Distance Learning & Support Plan Update: May 6, 2020

Distance Learning & Support Plan Update: May 6, 2020
Posted on 05/06/2020

Dear CPS Families & Community,

Thank you for your partnership as we all continue to support our students’ learning and needs in CPS. I am writing to provide an update on what you can expect during the remainder of the school year in light of the extension of the school closure, updated state guidance, and questions we are receiving from families.
We know students are participating in virtual learning and engaging with their educators in a variety of ways. We also know that as the closure continues, there is a range of family needs, with some students and families struggling to engage or keep up, while others are seeking more opportunities.

As I mentioned in my May 1 message, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently provided additional guidance to school districts to strengthen distance learning for all students and support students who are not effectively engaged. It includes the identification of “prerequisite standards” in elementary and secondary grades -- those that are the most critical for student success in the next grade. Whereas the previous guidance focused on enrichment, we are now going deeper on standards that have been taught and also covering new material.

CPS Distance Learning & Support Plan is aligned with the State’s guidance. In addition, based on the revised state guidance, CPS has provided additional direction to educators to reinforce expectations for the remainder of the school year.

Here is what you can expect for your student’s continued learning during the remainder of the school year:

  • Prioritizing instruction on the most important knowledge and skills: Following district guidance, your student’s teacher(s) are implementing distance learning activities that focus on the concepts and skills that the State has identified as most essential for the next grade or course. Teachers are collaborating with colleagues to ensure that students receive the support they need, including students with disabilities and English learners. Educators will also assess your student’s progress to help plan for their future learning.

  • Making learning accessible to your student: Your child’s teacher(s) will continue to send a weekly plan that is coordinated with other educators at the school. Plans will include activities that your student can complete at times that are most convenient for your family. We have encouraged educators to explore adding more pre-recorded lessons that can be viewed by students multiple times or at different times.

  • Supporting students with disabilities: Students with an IEP will continue to receive many of the specialized instructional opportunities and related services in a modified manner in a distance learning context.

  • Supporting English learners: English learners will continue to receive small group instruction according to their English language development level. 

  • Meaningful connections between students and educators: Educators are connecting with students through structured learning settings, in small groups, and on an individualized basis to meet students’ specific needs and in ways that are most appropriate to the grade level. This includes Google Meet video conferences, phone, text, office hours, advisory and community meetings.

  • Supporting student engagement: Students are expected to participate in distance learning opportunities, and yet we know there is a range of reasons why some students are not engaging at different times. As teachers are tracking students’ attendance, school staff will continue to reach out to students and families to identify the barriers to participation and how to support students’ individual needs.

  • Emphasizing enrichment, exercise, and play: Educators will continue to build enrichment and play into distance learning activities. Additional resources and ideas can be found at CPS @ Home, the Distance Learning site for your child’s school, or on FindIt! Cambridge. Educators are innovating with these ideas and we will be sharing best practices across the district.

  • Promotion: The State guidance has recommended that all students be promoted to the next grade in the fall. In CPS, all JK-8 students will be promoted to the next grade level, unless a conversation about retention was initiated with the family/caregiver prior to the closure. CRLS/HSEP student promotion is dependent on passing courses in both semesters and the number of credits a student has earned throughout the school year.

  • End-of-year and graduation ceremonies: All end-of-year celebrations will be conducted virtually, in alignment with public health guidelines. School teams are working hard on plans to celebrate these important milestones. More information to come soon.

  • Summer plans: Our team is developing plans for summer learning that reflect the current closure status and public health guidelines. We are working closely with our city and community partners and will share more soon.

Our team is continuing to look at the feedback you’ve shared through the family survey, which closes this Friday, to identify what is working well and where we can improve. The survey closes Friday, so if you haven’t completed it, please look for the personalized email from “Panorama Education” and share your thoughts. If you can’t find your survey, contact email support+cambridge@panoramaed.com.

We are all in this together, and our collective efforts are needed to support students’ needs during this challenging time. We look forward to working with you as we close out the school year and transition to summer and fall planning. If you have any questions about this information, please contact your school principal or contact us at cps@cpsd.us.

Thank you and be well.

Sincerely,

Kenneth N. Salim, Ed.D.
Superintendent

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