April 2, 2020
Dear Austin ISD Elementary School Families,
I want to begin by acknowledging that the current pandemic situation is confusing, demanding, and stressful for us all. There is a new normal that we are all learning together. Please know that your health and safety are our first priority.
The purpose of this communication is to make you aware of our current plans based on the decision to extend school closures and begin at-home instruction on April 6.
We know that there are questions about how remote learning will be delivered. We thank you for your patience as we work with our partner districts and the Texas Education Agency to develop our new instructional plans and support systems.
Starting April 6, our students and teachers will begin continuous instruction and learning through the use of tools such as our BLEND system, Seesaw, Zoom, Google Meet, Padlet, Flipgrid, email, and telephone calls. The programs will allow our students to receive virtual learning experiences and opportunities and for teachers to provide feedback and to monitor progress of students in a timely manner.
Schedule for Learning at Home
The academic schedule will be different to provide maximum flexibility for students, families, and staff, understanding that all family situations are different and ever-evolving during these unprecedented times. Principals are working with teachers to develop a new master schedule that will provide for virtual learning experiences and opportunities, office hours where students and parents/guardians can connect with the teacher(s) during a dedicated block of time, as well as ARD, 504, and LPAC meetings.
Teachers have been reaching out to students and parents to review expectations and prepare them for leaning in this new context. Teachers will utilize office hours to continue to discuss with students and parents how the student and teacher will interact for purposes of receiving instruction, receiving feedback, requesting and receiving extra help, and progress monitoring. Again teachers will be using the technology platforms such as our BLEND system, Seesaw, Zoom, Google Meet, Padlet, Flipgrid, email, telephone calls, etc. to facilitate these interactions.
To offer our community optional and supplemental education enrichment resources, our Learning-At-Home website https://sites.google.com/austinisd.org/aisd-learning-at-home will continue to remain open and updated for our parents and students to access. We strongly encourage our community to stay connected to this resource as it contains sample at home
learning schedules, among other resources, to assist students and families with organizing their day in this new learning situation.
Part of our instructional approach also includes providing equitable access to both working devices and a reliable internet connection for students. Our goal is to ensure our students have the technology to connect to AISD's continuous learning opportunities. We are working on a plan to provide devices to students in elementary grades 3-6 within the very near future. We are also seeking avenues to possibly provide PK-2 student devices as well after the 3-6 deployment. We expect that over the next few weeks we will continue to provide hotspots for students. Also, our school busses are now outfitted with Wifi capability. We will strategically park busses around our neighborhoods to provide students access to the internet. Students will be able to work from home, keeping them safe.
Hard copies of work packets for students in grades PK-5 have been provided at 16 food distribution sites throughout the District since the school closures. Those packets are closely aligned to the AISD Learning at Home website activities and are meant to provide another avenue for access to meaningful learning experiences. Additional sites are being added for work packet availability. All of this information (under the heading “Where can I pick up printed packets”) will be available on the AISD Learning-At-Home website: https://sites.google.com/austinisd.org/aisd-learning-at-home
We know that open lines of communication will be very important as we move to remote learning. Expect your child’s teacher(s) to connect at least once per week with you and your child. Expect your child’s principal to send you regular communication via email, social media, school messenger, etc. about your specific school.
Revisions to the AISD grading policy will be communicated to you once they are adopted by the Board of Trustees.
STAAR State Assessments
The STAAR tests have been cancelled for this school year.
Student Mental Health Centers
The AISD-Vida Clinic school mental health center program has gone virtual. The teletherapy service has served students, family members and school staff remotely. If you would like more information about the VIDA clinic, please visit https://vidaclinic.org/.
I trust that this information provides our AISD families some clarity on what to expect as they and our educators prepare to transition to at-home learning. Our goal has and always will be to do what is best for our students and staff. We want to ensure their safety and to continue receiving the best educational experience possible. We ask for your patience and support as we transition to this new mode of teaching and learning.
Updates will also be shared with our community through email, text, and phone calls on this developing situation. Please visit our Coronavirus webpage with current information about our District's response and plans related to COVID-19 at https://www.austinisd.org/covid19. We will also provide information on our Facebook and Twitter pages. If you have further questions, please contact your campus principal.
Thank you for your patience and support as we work together to educate students across Austin ISD.
Associate Superintendent of Elementary Schools