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April 6, 2020
I hope each of you are healthy during these challenging times and that “Spring Break” brought some rest and relaxation. I continue to be very grateful that you entrust your child(ren) to DSST to provide them with a world-class education.
We are excited to launch DSST E-School this Wednesday, April 8 and get a chance to see your children on a daily basis. Here is a short video message I put together to welcome you.
Given the recent announcement that most Front Range school districts, including APS & DPS, will remain closed to in-person learning for the rest of the year, we are looking forward to serving your child in E-School, finishing the year strong. Today and tomorrow, DSST staff members will engage in professional development workshops to prepare for our new chapter in distance learning. In the meantime, we wanted to check in with a few key items to ensure you and your students are ready for E-School this week!
Student and family engagement in the first two weeks are critical to a successful launch. Here are a few reminders to ensure you and your child(ren) get into a great learning routine.
- E-School runs from 9 AM through 3 PM. Students should log into Microsoft Teams for E-School and check their student email no later than 8:45AM to take the attendance survey each day. Watch how to connect to Teams with a simple video here.
- There are 4 class blocks for learning each day, Monday - Thursday. Students are expected to attend their classes during class time each day. Friday is largely open for office hours support. See these important links for the network-wide schedule:
- Assignments will be available every Monday at 8 AM and need to be completed and submitted by 12PM each Friday. Students can complete the weekly modules at their own pace and will receive support during daily class times.
- As a parent or caregiver, you will receive a Grade Level Weekly Schedule that will include links to assignments and daily Teams classes so that you can easily help your kids stay accountable.
We have created a page that includes almost everything you need to know about E-School- a full overview including the schedule, tips for technology help, and links to existing resources that we have already shared. This page will continue to be updated as we create additional resources.
In particular, this page includes the following important resources:
- Connecting with the Flyer App
- View a bonus training video here
- Internet Access Support
- DSST E-School Guidebook
We shared some tips from a fellow DSST parent on getting ready for E-School last week. If you haven’t already, you can read these 8 tips here.
If your child still needs a laptop or charger, DSST Tech Team will be at Montview and Byers from 11 AM- 2 PM on Monday, April 6, Tuesday, April 7, and Wednesday, April 8, offering curbside pickup. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. If you still need to borrow a desk, chair, or headphones, click here.
Thank you for your partnership during unprecedented times. It may not be easy, but we are excited to embark on this new adventure in learning with you and your students, and we hope that you are too!
April 3, 2020
You have likely heard that most districts in the front range have decided that schools will remain closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. The full message from regional Superintendents is below. DSST schools are housed in DPS and APS facilities and will follow our district partners in this decision.
With this decision, we are even more grateful to have your support for our comprehensive and student-centered DSST: E-School that will launch April 8th and will continue through the end of the school year. Please see this webpage for full information on E-School and look for additional information coming via Flyer and email on Monday, April 6th. Many of us at DSST are parents as well as educators and we understand the complexity of managing students in a virtual environment. Thank you for your patience and support during this unprecedented time.
Our hearts are also going out to the 600+ DSST seniors across our network who have worked so hard and will not be able to enjoy the true “Senior Spring” that they deserve. We are currently brainstorming and developing plans on how to celebrate and recognize our incredible seniors and their achievements. This a top priority of the DSST Senior Leadership Team and our School Directors. We will share updates on this next week.
Thank you again for your support and encouragement during this time.
Dear Community Members,
As many of you know, upon becoming aware of the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado and the myriad concerns inherent, school superintendents took action several weeks ago to protect students, staff and the community. We have been working hard to provide leadership guidance to families throughout Colorado. As school superintendents, we consult and collaborate many times each day to share thinking and to problem solve as a regional group.
Two days ago, on April 1, Governor Polis announced extended closures of schools in Colorado through April 30, 2020. Over the past several weeks, we have spoken regularly and often to public health officials and state officials to better understand the timeline and path forward for the year, both with regard to COVID-19 and “traditional” school year expectations. We understand that there are not specific answers to exactly how and when we return to “life as normal” during this unprecedented health crisis. Given that, we must rely upon our best judgement and place safety above all else.
What is clear is that there will not be definitive, universal guidance to proceed as normal. Rather, there will be a gradual lifting of restrictions and a step by step return to normalcy. What we do know is that once the “Stay at Home” orders are lifted, we will continue to have restrictions on social distancing and the size of group gatherings for at least several weeks, if not months. Given the nature of a school environment (classrooms, passing periods, buses, playgrounds, etc.), these restrictions are not practical within the school setting. As such, there does not appear to be a viable way for us to convene traditional in-person learning this school year.
Collectively we believe, and are making the decision, that in the best interest of the children, staff, and the communities that we serve, our schools will remain closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
A significant consideration in making this decision today is guidance from the respective health departments serving our districts. Many models currently show that the impact of COVID-19 is likely to peak in the last week of April. Even once COVID-19 reaches its peak in Colorado, we know that there will be an equivalent amount of time after the peak in which the virus continues to pose a significant threat. The continued safety and public health risk this presents for our students, staff, families and communities moves us to take the step of extended closure to in-person learning through the balance of the school year.
Additionally, providing a concrete direction now with regard to in-person learning for the duration of the school year allows us to focus our energy and attention to addressing questions and concerns, rather than ongoing uncertainty. It will also allow us, as school district leaders, to shift to a proactive stance in that we can begin to plan for completing the current year remotely, and returning to school in August when we are able to joyfully welcome our students, staff and families back into our buildings.
Making this decision was extremely difficult. We do believe, however, that this is the right decision given all of the information that we have received from health experts and state officials. Our teams have been hard at work developing quality remote learning opportunities for our students. Please know that the health and safety of our students, staff and families is paramount. We believe that finishing this school year through remote learning is one of the most effective ways in which we can do our part to avoid exposing anyone to unnecessary risk.
April 1, 2020
I hope everyone is healthy and safe during these strange times. As a working mom of three kids attending three different schools, I share your rising concern (maybe even panic?) about how we are all going to navigate changing work demands while supporting our kids to learn and grow academically this Spring. If this sounds familiar, here is a terrific article by The 74 about managing this time. The bottom line - we’ve got this.
Like the entire team at DSST, I am very excited about the launch of DSST’s E-School on April 8th, and I believe it will offer structure and connection that will not only be good for kids, but hopefully will be very helpful to parents. We don’t believe that simply sending online assignments is sufficient. We also know that our high engagement approach will put some demands on families. This email attempts to help you think through some aspects of learning at home - from the perspective of one mom (me) who’s trying to get her own kids and household ready.
We know we’re technically on “Spring Break” right now, and we want you to have this far enough in advance of Wednesday, April 8th so you can prepare your household and family. These are of course just my recommendations; you know what’s best for YOUR family. If you have ideas that you think should be included here, please feel free to send me an email. We’re going to all need to work together to get through this.
1. Begin getting back to a school routine
- E-School will run from 9:00AM - 3:00PM Monday - Friday. This weekend, get your kids back to a reasonable bedtime and waking up at normal times. I know I’ve let this slip a lot in the past couple weeks and it's going to take a few days for my teenager especially to re-adjust.
- Get them completing morning routines—washing face, brushing teeth and getting dressed!
- Make sure they are eating a nutritious breakfast that will help them stay focused
- I love these 21 kid breakfast recipes from BuzzFeed…but let’s be honest, most mornings we barely have time to make instant oatmeal. So our kids survive on a quick scrambled egg, yogurt or a waffle with a handful of nuts.
- I’ve also been trying to incorporate more immune-boosting foods into meals. Can’t hurt, right?
- Have them make sure they are logged into our primary E-School platform, Microsoft Teams, by 8:50am for their 9am Advisory Check. As your student will undoubtedly know, our computers can sometimes take some time to connect and occasionally need to re-start. Watch how to connect to Teams with a simple video here
2. Make sure your student has the right stuff for E-School
- Headphones - these will be important, especially if you have multiple kids at home who will all be learning on their own devices. All of our student computers have regular headphone jacks and we actually recommend simple wired headphones with a microphone for school, as not all Bluetooth options can be downloaded on our computers and battery life is a constant problem. If you don’t have a pair of headphones, here is a good affordable over the ear solution and here is an in-ear style. If you have any problems getting headphones and need help, please click here.
- Make sure your kiddo has the basic supplies they bring to class every day, including: computer, charger, headphones, independent reading book (IRB), writing utensil, and something to write on (paper, notepad, etc.). It’s worth asking your student well before April 8th where their stuff is.
3. Find a quiet spot with minimal distractions for your student to spend the day
- This is critical - and we know it’s not necessarily easy if your whole family is at home all day. Can your student attend class from their bedroom with a shut door? Or perhaps from your bedroom? We recognize students may have to share a workspace with their siblings- remind them how important it is that they remain focused and committed to their studies, and to be respectful and limit distractions.
- Find a makeshift desk. Believe me, my son would slump on the couch all day with his laptop on... his lap. I guarantee he won’t be as engaged in this position as he would be at a table or desk with a proper chair. Find an extra table, buy a folding table, or borrow a desk from us. Whatever it takes, get them sitting up and at a defined workspace from Day 1.
4. Set expectations about phones, tablets, and the tv being off during learning hours
- My sons’ phones will be downstairs, away from their desks. TV, iPads, etc are not allowed to be in their rooms or on during school hours, 9am-3pm. Their Kindles (no wifi) are allowed to be with them.
- Whatever you decide, establish the rules from Day 1 and stick to them.
5. Make a basic plan for food for the day
- As in physical school, we’re not letting our kids eat during class. We’re asking them to think about what they want to have in between classes and have it ready in the kitchen. They are allowed and encouraged to take a full water bottle into “class.” (Yeah, a little rough, I know. This is all in the spirit of ensuring kids are able to focus.)
- We have worked hard to ensure that the lunch breaks we provide line up as closely as possible with DPS/APS lunch pickup windows. Please note that even if you attend an APS school, you can pick up lunches from DPS sites and vice versa, which should help ensure you are able to get your students’ meals and ensure they are in classes. Here are the links to pick-up sites and times for APS and DPS.
- If you’re having your kids eat at home, think about preparing lunch (or having your student prepare their lunch) in the morning - just like you would for physical school, and put it in the fridge so that it’s ready to grab and eat. Like many of you, I can’t make sure that my work schedule lines up with my kids’ lunches and I really don’t want to continue to hear the phrase “mom, what’s for lunch?” We get that enough for dinner, right?
6. Plan for your student to take breaks during the scheduled times
- Encourage them to get outside to take a walk and get some fresh air. Give them parameters for how far they can go and for how long.
- My husband swears by juggling as the best brain break. Make your own balls, buy from Amazon and watch a super simple video to get started.
- If you’re more of a singing type, check out Smule if your kid wants to belt out a few songs with friends during a break.
7. Complete assignments by Friday at 8am
- Each week your student will have a number of assignments. They will be distributed Monday at 8AM and need to be completed and submitted by 8am each Friday. Help your student find a cadence for getting this work done, just like they do in physical school.
- As a parent or caregiver, you will receive a weekly summary of assignments due so you can easily help your kids stay accountable. Any reinforcement and support that parents can give will make all the difference.
8. Stay connected via Flyer
- Your student’s Advisor and School Leadership will be keeping you updated via our parent communication app, Flyer. Please make sure you have this app installed on your smartphone and that you are verified. For directions on how to do this, click here, and reach out to Flyer@scienceandtech.org with any questions.
Again, as a working mom, I know this feels like a lot to manage. The partnership between our schools and our families is now as important as it’s ever been. We cannot thank you enough for working with us, and your student will be better off down the road because of all of the hard work, patience and flexibility happening right now. We are here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or issues.
Chief Advocacy & Communications Officer
March 26, 2020
Welcome to DSST E-School! We are thrilled to begin offering our students a new experience for continued learning beginning Wednesday, April 8th. As a network of educators, we are choosing to view this challenging moment as an opportunity to live our values, to use technology in new ways and to foster innovation and creativity--all in service of our students. We know this is a stressful time for parents and we hope that you will find the structure and teacher-led approach to DSST's E-School helpful as you navigate your own family schedule during this unprecedented time.
We launched E-School with our entire DSST team yesterday--almost 800 people! Our teachers are excited and ready to move forward. If you are interested in understanding more about the E-School effort, here is the information we provided to help our staff prepare for this effort.
As we have previously shared, here are some key reminders to set E-School up for success:
- Please have your student up and ready beginning Wednesday, April 8th at 9AM.
- Help your student be prepared by ensuring they have their DSST laptop, power cord and internet access. If you have problems with your computer, click here. If you are having problems with internet access, click here.
- Have your student attend their Advisor’s virtual “lunch” this Friday, March 27th between 11-2PM (your student’s advisor should have shared an exact time with your student.) This lunch will allow them to connect as an Advisory and familiarize them with Microsoft Teams - the platform we will be using with students for E-School. Here is a great video to help you and your student make sure they are able to access Teams.
- Begin to plan with your student an E-School routine based on the daily schedule we have included so that they are prepared to fully engage in April 8. This should include a good work space and morning routine to be ready for school on- time.
As promised, we wanted to share a few more details about E-School.
Beginning Wednesday, April 8th, your student will log into E-School at 8:55AM. School officially starts at 9AM. Attendance will be taken each day. Your student’s presence is critically important! It is our goal that 100% of students will have the ability to access E-School and to have at least 90% attendance each day!
There are 4 content blocks for learning each day, Monday - Thursday. Friday is largely open for one on one support. See these important links for your student’s schedule:
Each content block will be taught by your student’s current teachers, so there will be friendly, familiar faces on the screen. Each block is intentionally shorter than a normal class period and students will take a much longer lunch break than normal. Our goal is to make these blocks highly engaging. Lesson plans are being designed by our most talented, most experienced teachers across the DSST network. They are working alongside Home Office content experts to ensure that the class periods maximize standards-aligned learning.
It is critically important to us that all students--including our students with special needs and our English language learners--continue to receive the support they need and deserve. Teachers will be actively collaborating in each block to facilitate small group instruction. Individual support for students will continue to be prioritized.
We are working on a Student Access Guide that will provide a real “how-to” manual to manage the first week of E-School. Look for that guide right after Spring Break.
We know that there are a number of important questions that might be on your mind: Will there be grades? What about final exams? Will my student get credit for all of the classes they took this year? For seniors, what about graduation? We ask your patience as we continue to work through all of these good questions. Many of the answers depend on a definitive decision about the remainder of the school year. I want to assure you that we are working diligently, day by day, to make the best decisions we can and communicate this information as quickly as possible.
One question that we can answer right now, unfortunately: Senior Signing Day will not occur on April 29th, as originally planned. We are currently exploring alternatives and plan to share more specific information with our senior families after Spring Break.
In order to facilitate quick communication, I urge you to begin using Flyer. If you haven’t done so already, please download the Flyer app onto your phone. It is easy to install and will make streamlined communication with you infinitely easier going forward. You can find full instructions here.
Thank you for your continued partnership. Now more than ever, we are so grateful that you entrust your students with DSST. We remain steadfast in our commitment to provide them a world class education.
March 24, 2020
I know the past 10 days have been challenging for many of you adjusting to quarantine, job uncertainty, securing food, and supporting your children and extended family. Our best wishes go out to you.
I wanted to share some important updates! We will be launching our DSST E-School on April 8 to continue school with your children.
DSST E-School Overview
- Governor Polis announced last week that in-person learning has been suspended through April 17. We have been preparing for this closure to last longer, which is why distance learning is essential.
- DSST is committed to living our mission and values as we strive to provide an excellent, equitable educational experience to ALL students via digital instruction.
- Our original calendar had students coming back to school on April 6th. However, the first day of DSST E-School will be April 8th to give us time to train our staff on our virtual technology platforms. We will be providing many more details about E-School, including schedules, on Thursday, March 26th.
- We are currently preparing our team to ensure each student has the tools and support they need to successfully engage in remote learning.
What You Need To Do This Week
- Check that student laptop is ready: Confirm that your student has their laptop and charger, and that they are both working. If they do not, please click here for support.
- Confirm that you have internet access: Need internet access? Click here for instructions.
- Get ready for a virtual Advisory Lunch this Friday, March 27th: Your student’’s advisor will be hosting a virtual Advisory Lunch this Friday, March 27th between 11am and 2pm, in order to connect with students and prep them for what is to come in April. This virtual lunch will be held on Microsoft Teams, our video and chat platform. Your student will receive instructions tomorrow via their DSST email on how to log into Teams, and we will send you this information as well.
- Confirm access to Flyer - our parent communication tool: We will also be rolling out regular family communication via Flyer, a communication app for your phone. Some of you may already use Flyer to receive key communications from your school and if so, look for lots of details on the Flyer app. There are two important steps in gaining full access on Flyer. If you already use Flyer at your DSST school, please make sure you have followed the second step of verifying yourself to gain full access to private groups and two way messaging. You can find full instructions here.
Please reach out to your child’s advisor if you have questions. Thank you for your patience during these trying and unprecedented times. We are so excited to roll out DSST E-School across our network, and will do our very best to support each of our students and their families. There will be challenges along the way, but know that we will be here and truly committed to delivering a world class education to your children.
March 19, 2020
The reality of supporting your children’s learning from home, setting new family routines, caring for sick family members, while trying to manage work expectations is very challenging. This is compounded by not knowing what is next and how things will impact all of us economically and physically. Please know that you are in our thoughts and best wishes as you navigate this time.
To complicate things, I realize that there is a lot of uncertainty about what is next for your child and for DSST schools. You may have heard from your School Director already, and if not you will today. But I wanted to take a moment to reiterate my thanks for your patience and courage.
Last night Governor Polis announced that all in-person school learning is suspended through April 17. This means that DSST schools will not reconvene as planned on April 6th. We know you likely have many good questions, and we are working to have a more robust update for you as soon as possible. We will make informed decisions based on the directives of the city, state, and federal government and will communicate with you as soon as we know more. The DSST Team is currently working hard on what the next phase of the 19-20 school year might look like, including post April 6th and post April 17th. Once we have a solidified strategy, we will be communicating that out to all of you. Thank you for bearing with us as we navigate these uncharted waters and truly unprecedented times.
In addition to the news from Gov. Polis, here are a few more updates:
Internet access: In order to help us understand our learning options in these uncertain times, we would like to make sure your student’s computers are ready. To assist us with this, can you please ask your student to turn on their student computer, connect it to the internet and leave it on overnight. This can happen either tonight (Thursday) or tomorrow night (Friday). If you do not have internet access or are having trouble connecting please click here from your phone. We want to do everything we can to help your family access the internet for the coming months.
Optional AP Academic Resources were shared with AP students this week- we hope these resources will support our students in high stakes classes and help them move forward as much as possible while school is out.
No matter what grade your child is in, we have compiled good optional resources for students to continue to access during this Extended Spring Break. Please encourage your child to do so.
Optional Academic Resources page includes K-12 content to keep students curious.
We will continue to update these resources so that you can stay updated.
- COVID-19 site includes the latest updates from our network
- Family & Community Resource page includes food, mental health, and internet resources, and much more!
You may have already heard that the CDE announced all state testing was “paused” for this year. The College Board has also announced that SAT exams scheduled for May have been canceled. We have not heard an update on AP exams, but their website promises an announcement on March 20. We will continue to provide updates on what you and your students need to know about any future cancellations and postponements of testing.
I sincerely hope all of you are doing ok during these unsettling times. Please know that I am thinking of all of you every day, and am sending you my very best.
March 17, 2020
We know that this “extended spring break” will present a variety of challenges and opportunities for families, and our goal is to be a resource and support for you and your students. In this communication, you will find:
- Optional Academic Resources for your students to use during this break
- Additional Family and Community Resources, and
- Some communication clarifications.
As promised last week, we have compiled Optional Academic Resources for elementary, middle, and high school students that are rigorous, standards-aligned, and vetted by our Home Office Curriculum and Instruction team. These are intended to help students stay engaged in their studies during this Extended Spring Break, however they are by no means mandatory.
What does this practically mean for you as a parent and how can you use these resources? A few tips:
- Sit down with your student and create a schedule with them to use these optional academic resources. Create a daily routine.
- Evaluate resources in each subject area and set goals.
We created a collection of food, internet, and mental health resources for you to access over the next few weeks. We have made a few notable additions:
- Map of where children can access meals in Aurora and Denver
- APS Meal Distribution Map
- Free internet and fees waived from AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast
- Spectrum offering students free internet during COVID-19 outbreak
Tracking COVID-19: Because of the rapidly changing nature of this situation, coupled with student privacy and misinformation concerns, DSST is not able to track or communicate specific information about cases of the Coronavirus in our community. Please understand that we do not have the ability or the legal right to confirm or communicate information about cases. You and your children will undoubtedly hear through the grapevine and from social media of possible cases impacting our families. Please recognize that some of that information may not be correct or complete. In addition, during this time we encourage everyone to use your best judgement in terms of social distancing and other health precautions. Please refer to CDC for further guidelines on this.
Future Communication: We look forward to staying in touch with all of you throughout this extended spring break time frame. Please look out for weekly updates from me over the next three weeks - and more frequently should there be any new developments. You will receive these updates via email and Flyer. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and check our COVID-19 Resource Page for the latest updates.
Thank you again for your flexibility and patience during this difficult time of uncertainty. Be safe, stay healthy, and know that we are doing our best to provide you with timely updates and robust resources so that students and families can stay safe and engaged over the next few weeks.
March 12, 2020
Friday, March 13- No School
We have already canceled the field trip to the Anschutz Medical Campus, and we have decided to no longer hold classes, tomorrow, March 13. All schools in APS will not have students in class, and it will be a Professional Development day for teachers. Because we follow APS plans and protocol for all things COVID-19, we are following their lead and will also hold a Professional Development day for our staff, with no students in the building.
Extended Spring Break through March 27
APS has announced that next week’s Spring Break will be extended one additional week. There will be no classes held through March 27. As of now, the plan is for students and staff to return to school on Monday, March 30th, but as the situation develops, we will pass along any additional updates about school closures.
We will be in touch very soon about distance learning opportunities that we will have available for students. Your child came home with their laptop and charger today so that they can participate in digital learning during the extended Spring Break.
The health and safety of your children is our main priority, and we continue to be dedicated to providing rigorous learning opportunities for all of our students. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns (email@example.com).