September 23, 2020

 

Dear Students and Families,

 

Yesterday after a number of meetings, the decision was reached to gradually re-open our schools with students in classrooms.  The Snohomish County Department of Health reported the 8th consecutive week of declining positive cases of COVID per 100,000 and COVID related hospitalizations.  Later in a meeting with the leadership of the Granite Falls Education Association (GFEA), the District and GFEA agreed to some preliminary re-opening target dates and populations.

 

On September 10, 2020, in a letter to Snohomish County Superintendents, Dr. Christopher Spitters, M.D. and Health Officer for our county, wrote:

“In summary, a reasonable approach for the time being is to wait for at least three weeks of observation following both the Labor Day holiday and the re-opening of schools in their current configuration. If at that time COVID-19 activity in the school and community remains stable or improving and a review of the considerations set forth above is favorable, then proceeding with incremental returns of elementary school students to in person learning at your discretion is acceptable to the Health District. I urge you to continue to allow adequate time (e.g., at least three weeks) between increments in order to detect untoward effects prior to making the next move in your planned sequence.”

We have followed Dr. Spitters’ guidance and now want to announce our phased in plans as we move to a hybrid model.  Here are a few key points to remember.

 

  • A hybrid model means that some students will be at school learning while others will remain learning remotely.  Later in the week, the groups will switch.
  • Specific days and times will be announced closer to the start of in-person instruction.  
  • Please understand, these plans are tentative and could change, especially if health conditions worsened.
  • Per Dr. Spitters’ recommendation, we will wait a minimum of three weeks before the next group of students is brought in for in-person instruction.
  • Masks, social distancing, washing hands, a daily completion of an attestation of health, and staying home if sick are all expectations that will need to be followed.

 

Below are our dates and the groups of students we will be bringing in during the first phases.

Date

Groups of Students

Week of October 19th

Specific Special Ed students, English Language Learners,Highly impacted identified students,Crossroads groups

Week of November 9th

PreK, Kindergarten, First and Third Grades

Week of November 30th

Second, Fourth, Fifth Grades and Multi-Age Classes

 

As 2021 gets closer, we will evaluate possible dates for additional students in our secondary grades to begin in-person instruction but will await further guidance from the Departments of Health at the state and local level.

On a related note, the deadline to move from the Virtual Academy to our Blended Model or vice versa will be between October 16th to 25th.  Stay tuned for more details.

 

Be well, be safe,

Dr. M




July 30, 2020

Dear Granite Falls Students and Families,  

 

We are about one month away from school starting on September 2nd. As much as we have hoped this was going to be in person, we know it’s not and we will as a community, a family, and a district make the most of what we have been handed.

 

As shared in our communication on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, the Snohomish County Health Department has stated that schools in the county should open remotely this fall.  Their decision is based on the rising number of COVID 19 cases that have been increasing over the past six weeks.

 

The Granite Falls School District has been anticipating this as a possible scenario.  While we will continue to plan the specifics of what school will look like, we want to keep open and regular communication with you.  Today I want to further explain the two learning models that will be available for students and families from which to choose for the 2020-2021 school year.

 

Choice # 1:  Blended Learning - This is the path back for students and teachers returning to classrooms.  (Online AND in schools, also known as the hybrid model)

  • Combination of remote learning and in person, teacher to student instruction.
  • Schools will start with all students receiving instruction remotely.
  • As health conditions improve, we will be allowed to have more, and eventually, all students on campuses.
  • Until we return to school buildings, the remote product, engagement and accountability will be much improved and the amount of school work, reasonable, but the remote concept is similar to last spring.
  • The big question is "when will students return to school buildings?"  The County Health Department will continue to provide guidance on this, but the following graphic will indicate the stage our schools are in under Blended Learning.
  • We are currently in Stage R, Remote Learning.

Stage R Dial Stage H Dial Stage S Dial

Choice #2:  Granite Falls Virtual Academy- This is the path for students and families who have health concerns and would prefer to keep students at home during a pandemic. This option is 100% online.

  • 100% with our partner provider, Accelerate Education.
  • Students have an online platform but will have a Granite Falls teacher to provide additional instruction, assistance, and guidance.
  • Parent as Learning Coach
  • FREE. No cost to families for enrolling in our new virtual academy.

Other Items for Consideration

  • Parent and family support opportunities will be available for both models.
  • Students and families may switch from one model to the other at the start of each quarter.
  • Families choosing the Blended Model, nothing else needs to be done at this time.  Further information will be sent out in the near future.
  • Families interested in the Virtual Academy are invited to an informational meeting:
    • Elementary families - Zoom Meeting August 11th at 6 PM  
    • Secondary families - Zoom Meeting August 13th at 6 PM
    • Specifics in another mailer will be sent out on Friday, July 31st

Students and families, we are committed to providing an outstanding education under both models.  These are trying times under this health crisis, but we will get through it.  We Expect Success!

 

Stay well, stay healthy,

 

Dr. M

 


July 29, 2020

Today guidance came out from the Snohomish County Health Department recommending that all schools open remotely based on current health concerns. You can view their updated release here:

https://www.snohd.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=390&fbclid=IwAR2-ddx0dwiBd2ZW32Tc6MOikNXrDOlgYO0nX_5apJaLDJIu7E2_O18LKfw

https://www.facebook.com/SnohomishHealth/photos/rpp.253152688128573/2981827065261108/?type=3&theater

Throughout the summer we have been preparing for a variety of school scenarios in anticipation of Fall 2020. The Granite Falls School District is proceeding with two educational models that families may choose from. The Blended Model is a more traditional model but due to current health conditions, we will start with remote learning and gradually bring students back into buildings as conditions improve.  The second model is 100% online for those who wish to keep children home during this pandemic. This new online platform, Granite Falls Virtual Academy, is supported in partnership with Accelerate Education.

In light of the announcement by the County Health Department, our district wanted to assure our students and families that we will be ready for school beginning September 2, 2020.

Please stay tuned as more information will be released this Friday with details about both the Blended Model and the Granite Falls Virtual Academy.

 

Thank you,

Dr. M

and

The District Team


July 26, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

I trust you are enjoying the sun and summer weather.  July is almost here and with that questions about the re-opening of school in September. We thank you for participating in the parent survey and for giving your feedback. Your honesty is greatly appreciated.

The results of the survey show that families felt the most positive parts of remote learning were:

  • that it was easy to access,
  • students had the ability to work at their own pace and schedule, and
  • there was plenty of time to complete assignments.

The most challenging areas included:

  • missing classmates, teachers and staff, school activities and learning,
  • unclear expectations,
  • each class being set up differently, and
  • unclear understanding of grading.

In terms of re-opening for the 2020-21 school year, the primary concerns on most parents’ and students’ minds include students gathering in classrooms/in school, social distancing while wearing face masks/shields all day, and not wanting your child to wear a face mask/shield at all.  The consistency of the online platform experience for students was another concern.

For next year, almost half of the respondents prefer all students present in our schools follow safety protocols.  Almost a third prefer a hybrid model of students being in school and participating with remote learning, and approximately 14% prefer 100% learning remotely.

As our reopening committee plans for next year, the highest priorities will be student and staff safety while in school and devising a rigorous online presence.  We are planning to resume school with students in our buildings but there are a number of conditions by the OSPI and Department of Health in order for that to happen.  All guidance may be found at this website: https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/press-releases/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-resources.  The re-opening committee will follow these guidelines as Plans A, B and C are developed.

The Granite Falls School District is committed to the individual development of each student and therefore, will be developing some kind of online learning platform for those families and students who do not feel comfortable, are medically sensitive, or are not ready to return to the classroom. Our hope is to serve all students in the Granite Falls School District.  Please stay tuned throughout the summer as plans are formalized.

Be well, be safe,

Dr. M



June 4, 2020


The Tenacity to Change

 “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

                                                                                    Nelson Mandela

 

On Tuesday, January 28, 1986, I was just about 10 days into my education career as a new teacher.  I was living in Melbourne, Florida having just moved there in August after graduating from college.   I heard a knock at my classroom door and when I answered I saw Barney Andrews, a fellow teacher looking distraught.  He said come outside and look up at the sky, something was wrong.  Melbourne High School at that time had outside hallways, so I followed him out a few feet and saw the two plumes of smoke.  The Space Shuttle Challenger had been launched just minutes before 30 miles north of Melbourne at Cape Canaveral.  Moments later the news reached the entire country that the Challenger had exploded.

For the next two and half years the space shuttle program was grounded while engineers and scientists investigated the Challenger disaster while ensuring the next shuttle to go up had additional safeguards and protocols.  On September 29, 1988, the entire student body of Melbourne High School went out to the football field grandstands and cheered as the Space Shuttle Discovery launched into the sky and marked the “Return to Space.” 

Fast forward to March 3, 1991 – April 29,1992.  I am still at Melbourne High School becoming a better, more effective social studies teacher.   In the news is Rodney King who gets pulled over by California Highway Patrol for speeding on a Los Angeles freeway.  Now off the freeway in San Fernando Valley, LAPD takes charge of the traffic stop.  Awakened by the noise, a resident videotaped the 15 minute beating of King by those officers.  The country is dismayed and disturbed watching the grainy video of this event which led to protests, but also riots, violence and destruction in Los Angeles in 1992 following the police officers’ acquittal. 

Since the late 80s/early 90s the Space Program and racial relations have each celebrated highlights and experienced regression.  We’ve seen Nelson Mandela experience 27 years in prison than be released to lead the end of apartheid, eventually becoming South Africa’s first black head of state.  The United States elected President Obama as the first African-American to serve in the White House.  NASA continued to have success with 33 Space Shuttle missions just in the 2000s, many of them focused on the international collaboration with the International Space Station, the ability to overcome adversity in space, and the incredible exploration of unmanned missions to Mars.  During this era, sadly, we saw evidence of continued racial tensions, injury and death as a result of horrible actions taken by a small number of law enforcement officers, another orbiter explosion and the shut down of the entire space shuttle program.

During the week of May 25, 2020, there could not be a bigger dichotomy!  We no longer have grainy or fuzzy video, but in high definition, we watched with tears and disgust as Mr. George Floyd gasps for his last breath. That same week we witnessed the return of America in the space race as the Space X Dragon capsule carrying two US astronauts launched from Cape Canaveral into space after a nine-year absence.

Space X was a small company with immense vision.  Despite its critics and hurdles, such as lack of commercial demand, disinterest by the military, concerns over civil space safety and financial constraints, Space X persevered.  May we have the same tenacity, fortitude and guts to uncover and address our unconscious bias as we do with our singular focus to travel to and explore space.  It starts with each one of us, daily:  Simple actions such as open dialogue within our families, lending a hand to our neighbor, being careful with our words, showing kindness to all, and deeply reflecting on our own unconscious bias.  We can do better.  We can do this.

 

Be safe, be well,

Dr. M

 



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