Categories
Academics Coronavirus

Lessons Learned

Well this is it…. well almost. This week is the last week of ‘classes’ or ‘school’ at the Granite School District. Phew! We will all agree that this was very challenging for educators, students, parents and administrators alike. I have witnessed countless heroic and heartwarming stories, but I have also heard of the challenges of switching to distance learning so suddenly. Our teachers have done an amazing job, and parents will truly appreciate them for the heroes that they are. Expectedly however, this has not always been a smooth transition and our teachers are also reporting unprecedented levels of exhaustion.

As superintendent Sidnee Dickson explained during her talk at the Eccles School of Business last Friday, the state is already planning for a few scenarios for the fall, some of which will involve continuing distance learning.

So the uncertainty that we have experienced in the last few months is here to stay. So let’s use the summer months and capitalize on the lessons learned by all of us before the summer break hits and we gleefully forget about our experience hoping to put it behind us.

I suggest a simple survey sent to each parent, student and educator, of their ‘top 3’. Top three things that worked well, and top three things that did not. Such a student / parent survey would be easy to compile for each teacher and for each school, and results could be shared within a school, and across schools. So that if we have to return to some form of distance learning, our educators would have the benefit of their own experience, as well as useful feedback from their students as well.

Categories
Academics Coronavirus Equity

Phases to Recovery

The Utah State Board of Education recently outlined their plan for students to recover from the slowdown or lack of learning. You can read the complete document here. Highlights are below.

Yet, I wonder how realistic this plan is. In the Salt Lake Tribune article evokes another reality. “It’s been 5 weeks and thousands of Utah students still haven’t logged on for school amid the coronavirus

By the end of the school year, the article that about 20% of the students will have missed about 2 months of learning. What will our percentage be in the Granite School District ? Granted, we can take out a few days for spring break, and time for testing, but overall, this is a massive amount to make up, especially if you have no internet access, no computer, no parent to guide you over your homework of a combination of these (I applaud GSD’s valiant effort to palliate internet and computer access).

I am grateful that the Utah State Board of Education is planning the recovery phase that will no doubt come, even if comes later than planned.
But I am not sure that planning on summer months for the phase 2 and bridging the learning gaps will be either practical or sufficient in a number of cases. And what are the implications of not being able to catch up during the summer months on the upcoming school year, even assuming that we’d all start school in August ?
I know that some teachers are already adjusting their lesson plans and building more review time at the beginning of the year. Will this more sufficient ? We will also need to worry about the grades the students are going into, dedicating perhaps additional resources for some critical grades? But this may not be enough: it will likely take more creativity and the proverbial ‘village’ to ensure that all students are caught up.
I’d like to see the Granite School District create a position that would ensure that all catch up efforts are coordinated, best practices disseminated across our schools and teachers, and results carefully tracked.
If elected on the board, following up on this issue will be my first and highest priority.

Categories
Coronavirus

Coronavirus Resources

Last updated on April 16th, 2020

Covid-19 is an unprecedented crisis that has changed the world as we know it.
Because taking care of our loved ones, finding the right resources or helping others in need is by far the most important at the moment, please find below useful links and resources.
For parents, the ‘soft closure’ is in effect was extended from May 1st, 2020 for all schools statewide to then of the school year. For Granite Schools, it is extended to May 22nd, 2020, which was the official end of our school year.

Utah PTA Covid-19 resource Page.

Utah State Board of Education
Coronavirus page
Map of emergency meals for chilren available
Self care resources. How to stay healthy of mind and body during this pandemic

Granite School District Covid-19 Page
Parents in need: talk with your principal or call 385.646.5000 with any questions and you will be directed to the right place
Distance Learning resources.
4th quarter grading policy (announced on April 16th)
The Granite School District has repurposed buses to distribute meals!
The district will also provide internet hot spots in public places. Stay tune for more information.


Resources for people in need
Utah Unemployment Insurance https://jobs.utah.gov/covid19
Child Care: Utah’s Office of Child Care at 1-800-670-1552
Free Internet Access: Call Comcast special line at 1-844-488-8395
Utah Food Bank.
Rental Assistance – Utah Apartment Association (801)-487-5619
Not sure where to turn? Call 2-1-1 Call 2-1-1 to learn about resources in your community that can help meet your needs


What can you do to help?
Financial donations: Granite Education Foundation;
United Way of Salt Lake
Blood donations: ARUP; Red Cross;

Categories
Academics Coronavirus Equity GraniteSchoolDistrict News! Well-being & Mental Health

The soft closure is officially extended to the end of the school year

We will all remember this school year 2019-2020, won’t we ?

The end of the school for the Granite School District was planned for May 22nd, 2020. March 16th, when the soft closure was announced by the Governor to the end of May 2020 is a period 10 weeks. 10 weeks of uncertainty, financial anguish, exhausting role-changing, responsibility-juggling, disease-worrying times. Say no more.

We will survive this once in a lifetime pandemic. But we do have to acknowledge the losses that this crisis forced us into and the challenges ahead.

Besides the obvious ones, I’d like to consider a few school-related ones.

Awards

Awards were given and earned by terrific teachers and students, but went pretty much unnoticed.
I’d like to acknowledge the Sterling Awards, made official on March 19th.
A large number of these remarkable young students came from our Granite School District. The ceremony was cancelled, but let’s recognize them here.
GENERAL STERLING SCHOLAR (English category) – Cindy Phan, Skyline High School

DANCE
Runner-up: Lily Bruce, Skyline High School.

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC:
Winner: Zoe Schramm, Olympus High School

MATH
Seyij Jung, Skyline High School

SCIENCE
Winner: Sreemanti Dey, Skyline High School

SPEECH/THEATER ARTS/FORENSICS:
Runner-Up: Julane Machado, Skyline High School.

VISUAL ARTS:
Runner-Up: Nicholas Heiner, Skyline High School.

Congratulations to these fine young students for a well deserved award. We admire and respect you !

Also, the Granite School District Excel Awards have not been officially announced yet. Our fantastic teachers and administrators will need to be recognized by all of us in style at some point.

Saying goodbye !

We have missed our teachers, and our teachers have missed our kids. It would have been nice to part as we do other years. We will find a way to say goodbye, but it will involve a safe physical distance.

Graduation

Seniors will miss a typical graduation and will have to have find a way to a different, still meaningful but safe rite of passage. Students have been surveyed and schools are hard at work coming up with an acceptable alternative.

Academics

As we are in the middle of a 10-week period of soft-closure, I am very concerned that a large number of our students have fallen through gaping cracks. Yes, parents now understand better what teachers have been doing in the classroom. I hope that this gives a much larger appreciation for our teachers. But how is the Granite School District planning on addressing the little learning that has happened in so many households ?
If I am elected on the board, I will make it my number 1 priority for the upcoming school year.

Categories
Coronavirus Well-being & Mental Health

Lifting Spirits Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

I take our governor’s request very seriously. The social distancing is the only thing that is scientifically proven to work well to stop the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. Each of us must take this very seriously if we want to avoid vulnerable populations suffering and to ensure that our health workers and hospitals are not completely overwhelmed.

But how do you deal with the isolation in your home ?
If you are like me – you miss the contact of people. I admit that I miss hugs with my friends and the closeness that true friendship brings!

We may not be able to meet with friends, but we can still talk with them right? In our household, we started reaching out and having ‘phone play dates’ with friends both for the adults and children. It is amazing what the voice of a friend will do to lift you up.

Also, I have heard from several friends that elderly people are getting very lonely. True, we are trying to protect them, but let’s make sure we tell them how much they mean to us and being present whichever way we know, in their lives.

This virus can separate us physically, but it can’t separate us emotionally. Call your friends and tell them how much you love them.

See the ingenuity of our Italian friends who have been so severely hit by the virus.