I thought I’d write this letter to introduce myself and give you some important information regarding the upcoming academic year. This is my twelfth year in the district as the high school principal (I was also the middle school for two of those year when Mr. Eldridge left). Before that I was the AP at Lyons Middle/High School and prior to that I taught Biology and Earth Science at Lyons and Midlakes High Schools.
As you probably are aware of, there has been some major restructuring of the schedule and in part where grade levels are housed. This year 5th grade will be coming to school every day but will be housed in the gymnasium at the middle/high school. The core teachers for 5th grade are Mr. Owens, Mrs. Murphy, and Ms. Colbert all of whom are experienced at both the elementary and middle school levels. To supplement the 5th grade schedule we will be using middle/high school staff for physical education, music, art, and guidance classes. The 5th graders will follow the elementary time schedule arriving at the high school when they would normally arrive at AJ Smith and leave at roughly the same time as well.
The rest of the middle school will be on a blended alternating day schedule. Some students will come in on A days and on B days will have tasks and work to do from home. The other half of each grade level will come in on B days and do task and work from home on A days. We have divided the students by families so that all students within your household will come to school on the same days and be home on the same days. Our hope is that this may help families in providing day care.
Student schedules although similar from a content area point of view are very different in practice. Each grade level (let’s say 64 seventh grade students) is broken up into six pods. On A days roughly 32 students would come to school and be broken up into three pods of 10-11 students each. The same thing would happen on B days for the other 32 students. Each pod of students would take the same series of classes together. For example 7th grade has all three pods on A and B days having ELA first period, Math 7 2nd period, Span. 1A 3rd Period………… The acting teacher for any one content area would have one pod and zoom at the same time with the other two pods which are supervised by other 7th grade teachers. Students would be able to ask questions in real time and get feedback from the teacher in real time. Teachers will rotate to each of the other two pods on successive days, that way there is personal contact once every three days. For the most part, each pod stays in the same room for most of the day. This helps limit potential transmission of a virus and also limits the number of times we have to clean each room. Students will have Chromebooks like last year, but this year they will take them home daily for use on the days they are working from home.
On the first week of school September 8-11 we will be having different grade levels come in on different days. On Tuesday September 8 grade 5 all students, grades 6, 7, and 8 students with an A day schedule only should come in. On Wednesday only grades 6, 7, and 8 students with a B day schedule should come in. This will give us time to go through new procedures, walking patterns in the MS/HS, lunch procedures, technology distribution etc. High School students will come in on Thursday and Friday that week. Middle School students should NOT come in on Thursday and Friday that week. We will begin the A/B schedule starting the next week.
Because of the guidelines we were given by the NYS Department of Education and the NYS Health Department we have had to follow certain social distancing, cleaning, and educational protocols. Below I have listed a number of key changes:
All students must wear masks if: they are in the hallways, bathrooms, or coming in close contact with others within any confined area (classroom). However, when students are in their classroom seats with our social distancing protocols in place, they do not have to wear them. Should the student get up to talk to the teacher the student would then need to put their mask back on.
While eating lunch student do not need to wear them but must still maintain social distancing.
Student will need to wash their hands before and after eating lunch.
Students CANNOT share food, this means no birthday brownies or cupcakes…..etc.
Students will not be using hallway lockers or gym lockers this year. Therefore students will not need to change for gym class.
All students will have their temperature taken as they enter the building. If their temperature is greater than 100F they will be placed in a room for a few minutes and then have their temperature retaken. If their temperature is still greater than 100F they will be sent home for up to 14 days unless they are cleared by COVID testing and a doctor to come back to school. Please don’t shoot the messenger, as we understand that any one of us could have a temperature over 100F for a number of different reasons. Should your child have a fever, I would suggest not sending them to school until that fever is no longer there.
We are having 5th grade orientation on Wednesday, September 2 from 4:00pm-5:00pm. Please only bring your student and yourselves as we must keep the total gathering to around 150 people, there are roughly 50 students in 5th grade. Also please wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines, keep family groups at least six feet away from each other. We will have 6th grade orientation on Thursday, September 3 as follows: “A” day student and parents from 4:00-5:00pm and “B” day students and parents from 5:00-6:00pm.
I know that was a lot so if you have any questions please feel free to call me at 315-889-4110.
Chuck Walker, Union Spring Middle/High School Principal