Weston’s Secondary School from Home:
Updated Guidance for Families — April 6, 2020
Based on the March 26th, 2020, guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Families, thank you so much for your support, partnership, and feedback when we launched our School from Home program for the Middle School and High School. We were one of the first districts in the Commonwealth to go to remote learning. Whereas many other districts waited for guidance from the Department of Education, we just started. Now, with DESE guidance in place, the lessons we learned during our first days of implementation, and the good feedback we received from administrators, teachers, students, and families, we are making adjustments and improvements to School from Home. Below are our points of emphasis and guidance for families. As you read this document, please keep in mind that we have kept the ethic of care — care for ourselves, care for others, and care for our community — as the basis for why we are making these important School from Home changes:
The social-emotional safety, mental health, and overall well-being of students, families and staff is our priority at this time.
- Parents/guardians, you can have your student stop participating in any learning activity offered in the School from Home program if you feel that your child’s physical, social, emotional, or mental health could be compromised. Your child’s mental health is paramount.
- These are stressful times. If School from Home is not working for your student, please contact your teacher (for class-specific issues) or your guidance counselors (for more global issues). We want students to be engaged in learning and regularly in connection with educators. We will be flexible as to how to make that happen.
- If a teacher sees that your child has disengaged from online learning, the teacher or a counselor will follow up with you and problem solve. We are committed to making School from Home work for all students and families.
Work expectations are about half as they would be if students could attend school.
- We are supporting students to engage in meaningful, productive learning (both online and offline) for approximately half the length of a regular school day (middle school: approximately 3 hours; high school: approximately 3.5 hours). Advanced Placement classes may demand additional work.
- We are balancing offering new content with reinforcing, applying, and deepening skills and practices already taught this school year.
- We are creating more opportunities for independent learning.
- We are emphasizing teacher feedback to support student learning; we are deemphasizing teacher grading to measure student achievement. Student work will be assessed using formative measures, not with traditional grades or numerical scores.
We aim to offer students choice, agency, easy access to the curriculum, and optional challenge opportunities.
- We are providing a variety of learning experiences, mostly online, but some offline. In all cases, we are designing our curriculum to support students’ genuine curiosity and joy of learning.
- We are creating lessons that can be modified and expectations that can be adjusted as necessary so that all learners can access the curriculum. Much of the curriculum will have easy entry points that facilitate independent access and then ramp up in stages. We will be providing optional challenge activities as well. This way students can better independently engage in the curriculum at their own level.
We are increasing opportunities for video conferencing so that students can stay connected to their teachers and school.
- We are giving more opportunity for teachers and students to connect and directly communicate with one another through video conferencing. Every middle school teacher will have at least one video conferencing session for their students per week. Every high school teacher will have at least one or two video conferencing sessions for their students per eight-day cycle. Sessions can be in a number of formats, including whole-class instruction, learning in small groups, or individual conversations. We will continue to explore options how teachers and students can further increase face-to-face interaction.
- Special educators, ELE teachers, counselors, learning assistants, and related service providers are working to provide services and direct instruction to individual students using videoconferencing tools, facetime, or phone calls, based on individual need. Parents of children on 504 or IEP plans, please expect a more detailed communication from the Office of Student Services coming out today.
- We are safeguarding our online technologies to protect privacy and maintain appropriate content and interaction.
We are communicating regularly with students and families.
- You can expect regular communication from teachers, principals, and central office administration. In this time when we are all isolated from one another, we are over-communicating.
- Your feedback is very important to us. We are continually making adjustments based on feedback to enhance the remote learning experience for all students.
- Finally, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us:
|Classroom-related||Your child’s teacher, then department head/director|
|Social Emotional||Your child’s guidance counselor|
|School-related||Your child’s principal|
|Overall School from Home program||Dr. Kimo Carter, Assistant. Superintendent|
|Student Services||Jennifer Truslow, Director of Student Services|
|Technology||Dr. Lee McCanne, Director of Technology and Libraries|
Thank you again for your feedback and support as we continue to make improvements and we are looking forward to our continued collaboration with you. You will be getting more communications. Today the Office of Student Services will be sending a communication to families of students with IEPs or 504s about how we are planning to deliver specialized instruction to students remotely. Midweek, the Office of Teaching and Learning will be providing enrichment resources and other suggestions for students and families who want to extend their learning. Finally, we will be presenting School from Home updates at tonight’s School Committee and holding a virtual Case House “Coffee” about School from Home with parents and guardians next Monday, April 13th from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. We hope to see you!
Please take care and be well,
Dr. Midge Connolly, Superintendent
Dr. Kimo Carter, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
Amy Kelly, Director of District Advancement
Jennifer Truslow, Director of Student Services
Dr. Lee McCanne, Director of Technology and Libraries