RCSD School Closure Update, 3/25/2020: Continuity of Instruction Transitions to Remote Learning of New Material, Change to School Meal Program Schedule; Building and Technology Access
Thank you for your fortitude and perseverance during what has been the longest week and a half, personally or professionally, that I can ever remember. We hope that you are all staying home as your circumstances allow, and that you and your family members, including your young children and your teenagers, are avoiding contact with others. Epidemiologists are telling us that doing so is the only way to break the chain of coronavirus infection in our State and in the US.
All of you already have been contacted via e-mail by your child’s building principal. Many of you already have been contacted by your child’s teachers since last week regarding the provision of instructional materials. They are all working diligently, at home where they should be. Please be understanding of the fact that our staff members are not immune to the same pressures and stresses to which this health crisis has subjected all of us.
Like you, our staff members have children with childcare needs. They have aging and/or health-impaired family members, or those who are health-care providers or first responders, those who are most exposed to COVID-19 and its complications. Like our friends and family, they are deeply concerned about the near-term and long-term impacts of this pandemic. Thank you for walking in their shoes as they work toward maintaining the continuity of instruction for our children, with the best of intentions, but with one hand tied behind their backs due to the limitations of dealing with this scourge themselves that we’re all experiencing, and supporting your children as well. Don’t feel sorry for them, but please support them!
Continuity of Instruction: As many of us anticipated might be inevitable, it is time to extend our efforts, given that New York schools were ordered closed through this Tuesday, March 31st, with the possibility of an extension of the current school closure status still undecided by our State public officials and health care professionals.
In order to continue to address the goal of providing education to our students, the District’s teachers, with the support of their teaching assistants, as appropriate, are now transitioning to the provision of instruction and support using District-provided and supported remote learning platforms, e-mail, and other District-provided technology. They will continue to engage our students with new learning and instructional material, beyond reviewing, reinforcing, and enriching instruction as they have been doing thus far while schools have been closed under executive order.
While our students are restricted to learning in their homes, we acknowledge the inherent limitations of remote learning, with constrained capability of providing emotional and/or social support for students, especially those with special needs, including needs for physical support, with restrictions on providing a broad interactive environment, or support for students who rely upon the school setting to provide physical nourishment and/or stability during the school day
Nonetheless, as soon as practicable, and in the interest of the health and safety of the faculty and the support staff, instructional duties will have been shifted from the current instructional mode, and will be provided from permissible remote sites, including from home, through a remote learning modality. Remote learning will be delivered through asynchronous or synchronous (real time) instruction, or a combination of both, as determined by the individual teacher, according to her/her best professional judgment, in collaboration with the building principal or supervising administrator and with the teacher’s grade level, team, and/or subject-level department, as appropriate. We anticipate this transition to begin today, as many teachers already have, and to be broadly implemented by Monday, March 31, 2020.
By then, students and families will have been contacted by the students’ teachers. Materials, assignments, and guidance will be uploaded to the designated platform for student retrieval and review. Teachers will be available to review and respond to student questions and inquiries via the District-provided e-mail or platform communication tool, as they are expected to do as part of the more traditional face-to-face in-classroom teaching approach.
The school district will make every effort to provide computers and hotspots to any student, or teacher, who does not have access to the internet or to a computer that could be used for remote learning. Individuals or families who need technology support should inform the building principal or supervising administrator, or Mr. Steve Jensen, Director of Technology, (e-mail at [email protected]) by school telephone or e-mail
If the District is unable to provide a computer and/or mobile hotspot, the teacher, in consultation with his/her building principal, will determine an alternate means with which to provide new learning through a modality that does not require the use of remote learning technology, through the provision of hard copy materials as but one possible example, or some other appropriate means. We will make the best of what we have in the interest of education each student to the best of our abilities. That said, please know that we are not the first school district, but hardly the last, to provide new instruction to our students through a remote learning environment.
Change in School Breakfast and Lunch Service: We want to continue to thank our food service staff for coming together to provide breakfast and lunch for our students for the families that requested them. We will continue providing free breakfast and lunch for any student in the Rhinebeck Central School District community, for as long as the school closures due to the coronavirus crisis last, and regardless of where the students attend school (RCSD, private and parochial, home-schooled).
However, free student breakfast and lunch now will be made available from 8:00 am until 10:30 am on a “grab and go” basis at BMS/RHS parking lot on Mondays (3 days’ worth of meals) and on Thursdays (2 days’ worth of meals), on days when schools would normally be in session, while schools are closed under the State and Dutchess County State of Emergency Declarations. These meals are available for students in the Rhinebeck Central School District area. For more information or questions, to place an order, and/or to request delivery, please email a message to [email protected] .Please let us know if your child has any food allergies.
Building and Technology Access: In the interest of limiting access to our buildings for the purpose of social distancing, all access to either school building will be on an appointment-only basis with your school’s building principal via e-mail. Contact information is on the District web site and school’s web page.
To reemphasize this idea, any RCSD family that needs assistance with access to technology in support of the continuity of instruction should request assistance by e-mailing [email protected] . Steve Jensen, our Director of Technology and Communication, will respond and make every effort to work with you to address your technology needs.