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Principal's Message: Distance Learning for All (April 2020)

[April 3, 2020] Dear Kalmiopsis Families,
 
It has been a wonderful last couple of days reconnecting with our students, whether through teacher phone calls to homes, survey responses, meal pickups, emails, or other digital forms of communication. In these remarkably challenging times, we are so privileged to have the honor of continuing learning for your children. While it’s a learning curve for all, we are not taking the task lightly. 
 
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) hinted that schools may not return to session this academic year, and released new guidance on Distance Learning for All that completely changed their stance on how education is to move forward during this extended closure. All districts are required to have their Distance Learning for All plan in place by Monday, April 13, 2020. Districts are to approach Distance Learning for All with a focus on care, community, and continuity of learning. 
 
Distance learning is defined as instruction in which the student and instructor are in different locations. Students engaging in distance learning have access to appropriate educational materials and receive ongoing interaction with their teachers. It is important to note that distance learning includes multimedia communication and blended learning strategies, not just digital/online learning. 
 
Key elements of Distance Learning for All are:
- Every student regularly connects with their teacher(s).
- Teachers and students prioritize time together to focus on the most important or relevant learning.
- Teachers, families, and caregivers work as a team, anchored in partnership. Together, teachers and families co-facilitate learning, design consistent routines, and establish the learning environment. 
- Teachers continue to support and monitor each student’s progress toward learning goals and standards, encouraging critical problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and creativity. 
 
ODE will be releasing additional guidance over the next few weeks and we will communicate new information as we have it. This will be a new experience for all of us - schools, students, teachers, and families alike. Please know that the system will not be perfect in the beginning and that we all need to have patience and grace for one another as we figure things out together. 
 
That said, here is how Kalmiopsis Elementary intends to move forward:
Between Wednesday, April 1, and Friday, April 3, teachers will be contacting families to check-in, see how they’re doing, what their needs are in terms of technology and other resources, and, in general, establish a relationship with them. 
 
Please note that teachers will be reaching out through technology tools like Google Hangouts Meet, which may appear on your phone as an unidentified number; a number from another state, such as New York; or as the tool itself, such as Hangouts Meet. 
 
If you have set up a spam call blocker that declines all unidentified numbers, you could be blocking calls from your teacher or school. Please change this setting on your phone so you can receive these important calls.
Between Monday, April 6, and Friday, April 10, teachers will be emailing and calling to share their plans moving forward, please be aware that our grade levels will operate in slightly different ways taking into consideration the age of their students.
 
On Monday, April 13, Distance Learning for All begins.
 
Again, this is just preliminary information so that you are aware of the shift that has taken place. We are excited for the opportunity to reconnect with students and families, and to provide students with the new learning they deserve. We, along with your teachers, will continue communicating with you over the coming weeks. Please contact your school if you have questions, concerns, or needs we can help address. If you need immediate attention please email Helena Chirinian at helenac@brookings.k12.or.us.
 
Respectfully,
Helena Chirinian, Principal, and Carol Leonard, Vice Principal 

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  • By the Numbers Kalmiopsis Elementary has an enrollment of about 730 students in grades Kindergarten through Fifth Grade, and a staff of more than 80 educators and support staff. As a Title 1 school, we receive federal funding for programs to advance the education of our economically disadvantaged student body. We are also a Provision 2 school, meaning that all pupils receive free breakfast in the classroom, and free lunch daily.
  • Monarch School USA In August 2018, Kalmiopsis Elementary was designated a “Monarch School USA” — one of just a handful across the country and only the second school in Oregon to receive the honor for its commitment to restoring critical habitat and forage for monarchs. Come visit our pollinator garden, where students do hands-on science projects.
  • Prevention Not Punishment Our elementary school has had a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program in place for more than 10 years. The key to PBIS is prevention, not punishment. All staff members are asked to “catch students being good” or exhibiting examples of being safe, respectful and responsible. Students can “save up” these small recognitions to put tickets in for a special end-of-the-year prize drawing.
  • Seismic Safety Upgrades A seismic safety renovation was completed on the oldest wings of our school buildings in Summer 2017 with funds from a $1.5 million grant sponsored by the State of Oregon and Business Oregon. These updates enhanced safety and escape routes in the event of a major earthquake, as well as improved our classroom learning environments.