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Message from Principal Harness

Bigger Ideas

"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."
~ George Bernard Shaw

One of the first virtues we are taught as children is sharing with others. Sharing is a caring act. It is almost always respectful, sometimes empathetic, and often, the responsible thing to do. Sharing even one positive classroom idea with a colleague can be an expression of all these virtues, but here is what is really important. In that sharing, the idea becomes bigger because it ripples out into the lives of more students, more homes, and more communities.

Return 2 Learn (Face to Face Instruction)

As I am sure you have heard, Atlanta Public Schools, has shared their “Return 2 Learn” plans and ideas.  The plan proposes the following:

  • All Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students will begin a phased in approach with Face to Face learning beginning on October 26th.
  • Low Incidence Classes for Special Education will begin a phased in approach with Face to Face learning for all grade levels beginning on October 26th.
  • All 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students will continue learning virtually.

It has been proposed that Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students will have Face 2 Face instruction for two days a week and two days a week of virtual learning.  Wednesday would be an asynchronous learning day where the school will be “deep cleaned” in preparation for the next group of students. Students will be divided in to two groups – Group A and Group BPlease see the table below.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Group A – F2F

Group A – F2F

Asynchronous Day – no students in the building – Deep Cleaning

Group B – F2F

Group B – F2F

Group B – Virtual Learning

Group B – Virtual Learning

Asynchronous Day – no students in the building – Deep Cleaning

Group A – Virtual learning

Group A – Virtual Learning


Groups have not been assigned as of yet and we completely understand the desire to formulate a plan with your POD, however at this time, we are not able accommodate requests for assigning POD students to the same Face to Face learning days.  We are still receiving information from the district regarding the reopening procedures and nothing has been finalized. There are MANY factors that will influence face to face scheduling (health and safety, district requirements, supplemental services-ESOL, Sp Ed, gifted, siblings, etc.) and we are working through all of them as we continue to adjust our plans based on the information that we have currently and are receiving from the district.

The district has surveyed our teachers to better gauge which teachers may be able to return to a Face 2 Face setting and which teachers may need to continue teaching in a virtual setting.  As I know you all understand, the safety of our teachers and students are of the utmost importance and we need to consider how best to move forward once this information has been shared with us. 

Intent to Return Declaration Form

On Monday, parents and guardians received an email from the district asking you to complete the Intent to Return Declaration Form by October 10 at this link using your child’s student number and APS username. We are advising that you attend one of the two SPARK Town Hall meetings before declaring your choice. At the SPARK Town Halls you will be given more information on how SPARK intends to bring our students and teachers back safely to our buildings.

Again, keep in mind that this is a proposed plan.  The district will make a final decision on the Return 2 Learn on October 5th during the next COVID-19 data update.

SPARK Town Halls (Return 2 Learn)

Contingent upon the districts final decision regarding Return 2 Learn, SPARK will hold two ZOOM town hall meetings. 

Wednesday, October 7th at 8AM

Thursday, October 8th at 6PM

We will discuss these five areas as it relates to SPARK’s Return 2 Learn:

  1. Keeping Sick Students and Teachers at Home
  2. Cleaning, Hygiene and Environmental Health
  3. Physical Distancing throughout the building
  4. Exposure and Potential Exposure Response
  5. Education and Training

What more can SPARK parents do to help SPARK?

  1. Donate to the PTO.  The SPARK PTO supplements costs associated with everyday school operations. Please consider visiting the SPARK website and donating to the PTO.
  2. Making sure your child is present each day is important to virtual learning. To promote active learning please be sure that cameras are on during lesson times (during breaks feel free to cut your camera off).  If your camera is not working or have a specific circumstance of why your camera cannot be on, please let your teacher know.  We have been able to fix all camera issues. We are here to help.
  3. Hearing students respond clearly when called on is important, so teachers know students are engaged in class.  Microphones must be on when the teacher does not have students muted.  Be reminded that teachers are using multiple screens and monitors to teach virtually.  This may mean that they do not see your child raising their hand to answer a question.  If you are concerned about your child not being called upon, please be sure to reach out to your child’s teacher.  Our teachers are trying to do their best given the unusual circumstances of online teaching.
  4. If the teacher calls on a student, the student must reply or type the response in the chat if there are technology issues.  Please let us know if there are audio problems, so we can assist. 
  5. Learning is a journey!  Parents, please refrain from assisting students with their work.  This is not helpful and will cause more challenges when we return face to face.  Teachers know when students have received help with their work.  We do not expect mastery and know there will be misspelled words and mistakes.  This is all part of the learning process.  Mistakes allow teachers to be able to assess what the child knows and promotes good teaching and learning practices in order for our students to grow.
  6. Students should be prepared for learning just as if they were coming to school each day. Each student should have a space that allows for learning to take place. Students should not be in bed during instruction, and siblings should not be playing around the student during instruction. Students should also be dressed appropriately for school each day. Please let your teacher know if there are specific challenges to your learning environment. 
  7. It is important that our students are able to focus and to be fully present during Virtual Learning.  Parents, please be very careful of background conversations and language.  There have been some inappropriate adult conversations caught on camera that have been disruptive to learning. 

It is hard to believe that we have almost completed the first six weeks of virtual school.  THANK YOU for your support during these challenging days of Virtual Learning.  We truly understand how hard it can be to keep children engaged for virtual school but they are doing great! We appreciate how committed our parents are to ensuring that our SPARK students are engaged and participating daily.  I am very happy to report that SPARK has had 100% of its student engaged in online learning via live zoom sessions and our Google classroom weekly!  We could not have done this without the wonderful support of our SPARK parents and guardians and we want to continue down this path!  We would also like to thank our AMAZING students who participate every day and follow our rules for Virtual Learning and thank you to our teachers who are working so incredibly hard to make learning fun for all. We truly have the best and the brightest. 

As always, please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions.  My email is Terry.Harness@atlanta.k12.ga.us.

 

Have a great week!