Remote Learning Task Force
May 1, 2020 Meeting Summary
Hello Heath Parents,
My name is Eli Silk, and I am a Heath School parent representative on the Brookline School Committee’s Ad Hoc Remote Learning Task Force. I am writing to you today because the Task Force had its latest meeting on May 1, and I wanted to report back on the main topics of that meeting to inform and to invite further discussion (see note below):
- Phase III State Remote Learning Guidance - The latest state education guidance (Phase III; http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/learn-at-home.html) was released on April 24. A key component of this guidance is to encourage Massachusetts school districts to prioritize teaching content that is most critical for students to meet the prerequisites for the next grade level. In response to this new state guidance, the Public Schools of Brookline (PSB) is expected soon to publicly release its own updated remote learning expectations and guidance.
- District-Wide Surveys of Classroom Practices and Family Experiences - We discussed the value of knowing the distribution of remote learning experiences throughout our district, from the perspective both of educators and families. The use of a family survey and a classroom practices survey are being considered as a way to understand what experiences are more isolated or individual versus the experiences that are more common and representative. The results would be used to increase awareness of best practices, and support ways to improve remote learning experiences for all students.
- Student Feedback and Assessment - Parent representatives brought up the role of feedback and assessment in helping students and their families know how well their children are doing and what they need to work on further. With remote learning, traditional forms of assessments and feedback are not available. The district leaders emphasized that teachers are being encouraged to seek out and follow up with the families of students who need the most support. They also emphasized that they believe it’s essential that all families who want communication about their child’s progress should have access to meaningful forms of assessment and feedback.
I hope the summary gives you a sense of what the School Committee and the PSB district staff are focusing on at the moment. We meet again this Friday, April 8, so there will be more to report.
Please reach out to me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to share a question or concern from your perspective that would be relevant to the Task Force. I can’t promise to raise each concern, but the more people I hear from, the better I can understand what issues are most critical to our Heath family community, and then I can feel confident conveying those sentiments to the Task Force.
I’d also love for other parents to get more involved, so please let me or your Heath PTO leaders (Masu and Nancy) know if you’d like to do more.
** NOTE: Remote learning—and today’s home, school, and work environment more generally—presents a range of unexpected challenges that are unprecedented in our lifetimes. All stakeholders in our school district are working hard to serve our students as best they can, but the challenges are complex and the situation is continually evolving. The latest Remote Learning Task Force meeting was 90 minutes and included substantive discussions on a range of topics, but because the Heath PTO wants to keep you informed while respecting that you have many important issues seeking your attention, this summary is necessarily brief and simplified. If you would like to learn more, there is additional information and links below so that you can dive in further. **
Want to dive in further? Here are my thoughts on some additional questions you may have:
WHAT IS THE AD HOC REMOTE LEARNING TASK FORCE?
The Ad Hoc Remote Learning Task Force task force is led by School Committee members Susan Wolf Ditkoff and Sharon Abramowitz, and its purpose is to bring together (a) members of the School Committee, (b) key PSB district staff, and (c) parent representatives from all PSB schools and other educational groups. In the task force meetings, we will hear updates about the district’s remote learning plan and progress, and provide feedback from a variety of perspectives. All the meetings are open to the public, and you are encouraged to attend.
The task force had its second meeting this past Friday, May 1 (https://www.brooklinema.gov/Calendar.aspx?EID=8160), which was the first one I attended. I was pleased to see several other Heath parents on the call. Right now, the Task Force expects to meet weekly on Friday mornings from 8:30 am - 10:00 am. All meetings will be posted on the Town of Brookline website calendar (https://www.brooklinema.gov/Calendar.aspx), including a public link to join the meeting remotely. The next meeting is scheduled for this Friday, May 8.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU THE HEATH SCHOOL REPRESENTATIVE?
My name is Eli Silk, and I am a parent of a current 6th grader (Maya) and a 4th grader (Hailey) at Heath. Some of you may have interacted with me through my help with the Heath After School Activities Program (HASAP), the Science Fair, or my support of the Enrichment and Challenge Support (ECS) program.
The Task Force sought to have at least one parent representative from each of the Brookline K-8 schools, and because I currently serve as a parent representative on the Heath School Site Council, our Heath PTO Leaders asked if I would be able to join the Task Force too. And I enthusiastically agreed.
However, all the meetings are open to the public, and so if you would like to attend, please do. I would be thrilled to discuss the meetings with other Heath parents. You don’t have to attend all the meetings or the entire meeting. Just come when you can.
WHAT IS THE STATE’S REMOTE LEARNING GUIDANCE?
The May 1 meeting started with a discussion led by Interim Superintendent Ben Lummis (with some support from Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Nicole Gittens) about the new guidance for remote learning released by the State of Massachusetts’ Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). This guidance, released April 24, is an update to the March 26 guidance, both of which can be found at DESE’s Learning at Home website (http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/learn-at-home.html). Given Governor Baker’s April 21 decision that schools would remain closed through the end of the academic year, this guidance takes into account that reality.
WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?
Here are some links where you can read more about remote learning at the state and district level:
Past Ad Hoc Remote Learning Task Force Meeting Agendas and Webex Links:
Brookline School Committee - https://www.brookline.k12.ma.us/schoolcommittee
Past School Committee Meetings
Public Schools of Brookline (PSB) district coronavirus updates - https://www.brookline.k12.ma.us/coronavirus
PSB Extended Learning Resources - https://sites.google.com/psbma.org/psbextendedlearning/home
Massachusetts (MA) Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)
MA DESE Learning at Home - http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/learn-at-home.html
Guidance 2 - released April 24, 2020 - http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/learn-at-home.html
Guidance 1 - released March 26, 2020 - http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop/remote-learning/