Dear Principals & Teachers:
Even now, we can raise our Ebenezer and proclaim that God is faithful, and by His grace we have come through this past couple of weeks.
We want to thank you for the beautiful work you are doing and for being proactive in our current situation. In every meeting and discussion, the priority has been very clear that student learning is of the utmost importance to us. This note serves as a summary of what we are doing and as further guidance for our work.
It is clear now that our physical school will be inaccessible longer than we expected so we have gone to virtual school for teaching/learning and have discussed many policies or guidelines that are necessary in order to provide the appropriate education for our students. The following reflects our discussion and understanding. We will update as often as needed, so we are all on the same page:
Our current situation demands that we provide online instruction for our students. There are different platforms that you can use to deliver face to face instruction or communication to your students: Teams & Zoom, for example.
There are various platforms for students to use for instruction, learning, and communication: Teams, Zoom, Canvas, Dreambox, Lexia, Reading Plus, Raz-kids, Big Ideas, Think Central, Schoology, Renweb, and others.
Please submit your plans for instructional delivery to the Office of Education. You might share the plan you submitted to the families. Also, as you update your families weekly, please do the same for the conference office.
Schools must plan to set up face to face schedule with their students in a way that’s feasible for the community where they serve. For example: you might schedule according to grade level so students in the same family can use the same device at different time. You might use the flip classroom approach where students view videos/prints before instruction. You might meet with students in whole group, small groups, or individual at specific schedule, or you might hold “office hours” for students to contact you.
The amount of learning time for students might correspond to the guidelines for homeschooling which is 3.5 – 4 hours a day. Some homeschool families do 3.0 hours. That does not mean the teacher is teaching or interacting with the students during all of those hours. Rather, they may be used with a combination of Dreambox, Lexia, Reading Plus, ThinkCentral, Big Idea, Raz-kids, whole group, small group, individual conference, morning meeting, phone calls, emails, and others.
Please document the days you meet with students. Log phone calls, emails, packets &picture of assignments, screenshots, and all activities and interactions with students. Daily usage reports on the learning programs can be used as documentation of student engagement also. Your administration should work to provide guidance on how best to document in term of frequency and format.
Be sure to provide clear directions to students regarding how to proceed with virtual learning: include the number of minutes for the various platforms, the number of minutes, days, or the amount/number of time/hours you will meet with students, how they will submit work, or show understanding of content. Work within the constraints/abundance of the resources available in your environment.
Lower-grade teachers must plan how they will move student reading forward. First grade has the most extensive band of levels, and students must continue to work toward reading benchmark. Learning a-z is opening Raz-Kids for leveled readers. Teachers might assign students reading on their level, meet face to face with students in guided groups, or have students record their reading for you to assess and give feedback for examples.
Keep close communication with parents. It is essential that parents collaborate and support the policies for the virtual learning processes that their schools have in place. Work with those who might not have devices. Share with parents that they can get internet with Comcast and Spectrum. Teach them how to take pictures of assignments and email to you.
Inform them that devices borrowed from schools are still monitored for safety. Give specific support and directions to parents about how to make the time and space for their children to meet with teachers. This is an excellent opportunity for parents to teach children responsible and honest online behaviors that will stay with them as adults.
We would anticipate that a few parents might not want to participate in virtual learning. We recommend that you work with those parents to establish a way to work together. They must agree to a compromise. It may be to work with a packet, picture of completed assignments, and phone calls or any reasonable combination. Cooperation and commitment to a plan is the only way to ensure that students are moving forward academically and mastering the necessary skills by the end of the school year and be accountable for fourth-quarter grades, report cards, and promotion or retention of students. In the case where parents are unwilling to work with anything that the school proposes: packet; packet and virtual; or virtual, they will assume responsibility for their children’s learning and the results. This will indicate that parents are choosing to withdraw their students from the school program.
If for some reason, parents decide to withdraw their students and homeschool, please share with them that their children will receive grades up to 3rd quarter and they must provide a written request for withdrawal with the date when the student will be withdrawn. Direct parents to the Florida Parent Educational Association (FPEA) for guidance about homeschooling. If students receive a scholarship, schools must complete an exit commitment and submit it to SUFS and encourage parents to contact SUFS to plan for the next school year. Parents should register their students with their county’s homeschooling program or a private program that works with homeschooling parents.
Keep close communication with us at the Florida Conference Office of Education (FLCOE). Ask questions. Take advantage of the learning opportunities. Continue to share your ideas with us. Stay flexible and know that you are not alone.
Finally, pray for your students and their families. Pray for one another and expect Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, to fight for us – even now.
Your FLCOE Team