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A Remote Learning Plan Update
A Remote Learning Plan Update
Jennifer Gaudet
Monday, April 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Maynard School Community, 

We are now in week something of social distancing, and we now know that remote learning will be our educational landscape for the remainder of this school year.  While it is not what we were hoping for, at least having a definitive answer allows us to continue to improve our practices in remote learning.  I hope you and your families are doing well, and that everyone is staying as healthy and safe as possible.

We are seeking your feedback to help improve the remote learning plan!  In an effort not to bury the lead, as it were, here is the link to the survey.  

If you are interested in reading more about the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommendations for Phase III of remote learning and how Maynard will respond, please read on!  There is a sailing story, if that entices anyone!   

On Friday night, Commissioner Riley sent out new guidance regarding remote learning plans for districts, which he is calling phase III of our pandemic response.  DESE is working on an updated parent communication that we will share with you as soon as we get it.  I did want to highlight a couple of the items from the Commissioner's guidance.

First, the three priorities for remote learning plans have not changed.  They remain 

  • Ensuring the safety and well-being of students, families and staff

  • Ensuring equity is the top consideration in local planning efforts

  • Maintaining connections between school staff, students and families

Second, The Commissioner reiterated his guidance that districts use Credit/No Credit marks “to incentivize continuous learning while acknowledging the challenging situation we face.” This guidance is expanded to recommend that districts promote students to the next grade level, and have provided significant research to support that stance.

As you read through the recommendations for Phase III, we hope you notice that many of the suggested strategies are ones that Maynard Educators are already using.  Where there are gaps or areas to improve in our plan, we are working together as a team to address those challenges.  As we do so, we will continue to let the three properties lead our work, in particular in the area of access and equity.  

There has been a lot of conversation regarding synchronous, or live, interactions between staff members and students.  You will note that the guidance explicitly prioritizes asynchronous instruction in order to mitigate the access issues, which go beyond simple availability of a device and internet connection.  At the same time, the recommendations include synchronous strategies to connect with students.  From our perspective as a district, equity and access issues are still present with any synchronous activity, whether it be for social emotional support or for academic content learning. Our task as a district is to find ways to mitigate those access issues in all aspects of our remote learning plan.  Our priority continues to be that your child is connected to our school community.  Our teams remain committed to ensuring that connection happens in real, authentic ways that help to strengthen the social and emotional health of all of our students.

This is where the sailing anecdote comes in. Both in cruising and racing, the decisions you make from the helm drastically impact what options your boat has next.  Whether you are racing, cruising in calm weather, or sailing out of a storm will determine the severity of a bad decision.  In a calm breeze, on open water, if your tack is not quite correct, or your jib not trimmed properly, you just wind up further away from your intended destination.  If you are racing, you lose the race.  In a storm, these decisions take on heightened importance as getting it wrong can mean life or death.  The decisions made in developing and modifying the remote learning plan will have a different level of impact depending on the strength of the storm you are in.  As a district, we are committed to ensuring that the decision we are making will not create a further disadvantage for our most vulnerable students and families.  As always, if you or your child need assistance, connect with your child’s teacher, guidance counselor or building administrator.  

The district will be working with the Maynard Education Association to consider the recommendations in the DESE guidance and in the family survey.  Please fill out this survey so that we may use this feedback to improve our plan moving forward.    

As always, stay safe, and be well. 

Jennifer