Principal's Welcome Letter

  • August 12, 2020

    Dear Grant Families,

    I would like to personally thank you for your patience this summer as SMMUSD staff have worked tirelessly to finalize the details of our distance learning program for the impending new year. As the start of the school year is less than a couple of weeks away, we understand that you have many questions. This letter is intended to provide Grant families with some basic information to assist you as you prepare your child and yourselves for distance learning. Our entire staff knows this situation has been challenging for families and we are committed to working collaboratively to ensure a positive learning experience for all students. We all belong to a stable and resilient learning community and, as I have said in previous messages, many hands make light work. We are indeed stronger together!

    Please find important information below:

    Learning Schedules

    As principal, I honor and respect the professionalism of each member of the Grant teaching staff. Classroom schedules are an instrumental piece of any teacher’s practice. Not only does the schedule serve to organize the time throughout the day, it also organizes the content, lessons, and activities. In a distance learning environment, it is not possible -- nor is it beneficial -- to replicate the “brick and mortar” schedule that occurs when students are at school. Teachers recognize that learning in the distance learning modality is most effective when the teacher is able to work with small groups of students. It is also important to recognize that there is no “one size fits all” schedule. Teachers must organize their days around the other instructional components that occur - and often “interrupt” - the school day.

    I will provide families with a Sample Schedule during my information meetings next week. The sample schedule is meant to serve as a general guide for families until they hear directly from their teacher during their class’ Back to School Night on Thursday, August 20th. This sample schedule will not be the schedule that your teacher will provide to you, merely a visual representation of what an instructional day may look like. Each grade level will attempt to keep their schedules similar; however, it will not be possible for all schedules across grades to be the same. Additionally, because each teacher/grade has differing approaches to instruction (oftentimes due to the developmental age of students), families can expect that the schedule presented to them closer to the start of school will contain different instructional blocks (structured differently with different lengths). Also, as the year progresses, these schedules will undergo different iterations. Your child’s teacher will communicate with you on a weekly basis. A part of this communication will include details about the upcoming schedule for the week. It may be interesting for you to know that the State of California passed a law, SB98, which, among other things, mandates a minimum number of instructional minutes per day. These minutes are inclusive of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded) lessons and it would not be unusual if your child’s schedule was slightly higher than the state minimum. Our work was partially guided by this mandate. For your reference I am including below the state mandated minutes:

    State of California – SB98 Required Number of Daily Instructional Minutes
    TK/Kinder/1st: 180
    2nd & 3rd Grades: 230
    4th & 5th Grades: 240

    Class Placements
    You can expect to hear from the school about your child’s class placement for next year no later than Friday, August 14th. Please note that a great deal of time and effort has been expended by our staff in creating classes for the coming school year so changes will not be considered at this time.
    As I explained in my letter to parents on August 2nd, I have received emails from parents requesting that the school build classes into “pods” so families can secure outside resources such as non-SMMUSD teachers and tutors. Class building, which was mostly completed in June, is a long and detailed process and takes many criteria into consideration including gender, ability-level, special needs, English language development level, race/ethnicity, and social and emotional behavior. Unfortunately, the school cannot consider parent pod requests as a criterion as this would inhibit our mission of creating balanced and equitable classes. As a matter of best practice, grade level teams are working to align instructional programs and schedules which works to eliminate the perceived need for the creation of in-school learning pods.

    Distribution of Supplies
    We are planning on distributing school supplies, which may include books, packets, workbooks, and basic supplies, to families on Thursday and Friday, August 20th and 21st. The distribution of supplies will be held in the auditorium and will be arranged according to the schedule below. If you have multiple children enrolled at Grant, you may pick up all materials at the same time. If you weren’t able to pick up your child’s classroom materials from last school year, they will also be available.

    Thursday, August 20th - All Grades: 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM 
    Friday, August 21st - All Grades: 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

    For the pick-up of supplies, strict safety precautions will be in place.

    • Everyone MUST wear a mask.
    • Everyone MUST maintain at least a 6-foot distance (markers will be placed on the ground).
    • NO students are permitted to enter the auditorium. Only one person from each family should come to school for materials distribution.
    • Hand sanitizer will be available.

    For anyone who would like their child to receive a Chromebook to support Distance Learning, please fill out this Technology Needs Survey as soon as possible. Our intention is to distribute devices during these two distribution days but this schedule may shift depending on the Educational Technology department’s process. Please do not complete this survey if your child does not need to borrow one of SMMUSD’s devices.

    Grade-by-Grade Parent Meetings
    I am offering grade-by-grade parent informatin meetings via Zoom on Monday, August 17th and Tuesday, August 18th. Please see the days/times below, along with the link to each Zoom meeting (click on the date/time to join the Zoom meeting). I encourage you to attend if you can. If you aren’t able to make your specified grade’s meeting, you are welcome to join another one. These meetings will give me a chance to review with everyone the plan for the coming school year. This will also give me an opportunity to address any questions or concerns you may have.

    • TK/Kindergarten: Monday, August 17 at 4:00 PM
    • 1st Grade: Monday, August 17 at 5:00 PM
    • 2nd Grade: Monday, August 17 at 6:00 PM
    • 3rd Grade: Tuesday, August 18 at 4:00 PM
    • 4th Grade: Tuesday, August 18 at 5:00 PM
    • 5th Grade: Tuesday, August 18 at 6:00 PM

    Important Dates

    • The first day of school has been moved to Monday, August 24th. (pending Board approval on August 13th.)
    • Monday, August 24th will be a minimum day for all students. Dismissal times are: TK/Kinder at 12:15; Grades 1-5 at 1:15. Your teacher will have detailed info.
    • Tuesday, August 25th will be a minimum day for ONLY TK/Kinder students. Dismissal time will be 12:15. Your teacher will have detailed info.
    • Back to School Night will be on Thursday, August 20th. There will be a staggered schedule to provide parents with multiple children to attend more than one meeting. Zoom links to your teacher’s BTSN information meeting will be provided by your child’s teacher. Teachers will be presenting class schedules, expectations, and guidelines for the new school year. There may be  additional meetings scheduled by your child’s teacher after the start of the school year to specifically discuss curriculum, assessments and other important information.

    Back to School Night – Thursday, August 20th

    • TK/Kinder/1st: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
    • 2nd & 3rd Grades: 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
    • 4th & 5th Grades: 6:00 – 7:00 PM

    The Grant School Welcome Back Coffee with Principal Fuhrer and the PTA will occur on Monday, August 24th at 9:00 AM.

    Miscellaneous Information

    • Unlike the spring, attendance will be required by all students and will be recorded. More information will be provided to families soon.
    • Unlike the spring, students’ progress and performance will be graded. More information will be provided soon.
    • The following digital platforms will be used across the district: for students in TK-2 Seesaw; for students in grade 3-5, Google Classroom/Meet. Zoom may be used for all grades.

    Despite the challenges inherent in distance learning, we are committed to providing your child with a true school experience. We take this responsibility seriously and are fully- committed in doing so. I would like to acknowledge that, while these times feel uncertain for all of us, we look forward to the start of the new school year and to continuing our collaboration with you in providing our students with a quality education. As always, I am available should you have any questions. 

    Go Geckos!

    Best regards,

    Christian Fuhrer
    Principal
    Grant School
    cfuhrer@smmusd.org