CONSTRUCTION & SCHOOL PLANNING UPDATE
The building site has been “hopping” this past week with pouring sidewalks, paving, painting, planting trees, and the installation of the cabinetry. I especially love our purple wall in the reception and gym areas!
We are continuing to attend webinars and meetings regarding COVID-19 and the reopening of school. What makes our job even more difﬁcult is that one thing is said one day and then the next day, it changes. Which means we have to readjust or change our plans. Please be patient with us as we navigate not only opening a new school, but also opening school during the coronavirus. Remember that existing schools are having difﬁculty opening during this pandemic and many have chosen not to open with Plan B in person learning at 50% capacity due to the numerous challenges. We remain committed to opening with Plan B, but we need kindness, empathy, and also everyone’s cooperation. I can assure you that by strictly following the health and safety guidelines from the NCDHHS, every decision we are making is to ensure that all staff and students are safe, that learning resumes in a meaningful and purposeful way, and that we can open and stay open.
We are very excited about our upcoming school year which starts on September 8th! Our data processors are working hard to request records and make sure our students are properly entered in our system, so they can have a smooth transition. This past week, they made over 200 records requests!
The start of the school year is quickly approaching and there are still over 150 registrations that have not been completed. We need your help! We cannot request your student's records until their registration is completed in SchoolMint! Please take time - ASAP - to complete the registration process for your students. Ideally, this should be completed by Monday, 8/17/20. We need this information to complete class lists, cohort assignments, and student curriculum accounts. If you have questions about completing your student's registration, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have received numerous inquiries asking if we are providing laptops to all of our students. At this time, we can only provide loaner devices to the students that indicated on the technology survey that they do not have access to a device at home and their family is unable to purchase one for them. We have adjusted our budget to assist those students.
Unfortunately, we will not receive any of the CARES ACT funds that were provided to schools last spring to purchase additional technology for remote learning. This is just one example of the funding inequities we are experiencing as a new charter school. We are hearing from most of our vendors that many devices are back ordered and may not be available until November or later. I’ve been told that many schools and districts are having similar issues. As you can imagine, this is quite concerning!!
We have been researching for families some devices that are a minimal investment and would be able to run Raz Plus, IXL, Google Meet, and Seesaw - which is what the elementary students will need to be able to do on a device. They will not need something incredibly complicated or “fancy”. We have created an ACS 2020-21 Remote Learning Device Buying Guide to assist families with purchasing devices for their students. Here is the link to the ACS 2020-21 Remote Learning Device Buying Guide
ASSESSMENTS & CONTINGENCY PLAN
For a NC Public School to conduct any type of assessments with students at a physical location, the location must have a Certiﬁcate of Occupancy for Educational Use. Because our building is under construction and we will not be able to occupy it until the beginning of September, we have been pursuing a temporary use permit & Educational CO to use Crosslink Community Church to possibly conduct assessments before the start of school. However, the permitting process has taken far longer than we anticipated and as of Friday, we have not received ﬁnal approval from the city. Therefore, this week during our teacher workdays, the staff is discussing how we can potentially do some virtual assessments. Even virtual assessments is challenging since we have not yet received all of our technology, curriculum, and supplies. However, as many of you know, teachers are creative! We hope after our staff meeting later this week, we will have a good solution to this dilemma!
Even though Crosslink will not be an option for assessments before school starts on September 8th, one aspect of the Ready to Open requirements by NCDPI and the Ofﬁce of Charter Schools for all new charter schools is to secure a temporary site with an Education Certiﬁcate of Occupancy (CO) as a contingency location. We will continue with this process and ﬁnalize the permitting with the City of Mebane within the week. My job as the Managing Director is to plan for every possible scenario, which at times has been quite challenging during a pandemic. Right now, we are on track to open on September 8th with Plan B (reduced capacity) at 195 Kronbergs Court in Haw River. I cannot nor can anyone predict what will happen with manufacturing, the delivery of goods and equipment, etc. due to the coronavirus. Therefore, by obtaining a temporary permit to use Crosslink Community Church, we will be ready for any situation.
PLAN B & THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL - SEPTEMBER 8TH
With Plan B, we will implement a Monday/Tuesday schedule for Group 1 (half the class) and a Thursday/Friday for Group 2 (the other half of the class) with Wednesday as a deep cleaning day in between the two groups and then another deep cleaning on Friday after dismissal. When students are not physically present in school, they are participating in remote learning. Given that our ﬁrst day of school for students is Tuesday, September 8th, this means that Group 1 will only attend 1 day (on Tuesday) and Group 2 will attend on their regular days - Thursday/ Friday (2 days).
COHORT PREFERENCE SURVEY
On August 7, the Cohort Preference Survey was sent to families to get information about their preference for the Monday/Tuesday (Group 1) cohort or the Thursday/Friday (Group 2) cohort. Preference priority will he given to families that need certain days due to a work &/or a childcare situation. However, we may not be able to accommodate all preferences. We have extended the deadline to submit the Cohort Preference Survey until Friday, August 21 at 5:00 PM.
TEACHER ASSIGNMENTS & CLASS LISTS
Class lists & teacher assignments will not be made until the end of August. All families (Plan B & All Remote) will receive notiﬁcation regarding teacher assignments on September 1.
ALL REMOTE LEARNING COMMITMENT FORMS
Over the past few days, I have had several parents ask if I would reopen the All Remote Learning Commitment Form, in order to switch their student from Plan B (in person at 50% capacity) to the All Remote option for the ﬁrst trimester. We know that some families do not feel comfortable sending their children back to school even at a reduced capacity (Plan B). Many have expressed concern about the recent increase in the number of coronavirus cases in children across the US. Therefore, we reopened the All Remote Learning Commitment Form until Friday, August 21 at 5:00 PM. Here is the link: All Remote Learning Commitment Form
Families that choose ALL remote learning are “locked in” until November 23 (at the end of the trimester/12 weeks) and cannot change to Plan B until after that time. If enough families choose remote only instruction, we will be able to assign a teacher or teachers to instruct only those remote learning students. Of course, if a teacher is assigned to only instruct remote learning students, the daily learning schedule for the remote only students will change to reﬂect the beneﬁt of having a teacher or teachers assigned to only those students.
Given that we have reopened the All Remote Learning Commitment Form until Friday, August 21, it will take us a bit longer to determine the remote only teachers and schedules. Although this means we will need more time to plan and strategize, we want our students, staff, and families to feel safe and valued by offering these options. Teacher assignments, class lists, and an exact daily schedule for the all remote learning students will be given to families on September 1.
If a family on Plan B chooses to switch to all remote learning during the trimester, the same guidelines for remote learning would apply, the family would need to complete a Remote Only Commitment Form, and they would be "locked in" for the Remote Only option until the end of the trimester on November 23.
We are currently looking for an experienced Bus Driver with their CDL license and a safe driving record. So far, we have had ﬁve interviews with potential candidates and unfortunately, none of them were viable options. We have continued to advertise, but are not receiving any qualiﬁed applicants. If you know of someone that might be interested in some part - time work, please have them email me at: email@example.com.
Also, we are reviewing all of the Bus Applications and working on a possible Bus Route with community drop off and pick up locations, such as at a shopping center. Space on the bus will be very limited to only 22 students and priority will be given to those that transportation is truly a hardship. So far, we have families that reside in Alamance, Orange, and Guilford County that are requesting bus transportation. We will let families know if they will receive the bus transportation by August 24 and will distribute the bus route/schedule and the community drop off and pick up locations to those families by September 1.
MASK WEARING & BREAKS
The Governor has said that all students & staff in Kindergarten - 12th grade are required to wear a mask at school. As of today, the ONLY exception to this is is a child (or staff member) has a medical or behavioral disability and cannot wear a cloth face mask. However, they will need to wear a face shield. We will handle these situations on a case by case basis. We know that wearing masks will be difﬁcult for most students and staff. Therefore, breaks will be built into the daily schedule for staff and students to go outside, stay 6 feet apart, and take off their masks. Breaks will be taken at the teachers discretion and as often as they determine are needed. Teachers will be able to conduct lessons outside, as weather permits and social distancing can be maintained, to allow children and staff to remove their masks for longer periods of time.
REMOTE LEARNING & GUIDELINES FOR ATTENDANCE & ASSIGNMENTS
During remote learning, the state has given us very clear guidelines regarding attendance & the submission of assignments for days that students are at home for remote learning. In Senate Bill 704 that was adopted by the State Legislature on May 20, 2020 it states:
• Schools must ensure that remote instructional time, practice, and application components support learning growth that continues towards mastery of the standard course of study. The Plan shall include work measurement guidelines appropriate to each grade level, including deadlines for submission of assignments and methods to assess and grade learning during remote instruction.
• Schools must track and report attendance on remote instruction days, including protocols for determining attendance, the reporting system to be used, and how attendance procedures will be communicated to parents before remote instruction begins.
If you choose to enroll your children at Alamance Community School, on the remote learning days there will be expectations for recording daily attendance, following the ACS curriculum which is aligned to the NC Standard Course of Study, participating in the school and state assessment program, and completing all the assignments that are given by the teacher. All families will be expected to sign an electronic acknowledgement form that they have read the ACS Remote Learning & School Entry Plan, in addition to the ACS Parent Student Handbook. The acknowledgement form will be sent later in August.
We are trying to be ﬂexible with families since we know that many parents have to work during the day. However, the expectation is that assignments (that are grade and age level appropriate) will be completed, even though students might complete their assigned work at different times or a teacher records attendance at different times throughout the day. All families during the remote learning days will need to complete the assignments given by the teacher and the teacher will take attendance - just like they would during "normal" school. Per the state, we will have multiple ways to collect attendance on a school day, Monday - Friday.
A student is considered present for daily attendance during a remote learning day:
• If a student completes their daily assignments, either ofﬂine or online
• Using Seesaw to complete assignments & tasks given by the ACS teacher
• Logging in to watch recorded lessons and meetings
• Using Raz-Plus to complete independent reading and tasks
• Using IXL Math to complete math tasks and practice and/or
If a student uses a daily check-in via:
• Live Whole Class Morning Meetings
• Live Virtual Specials
• Live Interactive Read Alouds
• Live Small Guided Reading and Math Groups
• Live and Recorded Empathy and Social-Emotional Learning Lessons, read alouds, & check-ins during the week
• Daily Google Check-in Form - this will be a very quick & simple form that can be submitted
GENESIS ATHLETICS VIRTUAL LEARNING CAMPS, BEFORE & AFTER SCHOOL
Genesis Athletics, our Before & After School Care provider, has been actively planning how to ensure parents feel supported and students are learning during remote learning. The reality is many parents are or will have to physically return to work. In order to alleviate the pressures and stress that come with ﬁnding reliable and safe childcare as well as ﬁnding the time to support their online learning, Genesis Athletics in collaboration with Alamance Community School is offering an off-campus program to support families. The goal of the program is to provide safe and reliable childcare, as well as providing a space and time for students to complete their school work. The Genesis Athletics Virtual Learning Camp will be offered 5 days a week. The days that students are not on campus for school, this is an alternative to a babysitter or large childcare facility. The Camps will have a structured schedule with a designated times students will get on their personal devices and complete their assigned school work for the day with the support of a staff member and other classmates. If you have any questions, or if you would like more information, please contact Evelyn Kreiley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 585-738-7360.
Recess & Breaks
“How will recess and other non-classroom activities will look during the coronavirus and Plan B reduced capacity?” The CDC guidelines and in “Lighting the Way Forward: North Carolina’s Guidebook for Reopening Public Schools” states that in Plan B (reduced capacity), we must “avoid mixing students in common areas.” For example, we will need to stagger recess by class, restrict hallway use, and avoid taking multiple classes to the restrooms. Furthermore, we are to ensure that there is at least 6 feet between staff and students in any outdoor setting. On July 20th, the NC Department of Health and Human Services stated that schools are “not to use larger playground equipment that cannot be disinfected between uses until social distancing requirements can be eased”.
Therefore, as you can see, based on these guidelines, recess becomes quite problematic to ensure the safety of the students and staff. We will still have 30 minutes of recess, short movement breaks, and breaks to go outside and remove the masks (while staying at least 6 feet apart).
Recess will look and feel different than it has in the past. We are looking at purchasing individual play equipment, such as jump ropes, hula hoops, balls, sidewalk chalk, etc. that students can use separately when outdoors, in addition to having physical activities that students could do individually, such as yoga, zumba, calisthenics, etc. With the NC ACCESS Grant, I have asked to purchase outdoor furniture (nice metal picnic tables, etc.) for outdoor classrooms for this fall. This will enable us to ﬁnd places on our campus that will be conducive for creating some nice outdoor classroom spaces. However, we will need to invest in some good “tents” for shade. I know that we are going to need assistance from families with donations of individual play equipment and shade for the outdoor furniture/classrooms.
Click here to see our Amazon ACS Recess, Outdoor, & Technology Wish List that families can purchase items and donate to the school. Of course, you may be able to ﬁnd these items (hula hoops, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, etc.) at other locations for a better price. Also, many teachers are hoping to get enough hula hoops to also help children with social distancing.
ACS DRIVE-THROUGH & VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE & CURRICULUM NIGHT
On Wednesday, September 2, we will have a Virtual Curriculum Night, Virtual Meet the Teacher, & Virtual School Tour. The grade level teams will explain the daily schedules, the ﬁrst six weeks of school, expectations, and the curriculum.
Since our parking lot and carline will be completed before the end of August, we will host a Drive-Through Open House event at the ACS campus on Thursday, September 3. We know that many of us (staff, students, and parents) feel a bit anxious about starting the year at a new school, in addition to starting school in a very different way. Our goal is to alleviate any anxiety or stress before our ﬁrst day of school. We want to provide an opportunity for students, parents, and teachers to “meet” each other and “see” the school. We are planning for these events and will share more details in the next couple of weeks
Leslie Paynter, M.Ed.
BOX TOPS FOR EDUCATION
ALAMANCE COMMUNITY SCHOOL
School ID: 9683495
Download the ALL-NEW Box Tops app. Register & type in Alamance Community School to link your account. Shop as you normally would, then simply scan your store receipts to find participating products. The app will automatically credit your school's Box Tops earnings online. It’s so easy!!
**A big thank you to one of our parents, Andrea Paduchowski, for helping get us started with Box Tops!**
SCHOOLMINT & REGISTRATION
The start of the school year is quickly approaching and there are still over 150 registrations that have not been completed. We need your help! We cannot request your student's records until their registration is completed in SchoolMint! Please take time - ASAP - to complete the registration process for your students. Ideally, this should be completed by Monday, 8/17/20. We need this information to complete class lists, cohort assignments, and student curriculum accounts.
If you have questions about completing your student's registration, please email: email@example.com.
FAVORITE ARTICLE FOR THE WEEK TO SUPPORT REMOTE LEARNING & SCHOOL REOPENING
This article in Kid’s Heath entitled Coronavirus (COVID-19): Helping Kids Get Used to Masks, has some really good advice and tips to help your child get used to wearing a mask before school begins on September 8th.
BEFORE & AFTER CARE
The Before and After School information provided by Genesis Athletics is on our website at: Before & After School Care. There is a Registration Form that you can complete. If you have any questions, or if you would like more information, please contact Evelyn Kreiley at
firstname.lastname@example.org or at 585-738-7360
Be sure to tell your friends and family that they can still apply to attend ACS for the 2020-2021 school year. Here is the link to apply: ACS Application
CALL FOR EXTRA LEGOs, BLOCKS, BUILDING TOYS & BOOKS
If you are doing “spring cleaning”, we would love to have any extra Puzzles, LEGOS, blocks, and building materials for our LEGO/Engineering class and classrooms. Also, if you have children’s books (all levels) that you are no longer using, please set those aside for us too!
ADDITIONAL ONLINE RESOURCES
HOW TO TALK TO CHILDREN ABOUT COVID-19
The National Association of School Psychologists has developed this resource for parents regarding how to talk to children about COVID-19. National Association of School Psychologists
LARRY FERLAZZO - NY TIMES BLOGGER - TEACHING K-12 ONLINE RESOURCES
HIGH QUALITY FREE WEBSITES & APPS - High Quality Educational Resources and Apps
GUIDANCE FROM NCDHHS on SCHOOL REOPENING SAFETY - StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12)
NC Kids - NC Kids is a digital library with online books available in ebook, video, and audio formats. The library collection ranges from beginning reader to young adult. You can also access these books on the go with the Libby App from NC Kids. A library card is required in order to borrow books from this digital library.
STORYLINE - Storyline, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.
Don’t forget to check our website and Facebook page for previous messages & more school information! www.alamancecommunityschool.net and