Remote Learning FAQ
November 23, 2020 - Update to Families
As COVID cases continue to rise steadily in Gloucester, our schools continue to prepare in case we need to switch from our current approach of being in school four or five days per week and go fully remote. At this point, we do not need to move to remote learning.
We want all families to know that the safety of our students, staff, and the Gloucester community is our highest priority. So far this school year, the scientific and medical communities continue to report that being in school is the safest option for students. While in school, students continue to learn, socialize with their peers, have adult supervision, and get crucial support in the areas of mental and physical health, safety, and nutrition. It is also clear that the virus has not been spreading in schools.
Our school leaders, educators, and staff continue to prepare just in case we need to go fully remote in a single grade, school, or across our schools.
Please read some of the commonly asked questions about going remote below.
Question: If one school has to shut down, will all the schools shut down?
Answer: No, if one school has to shut down, we don’t necessarily have to close all schools down. A classroom, a grade, a school or the entire district could go fully remote depending on the number of COVID cases in the community and in the schools.
Question: If the decision to go fully remote is made, will remote learning start the following day?
Answer: If an entire school or the district has to go fully remote, we are planning to give families and our staff as much advanced warning as possible and a day or two to make the transition.
During the transition day(s), teachers will provide a combination of independent or asynchronous work as well as live check-ins with classes. The transition day(s) will be different at the elementary, middle, and high school levels because the upper grades have already been doing more remote learning this year.
Question: What data are you looking at to make the decision about staying in school or going remote?
Answer: The superintendent, our head nurse, and the Gloucester Health Department look at health data everyday to understand how COVID is affecting our city and the schools. We look at the following data:
Total number of cases in the city
The number of new cases, and where these cases are coming from.
Total number of cases and the number of new cases in each school
The percentage of people who are getting tested who test positive
How well the Department of Health can effectively complete contact tracing in a timely manner
We also pay very close attention to the level of transmission in the city and within the schools. The level of transmission helps us understand to what degree people are giving others the virus. So far in our schools, there has been no transmission of COVID within the schools.
Question: Are there specific data which will make us stop in-person learning and switch to remote learning?
Answer: No, we do not have specific numbers which will make us immediately stop in-person learning. We will consider both the data and the context of how COVID is impacting the city and the schools.
Question: What will Remote Learning be like if we have to go fully remote? Will it be different than in the spring?
Answer: Our teachers, principals, and our staff have been preparing since the summer in case we needed to go fully remote. Because of their hard work and dedication, our educators and schools are much better prepared to have fully remote school than we were in the spring.
They have had extensive training in electronic platforms which they have been using the entire school year with their classes. All teachers have been doing some remote teaching with middle and high school already doing live remote teaching and all elementary teachers providing asynchronous remote learning.
As a result, if we do go remote, you will see a significant difference in the way we approach remote instruction.
The remote school day will be much more like a regular school day in terms of length and include more live interaction and instruction than we were able to do in the spring.
Students will have a regular schedule of classes which will be very similar to the daily schedule they have during in-person learning.
Students will be expected to be in class and attendance will be taken.
Assignments will be graded and students will get grades in the same way they do during in-person learning.
Question: What will Remote Learning look like at grade span? (Elementary, Middle, and High School)
If we go fully remote, the elementary schools will follow a schedule similar to the ones they have been following that will include live teaching and asynchronous work and be six hours long. Each elementary school teacher will begin and end each day with a live meeting with their entire class. Each student will have live lessons taught or supported by a combination of classroom teachers, specialists, special education teachers, and paraprofessionals. Students will also have a 45 minute break or lunch.
O’Maley Middle School
If we go fully remote, O’Maley students will have a schedule similar to the one they have now with five days of synchronous learning, academic classes, specials, as well as a break for lunch. Teachers will be instructing live and available to students during each class. The school day will be the typical length.
Gloucester High School
GHS started the year fully remote for 3 weeks and has been providing remote learning on a daily basis and on Fridays since then. If the high school needs to go fully remote, then it will be very similar to what the school was doing for the first three weeks of school. The Crimson and Cream cohorts will again blend into their regularly scheduled classes and the school day will be scheduled like a regular school day.
Teachers will lead live synchronous classes five days per week and also provide asynchronous learning time where students complete learning activities on their own that preview or extend the synchronous learning.
Those students who are in the GHS Remote Learning Academy using Plato by Edmentum will continue to attend school using this platform.
Question: Will high needs learners continue to learn in school even if others begin learning remotely?
Answer: We want to support our high needs learners in the best way possible. If it is safe for high needs learners to be learning in-person on some days or all days, then it is possible that we would have high needs learners in school even while other students are learning remotely.
Question: Can I switch my student from the Elementary Remote Learning Academy into In-Person Learning?
Answer: On December 14, a limited number of students will be able to switch into In-Person learning from the Elementary Remote Learning Academy on a space-available basis.
PLEASE NOTE - Because of the smaller class sizes due to COVID and the need to maintain physical spacing in our classrooms, those students who request to move into In-Person Learning, will be placed in schools where space is available. It is very possible that your student will not return to the school that s/he has attended in the past if there are no seats available in that specific grade in that school.
If you want to request a switch into In-Person Learning, please contact your principal by December 7th.
Question: Can I switch my student from In-Person Learning into the Elementary Remote Learning Academy?
Answer: On December 14, a limited number of students will be able to switch into the Elementary Remote Learning Academy on a space-available basis.
PLEASE NOTE - Because of the large class sizes in the Elementary Remote Learning Academy, only a limited number of students will be able to switch into the Remote Learning Academy.
If you want to request a switch into the Elementary Remote Learning Academy, please contact your principal by December 7th.
Question: Can O'Maley and GHS students switch between Remote and In-Person at the end of the term?
Answer: O'Maley and GHS can switch students between Remote and In-Person at the end of each term.
O'Maley already communicated with families before the first term ended earlier in November and students were able to switch between the two different learning models.
Gloucester High School will not switch students until later in January when the first semester ends. GHS will communicate with families and students about switching between the two different learning models closer to the end of the semester.
REMOTE LEARNING QUESTIONS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE SCHOOL YEAR
Question: How do I let the school system know that I am choosing remote learning for my child?
Answer: Family Selection Forms were emailed to parents and guardians of elementary and middle school students on 8/17 and 8/19 respectively. Links to the form can be found on the home page of Back Together GPS. Elementary submittal deadline is 8/21 and middle school submittal is 8/23.
Question: How will remote learning be delivered?
Instruction will be provided by Gloucester classroom teachers.
Student learning will be entirely remote and consist of live and/or pre-recorded lessons along with corresponding work. Students will also use web-based learning and assessment tools such as Lexia.
When students are doing remote learning they will have a daily and weekly class schedule just like they do when they are in school.
The curriculum will follow the same grade-level state standards that are followed in Gloucester schools.
Attendance will be taken and work will be graded and report cards will be issued.
* Please note - GPS will not be using the EdGenuity remote learning platform that is being provided by the state department of education.
Question: Will the remote learning be available for special education students?
Answer: Yes. Students must receive all services documented in their IEP to the greatest extent possible. However, the services may be delivered differently given a remote learning environment.
Question: What will the structure or expectations be for the remote learning model?
Answer: DESE has instructed districts to provide a more robust remote learning model. Remote learning lessons will include live instruction, pre-recorded lessons, and corresponding work. Please refer to the Remote Learning Model Section for all grade levels in the Plan for a Safe Return to School located on the Back Together GPS website.
Question: Can my child start with remote learning and switch to in person learning when I feel that it is safe?
Answer: Students enrolled in the remote learning model will have to wait until either the end of the trimester (elementary) or the end of the quarter (middle and high school) is completed to switch into or out of remote learning.
Question: Will parents have the option for the remote learning model for their child?
Answer: Yes. Families may choose either the recommended School-Based option or the full-time Remote Learning option