Barnes Addresses Lakewood Families Re: State Of The Schools

Lakewood teachers with a message for their kids.

I trust that you are safe, healthy and well during this Covid 19 Quarantine. I want to share some district news. 

Before doing that I would like to celebrate two weeks of remote learning. I would like to congratulate everyone for the hard work an the efforts put into engaging in this different kind of learning. I know it's uncomfortable and it's new but you're doing a fantastic job.    

To our students, keep in mind that the focus should be on learning. The intent here is not to overwhelm you. I know our teachers are working hard to plan lessons that will enhance learning experiences for you. We're trying to scale it appropriately, so this is a pleasant learning experience for you. We want you to not be overwhelmed, not to worry, just do your best, and everything will be fine, okay? Everything will be fine.  

To our parents: Thank you very much for your support through this. I know that many of you have several students at home, they're sharing computers and your wifi capabilities can be cluttered with multiple people working at the same time, but all of your support and generosity and the positive feedback you have been giving has been tremendously helpful and reassuring to our faculty, our staff, our administrative team, and our board of education, so know that your participation and support is greatly appreciated.  

Recently with stakeholder support we completed a remote learning sixty day plan. We're very happy with the plan. We believe it will provide a more clear picture of what is expected in terms of learning over the next 60 days. If you noticed, 60 days extends beyond the Governor's order to close the schools through May 1st. We believe as all indications suggest, that school will be closed longer. And we felt that it would be prudent upon us, as a school community to plan accordingly. So rather than having a plan through May 1st, we wanted to be as comprehensive and as prepared as possible for the extended closure through the end of the school year.

Hopefully things will get better and we won't need the last 60 days but in the event that we do, we are prepared to continue to educate our students. We intend to share this plan with our families tonight. We will get that out to you. But I wanted to first address you to talk about the highlights of the plan.  

This plan addresses student engagement levels. What do we mean by that? Basically how much time is a kindergartener, a first grader a second grader, etc expected to engage daily in learning.

We originally left that open-ended but with input from parents, from our faculty, from our principals, we feel that we have landed on a structure of student engagement levels that will really provide a quality education, learning experience for our students during this closure and it will be scaled appropriately.

Again, the intent here is not to overwhelm our students, and it's not to overwhelm our staff, or our parents, but to think creatively about how we can best meet the needs that are grade level appropriate for our students.   

This plan also addresses grading. I know that this is an issue that the community has asked for us to share. We will be sharing that with some clarity. There are some things we had to take into consideration to make sure that what we decided did not have an adverse effect on our students.

We do know that students are still thriving and striving for college scholarships, we know that there are Ohio Highschool Athletic Association implications around grading and NCAA implications around grading as well. So we wanted to take our time and be careful.  

One of the things we are committed to just to calm a little bit of the angst is whatever grade a student got in the third quarter, they will not get a grade less than that in the fourth quarter. They can only go up. So for example, if you got a B in the third quarter, you will at least get a B during the fourth quarter assuming that you are engaged in the learning activities that your teachers have set up for you. You can't shut down, students. Assuming that you're engaged, you'll get no less, but you can improve.  

The plan also addresses special education guidelines.  

We also included in this plan the district updates, not to take for granted that everyone is paying attention to the State Legislature and the laws that have been passed during this closure. We included some provisions specifically related to education that were a part of House Bill 197 that the Governor signed. For example, that bill totally waived state testing for the balance of the 2020 year, so students you don't have to worry about taking state tests and wondering how we're going to figure that out. We're simply not giving them.

Also they're exempting all third graders in this bill from being retained as a part of the third grade guarantee that has been a part of our practice.   

Also important is graduation, I know some of our parents and seniors are concerned, "what does that mean for us?" If a student was on track to graduate prior to school being closed because of Covid 19, and assuming that that student stays engaged, this bill allows us to move those seniors onto graduation who were already on track to graduate.

Parents, please share this plan with your children, talk it through with them. We felt that it was necessary to come out with these provisions so that we can communicate more clearly with our families around the expectations for at least through May 1st but we believe even beyond into the end of the 2019-2020 school year.   

Also to note, in order to celebrate some Senior milestones, our administrators, along with some staff and some student input have worked hard to secure two alternative days for Prom and Commencement. We wanted to share this with you now so families can begin blocking those days accordingly. Prom would be June 25, Commencement would be June 27.

This is all dependent on the Governor releasing the stay at home order.

If things get better and we are allowed to socially gather, these dates have been secured so that we can celebrate our seniors and the milestones they've achieved in their K through 12 experience.  

I wanted to share those updates with you. I wish you the very best. Happy Easter to everyone. Take some time to enjoy your family and friends if you can. Just reflect and remember that even considering these circumstances, we still are very very blessed and we still have a lot to be thankful for. Things will get better. We're in this together.  We always will be. One Heart, One Lakewood.   

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 3:45 PM, 04.15.2020