(Video date: 03/30/20)
(Message date: 03/29/20, updated 03/31/20)
Dear Bigelow Parents,
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all adjust to new circumstances.
My colleagues and I across the district have been hearing a range of feedback from families that reflects the wide variety of circumstances they are facing. This feedback is useful as it informs our plan going forward for the extended school closure. We know our plan must include an acknowledgment and respect for the diversity of situations our families are experiencing, including the time and resources they have available to them.
While we learned last Wednesday of Governor Baker’s declaration to keep schools closed until May 4, we had already been planning for a longer closure. Our planning process was outlined in David Fleishman’s March 22nd email to the community.
By the end of this week, you can expect from us a structured plan that includes opportunities to connect with teachers and classmates as well as content specific work. This schedule will include the opportunity to connect with adults and peers, and to practice, process, and reflect on skills and learning.
In preparation for the rollout of this plan, we have been working rapidly on the following:
Practice – Our teachers and staff have been reaching out to students with technology tools to see what works best in a distance learning environment. Practicing with technology tools, both for connection and learning, allows us to understand what will work in our second phase of school closure. Bigelow teachers and teachers throughout the district have been trying different approaches, but they are all still operating under the same guidance originally laid out by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Collaboration – Committees at each level (elementary, middle, and high) have been collaborating to develop a school and system-wide approach to the next phase of online learning. At the district level, we continue to collaborate with our neighboring districts, including Brookline, Needham, and Wellesley, who have developed plans similar to our own. We will continue to do so in the coming days, as well as working to interpret guidance from the DESE.
Technology deployment – As a public school district, it is essential that we ensure that all of our students have access to the learning that can occur. One aspect of this is access to a device. We are continuing to identify families who need a device and delivering it to them.
I have been impressed by the response of students and teachers to this new changing and challenging environment. Several teachers hosted office hours using google.meet on a trial basis last week, and reported how valuable it was to re-connect with their students and to hear from them how they are doing, both in general and as well as on their online learning activities.
We will be back in touch with you soon with our updated plan to support learning during this extended school closure.
In the meantime, our current plan with online enrichment learning activities will continue. You and your children will be receiving a new round of emails with learning activities for this week. The clusters will send out their recommended online activities on Monday or Tuesday morning, the world language teachers will email their activities on Wednesday morning, and the FAA/PE teachers will communicate theirs on Thursday morning. I hope that this new schedule will help smooth the flow of work in your household. Please encourage your student to choose from these offerings to continue their work at home this week. This will serve them well as we ramp-up for the next phase of our distance learning plan.