Health Update 11
April 3, 2020
It is heartwarming to see the numerous examples of community during our remote learning! At a time when we have to socially distance ourselves, everyone is doing their best to remain connected. The photos, songs, videos, poems, artwork, journals, and experiments…are great examples of meeting the purpose of remote learning, which includes joy in learning, curiosity of life, and engagement between teacher and student.
I wanted to update students, families, and staff on a number of items:
- Governor Mills extended remote learning until May 1st. Please note, she also clarified it may need to be extended even further. If you look at the modeling, late April into May is when the numbers of COVID-19 are expected to surge in Maine. Commissioner Makin and many others have stated it is likely students will not return to school this academic year. I will keep you updated as we learn more.
- Change of Grading for 3rd and 4th quarters. The Bangor School Committee approved a plan to adjust grading in Quarter 3 and 4 for remote learning. The faculty and staff devised a sustainable, reliable, and more appropriate system for grading during this time. This system includes grades of Pass with Distinction (PD), Pass (P), Fail (F), and Incomplete (I) for middle and high school students and Pass with Distinction (PD), Pass (P), Developing (D), Not applicable (NA) and Incomplete (I) for elementary students. Here are links to the grading descriptions by grade span: Performance Levels for Elementary Students; BHS Grading Plan for Spring Semester 2020. Principals will be sharing these descriptions as well and teachers will be clarifying which learning activities would count towards PD and P as we move through the learning in the next quarters.
- Students in good standing will move to the next grade level or graduate this year as they normally would. Some parents have expressed fears their child(ren) will fall behind during this remote learning time period. I want to emphasize that all students in our state and nation are in the same situation. We recognize there will need to be adjustments and we have already begun transition planning for when we return to school buildings. Teachers and administrators will be setting up plans to cover missed topics and provide additional support as needed whether this is in the spring or the fall. If you have specific questions about your child(ren), please contact your child(ren)’s teacher and/or principal.
Please remember there are all types of learning and it is important to have students read, write, dance, sing, cook, act, play, create, problem solve, laugh, be in nature as much as possible, etc. For children’s well being it is important to limit screen time and especially to limit the news overload on COVID-19. I believe it is best to answer children’s questions honestly, but to follow their lead. Social workers, guidance counselors, and teachers are available to assist if you need help.
- April Vacation will be a vacation week. April vacation week is still scheduled and it is important for everyone that this be a break from remote learning. Experts share that remote learning should be done in smaller amounts and with breaks.
- Celebrations may look different. We are developing contingency plans to celebrate the accomplishments of students as we have in the past. However, those celebrations may look different. We may need to hold virtual honors nights and graduations. Our hope would be we return to school and hold these events as usual. We will do our very best and know our hard working students deserve recognition and joy whichever way we are able to do.
- We will be better from all of this. Although no one would wish to be thrown into remote learning within days, there have been many lessons learned and I have to believe we will be better from all of this in the long run. We hope to improve remote learning and to use this format for snow days in the future or for students who are hospitalized or have an extended illness. An educator recently shared with me our seniors were born in the year of 9/11 and they will graduate in the year of COVID – 19. This group has experienced a great deal of change and uncertainty, but they make us so proud. Our students give me great hope. They are kind, intelligent, well rounded, and they want to make a difference in this world. Without a doubt, they will.
Betsy M. Webb, Ed.D.