CONSTRUCTION & SCHOOL PLANNING UPDATE
This week the sidewalk was being graded and poured. They were also installing the canopies over the first floor classroom patios. Isn’t this exciting?
I recognize that the newsletters are getting longer, however given the current coronavirus crisis, the guidelines, procedures, & plans from the state and federal level for opening school are constantly evolving and changing. I ask that each of you please read the newsletters from start to finish each week. My goal is to try and answer or address, to the best of my ability, many of your questions and concerns.
I know that recess is a concern for some of you. As a mother of two boys and a believer that recess and play is extremely important, not only for children’s physical, but also their social emotional development, how students will play and stay safe has weighed heavily on my mind.
Even before the coronavirus, I shared with families that building a playground was a priority, however it would require fundraising to purchase playground structures and play equipment. In preparation for playground construction, in March, I contracted with Boosterthon, a group I have worked with for many years to have a Boosterthon Fun Run fundraiser in November (more about the Boosterthon Fundraiser below).
So, a big question is: “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, 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. I know that we are going to need assistance from families with donations of individual play equipment. I plan to create a wishlist of equipment on Amazon (Recess/Outdoor Wish List) that families could purchase and donate to the school.
Some fantastic news is that in February, I wrote an NC ACCESS Grant and we will receive it in late August/early September. In the grant, I asked to purchase outdoor furniture (nice metal picnic tables, etc.) for outdoor classrooms for this fall. So, 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 will also include these on our Amazon Recess/Outdoor Wish List.
Boosterthon is a business and they do take a percentage of the funds raised (usually the school gets around 58% and Boosterthon gets 42%). This is a bit better than most fundraising companies and no one has to go door to door to sell magazines, wrapping paper, or cookie dough. Also, those fundraising programs require a lot of work from the school staff and parents. Boosterthon literally does everything! They supply all online and print materials, the prizes, and staffing for the fundraiser for two weeks. They also staff and execute a really fantastic and exciting event at the end of the fundraiser. Their ability to handle all the details and do all the work is very important for a new school, so that the staff and teachers can focus on teaching and learning, instead of running and organizing a fundraiser.
I don’t know how the coronavirus will change how we conduct the Boosterthon fundraiser this year. They have adapted their on-campus experience to incorporate appropriate safety measures and social distancing and their team is willing to serve our school in person if we are still in Plan B in November. They also have a virtual fundraising option that has been designed for schools while families are at home and with proven results. Again, they do all the work, provide all the resources, and schools can build school spirit while they work together virtually to strengthen their community by raising needed funds. As I learn more from the Boosterthon team, I will share that information with you.
ALL REMOTE LEARNING COMMITMENT FORMS DUE AUGUST 7
On Thursday, July 30, the All Remote Learning Commitment Form was sent to all families if they want to commit to a remote only option. Families choosing ALL remote learning are “locked in” until November 23 (at the end of the trimester/12 weeks) and they cannot change to Plan B until after that time. The All Remote Learning Commitment Form is due by August 7 at 5:00 PM. This option is for the families that do not feel comfortable sending their children back to school even at 50% capacity (Plan B). If a parent chooses only remote learning vs. sending their student to school for Plan B, the reading and math mini-lessons will be recorded unless we have enough families that commit to only remote learning. If enough families choose remote only instruction, I would be able to assign a teacher or teachers to teach only those remote learning students. Of course, if a teacher is assigned to only teach remote learning students, the schedule would change and those teachers would be teaching live and recorded lessons and giving assignments to be completed. We will not know this until after August 7 and have had a chance to review and organize the all of the forms.
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.
COHORT PREFERENCE SURVEY
On August 7, a Cohort Preference Survey will be sent to families to get information about their preference for the Monday/Tuesday cohort or the Thursday/Friday 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.
BUS TRANSPORTATION APPLICATION
Given the difficulty that traditional public school districts are facing with providing transportation at 50% capacity, they are not selling any of their older school buses as they have in the past. However, another charter school has agreed to lease ACS one bus for the 2020 - 2021 school year so that we can provide bus transportation to families in need. Space on the bus will be very limited to only 22 students. A Bus Transportation Application will be sent to families on August 3 that indicated in the Registration Process that they were Economically Disadvantaged and needed transportation. Priority will be given to those that transportation is truly a hardship. The Bus Transportation Application will be due on August 7.
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::
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.
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
PLAN B & THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
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).
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 covering. 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.
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 email@example.com.
ACS DRIVE-THROUGH & VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE & CURRICULUM NIGHT
Our contractor has said that our parking lot and carline should be completed before the last week in August, so we are pushing back our drive-through event so that we can have it on our ACS campus. Also, after students have received their teacher assignments on September 1, we will have a time for families to meet, greet, & ask the teacher teams about curriculum, daily schedules, etc. at a Virtual Open House & Curriculum Night in early September before the first day of school on September 8. The staff is beginning to plan for the ACS Drive-Through and the Virtual Open House & Curriculum Night. Dates and times will be announced in the next few weeks.
TEACHER ASSIGNMENTS, CLASS LISTS, ASSESSMENTS, & CONTINGENCY PLAN
Several families have contacted me about teacher assignments and assessments. Class lists & teacher assignments will not be made until the end of August. Families will receive notification regarding teacher assignments on September 1. Part 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. Crosslink Community Church very graciously said that we could use their site temporarily, if needed. However, their CO is not for educational use which is why we filed for a Temporary Use Permit with the City of Mebane. Because our building is under construction and we will not be able to occupy it until September, if we obtain the temporary use permit, there is a possibility that we could use the space to conduct assessments for Kindergarten - Third Graders in late August. However, the coronavirus may dictate what we can and cannot do for in person assessments, so we are also investigating possible virtual assessments. 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, if we are able to obtain a temporary permit to use Crosslink Community Church, we will be ready for any situation.
Last, but not least, we have a waitlist for each grade level, so please make sure you have started the Registration Process if your child has been offered a position! For those that have been offered a position, but have not begun the registration process, they risk having the admission offer rescinded to allow families on the waitlist the opportunity to attend. As long as the student’s status in SchoolMint is "Registration in Progress," the student will not lose their spot.
Leslie Paynter, M.Ed.
ACS FAMILY SURVEY LINKS
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
If you have questions about your SchoolMint account or questions about uploading records,etc., please email Sara Boileua at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-479-1442 extension 725.
If you have been offered a spot for your child to attend, I strongly encourage you to accept the offer and begin the registration process ASAP.
Also, make sure that you are contacting your child’s doctor and school offices to access their records for the registration process. If your child’s doctor’s appointment isn’t until the summer, upload all the other documents and in that spot, upload a picture of the doctor appointment date.
As long as status is "Registration in Progress," you will not lose your spot. We understand that it is still difficult to get certain documents and appointments and that many students will not receive a final report card until mid-June.
FAVORITE ARTICLE FOR THE WEEK
"How to Support Home Learning in Elementary Grades" by John S. Thomas
In this article from Edutopia, John Thomas, a first and second grade teacher shared his home learning plan for his students and how he engaged families back in March.
I thought this was a wonderful article to share with families & staff, because so many of his ideas and practices, such as building community, establishing routines, creating a safe and inclusive environment are cornerstones of our ACS curriculum, values, and philosophy during “normal” school. However, we know these will be critical elements for our students and staff success as we begin the school year in the hybrid and/or remote learning plans. I hope everyone will take a few minutes and read this!
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
email@example.com 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