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March 30, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians of WMS and HHS students,
On Friday, March 27, I notified you that the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools will now reopen on Monday, April 20, at the earliest. With this information, it is important that we continue to communicate with you regarding the impact this closing will have on typical school functions such as instruction, grading, and report cards. While concerns about these matters are understandable, it is important to remember that our highest priority continues to be the health and safety of our students, staff, and community.
As you know, our approach to providing a continuity of instruction was prepared to allow staff and students the flexibility to communicate, do meaningful work, and provide supports to the greatest extent possible. Since the very first day of the closure, we operationalized remote instruction and began to provide devices and meals to those who needed them. As we embarked on this journey, we were very careful not to ask our staff, students, or parents to learn how to utilize new tools as we transitioned to this new, remote learning environment. Over the course of the last two weeks, our teachers have done a remarkable job making this transition with many choosing to experiment with new tools and methods. We are very appreciative of their hard work as well as your patience and support.
Should our schools remain closed beyond April 19, we intend to shift our approach to allow for more student-teacher interaction, while allowing for the continued reinforcement of skills and potential for the introduction of new content on a limited basis. Our concerns remain about excessive screen time as well as family dynamics and the rigid scheduling of students and staff, but we also recognize the importance of our teachers being able to “connect” with their students on a consistent basis. To that end, we have set the following minimum expectations for our teachers, effective April 20:
- Teachers will provide two lessons in a six day cycle that will be shared with their students. The teachers will create lessons using tools such as Nearpod, Screencastify, etc. The teacher will communicate the specifics of platform and time with you directly. This will allow students and parents to access these learning opportunities at times convenient to them.
- Teachers will provide an opportunity once in a six day cycle to meet with their students utilizing face-to-face technology such as Zoom or Google Meet. They will use this time to check in with their students, answer questions and provide extra help when possible. The teacher will share the exact timing for these sessions, but they are expected to take place during the time the class would meet if school was open.
- In the near future, we will send you information to help you better understand the technological tools we will use to enable these opportunities. We recognize that there is a learning curve associated with this shift and stand ready to assist all involved.
After considerable thought and discussion, the following decision has been made regarding 3rd Quarter report cards. Teachers will provide a quarterly grade for students considering any exams, projects, presentations, or other work completed prior to our school closure on Friday, March 13, 2020. If students completed work remotely during the last two weeks, teachers can utilize those grades, if and only if it benefits the student’s 3rd Quarter average. The grade listed on the report card for the 3rd Quarter will be determined by using the higher of the following two scores: the traditionally calculated average for the 3rd Quarter or an average of scores for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Quarters. Dependent upon the ultimate length of the closure, the District is prepared to utilize either a traditional approach or move to a Pass/Fail system for 4th Quarter averages. We will update you as more information becomes available.
Should you have any questions, please contact your child’s principal.
Once again, we would like to thank you for your patience and support during this difficult time.
Ralph Marino, Jr., Ed.D.