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Learning Resources

 

April 16, 2020

Dear Sylvan Families,

Despite the closing of our schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, the Sylvan Union School District remains committed to keeping students engaged in learning and connected to school through distance learning. Distance learning plans have rolled-out in a series of phases designed to meet the unique and varied needs of all students and families.

Phase III will launch next Wednesday, April 22 and is designed to provide students with more structured learning opportunities as time away from the classroom increases. To meet the needs of all students and account for the available resources of parents/guardians, our Phase III plan includes two different pathways for remote learning - a digital option for students and families with technology access or a grade-level, paper packet option for those without technology access. Students will participate in one pathway but not both as these are separate and distinct options. Both pathways will be equally supported by teachers and will include the same focus on grade-level essential skills for students in each content area. In addition, both pathways include the opportunity for your child to receive ongoing weekly communication and support from their classroom teacher and other education specialists as appropriate. 

To participate in the online learning pathway that begins next Wednesday, April 22, students will need to access their teacher’s Google Classroom as this will serve as the portal for digital lessons and student assignments. 

  • Elementary students may be new to this digital learning platform and will require login information to be provided by the classroom teacher for use with a family’s personal device as we are unable to provide district-issued devices to our elementary students. Parents can contact their child’s teacher for their child’s unique Google username and password. Our youngest learners will benefit from at-home guidance and support to navigate Google Classroom, especially until they are more comfortable with using it as a learning tool. 

  • Middle school students participating in our 1:1 program are already familiar with and able to access these virtual classrooms and digital curriculum resources. 

  • Each week, until the end of the school year, teachers will post new content for one week in their Google Classroom which allows students and families the flexibility to login at their convenience, view the content, and complete assignments with teacher coaching, feedback, and support. Parents can expect to see lessons that vary from a longer, single lesson to smaller lesson segments to be completed in a series of shorter time frames.

  • Parents/guardians should notify the classroom teacher if their child experiences problems with maintaining the pace of the digital lessons during Phase III. 

For those without technology access, or those who experience difficulties in the digital learning environment, students can participate in remote learning through a paper packet pathway that is available beginning next Wednesday, April 22.

  • Parents can choose to either print grade-level packets from the district website or pick-up packets at school sites daily from 9:00-11:00 AM starting on Wednesday, April 22 and concluding on Friday, April 24. 

  • Paper packet distribution will be available by drive-through only. We kindly request that families remain in their vehicles to ensure the health and safety of all. 

  • Students utilizing the paper packet pathway will also receive weekly communication from the teacher along with coaching, feedback, and support as students work to complete the pages in the packet.

  • Paper packets contain student material for the remainder of this school year and will not be returned once complete.

Students enrolled in Special Education will receive specific information from the Special Education Department as it relates to distance learning in Phase III.

Many of the digital tools that we have selected for use during distance learning are the same tools we employed during face-to-face instruction. However, we are now utilizing these tools in unique ways to meet student needs in a digital learning environment or to improve home-to-school communication. Tools that we have selected for use have been properly reviewed to ensure student data privacy and safety. 

  • Due to safety and privacy concerns, Zoom is not approved for video conferencing with our students.  

  • We continue to explore the use of other available student conferencing tools. If it is determined that a specific tool meets our standards of acceptable use and provides for the safety and security of student data, we will notify parents prior to implementation.

  • We recognize that parents/guardians play an important role in supporting student success during distance learning. To support your efforts, we are working to compile a list of troubleshooting tips, tools, and tricks for utilizing technology at home. We anticipate completion of this by early next week, and we will notify you as soon as this resource is available on our district website. 

Phase III in our distance learning plan provides for Sylvan’s standards of excellence in teaching and learning to be maintained, albeit in a completely new and different way. Given the unique challenges of providing for education during the COVID-19 crisis, student participation in distance learning is not mandated. Furthermore, student work completed during Phase III will not be assigned a formal grade. However, students will receive teacher feedback related to their performance on assignments including but not limited to error analysis, reflective questioning, and suggestions for improvement. We strongly recommend that students and families commit to participating in one of the pathways we have detailed above. It is in your child’s best interest to receive the educational benefit of practicing essential skills and completing coursework that will prepare your child for continued academic success upon their return to school in the fall. 

This is indeed a challenging time for all of us. Teachers, administrators, and staff members have been deeply engaged in professional learning so that they are positioned to support students and families in this redesigned approach to schooling. We appreciate everyone's hard work, effort, and positive attitude as we adjust to this situation with the best interests of all students in mind. We also thank you for your cooperation and patience as we work together in historical proportions to educate our children. It’s a unique and wonderful opportunity for us to share in a hopeful future for not only our District but for our entire community. 

If you have questions or concerns about distance learning, please contact your school’s Principal. 

Sincerely,

Laura Granger

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services