March 25, 2020
Dear Anderson community,
I hope this finds you and your family well and adjusting to the new “stay at home” format for everyone. Principals had a conference call early this afternoon with Dr. Cruz. Expect a message from the Superintendent’s Office this afternoon or evening.
Classes are cancelled from March 23rd through April 3rd with a “return to classes” anticipated by April 6th. AISD, as a district, needed 2 weeks to shift into full digital format, support teachers in redesigning instructional tasks for fully online format, distribution of hotspots to ensure internet access for students, distribution of additional Chromebooks for more students throughout the district and address the myriad of issues that are inherent this kind of major change.
Last night the Surgeon General suggested schools remain closed until April 13th. Dr. Cruz today indicated that during the week of April 6-10 schools are closed, but classes are not cancelled. April 6th should signal the onset of continued learning via BLEND. Some elementary campuses are distributing hard copies of assignments while AISD is making a huge effort to deliver devices and hotspots to more students.
During this unprecedented situation, AISD as purchased an additional 6,000 Chromebooks. Retrieved an additional 18,000 Chromebooks from secondary campuses that were “on hand” for student/staff use in the event that the student’s individual device was uncharged, at home, needing repair, online testing for STAAR and EOC, etc. According to AISD Technology, this effort should provide enough devices to cover students in grades 3 through 12. Anything beyond this number of devices would require philanthropic efforts and contributions. High Schools have distributed 2,000 hotspots, Middle Schools distributed 2,000 hotspots. AISD received a $2.5 million grant to provide an additional 1,400 hotpots that are on the way. AISD buses have all been outfitted with wifi, and there are plans to part buses in communities where students could use the wifi from the buses. In addition, Spectrum has offered 60 days of free internet (1-844-488-8395).
Advanced classes like AP, IB, Dual Credit and OnRamps will begin fully digital online instruction on April 6th. Counselors have been contacting students to ensure that they have Chromebooks, chargers, internet access and connectivity with the learning platform for their respective courses. College Board will determine what the cumulative assessment/exam will look like as opposed to the traditional multiple choice test administered in large groups. Preliminary information is that AP will provide an online format asssessment that students will be able to
complete at home, should that become necessary. International Baccalaureate will also determine what the culminating assessment will look like. Early information is that the most recent Internal Assessment in each course may be used as a significant portion of the year end assessment. Dual Credit and OnRamps are guided by Austin Community College and University of Texas at Austin, respectively. Each of these have their own student learning platforms with prescribed curriculum, learning tasks and cumulative assessment.
Homeroom teachers are reaching out to students and their families just to check in on everyone’s well being and to survey each student’s ability to connect for online digital learning starting April 6th. If you aren’t sure whether your student has responded to this outreach, please let us know via the survey below: https://tinyurl.com/AHSNeeds2020
There are a multitude of questions about grading, student connectivity, equity in access and academic accountability as we attempt to shift to a wholly digital format. We are working diligently to support every student in his/her unique learning needs. Please be patient with us as we work through the concerns and issues.
At this time, Prom (scheduled for April 18th) is cancelled. We will try to reschedule for a date in May, if circumstances permit. Awards ceremonies, sports banquets and other celebrations of student achievement are “on hold” for the time being. Graduations are “still on” for the time being, but that could change. These cancellations are devastating news for our students, especially our seniors, who have worked their entire educational career for these recognitions. Please reassure your student that this crisis will pass, and we will resume normal routines as soon as it is safe to do so. The one thing I know for sure is that the Anderson community will pull together, support each other and figure out solutions for our children.
Please continue to take care of yourself and your family. I will relay information as soon as it becomes available.