Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Hello Hillcrest Families,
This has been a surreal two weeks, and we now know that we will continue with working/learning from home after Spring Break and at least through May 1st. I recognize that in times like these communication does not always come to us as fast as we want it and in the way that we want it. I hope that this communication will provide you with information about the learning plan for our students after Spring Break. Also, I will continue to update you via the YP, through Konstella and will be available to answer questions and concerns via email or zoom. To stay current with OUSD news please refer often to the website here, and here is the current message from our Superintendent.
The past two weeks our staff has been working hard to keep students engaged in learning and continuing to provide students with educational experiences and access to our learning plans, offering learning support remotely and learning how to best connect with students and families. This was all being accomplished while learning how to manage remote learning, and adjust to the new working environment. With the school closure extended, we are revising and adjusting the current remote learning plan structure to better meet the needs of our students and families beyond Spring Break. Note that none of this is mandatory and it is offered only to provide a framework that might support continuity of learning for all students:
- All teachers K-5 will offer a daily class meeting/ learning session intended to maintain a sense of community in each classroom, and to set intentions/learning goals for the day. We will work to stagger these as best we can to accommodate families with more than one student in different grades. Teachers will post their new schedules prior to April 6th.
- Remember that this new way of schooling does not require the same instructional minutes as traditional school. It is recommended that K-2 students engage in academics for no more than two hours per day. With older students, the academic time will depend on the assignments. Use the remainder of the day for art, physical exercise, pursuing their own interests, playing games, cooking, sewing, family time, gardening etc.
- Teachers will have drop in office hours or learning sessions to provide additional support.
- Middle School students will begin their new schedule which provides both direct access to all teachers and opportunities to be involved in specials.
- Specialists will give students opportunities to participate weekly.
- When we return from spring break our support staff and teachers will reach out to students with 504 plans and our special education team will reach out to students with IEPs.
- Alia Dolan will continue to support our community.
- Our Reading Specialist and STIP Subs will be reaching out to families and students to provide extra support.
- Many families have already signed out chromebooks from Hillcrest. We are asking you to please fill out an agreement for each device-- Chromebook Offsite Loan Agreement.
- There will be another opportunity on Wednesday, April 8th to check out Chromebooks; the schedule will be posted in Konstella as soon as possible.
Hillcrest K-8 will continue to offer our students learning opportunities that they can do at home. Consistent with the district’s approach, the goal is to ensure that students can practice and extend on previous learning while they are away from school. Students will not receive credit or be penalized for complete/incomplete work done during the closure.
We will not be teaching new concepts while schools are closed. Learning opportunities for students will focus on extending learning and review and practice what has already been taught so far this year. It is quite possible that many of you might find this a challenging idea. I encourage you to think of this from an equity lens---if only students of well resourced families continue to receive new content while others do not, we are not providing equal access for all students. We are a public school district and we must be mindful of this reality. OUSD is not the only public school district taking this approach across the state of California. For families wishing to independently explore new concepts, several of the learning links provided through Google Classroom or Clever (ex: Khan Academy, ST Math, NewsELA, etc.) offer leveled materials that can be readily accessed.
It is important to remember that the unusual nature of this situation will produce uneven and unpredictable results for the millions of families and students across our country who have been asked to engage in social distancing and online learning. Our goal is to keep our students engaged in learning, connecting with their teachers and classmates from home while we wait out this virus, and hopefully flatten the curve.
Remember too that there is so much more to learn here than grade level academic standards. Think of ways to connect with our natural world, explore and connect with our global community and build relationships during this unprecedented experience.
I want to thank the Hillcrest staff for their hard work and collaboration in service of our students. I also want to appreciate all of our families for managing these difficult times with positivity, and their unwavering support of our staff. Let us continue to hold our Hillcrest community with compassion and empathy as the adults “put on their oxygen masks” so that they can care for families and children and adjust to the new circumstances.
I recognize that we are all managing change and equally likely, stress. It is understandable that many in our community are worried about employment and the health and wellbeing of their families. Some of us are working in healthcare or are first responders or decision makers on the front lines battling this pandemic. It is clear that each of us did not enter this situation from the same circumstance or vantage point, and we will not emerge from this historic situation identically either.
I hope that you all can take time to breathe, let go of school for the duration of our Spring Break and come back on April 6th ready to do all that we can to cope with our new reality.