Ride the Coaster...
As staff returned to work last week, I spoke with them all about the range of emotions that everyone in our schools, community, and country could be feeling related to schools reopening. Every possible emotion from happiness, to anger, to fear, to anxiety, to joy, to optimism, to frustration, to determination exists in every school throughout our state right now. Even more than that, each individual working in schools and each parent may be feeling those emotions regularly, sometimes occurring almost simultaneously. I liken this crazy swinging of emotions to riding a roller coaster. There is a lot going on as schools reopen and teachers, parents, and students attempt to do something that has never been done before. This is not like the spring and it most likely will never be like the spring again. Education is changing for certain, and hopefully for the better. Hopefully we are moving into a world where students and families have more choice over the way in which their child is learning. Utilizing and leveraging technology in ways that we knew we could, but it was taboo to try to teach k-12 students that way. The reality is that our children will be growing up and moving into a work force that is by large remote and digital. More so than even the work force of today. We say continuously in education that we are preparing students for jobs that do not exist yet. Well, we also have to prepare them for the jobs that currently exist and help them understand how to work in a format that is currently in existence. If we continue to work together for the next few weeks on helping our students and staff work together with technology, our school system, students, and teachers will have an advantage on many other systems in New York in that we will be able to truly provide blending learning models to students and families in the future. We can not simply look at this period of remote learning as a moment in time and think that it will pass, we need to look at it as our opportunity to create the future! However, that is stressful, scary, exciting, exhilarating, difficult... all if it wrapped up into one. There will be successes, struggles, and maybe even a few failures, but all of those experiences lead to growth and improvement. Just like riding a roller coaster, your emotions can change with every turn, every drop, every loopty loop; and then you have the fact that they can change with every different coaster you ride. We will all experience that in the coming year. It may be terrifying, and it may seem like you don't want to wait in that line for an hour to ride a roller coaster, however, I can assure you that if we trust each other, support each other, and focus on the future; we will all come out of this situation as better educators, students, and most importantly, people. Have a great first week everyone and just know that your emotions are warranted and we are all in the roller coaster park together... so ride it like a champion!!
This week, Kindergarten screenings will be occurring throughout the district, at the students' schools. Any family that has a child entering Kindergarten should have information on the date and time of their child's screening this week. If you do not have that information, or want to verify the information, please contact your child's school or teacher. While screening is occurring, students will not be following the daily schedule and they will be learning asynchronously. Students will begin following the daily, remote, kindergarten schedule no later than Monday, September 21. The date when this could occur will be slightly between schools due to a difference in the number of students needing to be screened. More details and information will again be available through your students school.
STAR Screening (gr. 1-3)
Similar to kindergarten screenings, students in grades 1 through 3 will also be receiving a STAR screening in the coming weeks. STAR screening will assist the schools and teachers in measuring where a student stands related to ELA and math. This process will assist the teachers in knowing which supports a student may need, as a result of the spring closure and summer. Grade 1 screenings will be the week of September 21, grade 2 the week of September 28, and grade 3 the week of October 5. More information related to STAR screening and the detailed scheduled of screenings will be communicated to students and families through each building and teacher.
As a reminder, New York State has passed a law that no longer allows for the religious exemption for school vaccinations. Also, although we are opening remotely for most students, all laws that are applicable to school related required vaccines are still in effect. While some health related requirements for public school attendance have been modified or relived for the 2020-2021 school year, mandatory vaccinations have not. The link below will take you to the State Education Department website that outlines the required vaccinations. Please speak to your school nurse or family physician if you have any questions regarding any requirements.
Parent Portal is an online method for families to access our student management system, SchoolTool. We will once again be utilizing Parent Portal this year for the communication of student progress reports, ongoing grade reporting, and attendance. Once you log in, and a report has been published, you will easily be able to view these reports in your portal. If you do not already have an account, and would like to sign up for an account, please contact your child's school.
Once again, the Rome City School District will be working with a vendor to electronically distribute fliers that are typically copied and sent home through backpacks. Beyond just the distribution of fliers, the program can also allow individuals to register or sign up for events online; allowing building staff's to have a better handle on attendance figures prior to an event. If you have not already signed up for the program, you can do so by visiting our website at https://app.peachjar.com/flyers. You can register for the program by clicking "My Account".
Student Health Screening
As a reminder, each Monday, we are asking all parents to complete the student health screening to help assist in monitoring any possibility of virus exposure within our school district. The screening is short and is modeled after the daily screening required by all employees and the screening required for visitors. A button for the link is included on our reopening website and a link to the Student Health Screening is here:https://docs.google.com/forms/studenthealth.
Information and Questions
As opening day draws closer, we understand that people will continue to have questions and be in need of information. In recent days, the questions have far outnumbered the time available to respond, however, many questions have already been answered through one document or another. For information on everything related to COVID-19 for the 2020-2021 school year and for reopening schools this Fall, please visit our webpage at www.romecsd.org/reopening. If you do have questions that you cannot seem to find an answer for, we encourage parents and students to either contact the appropriate administrator or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.