December 21, 2020
Dear Alma Families,
Thank you to those of you that were able to join us on the Family Zoom last week! It was wonderful to see many of your faces again and we always value the time to connect with you all and to answer your questions. For those of you who weren’t able to attend, we wanted to send out some information that was discussed on the Zoom so that you have the information as well.
We hope you all are able to stay healthy and well this holiday season. We hope that the new year will bring relief from this pandemic, and that we will have new opportunities for us to see each other in person once again. We are honored to serve you and your scholars, and are beyond grateful for your continued hard work during this extremely challenging time.
Reopening in 2021
We are currently preparing to launch in-person learning for all of our K-2 scholars 4 days/week (Monday – Thursday) starting on Monday, February 1st. While we anticipate that the majority of our K-2 scholars will opt in to in-person learning, we know that some of our families may choose to continue remote learning due to specific health risks. K-2 families who prefer to continue with remote learning will have the option to opt-out of in-person learning for the 3rd quarter, and will have the option to opt-in again at the beginning of the 4th quarter, which begins on Monday, April 26th.
We are prioritizing our youngest scholars for in person learning because these scholars tend to struggle the most with remote learning, are most at risk for long term learning gaps, and have the lowest risk for getting and spreading the virus and experiencing adverse effects if they do contract it. Likewise, we know that our youngest scholars require the highest amount of support and supervision from caregivers during remote learning. We are excited that we are able to offer free COVID-19 testing for our in-person staff on a weekly basis to help make Alma as safe as possible for our whole community! We do not have plans to offer COVID-19 testing for scholars at Alma.
We sent out an initial interest form last week to get an estimated number of K-2 scholars who are not interested in returning to in-person learning. Please complete our survey so that we can effectively plan for this reopening.
We will host a Back to In-Person School Family Meeting via Zoom the week of January 18th. We hope you will all attend!
FLU SHOT REQUIREMENT: As discussed in the guidance linked to the left issued 8/19/20 the influenza immunization will be required for all children 6 months of age or older who are attending Massachusetts K-12 schools. All students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020, unless either a medical or religious exemption is required. If your scholar is returning to in-person learning, Alma must receive documentation of all flu shots (or exemption paperwork) before scholars will be permitted to attend. Please email documentation to email@example.com or drop off a copy of your documentation at the school.
UNIFORM INFORMATION: As we do every year, Alma scholars wear uniforms to school. Please order your uniform directly from Superior Logos, located at 13 Brooks St. Their phone number is 508-717-6776. If purchasing a uniform this year is a hardship, please reach out to Marie Tavares, our Families Helping Families coordinator for support – firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have no immediate plans to bring back scholars in Grades 3-8 for in-person learning at this time. It currently seems unlikely that we’ll see a return to school for these grades during this school year. While we know this may be hard to hear, we don’t want to create unrealistic expectations for a more rapid return to in-person school. We realize that all of you are having to make tough choices as you continue to balance home and work.
We understand that having your scholars learning at home is a tremendous burden on all of you. We do not make any decision regarding reopening lightly. Our plan prioritizes reopening in a way that ensures that every scholar is safe and that they receive the high quality education we can offer, whether that education is offered remotely or in person.
Social distancing limits the number of scholars we can have in the building at one time. We can’t have all the scholars in the building at the same time. We are currently choosing to prioritize our in-person learning resources for our highest needs scholars and for our younger scholars. As you know, some other schools are offering limited in-person learning to a wider group of students by using an alternating hybrid schedule. Though we have considered this option, we have determined that in Alma’s case it would reduce both the quality and safety of both our remote and in-person learning in a way that would not serve our scholars and families well in the long term. The best way to offer the least disruptive and highest quality educational experience for all of our scholars is to continue to provide strong remote learning for our scholars in grades 3-8 until it’s possible for them to be fully in person— hopefully in the Fall.
FLU SHOT REQUIREMENT: Please see above, your scholar is still required to receive a flu shot even if they are fully remote. Please email documentation of the flu shot (or exemption paperwork) to email@example.com.
A note to our scholars who were learning in person from September 14- December 10:
Alma is currently fully remote until January 11th, but we hope to bring back your scholars who were previously leaning in person again after the holidays. This will be dependent on the status of the virus and guidance from our local Department of Health (DPH) as well as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
FLU SHOT REQUIREMENT: Please see above. Alma must receive documentation of all flu shots (or exemption paperwork) before scholars will be permitted to return to in-person learning. Please email documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop off a copy of your documentation at the school.
COVID Related Decisions about Reopening
How are we determining if it is safe to reopen?
We will consult with the local Department of Health (DPH) and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). In addition, we regularly review the following data points to inform our strategy:
- Average daily cases/100,000
- % positivity
- 3 week trend in average # of new cases
- 3 week trend in % positivity
- Current or recent COVID-19 outbreak within the Alma community
- Staff capacity
- Sufficient ventilation
- Effective contract tracing procedures in place
- Availability of surveillance testing for staff
- % of family opt-in vs. opt-out of in-person learning.
When will we know for sure if we will be returning to in-person learning on February 1st?
We will make a final decision the week of January 18th so that families have time to prepare. We are planning to hold our next Family Zoom on Thursday, January 21st at 5pm.
Rates of COVID-19 in the New Bedford Community are rising rapidly, as they are elsewhere in the Commonwealth and around the country. Please stay safe! Here are a few resources that may be helpful to you:
- COVID-19 Symptoms Screening
- COVID-19 Travel Order
- Most recent Weekly Public Health Report– published weekly at 6pm on Thursdays
- Stop the Spread: Free COVID-19 Testing Sites- New Bedford
First Quarter Academic Highlights
- We were able to maintain our rigorous academic program. We are still on track to cover all major standards in all grades and ensure scholars are prepared for next year
- We have kept many of our favorite traditions, like Book Character Day and Town Halls!
- Many 5th-8th grade scholars achieved Honor Roll status
- We have launched a new reading system in K-3 – Teachers will communicate with you about your scholar’s STEP level and how to support at home in the coming weeks!
- Family Conferences:
- THANK YOU for being flexible and prepared for your remote conferences!
- Over 95% Attendance!
- Our next round of family conferences will be February 25.
Family Survey Highlights
Thank you for taking our family survey! We had a response rate of over 70%. We appreciate your feedback! Questions below were asked to Alma Families on a 1-5 scale –
(1) not satisfied, (2) somewhat satisfied, (3) no opinion, (4) satisfied and (5) extremely satisfied.
The percentage below shows answers of satisfied or extremely satisfied.
- Satisfied with Alma’s Communication – 94%
- My scholar has the supplies/tools they need – 97%
- Satisfied with Alma’s Academic approach – 93%
- Group A families satisfied with approach – 92%
Scholar Survey Results
Over 80% of our 3rd-8th grade scholars across the network took our most recent scholar survey, which included some new items specific to remote learning. We were happy to see the vast majority of scholars saying they agree or strongly agree that their teacher cares for them, and that they think hard about what they write. The lowest item was about talking about what they learn in class outside of school time — please ask your scholar about what they are learning each day! We are also working with scholars and teachers to consider these last two items as well – how to make scholars feel more excited about remote school each week, and to ensure they feel represented in their curriculum. We hope to see improvement in these items this year!
|My teacher tells me what we are learning and why. / Mi maestro me dice lo que estamos aprendiendo y por qué.||4.24|
|My teacher pushes us to think hard about what we write. / Mi profesor nos empuja a pensar mucho sobre lo que escribimos.||4.12|
|My class stays busy and we use all of our time for learning. / Mi clase se mantiene ocupada y usamos todo nuestro tiempo para aprender.||4.02|
|My teacher(s) make(s) me feel that he/she cares for me. / Mi maestro (s) me hace sentir que se preocupa por mí.||4.21|
|When you are not in class, how often do you talk about ideas you learned in class? / Cuando no está en clase, ¿con qué frecuencia habla de las ideas que aprendió en clase?||2.70|
|In general, I feel excited during the week and enjoy going to school remotely. / Me siento emocionado durante la semana y disfruto yendo a la escuela de forma remota.||3.03|
|I often feel like my interests (things I like) and identity (who I am) is represented in what we learn. / A menudo siento que mis intereses (cosas que me gustan) y mi identidad (quién soy) están representados en lo que aprendemos.||3.07|
Families Helping Families
Our next Meetups on Zoom will be the week of January 11th. We will be raffling off a basket with a $100 gift card and Alma gear! To enter the raffle, you must attend at least one meeting. Join a group today by reaching out to Marie
Alma Coat Closet
We ask that all coats being donated are in good condition and have been washed. If you need a special size request or have any questions contact: email@example.com
- What is it?: You may drop off or pick up a coat for you or any member of your family at our outdoor rack
- When: Every Thursday from 4-5:30pm in December and January(Except on vacation weeks)
- Where: Frederick Douglass Campus entrance @136 Earle St.
Applying for 2021-2022
sons from in-person. Please fill it