From Manuel J. Fernandez

April 28, 2020

Dear Families,

At this difficult time, we are hopeful that you and your loved ones and friends are faring well and that everyone is healthy and staying safe.

This will be our last Tuesday Take Home communication this academic year. Beginning on Sunday, May 3rd we will email you the Sunday RunDown which will include updates, links to the weekly grade level assignments and other relevant information. Look forward to the Sunday RunDown around 6PM every Sunday. It will be posted on the CSUS website every Monday morning.

On April 21, Dr. Salim emailed to share Governor Baker’s announcement that Massachusetts schools will be closed through the end of June. This means that 840 Cambridge Street will remain closed and emergency remote teaching and learning will continue for CSUS scholars and staff for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

We know many families and scholars have questions about how this announcement affects the CSUS community. We hope to address some of your major concerns here. We will be scheduling an online event for families soon so that we can continue to hear from you and support you during the building shutdown.

What about end of year events?
We understand the news that school will not reopen is difficult for everyone to hear; we are especially mindful of the importance of the rites of passage and symbolic, meaningful events that happen at the end of each year. Graduation, Portfolios, end-of-year dances and trips - these all help scholars process, reflect upon, and celebrate their school year and prepare to transition to a new grade. We are working to find ways to present some of these events remotely, and to honor and recognize important rites of passage, especially for our 8th graders who will move on to high school in the fall.

What about the 8th grade trip?
Due to the continued closure of school, and the public health emergency in New York City and the world, our 8th grade trip has unfortunately been cancelled. We are developing a protocol to return funds to checks, money orders and cash to all families that submitted payment for the trip. We will have an update very soon.

How do I know how my scholar is doing?
Beginning on Monday, May 4, teachers will return to using Aspen as a means of communicating work completion with families. As remote teaching becomes our ‘new normal,’ grades will be assigned as “credit” or “no credit” in Aspen, so that caregivers are able to identify the work their scholar has completed in various subjects. If a teacher or teaching team has concerns about scholar engagement in remote teaching, CSUS will reach out to that scholar’s caregivers. If you would like to discuss your scholar’s work, progress, or other concerns, reach out to a member of CSUS staff; we are available and very happy to talk with you, and also endeavoring to be mindful of families who need more limited engagement with school at this time. Please do not hesitate to ask us for what you need!

If my scholar does not complete all of their work, will they matriculate to the next grade?
We are mindful of the disparities of support and resources available to engage in emergency remote learning. No scholar will be retained based on work completed after March 13 as long as they demonstrate attempts to complete the work at the pace they are able within the time frames provided (no scholar should work on any assignment for more than 40 minutes/day).

We expect scholars to complete the work they are capable of with the time and resources available to them; so many scholars have ‘stepped up,’ and are holding themselves accountable for their own learning with incredible maturity. CSUS staff are so proud of the incredible work our scholars complete every day, and we hope to create more opportunities for scholars to share their accomplishments with each other and our school community.

Teachers also report that some scholars are struggling to see the value in remote learning, or the ‘point’ of doing their best work when assignments are being assessed for “credit/no credit.” Our response to these scholars is that we hope and expect that they work to their full potential, so that they are equipped for the next academic year. We endeavor to help scholars understand that doing their work is not about credit or no credit. It is about preparing oneself to be successful at the next grade level and minimizing major academic challenges next year.

Scholars have the opportunity to embody our CSUS scholar attributes of Curiosity, Honor, Academic Excellence, and Resilience, and we know they can rise to those expectations. If they have questions, or feel overwhelmed, scholars and their families can reach out to any member of staff for support.

Will my scholar be ready for next year?
CSUS teachers, interventionists, inclusion assistants, academic coaches and related service providers will work together with school and district administration to monitor scholar progress during emergency remote teaching and determine where academic and social emotional curriculum will resume in the fall. Our goal during remote teaching for the remainder of the 19-20 school year is to provide practice for skills already acquired and introduce new ideas and concepts that reinforce learning standards introduced earlier in the year. We will assess scholar readiness (both academically and socio emotionally) both at the end of this year and the start of next year, and consider that information when we shape our plans for the fall.

What is a Cobra Den?
Before the vacation break we introduced Cobra Dens. Initial feedback suggests that the Dens were appreciated by many scholars and caregivers. The Cobra Den is a mini advisory designed to provide every scholar with regular contact with a CSUS staff member. The Dens vary in size but are typically no more than five scholars. Advisors will be in touch throughout the week and will hold a video chat every Friday. The purpose of a Cobra Den advisory is to be a social emotional support for the scholar and a designated point of contact for the scholar and family. This will not preclude scholars or caregivers from contacting a subject teacher or other staff member directly but it will provide a consistent connection to the school. Caregivers please encourage your scholar to attend their Cobra Den. It’s a great way to stay connected to the school, to meet up with classmates and to get answers to important questions they may have about all aspects of CSUS.

We hope that this update has been helpful. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions please do not hesitate to reach out to any staff member. We may not be in the building but we are as always here to serve you.

To the members of our Muslim community, Ramadan Kareem!

Stay safe everyone!

Peace,

Manuel and Christen

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