July 26th, 2020
SCHOOL OPENING UPDATE
Dear Goodwater Families:
Thank all of you for the supportive emails and phone calls that we have received this past week. I know this is a trying time for all of us. Our staff wants to be at school with all of our students as this is the strength of the Montessori culture. We want everyone to know that the school will be opened as soon as all protocols are in place for safety, and the guidelines we receive from state and local health departments recommends that it is now safe to open our school.
Most Importantly, please now that during the July 23rd, 2020 Board meeting, the Goodwater Board of Directors approved changes to the start of the Goodwater Montessori school year:
You can find the Board Packet here (Please note this is more extensive than the agenda): July 23rd Board Packet
Approved Revised Calendar HERE.
REMOTE INSTRUCTION FOR FIRST 4 WEEKS
Why did we make this decision?
Due to the sustained increase in Covid-19 cases in Williamson County during the month of July, along with the increased concern expressed by parents and staff, we will be delaying on-campus instruction for at least 4 weeks. This decision is also in line with other public schools in the area.
This decision involved taking into account our responsibility to our staff and to the community to help mitigate the rate of infections. Additionally, every year substitute teachers are in short supply, especially those with Montessori training or experience. This year we anticipate that issue to be even more difficult. We are trying to do what we can to mitigate the effects of staff getting ill, including in order to avoid interruptions to academic delivery. Opening up the school at a time when the transmission rate is high increases the risk to staff and students and the risk of further interruptions to learning.
We also want to ensure the school is properly prepared and ready to hold staff and students and that is going to take time into the school year.
The decision to extend remote-only learning beyond the first 4 weeks will depend on the level of Covid-19 in the area, specifically test positive rates. Goodwater, along with the ISDs and other schools in the area, are working closely with the Williamson County Cities and Health District to determine concrete metrics that will inform safer conditions to bring students and staff onto campuses.
At this time, the rolling 7-day average positive rate for Williamson County is around 19%. The discussion at this time is centered around a sustained 10% positivity rate for 7 days as a probable metric for re-opening campuses.
What will Remote Learning look like this Fall vs this Spring?
Please see these slides that were presented at the board meeting for the latest update in what Remote Instruction will look like.
This update pertains to both those who will choose remote for the entire quarter, as well as the entire school during our remote learning-only weeks.
We are very proud of the work being done by our Instruction and Delivery team, which is made up of instructional staff from all program levels, including Special Education.
TEA guidelines call for schools to provide a certain amount of instructional minutes every day. To be counted present, students must show daily engagement in that work. We will release more details about this in August.
We will be scheduling program-level parent information sessions in August as a first step in providing support and guidance to our families.
Special Programs Update
We know many of the families of children in our special programs are extremely concerned about their students' progress and still have many questions. Please note the Special Programs team will send out more information as details for the plan are finalized. We realize that many of you would rather have a live discussion to address your concerns. Dr. Bruce and Cheniese are holding a Q&A Zoom session for the families that would like to discuss the plan further. The meeting information is directly below.
Topic: Special Programs Services Zoom Meeting with Dr. Bruce and Cheniese
Time: Jul 27, 2020 at 4:00 PM
Meeting ID: 834 5595 4974
Or Call in +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
Meeting ID: 834 5595 4974/ Passcode: 851410
When will we know about class placements?
Class placements will be announced in the middle of August. We do anticipate changes for some students and staff in order to accommodate remote learning and on-campus learning assignments. This aspect of having a dual model is going to be challenging, both due to the 3-year cycles inherent in the Montessori model, and due to the moving of students back and forth between remote and on-campus learning during the school year.
At this time we expect that some Elementary Guides will be teaching remotely only and the others will be on campus only. Logistics for our Adolescent and Primary classes are still being worked out.
When will we have to decide if we will be learning remotely or in person for the rest of the quarter?
The earliest that schools are allowed to ask families to commit to an option is 2 weeks before school begins. In our case that would be no earlier than August 6th. We have not yet decided if we will ask parents to decide at that time, or later into the first few weeks. The earlier we know the better we can plan for class placements, but we also know that asking parents to commit to a model more than a month before school would be difficult in this changing environment. Either way will call for flexibility on the part of parents, students and staff.
What if my family depends on school for childcare?
We know that many of our families depend on an open school and our After School Enrichment for their childcare purposes. Additionally, we understand the strain that remote learning puts on families who are not able to give the support they wish for their students at home because they have to work. Staff understands each family has a unique situation and will work with families to support them best way they can during this remote-only time. Please note that as long as the school operates remotely, we are not able to offer childcare or after school enrichment (ASEP.) As soon as we open the school for in-class instruction we will also resume our After School Enrichment Program.
Of course, our goal is to open our school for all students safely to be back on campus as soon as possible.