August 20, 2020

Dear Parents,

 

Thank you so much for your patience through these peculiar times.  We wanted to reach out again this week to keep you informed with recent updates to ensure a smooth transition into the 2020-21 school year.  With that being said, we are happy to announce that our student schedules are completed, and that our school leadership team has developed a daily routine that is both structured and supportive for students and families.  In addition, we would like to share important information regarding orientation and fall athletics. 

 

Schedules

First off, we would like to apologize for schedules being released yesterday with no communication and context in advance.  Unfortunately, our technology department released schedules in PowerSchool a few days ahead of the anticipated date due to their workload in preparing chromebooks and internet access for students.  Again, we apologize, but the communication we have provided here should clear up the various questions we have received via email in the last 24 hours.  

 

Schedules can be found in PowerSchool’s Parent Portal, and we have provided the link here:

https://ps.glcomets.net/public/.  You will need to enter your username and password.  If you need assistance with your username or password, then please contact Mrs. Jennie Hernandez, secretary, at hernandezj@glcomets.net.  

 

Even though we are virtual for the first trimester, please note that schedules have been built as if we were coming back to school under normal circumstances.  We are happy to announce that through the student elective request process in conjunction with PowerSchool back in February and March, we were able to offer all electives presented to students and parents last winter with the exception of Broadcasting, Advanced Health, Cinematography, and Creative Writing.  We are also happy to announce that students had many of their primary elective requests satisfied.  

 

A few very important things to note about elective courses:

Elective courses can only be scheduled into two hours of a student’s day; core content: Math, Science, Social Studies, and English take up the rest of the schedule.

While the high school rotates their core content teachers each trimester, our students at Hayes keep the same core content teachers the duration of the school year. 

There are six elective slots for 8th graders; five for 7th graders (due to Health requirement).

Most elective courses are a trimester in duration, and they will rotate each trimester.

All electives will be offered virtually.

Students that have selected a year-long elective (Band, Choir, LINKS, or High School Credit French, German, or Spanish) as a primary elective request are typically able to be scheduled into that year-long elective.  However, it is important to remember that those electives absorb 3 of the 5 or 6 elective slots for students.  In addition, the year-long electives also create some significant constraints within the schedule.  For example, Band is broken down into instrument type and ability. Choir electives are broken down by grade and gender; therefore, these electives can only be offered during a specific hour within the school day.  

Also, many of our core content teachers are also teaching elective courses part of their day; therefore, beyond Band and Choir, we do not have teachers that just teach elective courses the duration of the school day. 

Again, we do attempt to meet as many requests possible using this new system; however, there are numerous constraints that exist within our middle school’s master schedule.  Beyond elective offerings, we must also balance our students across their core-content courses throughout the day, and we must also meet contractual student limits in each class.  We appreciate your understanding and flexibility with this if your student is scheduled into a class for which they may not have initially indicated an interest.

 

Please also note that schedule change requests will only be honored under extenuating circumstances, and schedule change requests are at the discretion of the principals.  If you have an extenuating circumstance where a schedule request is absolutely necessary, then please email Mrs.Jennie Hernandez at hernandezj@glcomets.net to obtain a form to document the request.

 

Daily Routine

Our School Leadership Team met last week to develop a structured and supportive daily routine for teachers and students to follow while attending school virtually during the first trimester:

8:15-9:10- 1st Hour (all classes @ 55 minutes)

9:10-10:05-2nd Hour

10:05-11:00-3rd Hour

11:00-11:55-4th Hour

11:55-12:35- Lunch (40 minute lunch)

12:35-1:30- 5th Hour

1:30-2:25- 6th Hour

2:25-3:15- Support Time (50-minute, virtual support time; all teachers; Monday-Friday)

 

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Sessions

Before we move any further with discussing our daily routine, we need to define some keywords that will become part of your vocabulary very soon.  Asynchronous instruction is defined as instruction that is essentially “On Demand” for students; it is work that students can access from their Learning Management System LMS (more to come on this next week) at any time during the instructional day.  Synchronous instruction is “Live” and active virtually with teachers on-hand to address questions, concerns, or re-teach key concepts from a previous asynchronous lesson. Our teachers will be engaging with your student at least two-times-per-week, per-class in a synchronous fashion.  For example, your student’s math teacher will hold, at minimum, two synchronous sessions during the week. 

 

Therefore, students can have the latitude to complete the asynchronous work at any time during the instructional day; however, synchronous sessions will be held during specific times designated by each teacher within their assigned time frame.  For example, if your student’s Science class is 3rd hour, then their synchronous sessions will occur between 10:05-11:00am. Some teachers will have consistent synchronous sessions week-to-week while others may vary based on their content and the learning needs in the classroom.  Teachers that have varying synchronous lessons week-to-week will reach out to students in advance, so that families can plan accordingly for the upcoming week. 

 

We strongly encourage students to follow the daily routine that we have built for the first trimester.  If they cannot follow that routine, then we recommend they complete the asynchronous work at some point the day it is expected to be completed, and then they attend the synchronous sessions throughout the week for each class.  As long as asynchronous work is completed within the day it is expected to be completed, it will be counted as participation (more to come on that next week too).  Please also note that we have purposefully built a 50-minute support session into the end of each day where students can access their teachers virtually for one-to-one support.  

 

We know this is a lot of information to digest at this time; however, we also wanted to provide the logistical overview in a reasonable amount of time for our families to make preparations.  We will continue to provide more information about our daily routine and participation expectations in our future correspondences. 

 

Orientation

As we stated last week, our in-person orientation has transitioned to a virtual orientation, and it has been pushed back to the evenings of August 31st and September 1st.  In addition, your student’s first-hour teacher will also be reaching out by phone during the week of August 31st to welcome your family to Hayes!  We will have more information to come in future correspondences regarding orientation.  Please note that we will be posting these and additional resources on our homepage as well.  

 

Fall Athletics 

The Athletic Department is currently awaiting further direction from the MHSAA and the Mid Michigan Middle School League for volleyball and cross country. Middle school football will be played during the Spring sports season. Please visit www.grandledgecomets.org for updates on volleyball and cross country start dates.

 

In closing, we know that was a great deal of information to digest; however, we wanted to provide as much information as possible for our families to begin to make preparations.  Our goal moving forward is to have a least one weekly communication via School Messenger with updates.  We will also continue to highlight previously addressed key information moving forward.  Again, we appreciate your support, and we are looking forward to another great year! 

 

Sincerely,

Dave Kushman and Eric Leopold