March 23, 2019
Dear YES Families,
I hope that this email finds you well! Now that the decision has been made to extend distance learning in Yarmouth schools until April 27th I have more information to share with you.
Before we delve into that information I want to say thank you again for the tremendous support and appreciation that we continue to receive. The response of our community to this challenge has been nothing short of inspiring in so many different ways. Our K-8 PTO just shared this good news with me:
- In need of some good news?! These last couple of weeks, the PTO has been collecting food for Wayside Food Programs, which partners with Yarmouth Food Pantry, soup kitchens, shelters, and other social service agencies. Our YES and HMS students donated a grand total of 1,213 pounds of food! The operations manager said “Holy smokes! This really is one of the larger food drives, with the average being around 250 pounds.” Another staff member said, “Where is all this coming from?!” From our Yarmouth students! This donation comes at a critical time, as some food banks are experiencing a shortage in food and volunteers due to COVID-19. So thank you, Yarmouth families. We so appreciate your response.A big thank you to our Kindness in Action Chairs, Danielle Damasco and Elaine Hughes. Danielle put this idea into motion and saw it through, and Elaine jumped in to help at critical times.
Clearly, our YES core values of citizenship and caring are having a meaningful impact on our community during the COVID-19 crisis. Several parents also shared with me how our community is coming together each evening to support one another:
- Bell Ringing! At 7:00 pm sharp for every night that this social distancing lasts, please join together in a community bell ringing. That's right, come to your front door or window at 7:00 pm with any kind of a bell and ring it joyously for two minutes. If you don't have a bell, use something similar. We may be forced to be apart, but this will be a symbol (or cymbal, for that matter) that we are 100% together as a community. Please share this and maybe it will grow!
I hope you will consider joining the community in showing solidarity for one another. I continue to be so proud that I am part of such a supportive community particularly during challenging times like this.
I know that you have had lots of different information shared with you as this distance learning initiative continues to evolve. In an effort to try and “consolidate” information I have put together this “Parent Yarmouth Elementary School Distance Learning Guide”. In addition to the information I have shared with you previously please note it also contains the following new additions:
- Beginning today, the office will send out a YES Attendance Form “reminder” each morning to parents;
- Parents will be asked to communicate student illnesses by emailing our administrative assistants (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) directly.
- For students who are absent, phone calls will be made to parents’ homes by the administrative assistants or principal. When we make calls it will be done remotely so you will get “Caller ID Blocked” instead of a phone number. Be aware that could be us so please answer!
Our office is now closed until Monday, April 27 but we will be working remotely and retrieving messages throughout each school day if you would like to leave us a voicemail. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you as soon as possible each day.
You can let your children know that I will continue to share the “Friday Funnies” each week as they are accustomed to! I was told that some of our students had trouble with the link so I’ve included it again here: Friday Funnies- March 20th. If you are still having issues you may want to check your Youtube settings at home. Also, if you have a fourth-grader and they had trouble with the Salmon Tank Update Videos here they are: Salmon Tank Video #1, Salmon Tank Video #2.
Moving forward your child’s teacher(s) will continue to post daily assignments and monitor student work. This event has certainly pushed us as educators to re-examine how we can innovate new strategies and possibilities for students while acknowledging the constraints distance learning also entails. We are continuing to meet in teams remotely to reflect on our work and make tweaks that keep assignments both meaningful and manageable for everyone with the circumstances we are all juggling.
As parents, you have always been your child’s first teacher. We recognize that this event puts you back into that role even more prominently. Some parents have reached out asking if there are any particular ideas that would help to structure the day for their children to balance work, play and rest. I’m sharing one that some of the third-grade teachers passed on to their families: Sample Schedule. This is just an example- we know that everyone has different responsibilities and schedules at home and obviously you need to do what works best for your family.
Finally, I would like to share this information with you that is making the social media and blog “rounds” of late. It was written as advice by a teacher to parents facing this new challenge of distance learning:
“Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in this boat and they all will be ok. When we are back in the classroom, we will all course correct and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your kids because they don’t want to do math. Don’t scream at your kids for not following the schedule. Don’t mandate 2 hours of learning time if they are resisting it. If I can leave you with one thing it’s this: at the end of all this, your kids’ mental health will be more important than their academic skills. And how they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during those 4 or more weeks is long gone. So keep that in mind, every single day.”
Now, of course, I want our kids to do their school work! But the message shared by this teacher is important for all of us to remember every single day. I often share with families that our goal at YES is to be just as intentional about social-emotional development and care as we are about academic development. With distance learning that continues to be our lens- and perhaps this is a time when that is more important than ever.
As always please reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns. We are all in this together. Stay healthy!
Ryan Gleason Principal
Yarmouth Elementary School