From the Principal's Desk
March 12, 2021Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 3/12/2021
Here is the latest information on our Quarter 4 Plan, March 22nd - May 26th. Through the amazing creativity of our teachers and staff, the collaboration + problem solving, and the focus on our children, MES will be a full in-person, 4 day program for our 587 students. In addition, our 221 virtual students will have smaller class sizes as we finish out the year. We continue on from quarter 3 into quarter 4 with 46 teachers and 25 additional staff in-person, with 19 teachers and 1 additional staff remaining on approved telework status, working virtually. We also have some parttime staff, including our school pyschologist, speech teacher, and social worker who are in-person. Below is a summary of each of our grade level teams for the 4th Quarter:
Kindergarten: We will have 106 kindergarten students, with 35 virtual and 71 returning in person. All teachers and paraprofessionals will remain the same as in the 3rd quarter. Three students will be assigned a new delivery teacher and have received an email with that notification. Teachers will reach out with details and to share specific information for 4th quarter, including the next toolkit pick-up time for our virtual students! This creative kindergarten model is working so well with our youngest learners.
1st Grade: There will be 154 1st graders, with 41 virtual and 113 in-person. The only change at this grade is related to a maternity leave, and that class has already been notified via email regarding the maternity leave changes. We will continue with 4 additional delivery teachers at this grade level and they each love working in 1st grade! Original 1st grade teachers will send out additional information next week to ensure all are ready for the 4th quarter.
2nd Grade: In this grade we have 152 students, with 41 virtual and 111 in-person students. There is one class impacted by a possible teacher change. We have spaces for students overall in the 2nd grade, but one particular classroom cannot fit all the students who want to return. The one class of 2nd grade families impacted by a possible teacher change have received an email regarding the specifics and next steps. In this grade, we have two additional delivery teachers, who will continue on with 2nd grade and they truly enjoy working with the students! Additional nformation will be sent out by the teachers early next week.
3rd Grade: For the 4th quarter, there will be 37 virtual students and 116 face to face students for a total of 153 3rd graders. The staff will remain the same at this grade, including our two additional delivery teachers, one virtual and one in-person. This team of 9 has done a tremendous job and they work so well together for our kids. Be looking for an email and additional information from the teachers next week.
4th Grade: There will be 121 4th graders, with 37 virtual and 84 in-person. We will continue with one virtual team of two teachers and two in-person teams of four teachers total. We are also adding an instructional paraprofessional. This grade will be moving locations in the building to accommodate all in-person students, with a very creative solution. Ms. Nelli & Mrs. Guerino's team will have Nelli's homeroom moved to the original 4th grade area into two side-by-side rooms, dividing the class into two smaller groups of 10 each. The class will have the teacher in one room and the instructional paraprofessional in the other. Both rooms will be setup for simultaneous teaching, so the teacher can lead lessons from one location to the other. Cameras, microphones, amplifiers and monitors will be put into both locations, so that students and staff can see each other at all times. The teacher and instructional para will fluidly go back and forth among the students in the two side-by-side rooms. Mrs. Richards and Ms. Newnham's team will have Mrs. Richard's homeroom moved into Ms. Nelli's former and larger room to accommodate this team. Be watching for an email from the 4th grade teachers with all details needed for the 4th quarter.
5th Grade: There will be 121 5th graders, with 30 virtual and 91 in-person. The teaching staff remains the same, with a combination of in-person and virtual blocks. There could be some in-person students joining the virtual block if necessary. Teachers will send out more specifics next week.
On Monday, March 15, our team meetings will continue to ensure all pieces are in place for students to access what is needed, either for virtual or in-person. Our School Business Manager, Brian Baron, has sent out an email/text with information for our new 108 in-person families, including how to sign up for "Pik My Kid", meal ordering information, as well as other key need to know facts. All virtual students will receive information from teachers about any additional toolkit pickup for their classes.
Special Note for our 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade Students from Assistant Principal, Dr. Sinclair: The GA Milestones end of grade testing will begin April 26 for all 3rd and 5th graders who are coming to school face to face and May 6 for the 4th graders. Any virtual student who wishes to participate in testing will be permitted to test. Please contact Dr. Sinclair if your child is virtual and you want them to test. Arrangements will need to be made in advance. For those parents of face-to-face students who prefer their students not to test, you may contact Dr. Sinclair for information. Per state statute, there is no opting out of state mandated assessments. The expectation is that students who are engaged in face-to-face learning will participate. However, parent refusal requests will be honored.
Our team is excited for the remaining days of school, both virtual and in-person. Now that we have our final numbers of both staff and students, we will take a fresh look at all of our programs, to ensure that we have utilized all resources to the maximum for our children!
February 12, 2021Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 2/12/2021 11:00:00 AM
Many people have reached out to me empathizing with what a monumental task it is to safely reopen the school building right now and asking what they can do to help. I want to cover some of that here in today's blog. We do need your help. You are all a vital part of our success during this time.
The biggest thing you can do is to help reduce community spread in our area. Make sure your family is following CDC guidelines and best practices in your personal lives. Consequences of actions taken outside of school by any of us, impacts all of us. A decision to gather indoors, travel, or forego a mask no longer just increases risk for a single family. Please keep this in mind when making choices about the things your family will engage in and what precautions you will take in your daily lives. We want to keep our building open so our children have continuity and parents are not scrambling to cover a last minute shift to virtual learning due to exposure at school. We want to keep our teachers, staff and students safe. We need your help to do these things. We can control the protocols we follow in school. The #1 way you can help is to take the pandemic seriously outside of school.
For example, if you are traveling this holiday weekend, consider keeping your child home on Tuesday, and accruing that absent day. As a principal - would I have ever dreamed of asking a student to stay home voluntarily? I have been fighting for kids to have 95% plus attendance my entire career, but times are different. If you have traveled and had a wider than normal exposure to others this weekend, staying home Tuesday, plus the asynchronous day on Wednesday will give families time to monitor for symptoms. If anyone in the family is showing symptoms, please get COVID testing to be sure. Another way you can help is to never send a child to school if that child or any household member has a pending COVID test. Please wait for those negative test results before sending your child to school. I cannot require these things, but it is something for each family to consider for the well-being of all. As we make choices outside of school, those choices could impact what happens with students and staff inside of Morningside.
For this quarter, it is helpful to understand the complexity of the planning for reopening, and to know that the choices we ultimately made kept teachers and students as the priority. Morningside had a very unique situation with our return numbers, both for teachers approved for telework and for students returning F2F. We have the highest number of both in our Grady cluster. In any model, there are tradeoffs. This model was created with each teaching team, and we did the best we could with the resources we had to create a plan with the most benefit to all. We are proud of where we ended up and feel it is working well. It may look different than some other schools, because we all had different puzzle pieces to work with. Here are some of the ideas we explored in our planning process:
- Simultaneous teaching: This was limited this quarter, due to the number of teachers on telework. This would not have been a solution in many of our grades. We still need in-person staff in classrooms, with the social distancing requirements. We have used every teacher available to us, maximizing both the virtual and in-person program.
- Collapsing classes and moving teachers: We explored closing smaller classrooms across the building and moving teachers. For example, a teacher who taught K in first semester could have been moved to 3rd grade or a teacher remaining on telework could have been moved from 1st to 4th. We felt this was too disruptive to our teachers and students. Our teachers don't want to lose the connection to their kids! The delivery teacher model offers some level of continuity to our students and our ability to pivot quickly during these uncertain pandemic times when change is the norm. We tried to avoid massive shifts to a new teacher and whole new set of classmates. We know some students changed, but we tried to minimize this as much as possible.
- Using the gym or cafe as a classroom: You may have seen pictures of these spaces as classrooms in articles from across the country. We could have put a teacher in charge of a larger group of in-person students in these spaces. We decided these spaces are not the best for full-time in-person learning due to lighting, sound and we want the flexibility to use these spaces as needed for specials or lunch going forward.
- Hybrid: We have the highest rate of student return, right around 60%. Four of six grade levels are over 60%, with 3rd grade at 66% return. We looked at full hybrid and even partial hybrid - where one grade comes every day, but another grade follows a 2 day per week model. We built a very complex model so that all students could return fully. It took an immense amount of work, but we did the best we could for this quarter to avoid the hybrid.
With all of this planning, the virtual program was at the forefront. As we created these plans, it was a wholistic process for our teams - looking at how we serve BOTH groups in the best way possible. Though our virtual class sizes are larger than we would like in 3 of the grades, they are all under our threshold of 30, with assistance of a virtual para given where needed. Our highest class sizes virtually right now are in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. 2nd grade average is 29, with a half-time virtual para assisting, 3rd grade average is 26 with a half-time virtual para assisting and 4th grade is at 27. Please keep in mind that some of these class sizes have been in place all year, or have only increased by a few students. We continue to monitor both our virtual and in-person program and with 19 days left in the 3rd quarter, we will still add supports where needed.
Later today, I believe you will receive information from Superintendent Herring on your final Intent to Return Declaration for the last quarter. We will once again look at our student return numbers, our teacher return rate, as well as all teaching staff we have available to us virtually and in-person. I remain hopeful that we can continue a full four day student in-person model, while keeping our mitigation strategies, including social distancing. We will be looking at all of the above again - with teachers at the planning table for each grade and area, so that we can maximize our expertise to create the 4th quarter model while minimizing disruption for students and teachers.
I also received information on COVID-19 surveillance testing for our in-person students and staff at Morningside! You will get information about that in a separate communication later today. It is hot off the press and just arrived in my email! We have had 12 days of in-person learning and only 1 positive case reported, which you received a communication about on Tuesday, Feb. 9th. My next blog will be a joint effort - from school nurse and principal - and it will cover more information and the steps on what happens when there is a positive case at MES. I also will be reading the new schools CDC guidance this weekend, scheduled to come out at 2pm today.
Lastly, we can all help during this time by showing support for one another. This past year has been tough on us all. As a community, let’s assume we’re all working with best intentions and lift each other up, even if we don’t always agree. We are stronger and better together. Every parent has made the right choice for their student(s) and family. Let's show kindness to one another in our words and actions. Reach out and do something special for a neighbor in need. Plan a special surprise for a virtual or in-person staff member - such as taking the time to write a card, send in or mail a student created art piece, or delivering a lunch to school or home. These little acts of kindness have huge impact - for the recipient as well as the students seeing community and giving in action. They have seen so much division - let's work together and show our kids how we are united as Morningside.
January 8, 2021Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/8/2021 5:10:00 PM
Happy New Year! I hope that our MES families had both restful and fun winter breaks - I am sure many of you celebrated your farewell to 2020 in unique and clever ways! This first week back has been very busy as we excitedly plan for a reopening for face to face, in-person students while continuing our strong virtual program.
We have an assistant principal substitute, Dr. Rhonda Ware, who has joined our team this week. Assistant Principal Dr. Sinclair (formerly Dr. Sprull - congrats on her recent marriage) is on leave and will return to MES in mid-February. We are so excited to have Dr. Ware temporarliy on the team, as she brings a wealth of knowledge and a very positive, kid oriented attitude. She has a legacy of strong educational leadership in Atlanta, from elementary teacher to principal and beyond! She was principal at Cleveland Elementary for 21 years, and now substitutes for administrators across our school system. You can reach Dr. Ware at Rhonda.Ware@atlanta.k12.ga.us. I ask that you send any discipline/behavior or classroom related issues directly to her as I fully commit to our reopening plan and virtual program.
The complexity of reopening our school for in-person students and continuing our strong virtual program is REAL. On a personal note, it is the most difficult work of my career - and it is reminding me of my PhD level work at Purdue University in statistics! (I am an ABD "All But Dissertation" - maybe someday!) I started the week with meetings with teachers - they have given much input into the plan - and that continued throughout with multiple meetings, phone calls, texts, and lots of lots of spreadsheets as we build the details of our plan. It is a child by child process, as we look at social distancing, teacher return status, availability of staff and square footage of every room. I have not only cried with appreciation for the efforts of some of our staff, I have danced in the isolation of my workspace once a solution was found! We started this process with a focus on our MES students and minimizing their changes as we go forward. However, there are some changes in who might deliver a child's content, based on teacher return data. Each week, I will share the progress and our plans via this blog, plus a communication timeline is below.
- Our return rate for students enrolled is 61% and our plan creates a system of delivery for all students who elect to return face to face to return all 4 days! NO HYBRID!!
- 32% of our grade level teachers are on approved telework status.
- Each grade level has their instructional plan and teachers are already jumping into the creative ways they can work together and help our kids to thrive in these new models.
- Our plan maximizes face to face students with face to face teachers and virtual students with virtual teachers. Teachers will continue to collaborate and create daily schedules that are parallel to one another, yet highlight the benefits of each model. Students will stay on the roster of their teacher - even if they are returning face to face and the teacher is not or they are virtual and the teacher is not.
- When we say a "change", we are referring to the delivery teacher only. In some instances, we have had to move one of our other wonderful MES staff to fill in and deliver the face to face or virtual instruction due to a teacher's status. Please look at that positively - your student having another team member on the education team - the grade level teacher plus the new delivery teacher. This could happen both in face to face learning or in virtual learning.
- The majority of our kids do not have a delivery change. It varies by grade level, and we are so fortunate to have an amazing cadre of teachers stepping in to join teams and deliver instruction to our students! The original grade level teachers will continue to lead the planning and the curriculum. We will share more information with each grade level at parent meetings.
- In our plan, we have no face to face grade level teachers teaching "simultaneously" to both in-person students and virtual students.
- Wednesdays remain asynchronous for the remainder of the school year. We will have "reunion" activities for our classrooms on select Wednesdays, so that the entire original class stays connected, whether virtual or in-person.
- GATE days will remain the same, virtual or in-person. The grade level teachers and students will continue on with their work, while GATE students have GATE resource, either virtually or in-person per this schedule: M - 3rd Grade, T - 5th Grade, Th - 4th Grade, F - 1/2 days for 1st and 2nd (AM or PM TBD).
Please know that all decisions made are with your students in my HEART and at the CENTER. In these challenging times, the entire MES staff is working together for our community. I will roll out information as soon as I can each week, so that you can prepare for the next steps! We have made it this far... we can do this!
Return to Learn Reopening Timeline:
Kindergarten – 2nd Grade
Virtual learning continues
Virtual learning continues
Mon, 1/18 – Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday – NO SCHOOL
Virtual learning continues
Highlights this Week:
- F2F Detailed re-opening information given to parents
- New delivery teachers communicated to families, if necessary.
- Facebook Live Tour for K-2 on Wednesday, Times TBD
- Parent Meetings by Grade Level, Wed & Thurs 1/20-1/21, Times TBD
Virtual learning continues
First day of in-person learning and continued virtual learning
Mon – Fri, 1/25 - 1/29 – Virtual learning continues
Highlights this Week:
- F2F Detailed re-opening information given to parents
- New delivery teachers communicated to families, if necessary.
- Facebook Live Tour for 3- 5 on Wednesday, Times TBD
- Parent Meetings by Grade Level, Wed & Thurs 1/27 and 1/28 – Times TBD
In-person and continued virtual learning
First day of in-person learning and continued virtual learning
December 22, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 12/22/2020 11:30:00 AM
Thank you so much parents for filling out your Intent to Return Declarations for the third quarter, January 19 - March 15, 2021. 97% of you filled out your intent to return online form, and you have absolutely selected the right choice for your child(ren) and your family. Here is the raw data from the declaration process, which closed last night at midnight.
In-Person Learning Site Based Virtual Atlanta Virtual Academy KG 57 52 1st 97 60 2nd 98 54 3rd 101 55 4th 68 51 1 5th 75 50 TOTALS 496 322 1
Virtual learning continues for all of our students starting on January 5, 2021 - with a dismissal time of 11:30am. This early dismissal is due to the federal run-off elections. Virtual learning continues for all students January 5 - January 22, 2021. On January 25, 2021, K - 2 students will fully implement both the in-person F2F model along with the virtual learning model, and we will then add 3rd - 5th grade the following week on February 1, 2021. It is a lot of transitions, but we are excited and ready!
It feels so great to write the year 2021 in the dates above! The year 2020 brought us to new and very unexpected places - but I am so proud of our MES community and how our teachers, students and families have persevered, working together to support our students. As I reflect on the entire year there have been so many challenges, so much heartache and agony, but also some bright spots along the way. I look forward to 2021 and the new possibilities the year brings, along with some of our students returning to F2F school while some children continue in our strong MES virtual learning.
November 6, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 11/6/2020 4:00:00 PM
I am very proud to unveil our "Reopening Plans" section of our website! I look forward to the day when we can reopen and welcome students to MES@Inman. When we do reopen, I am confident that Morningside will be ready and will have strong risk mitigation strategies in place to welcome students and staff to our temporary property MES@Inman. Even though we are not open at this time, I am so glad that we have spent the time researching and gathering all of this information, so that when it is needed we are prepared!
The sections of the website have been developed using the resources of various departments in Atlanta Public Schools as well as federal, state, and local guidelines and CDC recommendations for schools K-12. These practices, procedures and guidelines will continue to evolve as we learn more about COVID-19. The “Reopening Plans” section of our website will be updated as needed until we reopen. It will most likely always remain a work in progress, as science catches up and our medical professionals learn more about Coronavirus and risk reduction strategies. We also will add and adjust information as our plans unfold when we receive an exact opening date and numbers of students who will return.
On October 7, 2020 we held the first meeting of our Covid Readiness Team (CRT), composed of 33 volunteer parents, teachers, as well as our three administrators. This team has proven invaluable in the reopening planning process. Our school community not only has amazing moms, dads and teachers willing to research and dedicate extra time to our school, but we also have infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, public health experts, medical personnel and those who have been on the front lines of COVID-19 since this past January. I cannot thank parent Emily Cooper enough for taking this on as our "Project Manager" for the CRT. When I sent out the call for volunteers, she responded with her availability, skillsets and willingness to focus on this effort. When Mrs. Cooper mentioned project management, cross-functional teams, tight timelines, and meeting management, I reached out for help! With a possible reopening just weeks away, we had much to do. I absolutely love how her strategic and engineering mind thinks and truly have enjoyed working with her - this was a challenging endeavor! I also want to thank our six "workflow" team leads - 3 teachers and 3 parents for their extra efforts. Brittany Hamilton, 2nd Grade Teacher was the lead of "Flow", Ali Giannavola, parent, was the lead of "Facilities", Crystal Stroud, 5th grade teacher, was the lead of "Learning Strategies", Julie Tracy, parent, was the lead of "Cohorts", Jeanne Connolly, Spanish teacher, was the lead of "Communication" and Gina Coffas, parent, was the lead of "Health". With sometimes daily meetings, weekend and evening work, these leads and this team have taken the ever-evolving and massive amount of information on COVID-19 and brought forth recommendations to help us in our reopening school plan. Job well-done and THANK YOU! The Covid Readiness Team will continue to function on an advisory level until we get our firm reopening date.
Our administrators are now shifting into Phase II of reopening work. This includes purchasing of additional recommended equipment and supplies, plus further assessment of classrooms as we prepare each space for a socially distanced learning environment. We also are working with teachers on our next Dolphin Toolkit Pick-Up, which will be on December 4, 2020.
October 30, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 10/30/2020 2:25:00 PM
My heart is full. It just felt like a bit of normal today, at our amazing MES Dolphin Toolkit Pick-Up #2. Kids picking up instructional supplies - actually with their feet on the property, has just brought me to a beyond joyful moment. Teachers arrived early to finish filling the bags - several of them still without power! Teacher teams were physically together - working six feet apart, yet side by side, to create this special day for their students. This is the first time for most of our students to actually SEE their teachers and be in the same space. Even behind the masks you could see the smiles. I was teary-eyed more than once - at the kid laughter I heard, the gratitude expressed from parents, the emotion from the teachers, the greetings from the children. You know how kids sort of jump with delight as they walk? I saw that so many times today. Teachers shared stories of seeing students from LAST year, kids they did not get to see in-person after March 13th. It was a bit of unexpected closure between teacher and past students. Today was also a way of honoring our decades old Monster Bash/Fall Festival - with costumes, music and just a little bit of candy! Our community became one again at a school event and I just loved it. Today was the best day of 2020!
October 23, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 10/23/2020 3:00:00 PM
Parents/Guardians, thank you for all that you are doing in support of your child(ren) as we move forward in the virtual learning space!! I appreciate your continued commitment to make sure students are engaged and attending school, our log-in rates remain super high! I would also like to thank our AMAZING kids who participate every day, it just fills me with joy to see our students interacting via Zoom, doing their work, learning from teachers and each other!
Even though our re-opening date has been postponed, our planning continues! This coming week (mid-week or later) we will be unveiling a new area of our website called "Reopening Plans". The administrators and members of our Covid Readiness Team have been working these past weeks to look at all areas related to re-opening, including Health, Facility, Flow, Communications, Learning Structures and Cohort. We have researched and are providing detail to all operations and logistics so that Morningside will reopen with as much reduced risk as possible for our students and staff. The Covid Readiness Team, made up of volunteer parents and teachers has been spending COUNTLESS hours working in these smaller teams to find the latest research and best practices in each area. I am in awe of this team and so thankful for their contribution of time and expertise. I cannot wait to roll-out the information for all to see! You can find more information on our planning process here, Covid Readiness, while the "Reopening Plans" section of our website is set to open as early as October 28th. Last week, after seeing an article on a local school's success at reopening, WSBTV News Story, I was so honored to meet with the Head of School at The Galloway School, Dr. James Calleroz White in a meeting arranged by Dr. Holly Brookins, Principal of Glennwood Elementary in City Schools of Decatur.
This was an incredibly valuable meeting, as Dr. White shared what they have learned, what has been successful and what challenges they have faced in reducing risk of Covid-19. School leaders collaborating across private, public and among two districts plus our MES Covid Readiness Team are just two examples of the work going on as we prepare for student return. I am so grateful to Dr. White and to Dr. Brookins (our former Program Administrator at the Kindergarten Center) for their openness and desire to help all kids across Atlanta. When Morningside reopens, we will be ready!
I love all the special kid activities that have been happening or are planned at our school. Thank you to the best librarian in the world, Mr. Rawls MES Library, for the Halloween Themed Scavenger Hunt and for starting the book check-out process! I know we will be doing a Scavenger Hunt all over Morningside neighborhoods again - this was a huge hit! We also have our Dolphin Toolkit Pick-Up #2 on October 30th as we strive to get more instructional materials into kids' hands! This will be a fun Halloween themed pick-up, with costumes encouraged for both students and teachers. Though we are not having our annual Monster Bash and Fall Festival, this is a way of honoring that tradition during the pandemic. This will also be the first time most of our students will see their teacher in-person, even if it is just for a few minutes! Remember to wear those masks and practice social distancing, it is our hope that this pick-up can take place outside, though we do have an inside pick-up rain plan.
Please reach out if I can help. I am looking forward to the day when we can return to school. Until then, we are going to stay focused on enhancing the virtual school experience and meeting the individual needs of each child!!
October 16, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 10/16/2020 4:30:00 PM
Today, our superintendent announced that Atlanta Public Schools will remain in virtual learning through January 15, 2021. Superintendent Blog Our school will remain virtual due to rising cases of COVID-19. I know that some of you are disappointed and I am too. While I was so excited at the prospect of students returning to Morningside, I am not a health expert and have never been a principal nor even lived during a pandemic! None of us have. I support this decision, and here is what I can assure you - I just know in my heart that kids are coming back to our school. They will walk our halls, learn in our classrooms, play on our new playground. It is going to happen. I can see it, feel it, I even dream about it! I will spend these next weeks re-focusing on our student experience in the virtual program, while at the same time continuing the preparations for re-opening our school.
Going forward, Wednesdays will return back to synchronous - live teaching, per our regular schedule prior to this past week. Our schedule will not change - we will continue on with our current schedule, the school day hours as we have known them during the first 9 weeks. Please see the Grady Cluster Principal Letter from our team of principals. We are united in support of children and families and will work together as a team for all the students in the Grady Cluster.
October 13, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 10/13/2020 4:00:00 PM
Phase II Reopening Declaration Data - 53% of Morningside Students Select Virtual Model, 40% In-Person F2FAPS has allowed for choice for parents to send students to MES@Inman for face-to-face instruction starting the second nine weeks of school, if the community spread of COVID-19 continues to decrease. We have been told that an official announcement regarding this possibility will come from APS District Administration this Friday, October 16th.If the form was not completed by yesterday October 12th, student(s) will automatically remain in virtual instruction with Morningside. MES tied for 2nd place with the highest rate of form completion, with 92% declaring their choice! Way to go parents and guardians! 64 student families did not complete a form, with this additional 7% continuing to remain virtual, for a 60% overall designation for quarter two. Many of the 64 communicated with their teacher the choice to remain virtual but did not complete the form.We have shared the specific data below with each grade level of teachers today during our planning day, as well as with other staff as we continue preparations for these second quarter shifts! I know this was a challenging task - to make a decision for the next quarter without complete information. However, this data is so helpful for us as we plan for each grade level's continuation of virtual instruction along with the return to MES@Inman. I am so excited about the possibilities as we move forward! Here are the numbers below:(One student has selected Atlanta Virtual Academy)
October 9, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 10/9/2020 6:00:00 PM
This last week has definitely been intense, full of meetings, more questions than answers, as we all learned of our possible schooling options for moving forward into Quarter 2. As K - 5 families, you have a choice of face-to-face or virtual instruction beginning October 26. The indicator to shift to this APS Phase 2 plan remains guided by the Department of Public Health data that suggests at least less than 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Fulton County residents over a 14 day period. APS is monitoring that data daily and will be posting updates leading up to the final decision on October 16. In preparation, all families are asked to complete the Intent to Return Declaration Form now due on October 12 Parent Declaration
To help you decide, we have created some opportunities to answer your questions on Monday, October 12th as well as this presentation Quarter 2 Choices to give you more information. In this week's Digital Dolphin, the links are included to connect with me and our administrative team at either 8am or Noon. We will be there to answer as many questions as we can to help you. I know this is EXTREMELY difficult. You are making a choice for your child(ren) without having the certainty of knowing all the answers. The two biggest unanswered questions revolve around teacher changes and exactly what this will look like in Face to Face (F2F) and in Virtual School. As we receive your declarations, we will be creating the learning plan and schedule using the additional teacher data of who is able to return to MES to teach in person. My intention is for the least amount of disruption as possible for the kids and teachers. However, we just do not have the data to share with you prior to your declaration deadline. Also, dependent upon the declaration numbers for F2F/Virtual at each grade, plus the teacher F2F/Virtual data, we cannot describe exactly each classroom's model. It could be F2F/Virtual teaching by the teacher located at MES@Inman, another other class taught by teacher at home - with a staff member to monitor in the room, F2F students taught by a F2F teacher or virtual students taught by a virtual teacher. There are probably even more combinations beyond this! It is truly dependent upon all numbers related to who is returning and who is remaining virtual. Please know that our team will do the best we can to create a strong F2F AND Virtual model of teaching and learning.
At some point the last few days, the word "turbulence" came to my mind. As I like to do, an analogy formed to help me persevere - the image of a huge blue MES plane in a turbulent and storm filled sky. It is full of all of us - kids, teachers, families, staff, community, with me as the pilot! As in turbulence, everyone reacts differently - some people go very quiet, some become more expressive, some go with the flow, some cry, others help comfort the people around them. The pilot knows this is all happening in the plane, but is using all of her expertise to get everyone safely thru the turbulence and to the destination, working with the co-pilots and crew to make that happen. We have amazing co-pilots at MES - our admin team, our PTA, our MESF, GO Team and our newly formed volunteer Covid Readiness Team. I know this turbulence is "scary". I am going to get us to our destination and get us through as a community, using my experience and expertise. Children will be coming back to our school - some now, some later and we will continue to provide that MES experience to all our kids - both in person and virtually!
Degrees and Certifications:
Elementary Education - Indiana University Master's in Leadership - Butler University