Teachers started pre planning yesterday and students are back to school 100% virtually on Monday. The following are my takeaways from the administration’s latest update.
100% virtual or not at all – The administration and most of the board seem firm that all schoolhouse work must be done virtually. I pointed out that many of the administrators are working from their school district offices. I asked that teachers be given the same opportunity if they would prefer to work from their classroom. I’ve heard from a number of teachers that would like to have that option because it is more conducive for them to work from their classroom than from home. While my suggestion was met with some incredulity from some members of the board, the administration said they would contemplate whether or not they will give teachers the option of going back into the classroom in extreme cases. It seems to me that teachers and staff would be able to socially distance effectively in a school building without students.
Optimizing staff utilization – “Re-imagine job assignments in the virtual world”, says Regional Superintendent Triscilla Weaver. Schoolhouse resources are being realigned to provide virtual education services. In addition to working with teachers, para-professionals will be doing virtual pull out sessions with students, leading study groups, etc.
Numerous employees will spend their time reaching out to students in an attempt to get them to engage virtually. Attendance secretaries who would normally work on attendance within the building will now be calling homes to encourage virtual attendance.
Sports – DeKalb Schools has already cancelled Fall middle school sports. For varsity sports, the administration is taking their cues from GHSA and the county Board of Health who currently recommend playing games. The GHSA already delayed the start of varsity sports by 2 weeks. Big 10 college football just cancelled the 2020 season. A North Fulton high school athlete just lost both parents to COVID-19.
Virtual Remote Learning Expectations
The administration heard loud and clear from teachers and parents the desire to have a structured schedule. Every student should expect to be engaged during the 7:45 to 1:50 timeframe. The principals were given sample baseline schedules for their grade bands. They modified the schedules to accommodate the needs of their community and submitted their customized schedules to the regional superintendent.
On or around the virtual Open House, when students receive their schedules, parents and students should receive their school’s customized schedule that will look like the sample below.
Student attendance will be taken, but the school will just be looking for signs of participation. In addition to online participation in virtual classes, the school will be looking for students who login to the system or engage their teachers through email or turning in homework.
Teachers will share specifics with students and families regarding classroom grading procedures and expectations. Grading categories will include formative and diagnostic assessments, assessment tasks (skills & homework), classwork (guided, independent & group practice), quizzes, tests and projects. The administration is still working out the specific details.
Chromebooks & Hotspots
The school district currently has enough laptops for 80% of the student population. The school district recently purchased 28,000 new Chromebooks. Due to high demand for laptops these days, the new laptops will not be ready until September at the earliest. In the meantime, students without devices are encouraged to use their own devices.
The school district has currently distributed roughly 8,000 internet hotspots. Connectivity needs are being assessed by surveys and the local school.
Students without devices and/or connectivity will be allowed to work asynchronously. If possible, they can download lesson assignment on their schedule. If necessary, students can pick up paper packets from school.
Thank you Stan for being a great supporter of our students and teachers. I would like to encourage everyone to listen to the BOE meeting from yesterday. It was distressful to me to hear that members of the board are adamently against in-school teaching (even if a teacher cannot teach from home) and in-school learning choice, as well as school sports. If loudest voices win, and if you care about either of these issues, I encourage you to speak out, because based on what I heard yesterday from the loudest, angriest voices, there is zero chance we will return this semseter and fall sports will be canceled.
What happened to all Dekalb students receiving a device?
@T.Watkins. All students will get a device eventually. Given the supply chain issues created by the high demand for laptops, I wouldn’t be surprised if the school district doesn’t get the next shipment of Chromebooks until October.
Thank you for the update. I hope special needs students are going to receive their full support and not be shorted on their hours of service.
If students are able to choose an option for picking up hard copies of assignments from the school, but teachers are not allowed to work in the building, who will prepare these assignment packets? As a former teacher. I feel strongly that teachers should be able to access their resources in the buildings to provide proper, supportive instruction. Even if teachers need an “appointment” or schedule for their turn to work i. the schoolhouses, it will benefit the students.
I completely agree with Stan that teachers should be able to work from their classrooms if they wish.
How is the risk of masked adult staff in a large school building, with NO kids, so great that it must be avoided at all costs?
Teachers with room-mate situations, poor home internet access, or especially Science teachers who might want to use a beaker or two to demonstrate an experiment, should have access to their classroom.
Why is Gwinnett Schools District providing in-person option and Dekalb isn’t?
Thank you for the updates. I am not one of the teachers hoping to teach from my classroom virtually, however we were told yesterday that certain Title 1 resources, i.e. rolling whiteboard could not be taken home. Restricting access to resources seems counterproductive to providing effective virtual instruction which makes teaching from the classroom more necessary. Could you please inquire about these restrictions? We have also noticed that our Chromebooks are not able to access whiteboard features or screen annotating. These tools could be most useful for virtual instruction.
If someone here knows how to access these features in teams, zoom, or Google meets on the district issued CHROMEBOOK, please share. Thanks!
Just curious, why is breakfast on the schedule for 45 minutes? Pre-COVID our typical school day started at 745, we are now missing out on 45 minutes of instruction/small group 4 days a week.
Stan, I have deep concerns. The county has yet to send official correspondence to parents regarding the structure of virtual learning. It appears that this responsibility has fallen to the schools. My school has yet to do so. Parents have not been told that students will be required to be on and active throughout the school day and that their attendance virtually during the school day will be REQUIRED.
We are 6 days away from the beginning of the school year. This is unacceptable and sets students, parents, and teachers up for failure. How will parents make appropriate arrangements for their child, if they are unaware of the requirements? I am deeply disappointed with hands-off approach that the county has chosen to take with something as CRITICALLY important as Virtual Learning. WE NEED REAL GUIDANCE. Local school principals have been given too much power in this process. Not all principals are strong and effective, in the same way that not are teachers are. WE NEED HELP.
Also, information communicated to teachers by principals and embedded in official, county-mandated Professional Development documents/courses, states that student attendance at all live sessions is required. Has this changed?
As requested in a prior comment in this thread…..PLEASE give us instructions on how to access all needed apps so my child can keep up until her Chromebook comes in. It’s getting down to the wire and I am at a complete loss. When I call her school for info they just keep saying to “watch my area news coverage for updates”….WHAT?!?!
Why is DCSD spending money to prepare schools for re-opening when we are obviously so far away from actually opening? Given that teacher’s are not going to be allowed to teach from their classrooms it is clear to me that we are a long, long way away from students being in schools. I understand the need to be prepared but why are we spending money on bottle fill stations and PPE now?
If a teacher does not have a suitable environment for teaching from their home, what is their alternative?
@In-person Option – The administration made the decision that in-person learning would not be an option right now. They said it is too dangerous to the students, teachers, employees and community at large.
@Virtual Teacher – Good point. Challenging to teach unless you have all of your resources.
Technology Issues – I’m confident there will be an abundance of technology issues. Screen sharing with Zoom is one. I’ll add Whiteboard features and screen annotating to the list.
@DEEPLY Concerned Educator – I expect a very slow start. The school district isn’t going to hit the ground running next week. Hopefully this week you’ll start receiving correspondence from teachers and the school letting you know what you should do.
The expectations the school district is setting is that Live sessions are required. However, it looks like the school district will be flexible regarding official attendance.
@Bonnie – All you need is a laptop with a web browser. My kids can’t log into anything, so you’re not missing anything.
@Ben Greenwald – The school district is preparing for when teachers and students come back for in-person learning.
Will there be a grace period for assignments to be turned in?
With multiple kids in different grades, parents working from home, questions for teachers, and technology sharing it will be difficult for some (myself included) to have their assignments complete by a set time.
@Wendy from what I understand as a teacher we will have to give students 3 opportunities with in a 2 week time period to complete assignments. So there will be an original due date and then 2 additional extension dates provided, but after two weeks students will recieve a 0.
Time to tell the truth. Dekalb won’t open without a vaccine. Enjoy your virtual school year. The County is abandoning children. Poorest hurt the worst. No plan for re entry. No metrics. Pathetic.
Thank you Stan as always for working tirelessly for us and swimming against the current by using common sense and facts to argue your points on behalf of your constituents. Where can we find out more about this portion of the Superintendent’s report?
• Providing guidance for the enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of school buildings
• Cleaning protocols in place for facilities impacted by COVID-19
• Ensuring the COVID-19 related supplies are delivered to schools for
faculty and staff members
• Prepared with additional COVID-19 related supplies as needed to schools and facilities
Stan – thank you for sharing this update.
Thank you teachers for the upcoming headaches you will have doing virtual and live teachings without the ability to record sessions. Your participation rate will likely be mediocre and your attention rate will be abysmal (sorry but true). Its going to be tough not being their in person – but thank you for what you are able to do with limited resources.
As a parent who wanted my young kids (both under 3rd grade) in a live teaching environment, I feel defeated, violated and pissed off that my little ones have to learn this way. Teachers – thats not at you, but rather the political environment we are in where people who dislike President Trump and want to do the opposite of what he says no matter the consequences. Otherwise our Dekalb leaders would have given the option to parents and teachers to choose either virtual or in person and let every intelligent family decide what is best for their family. Similar teachers could decide if working remotely or in person was best for their situation.
I pray our kids don’t get seriously F’d up from the social and emotional scars because this has become a political battle instead of an intelligent educational discussion. Folks want to point to Covid stats, but not having in-person schooling is going to be monumentally larger of a pandemic on these kids for years to come.
And finally – as kids repeat their grade level in significant numbers next year, schools start risking overcrowding and under funding. Wound be nice to hear the plans for that now instead of “oh my we are surprised of this…”
Stan and All,
Zoom and Google Meets are currently blocked on student computers. You cannot even access them.
Can anyone tell me how our students can learn when they cannot watch their teachers do live instruction.
The work around is just hitting a button, this could have been done months ago. But lets wait until the last possible second to see if the teachers go crazy because they have now changed platforms 4 times.
Come on IT department, unblock these websites, tear down the firewall and let us get to work.
So Cherokee County tried it. They opened. They closed. https://www.ajc.com/education/cherokee-closing-etowah-high-until-aug-31-after-rise-in-covid-19-cases/AKVISQE7NBFA3A3KH46SX6FXFE/
For once DeKalb is doing the right thing in going virtual only, although some teachers ought to be allowed to teach from their classrooms. Maybe we are’t doing it well, but it is the correct thing to do. Politics is not what’s going on here. Nothing would make me happier than to host my last virtual class tomorrow, but we’re not ready for that yet. The kids will be OK if the parents don’t go crazy.
My greatest sympathies lie with the 17 – 25 crowd whose lives are being derailed at a crucial juncture. The younger ones will just remember 2020 as one bizarre year.
I’m curious on another note. What’s the status of all non-teaching employees? I mean cafeteria, media, janitorial, transportation, secretary, guidance counseling, para staff, PE staff, etc. are they all still on payroll? Are they working? Are they on unemployment? Furthermore, what is being done with all the food? Are poor children getting fed? What if a child doesn’t have parents who can stay at home and help them log on to the internet and get this virtual schooling done? This is the problem with the idea of a virtual world – it only works for the people who can actually work virtually- and that’s not the majority.
@Thank you – ” the political environment we are in where people who dislike President Trump and want to do the opposite of what he says no matter the consequences”
FYI, Baron Trump’s school is doing virtual-only learning this Fall:
Oh. And another one. What about the school police department? Are they still on payroll? Unemployment? One time we posted on DSW that this department cost taxpayers about $19million per year. What are the “resource officers” doing these days with no students or staff in the buildings? You can’t virtually guard people.
@Cere “PE staff” are certified teachers… so they’re teaching. FYI.
@Montgomery Mom – more info about cleaning the schools … let’s cross that bridge when we get closer to students going to school to learn. I don’t see that happening before January.
@Cere – Non teaching employees are being “realigned” to student engagement. Basically they will spend their time calling students and parents to get them engaged. I don’t believe substitutes are being engaged, but I neglected to bring that up at the board meeting and the administration is working on the answer to that question now. To your other point – I expect poor students, ESOL and IEP students to be negatively affected the most.
SROs – still doing whatever they normally do over the Summer.
@DEEPLY Concerned Teacher
You shared…” The county has yet to send official correspondence to parents regarding the structure of virtual learning. It appears that this responsibility has fallen to the schools.”
This is absolutely an issue. Sadly, it doesn’t seem that DeKalb moved to a consistent online protocol….basically saying use Zoom or Teams, GoogleClass or Verge. I personally think they should’ve stuck to what they purchased (Teams and verge) To be consistent but may be in for a big crash… As another concerned DCSD educator, I reached out to IT reps in early-mid July asking about what the district was preparing for parents/families….an access point for various directions and video tutorials (how to meet your teacher in TEAMS, How to access your assignments in VERGE, etc.). I even asked if it could be in multiple languages given DeKalb serves 150+. As you shared, it seems all has been put on the 120 local schools to form these docs and tutorials. It seems they spent their time putting together the PDI and some new teacher instructions in IGNITE U that I’m not sure was even widely shared across the district. Everyone I shared with said they hadn’t seen the resources before and that sharepoint space was created back in March when we first let out in the spring.
I hate that there is so much disparity in how DeKalb gets out information. Some schools do it way better than others (I’ll give my school credit as I think we are doing a fine job for ourselves) but I heard in a conversation this evening where parents were asking when to pick up devices or when their open house is, etc. and poor Mrs. Watson-Harris could only say the school was supposed to let them know. Even above someone stated a school said “watch the news”??? Come on!!! DeKalb now has their nice “wheel“ on the website…only there are no directions for parents to access any of the materials needed to start virtually.
Why are teachers in DeKalb still being told that we are being evaluated in TKES when Gov. Kemp announced June 18, 2020 that the TKES was suspended for the 2020-2021 school year? This school year is stressful enough without being concerned about evaluation in these unprecedented times.
TKES … good question. Ask your principal if they know. I’m not privy to those administrative convos.
You shared….“Folks want to point to Covid stats, but not having in-person schooling is going to be monumentally larger of a pandemic on these kids for years to come.”
It is Interesting that folks are pointing to stats to make decisions…as opposed to not pointing to stats? Your “monumental” claim is much more loosely based on opinion/assumption…are you assuming children who normally homeschool are adversely impacted or are you speaking more to those who don’t get the Instructional/emotional support needed at home from their families? I agree those students without the home support they need or in need of critical supports educationally will likely suffer but most will likely be OK with virtual learning with an effective instructor and parent support. Of course, I will admit it does stink for all….students, parents who need to work, teachers, etc. I just don’t see the need to go face to face according to the current “stats”, especially when you also said, “the political environment we are in where people who dislike President Trump and want to do the opposite of what he says no matter the consequences”…isn’t this true both ways?…I.e. doing what he says no matter the consequences? Aren’t people also doing the opposite of what medical and scientific professionals say no matter the consequences? You are correct…it has sadly become absolutely strongly political/opinionated when it should be stat/fact based.
Essentially, this is what is currently happening in schools…is this better than effectively starting virtual learning? I’d say not, because now theSe schools need to spend weeks getting accustomed to virtual.
And those who say children don’t spread…
I don’t believe what DeKalb has shared in the PDI is TKES, rather a virtual observation tool for admin to use in the virtual setting. It is necessary to ensure that teachers are still teaching so it is understandable to have a quick instrument to use as they “pop in” from time to time. I believe this developed largely as board members such as Stan were highly concerned about the accountability of the employees teaching. I do not think TKES will be used as you shared…idk what to say if your admin told you that… as Stan said, it may be best to clarify at your school. 🙂
That is fantastic research. Thank you for that! 🙂
Here is the issue that I see as a parent and an educator. Requiring students to log in and complete work at specific times for this synchronous learning will hurt a lot of people. Too many students needed the way virtual learning occurred last semester to continue. Multi-children families and working families will feel this the worst. With people returning to work, some students will not even be able to be in these live sessions for various reasons. A lot of our students 13 and older will be babysitting until parents come home. We are setting them up for failure. Just implement teachers being available for individual sessions and small groups by appointments or by having pre-recorded lessons even, two a week.
@Edugator and @DSW2Contributor: Thank you for saying what you said. This is not about politics, this is about people’s lives. As hard as it is, DeKalb has done the right thing. All of the schools in GA that have opened are closing again or quarantining. We just surpassed a new record in deaths today. This virus is no joke.
The New York City school district lost 80+ employees to the virus while Cheryl Watson-Harris was there. Here’s a May 11 article from the ABC affiliate in NYC – “Coronavirus News: 30 teachers among 74 DOE employees to die of COVID-19”
That article was published on Monday, May 11, 2020. You know what else happened on that day — Stan and the other board members voted to NOT hire Rudy Crew. (Praise the Lord!)
Cheryl Watson-Harris is doing what she is doing because she is trying to prevent NYC School’s tragedy from happening again here in DCSD.
@SadDeKalb -you are insane if you think going back to what happened in the spring will work. It was an unmitigated failure. Kids need to have actual assignments, actual grades, and no more of this you can skip whatever you want or do it five weeks after the due date.
@ParentABC – I would love to see your proof that “All of the schools in GA that have opened are closing again or quarantining.” One Atlanta HS has gone online. That doesn’t equate to All schools in GA. How about some accuracy in your comments?
@HPE Teacher >> PE is going to be taught virtually too? Band? Choir? Art? I’m just super curious about the details.
@Stan >> So what exactly to the SROs do during summer when no one is in the buildings?
My heart goes out to parents who either have to go to work or work from home or whatever – who suddenly find that they are expected to more or less manage their child’s education. I have little faith that this DeKalb experiment will go well, so suggest that parents take the bull by the horns and find somewhere to actually educate their child. There are highly experienced online academies out there ready to help.
Skip on over to Khan Academy for example – they are ready willing and able to help educate your child >> https://www.khanacademy.org/
K12 is another >> https://start.k12privateacademy.com/private.html
Abeka is another curriculum used by private schools >> https://www.abeka.com/Homeschool/Products/AbekaAcademy/
So here is some information from the DCSD website PPT for school meals >>
• Student meals (breakfast and lunch) will be distributed to students beginning August 17, 2020
• Student meals provided district wide from 30 schools 3 days eachweek (Monday, Wednesday & Friday)
• Transportation will support delivery of meals
• Grab & Go offered at each meal preparation site 30schools
• Additional locations and/or curbside Grab & Go will be evaluated weekly
And make sure you ALL get food, even if you wouldn’t normally qualify. You know we must keep the cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodial workers employees. It’s a jobs program as Stan has stated.
Get your chromebooks too even if you don’t need one. Fill out the survey to pick yours up.
Woodstock High School closes after 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases:
“Hightower’s Woodstock announcement comes a day after the district closed Etowah High School after 14 positive coronavirus cases were confirmed. “
@Cere yes, all specialities will be teaching virtually. We are certified teachers just like the core teachers. Just like core teachers, there are good ones and bad ones, so I can’t guarantee what it will look like at your school.
In other news from the teacher side…
Today we were informed that 6th grade students still cannot log into anything because IT has not figured out how to set up their passwords remotely. This will be true for any students new to the district as well. How am I supposed to start on Monday when students can’t access a single resource?
School starts in 5 days and we’ve already wasted 6 days of teachers’ time preparing things that can’t even be accessed. But sure, virtual learning is going to be way better this go-round.
“Gwinnett County school officials reporting portal ’difficulties’ during 1st day of digital learning”:
I had my summer PL in June and still no stipend on my check
@this is what you get with dekalb,
I have been trying to get youtube unblocked on chromebooks so I can use EdPuzzle and other videos useful for my content. They won’t do it. I was instructed to put in a help desk ticket for any video/EdPuzzle I assign to whitelist that particular video. I did this in the Spring, and would have to wait weeks for the ticket to be addressed. IT is going to be super busy, tickets may go even longer this semester. I have no idea why they can’t take general blocks off ahead of time if it will help students virtually learn.
With so much asynchronous learning, providing my students with extra video resources would be invaluable. IT needs to change its policy to adapt to virtual learning like the rest of us. But so little adapting is going on.
Great job by Mayor Lynn Deutsch in her Q&A with Superintendent Watson-Harris this evening. I thought Mayor Deutsch asked the questions that many in the community wanted more information on. Did anyone else listen in?
A few things I’ve noticed during this pre-planning period:
1. How we will take attendance is not being addressed. The question keeps being brushed off every time it is asked, with admin saying new guidance is being given by the district daily. We are still lost on this point.
2. I read a comment earlier that said Google Meets functionality will be limited on student Chromebooks which worries me as this is the platform I have spent two weeks setting up. The district better fix this before Monday, because I know a ton of other teachers using this option as well.
3. Youtube is also being blocked for both students and teachers. How are we supposed to allow students to asynchronously watch videos or embed videos into our lessons if we can’t even access the platform? This is absolutely ridiculous and NEEDS to be remedied. We’ve had to find ways to get around this. Right now the answer is watchkin.com, which plays youtube videos without ads in any browser.
4. While I am not using Teams, during pre-planning it has been so overloaded that I and several other teachers have been kicked out of meetings on several occasions. The district needs to address the bandwidth or come Monday, students won’t be able to access their classrooms at all.
5. I can understand why teachers aren’t being allowed to come back into their classrooms. Dekalb has the third highest rate in the state, and it’s not the time for people to really be going out at all. The district employees should also not be going back into their offices, and this is something that baffles me. I understand we are adults and should be able to be “safe,” but if you look at our state, this is just not the case. Teaching from home is the best option. If you need to pick up resources, email admin and ask if they can set aside a time for you to come in and pick those up.
I echo @HPE Teacher, What do we do about getting our 6th graders logged in? Teachers need access to password reset tools that actually work! Waiting for IT to handle that is crazy. Enable the teachers to do more. We can handle it, and we are the ones students/parents come to first! We once had access to a reset tool that worked just fine.
Any teachers on here have any success with this?
Are the voices of teachers being heard? Ideally school should start the week after next or after Labor Day. The amount of info that’s being dumped on the teachers at the last minute is ridiculous. Teachers have to be acclimated to change too. Teachers are overwhelmed and frustrated to say the least .
Hi Stan – 3 quick questions that I would love your thoughts/insights on:
1. Will the Board consider another parent & teacher survey about virtual/in-person/hybrid learning after about 4 weeks experimenting with current scenarios?
2. Did the previous survey results separate teacher responses from parent responses? For example a teacher was also a parent who wanted virtual only – that the response did not get double counted as virtual for both teachers and parents? Or did it only count once? That obviously is important for data integrity and not skewing results.
3. Without enough Chromebooks, Dekalb has decided to not provide any Chromebooks to the young’ns in Pre-k to 2nd grade until everyone who needs one can get one. Likely will be a few months given the national demand. Do you expect schools will open to in-person learning for Pre-k to 2nd graders to ensure learning is available to everyone?
Thank you and Good luck to everyone next week!
Do students have access to Zoom on district devices?
Zoom is blocked on district devices. It’s like the IT department doesn’t realize this. They need to fix that. It is blocked because they are not able to download the extension on their chromebook. There is one way around it but it’s tricky. When the website loads up at the very bottom in blue letters it says continue in browser very small. That’s the way in without the extension. But how do you communicate that with your students. Also they need to allow YouTube
Teachers and Staff received wonderful training from Curriculum/Instruction on virtual learning and instructional models.
What they have NOT received is any training on setting up a virtual classroom in Google or Microsoft.
They are begging for the nuts and bolts of of websites
So we just received our school’s schedule for departmentalized grade levels and school revised lesson plan template at 3:45 on the Friday before school starts in a meeting that lasted well beyond the end of the work day. We’ve been planning blindly for the entire week! I have no words for this level of ineptness and insensitivity- like we have nothing else to do this weekend? Welp, “poor planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part!”
I will say thankfully I have successfully put online classes together, feel confident in my use of Google Classroom and have most of my lessons and assignment planned for next week, though not typed out the lesson plan. Unfortunately many of my colleagues are still trying to figure out everything and are stressed out and will be working nonstop through the weekend.
@Survey Says, I doubt they will do another survey. I believe the administration has a general feel for where the employees, students and community is on this. The last survey separated teachers, students and parents.
I believe the administration has reluctantly decided to let teachers work from the school house if they desperately need to. Otherwise, it is bare bones staff in the school house buildings. I don’t anticipate any in person traditional learning in the foreseeable future.
Cherokee County School District’s COVID-19 Notifications:
“’Child endangerment’ occurs when an educator disregards a substantial and/or unjustifiable risk of bodily harm to the student.” – 505- 6 -.01(c), THE CODE OF ETHICS FOR EDUCATORS
There seems to be a whole lot of overlap in instructional time and meal delivery time!
The Meal Service Plan page says that meals will be available for pickup at 30 school sites from 11:00 until 1:00 Monday/Wednesday/Friday.
It also says that 147 bus delivery spots will begin delivery as early as 10:00 and end at 1:00 on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Some of the bus stop schedules show a 10 minute window to pick up food, while others show a 2 hour window to pick up food.
So what are parents supposed to do when their child has live instruction during these times? If a family depends on getting food from the bus then most have little flexibility about when to get the meals.
Parents can’t just leave their young children alone while they go to collect meals. But does this mean that children will regularly miss instruction so that they can receive meals? Trying to manage multiple instructional schedules makes this even tougher.
Yes, it might work on Wednesday because of reduced instruction on Wednesdays.
I hope someone can reassure me that the District hasn’t set up an unworkable schedule.
Looking at the approved calendar on the web site, the first two days of school are “Early Release” days. My school hasn’t mentioned anything about that, but some schools apparently sent out an email reminding parents that students would not be “attending” school for the full day on Monday or Tuesday. Those are also part of teacher furlough days, right? So we shouldn’t be working during those hours?
Has anyone heard anything more about that?
Our school sent out notifications that the first 2 days are early release. I also believe it’s on the county and school websites. We, teachers and staff were told they are full work days for us. However I mostly assumed they were part of our furlough days too, but I guess not.
Stan- can you let us know if there is a way to get all handouts printed and distributed for the younger grades? With so many staff members who won’t be fully utilized this would be an INCREDIBLE help to parents who work full time and dont need to be spending their spare time printing documents (or spending 100 bucks a month on ink). We could do a pick up weekly like the other distributions.
If the schools really want to help students and parents they need to be much better about the tools and support.
Stan, I am curious about how much money the district actually saved by dissolving the ISS position, especially since a good number of individuals that were in that position are doing the same job just under a different title because their principals were able to be creative with their points? The process of ensuring that all ISS’s transitioned from a support role back to a teaching role was neither fair nor equitable. I feel that the board dropped the ball on this decision and that they are not going to see the savings that they were hoping for. Additionally, I think you will lose a lot of good employees either before the year ends or at the end of the year because of the way that the transition was handled. The HR rep that called me could answer not one question that I asked and gave me thirty minutes to make a decision as to accepting the position offered or resigning. This is not an acceptable way of dealing with an employee.
While I will always do my job to the best of my ability and ensure that students are my top priority, I am currently in a position that I did not apply for and have not done in years. Preparing for a normal school year is a daunting task, add a pandemic to the mix, and preparing for a virtual school year is overwhelming. Add to that the fact that I had to change schools, I have absolutely no resources and/or materials, and all of a sudden I don’t access to platforms that I previously had access to and I have received a laughable number of excuses from the tech department when I put in tickets.
I am trying to be optimistic given that the first day of school is tomorrow so hopefully students and staff are able to navigate the day successfully even if it is only half a day.
Using ISS employees to fill teacher vacancies will save the school district $16 million.
I believe teachers are being allowed to teach from the school in extenuating circumstances, but I have not confirmed this yet.
Students have not been able to log into VERGE this morning or any other application related to VERGE.
Some schools are sharing that district platforms (LaunchPad/Clever/VERGE) are overloaded and IT is working with vendors.
I appreciate all of the hard work of both you and Nancy. You will be missed. I would like to make three suggestions that I think may be helpful.
1. Can schools please update their websites? On our website we have the names of people that have been gone for at least a year. They are still listed as teachers. When parents are trying to contact teachers, it can be confusing. I know it may take some time to update new teachers, but it does not seem like it would take a lot to delete teachers that have left the school or school system.
2. There seems to be various instructional schedules that schools are following. Could schools please post their schedules on their websites? If parents are trying to organize their schedules with more than one child, this could be helpful. This would also help parents know the expectations.
3. Are principals being encouraged to monitor instruction? Last spring we had some teachers that provided really great instruction and maintained great student and parent contact. They worked with their paras to provide help for students. Unfortunatley, we had others that did not. Our students really need the best that we can provide.
If Dekalb Schools haven’t already lost their best Substitute Teachers due to no communication with them, no virtual software training, and therefore no work, the County is overlooking an excellent resource. All Subs are required to have a college degree, but if it isn’t specifically in Education, they are not allowed to work now.
Students, Parents, and Teachers need help. It’s time to think outside the box, be creative and smart, and use Subs to help TEACH and make this “mess” work. They can and would, but not for only $95 per day before taxes and no benefits. I know this because I am a Sub. I miss my wonderful students SO much!
Hi Stan! I think it’s great that the district is trying to get more Chromebooks for students. However, there seems to be no real policy to hold students accountable for returning them if they move to a different district or state. Many students take the Chromebook with them and some DeKalb schools allow them to still receive the paperwork needed to go to another school. There really should be a more strict policy in place for students to return the Chromebook or the district will keep feeling the need to buy more. It’s not fair to the students that really need them.
Zoom is working on some students chrome books but not others. It was listed as an approved platform by the District, yet it still blocked and students cannot download the app to their chrome books.
It is my understanding that Zoom is available through the browser, but you are correct that the Zoom app install is blocked.
Any word yet about all of the Substitute Teachers and a retention strategy?
Hello Alison. The administration hasn’t said anything about substitutes to me. Given the start of school this week, answer that question for me is probably low on their task list. Keep pinging me and I’ll keep pinging them.
Passwords!!! Why is this process so difficult to manage? Why do teachers not have the ability to help students? We don’t have time to wait around for someone else to reset a password. And talk about security!?!? How can a student be liable for his/her account when most passwords are set to a standard dekalbXX?!? It would be better to let teachers force set a new password of the student’s choosing.
Would love to know number of teachers retiring since school started. Just this week, there have been 4 unexpected retirements at one school.
It was just a coincidence, I retired June 1, 2020! I began my paper work in Nov. 2019. It was just my time to retire! If you are within 5 years or retirement I suggest going to http://www.trsga.com for retirement info if you are at all interested. I felt my time was up – time for a new generation of teachers to carry the torch! (I was the one who helped teachers in my school with all the new “computer” things to learn! This was in 1995.)
Now that we’re starting week 2 of school, I would love an update of what the admin is doing to move us toward in-person instruction. I talked to friends over the weekend from both private and public schools. One idea in particular resonated – they are having in a limited number of students attend three or four days a week (to allow for distancing) and simultaneously live-streaming the teachers. So for a class of 30, you could easily have 7 or 8 kids come each day while the remainder of the class watches from home, still have your Wednesday off, and get much more accomplished.
That’s just one idea of many. I hope that DeKalb is reaching out to other districts to see what’s working and what’s not in those schools that have restarted (yes, I laughed when I wrote that because well, this is DeKalb). Is the central office doing anything productive these days?
Operations is preparing for students to be in school when the administration decides it is time to have in person learning. The administration thus far is resisting allowing anybody in the schools including teachers and students, so I don’t see the administration allowing in person education anytime soon.
Why are teachers STILL BEING FURLOUGHED 5 days? According to the summer board mtgs, teachers were down to 1 day. Why, now, did I receive an email stating we would be furloughed 5 days?
We have been furloughed 5 days since the beginning of the discussion. The Palace has been saying only 1 day because they gave us a “Professional Learning Institute” at $35. an hour for 4 days to make up for our lost “calendar reduced” days. It was “Smoke and Mirrors”.
The furloughs are important because it lowers your overall salary (your daily rate is the same). If you look at the new pay plans that were emailed out, the listed salary is now less than teachers made last year, if not even 2 years ago. You will feel that loss every paycheck. The 4 days of meetings/trainings with random forms to complete are supplemental income and not salary. There isn’t even a clear consensus on when teachers will be paid for these days (several say after the 4th session in January… imagine working in August 2020 for payment some time in 2021…).
As a person who watched (and tracked the budget for several years) when DeKalb maintained a regular reserve of $50 million and considered that good enough, this new $100 million reserve minimum is interesting, to say the least. It is almost like they are planning/preparing for their own fiscal mismanagement.
Why oh why is the IT dept. not opening up everything for teachers? I keep finding these really great extensions for Google that will make my life/workload better, not to mention preserve some academic integrity for student work, but everything is blocked!!
We could be doing so much more with the time we have, but it seems we are stopped from doing so many things. We are working so hard already. I’m really getting tired of trying to find work-arounds and spending needless time trying to do what’s right for my students, with no help from the county.
I submitted tickets for two different requests. Let’s see what happens. Although I am not holding my breath or counting on anything.
Wondering what the plan for allowing students back into the school building will be when the district decides it’s time? Other counties have been very transparent in how they are planning to approach re-entry, yet Dekalb seems not to have given any of its stakeholders information. With surrounding counties beginning initial face-to-face phases after Labor Day, it would seem Dekalb would have similar plans.
I appreciate any guidance you can give.
Dekalb has the lowest number of cases per 100K in metro Atlanta. Where is our re-entry plan to school?
The superintendent should be presenting a plan for reopening at the next board meeting.
She isn’t even allowing teachers that want to teach virtually from their classrooms to come in the buildings yet – only those with extenuating circumstances if their building leadership allows it. Meanwhile, teachers are dealing with spotty internet in their homes and needing materials like whiteboards, easel stands for large paper tablets, etc. for reasonable teaching tools – all sitting in their classrooms…That’s a long way from all the kids in the building.
Question for those of you calling for in-person classes: How many millions of dollars are you willing to pay to lawyers after DCSD employees come back, get sick and die from Covid?
We are already going to pay $38,775,000 ($38 MILLION DOLLARS) just to Roy Barnes and his law firm as part of the Gold retirement settlement…. and nobody died over that.
Probably the same amount the school pays for lawyers from people dying of other viruses. Some viruses are worse than others. What special legal jeopardy is the school district in from COVID 19 compared to any other virus?
I have seen school-age children outside playing, or walking around regularly during school hours. I’m afraid that many are not learning or engaged. I fear that we are “failing” our children, educationally and psychologically, with virtual learning. Too many homes and families are not supportive for various reasons. Special Ed and ESOL kids are out of luck. Kids with IEPs are missing out as well. I am a Substitute Teacher with a BA Degree, just not in “Education”. I have 25+ years of work experience in adult training and development. I would be willing to be an In-Person Teacher, with a mask on, in a school building. We need to save our kids!
That’s great you’re willing to go back and teach, but the question I’m asking is how many millions of dollars are you willing to have DCSD pay out to lawyers over operning? 1 Million, 10 Million, 100 Million, or some other amount?
The county public health officials don’t want us to open, we don’t open, so it is hard to successfully sue us for negligence.
If we were to open up when the public health officials say opening is a bad idea, we are negligent and that means big $$$$$$$$$ for the sharks, I mean lawyers.
Again, we are paying $38 MILLION just to Roy Barnes as part of the Gold settlement…. and nobody got sick or died over that.
The mental and physical needs of our children is worth the “risk”. Almost everyone is needing to take a “risk” and go out in public for something. Walmart is open. Grocery stores are open. Some drop their masks after getting through the entrance. Anyone can get a tattoo now, or work out at a fitness center.
I am just a Substitute Teacher, Type 1 diabetic, but stand ready to accept a Teacher position and go into a school building to help save our kids. They are suffering and lost.
I’m even thinking of holding socially distant “Reading Time” on my big lawn on Saturdays for a couple of hours. Bring your chair or a mat to sit on. Bring your favorite book. Every child reads an excerpt out loud with animation and fun. A parent must be with their child. Lots of shade, fresh air, and some much-needed socialization for the kids. We could also
have good discussion about Diversity, letting the kids openly and safely talk and question. I have 25 years of adult training experience, including Diversity, Harassment, and much more.
Absolutely Nothing would be open now if all businesses feared litigation. I do understand the concern though. My background is in Employment Law and Training/Development.
I applaud your desire to serve and hope that you go ahead and have your “Reading Time.” Talk about Diversity, Harassment, and so on. Those who have an adult to accompany them will probably benefit, and gee, you will have extra adults to help keep the children focused and make sure they don’t get too close or remove their masks or need to find bathroom facilities.
But holding optional weekly “Reading Time” outside and weather permitting is so very different from having 95,000+ students inside DCSD school buildings for many hours each day. Even a hybrid model in which students attend fewer than 5 days/week would probably require that teachers are inside 4 days/week, with different groups of children per the hybrid model.
Holding regular school requires bus transportation. It requires frequent hand washing in bathrooms that are usually small and not designed to process the entire school population multiple times a day.
It sounds like your heart is in the right place, so go ahead and serve the mental and physical needs of children. But keep in mind that F2F school is a much bigger and more difficult task.
Having a hard time here equating a fee for a law firm to the decision to reopen schools. I mean, DeKalb spent years fighting a case they couldn’t win. So I guess the lawyers were supposed to work for free? I would imagine that if DeKalb had said yeah, we screwed up there would have been a lot more for teachers and retirees. But you go ahead DSW2 and blame those sharks…those genius leaders in DeKalb admin had nothing to do with it. I guess you’ll sleep better having someone to vent your anger towards.
And I haven’t seen the lines forming to sue in Cherokee where schools were packed (remember the pictures?) or really any other school on the PLANET since schools have started reopening. Maybe I missed that news story.
What I have seen are carefully thought-out plans to bring kids back in waves. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it hasn’t. But expert after expert says we’re hurting our children by keeping them in this situation. That’s why Europe as a whole is determined to reopen, and why more and more schools here are getting back to in person school.
I think it’s great to hear from people who realize that we need to help our kids and are willing to do their small part — so thanks @Alison Mercer. I hope there are more people like you involved in DeKalb schools and less like DSW2 and Anonymous. Keep up the good work!
Thank you! Constructive feedback is always welcome. Encouragement in this World today is a true gift! ~Alison
This article discusses the issues that metro school districts are having getting enough computers for all students. Even though computers are essential during virtual learning, students still need them for in facce instruction. I hope that school systems will continue to work on providing them for all students.
On local news last night, there was a short snippet about more teachers retiring this week! What is the replacement plan, since there are No “new graduates” from colleges?
Look at all the schools partially opening next week. Fulton. Cobb. Marietta. Some of the leading districts in the area apparently have developed a plan to get their kids back in person safely. Why is it we’re in the lot with Atlanta City and other underperforming districts? Because we’re DeKalb.
Football started last night. Lots of games, some even with bands. Why weren’t our teams playing last night? Because we’re DeKalb.
If other schools can figure this out, if other sports teams are ready to play, if other schools can figure out how to space out bands, why can’t we? You know the answer…
Other schools haven’t figured anything out. Colleges haven’t figured anything out. They are just forging ahead. I think it’s completely appropriate to wait a month and see how the cavalier fare. My father was and still is over 35on BMI. The young men with similar situations that are going out there and playing ball are putting their parents at significant risk if they don’t somehow quarantine themselves. I wouldn’t have played in these conditions as we didn’t have a second home.
August 9, 2020 article in the NY Daily News “Rudy Crew must resign: A Medgar Evers professor says he has failed to meet the moment”
Wouldn’t it make sense for weeks like this (where there’s a holiday) to incorporate Wednesday as a regular class day?I have no problem with people taking today, traveling, whatever. But it’s ridiculous that today is a holiday and Wednesday will be a day without instruction, meaning my kid has only 30 minutes of instruction in half his classes this week. Using Wednesday is an easy fix that even DeKalb should be able to implement.
Just a point of clarity for those who seem confused….WEDNESDAYS ARE NOT A DAY OFF FOR TEACHERS or students. My Wednesday’s schedule as dictated by our principal is as follows:
7:30 sign in, usually a short meeting to discuss agenda
8:00-9:00 am Small group/RTI (planned and scheduled by administration)
9:00-10:00 am Collaborative Planning
10:00-11:00 am Planning/grading/parent communication (but usually ends up being a grade level meeting so we can discuss the actually important issues that we don’t get to discuss during the administration run collaborative planning meeting)
11:00-12:00 pm TEAMS professional learning (*mandatory although most of us aren’t even using TEAMS because we prefer the less cumbersome, more user friendly Google Classroom platform)
12:40-2:00 more small group instruction (which has to be meticulously documented and planned)
2:00-3:00 Faculty meeting
2:00-3:30 pm Planning/grading/parent communication
Students have independent assignments and projects to complete or work on while not in small group instruction.
I don’t know how other schools are doing things but my principal is hellbent on making sure every minute of everyday is filled. Despite the mental and physical toll virtual teaching is taking on teachers as much as students. Not to mention Virtual teaching takes far more planning that traditional instruction. In addition, many of us our having to learn on our own outside of the workday many of the virtual platforms and learning resources.
So by no means is Wednesday a day off or even a laid back or less stressful day. WE WORK 5 DAYS A WEEK! WE SEE STUDENTS 5 DAYS A WEEK! WE TEACH 5 DAYS A WEEK!
@ Virtual Teacher – you’re all up in arms because you’re having to work a 7:30 – 3pm day (by your own admission) on Wednesdays after spending less time in front of students every other day of the week? Are you kidding me? We are in a historic pandemic. People are losing jobs, being furloughed, and working crazy hours. But damn, don’t you work past 3pm.
I agree with Use Wednesdays. For the upcoming Oct break, it would be easy for the Admins to cancel all these “onerous” meetings and use the day as an educational day for STUDENTS.
Remember STUDENTS? They are the ones getting screwed here.
Just to clarify, a schedule is a schedule is a schedule! We all had a work schedule during face to face learning! Same thing! It is up to the individual teacher whether or not they left at 3 pm or stayed at school. I know our Kindergarten teachers left most days at 3 pm (got things done during the day). I stayed until 6 or 7 pm each day! I was a special education self-contained teacher and could do NOTHING during the day except work with my classroom of students (7 a.m. until 3 p.m). Then I could work on IEP, Reevals, lesson plan, make instructional items, talk with parents, etc. I did have 2 pars but they were mandated to leave at 3: 15 p.m each day – and they were on bus duty, etc. until then.
So yes the above is a schedule – but only a schedule! Things happen before and after that time! We just do not get paid for it! Five years ago our principal and bookkeeper said it was county mandated that teachers MUST clock out at 3 p.m and get out of the building. Then just we were to clock out at 3 p.m. and stay if we needed to. THEN we went back to normal – not sure what that was all about. Crazy with all teachers trying to clock out at one time!
@students getting screwed and @use Wednesdays:
I am a DeKalb teacher and my daughter is a DeKalb student. Believe me when I say that virtual teaching is the most challenging thing I’ve done as a teacher, and I have taught the spectrum, from exceptional ed to gifted. Here’s why it’s the hardest thing I’ve done in 20+ years of teaching.
I went into this semester thinking I would try to replicate my classroom teaching as much as possible in my virtual teaching. I quickly found out that’s not possible and I had to rethink everything. I had to ask myself how I could best reach my students, make the class as interactive as possible, and make sure they’re understanding. In the classroom, that’s easy. I could use facial expressions and body language to see who was engaged, who seemed lost, who seemed to get the concept I was teaching. I could quickly have students pair up to complete a quick activity. I can’t really do that with VL. Furthermore, I used a desktop in my classroom and made flipcharts for my Promethean Board all the time. I have over ten years of materials I’ve made using the ActvInspire program. And guess what? That software doesn’t work on a Chromebook (the only device I have to use at home). I’ve had to spend time learning new programs like Nearpod and Flipgrid to create class materials. That takes time. I’ve had to rethink the assessments I give because it’s so easy to cheat. That takes time. I’ve had to experiment with Teams vs Zoom vs Google Meet to find the most seamless live instruction platform. That takes time. I’ve spent more time preparing for my three preps than I have ever spent when in my classroom. And then there are the assignments to grade. That takes time.
Had you asked me before virtual learning if we needed Wednesdays to plan, collaborate, tutor, meet, I would have said probably not. But now that I’m in the thick of virtual learning, I’m so grateful to have that day. Trust me, it’s not a day off for teachers.
My administrative team has made “Patience and Flexibility” the mantra for virtual teaching and learning. Perhaps you can extend that courtesy to Virtual Teacher and other teachers. I realize there are “bad teachers” out there. And I’m sorry if your experiences with DeKalb teachers have been mostly negative. From the tone of your posts, it seems so. Virtual Teacher is not “up in arms.” They are simply explaining what all teachers in their building have to do on Wednesdays. Me? I spend my Wednesdays in a few meetings, planning, grading, and meeting with students one-on-one. And I know there are teachers busting their butts trying to make this work. I, and many other teachers, work beyond 40 hours a week. I’ve had to turn away my own daughter, who needed help with her own schoolwork because I was with my students.
Before you condescend to Virtual Teacher about her Wednesday schedule, consider that teachers are making sacrifices to make this work. We’ve had to give up tried and true lessons that are effective and engaging because they don’t work with VL. We’ve had to prioritize our job over our children’s needs. We’ve had to buy devices for ourselves, pay to upgrade our internet, pay for subscriptions to services that make VT easier but are not covered by the county. All this with salary deductions coming.
FInally, you’re right about one thing. We’re all getting screwed here: teachers, students, parents, administrators…But in this case, teachers are not the reason why. Administrators are not the reason why. The superintendent isn’t the reason why. If you must express your frustration at the crappiness of this situation, look to the people who allowed this pandemic to get as bad as it has. Look to the people who prioritized opening bars over making schools safe.
We need to get back to class. In talking to parents across the country almost all of them are going back in one way or another. Dekalb isn’t making any effort to get students back in the classrooms and that is infuriating. We are no different than the surrounding counties or other areas of the country that are trying to figure this out. And to the person who said prioritizing bars over making school safe? It seems like the bar and restaurant owners have taken precautions to be able to open in a safe manner – again, Dekalb appears to be doing NOTHING to try to make that happen.