks that parents who have opted to use the scaffolded model be consistent with which days your child attends school online. Teachers have reported that students who are scheduled to be in school often show up online throughout the week on days they were expected in the building. This creates additional strain on teachers who may not have otherwise been scheduled to have any remote students on a given day. We understand when a quarantine would require a student to participate remotely, and as long as the child is well enough to attend classes online, we would certainly encourage that over being absent for 14 days. However, we would like to avoid situations in which students show up remotely just because it is more convenient on a given day.

Your continued support and assistance is deeply appreciated as we continue to navigate these challenging times in our world. Thank you in advance for your cooperation as we look to provide additional planning time for our elementary teaching staff in the coming weeks of this second quarter of the 2020-21 school year.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools

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