• How will children get “caught up” given everything they have lost during the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Posted by Superintendent Andrew Kelly on 1/24/2021 3:00:00 PM

     

    There are a myriad of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic; social and emotional distress, learning lost to Washington State’s school shutdown and subsequent distance learning, and disproportionate loss for our most disadvantaged students, just to name a few.

    As Superintendent of North Beach School District, I must not only plan to respond to these challenges and others, but also to deliver results which allow our scholars in North Beach to thrive. There are many things to consider.

    Allow me to share my thoughts and a tentative timeline.

    I believe the pandemic has changed the face of public education forever. I also believe that this is a GOOD thing. Schools, for too long, have offered a (mostly) one-size-fits-all education with a common goal of pushing kids at the same pace and timing to a common goal of high school graduation.

    What we’ve been reminded of during the pandemic is that no two kids are the same. No two children learn at the same pace. No two children respond to any single form of instruction or assessment the same. The conclusion? Each Child is Different!

    Clearly this seems like common sense, but the pandemic forced us to abandon the “one size fits all” pedagogy and go back to a differentiated, individualized approach, leaning into strategies that allow kids to demonstrate mastery in different ways. During the past 10 months, the teachers who have embraced this approach have successfully continued to support their students and maximize their learning.

    As we welcome 2021, North Beach School District has several strategies in place to ensure that we maximize educational opportunities for each student and that we continue to do everything in our power to meet students’ basic needs. We know that, if we do not meet their basic needs, it will be impossible in most circumstances to educate our children.

    In order to fulfill the basic needs of our students, we will:

    • Continue delivery/service of breakfast and lunch daily for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year;
    • Grow and expand “resource support,” through the NBSD Student/Family Resource Manager position in particular;
    • Provide counseling opportunities for ALL students in grades PreK to 12;
    • Maintain at minimum a full-time counselor at both the elementary level and the secondary level;
    • Continue our partnership with the Angels of North Beach and Family Care Alliance to resolve emergency student/family needs as they arise.

      

    We also will provide Academic Support to Ensure Equitable Outcomes for All Scholars by:

    • Aggressively partnering with NBSD educators to get the largest, most engaged workforce possible back on campus, working to support in person learning;
    • Continuing to provide the most robust distance learning possible for students/families who do NOT yet feel comfortable sending their kids back for in person learning;
    • Using all viable feedback tools (classroom-based assessments, grade level standards, Imagine Learning) to develop “just in time” grade level placement by Spring Break. (April 2, 2021);
    • Continuing to support daily/weekly/annual learning plans with extension opportunities for students who are on or above grade level by 4.2.2021;
    • Working to create remediation opportunities that are “required” for students who are identified as below grade level by 4.2.2021, Options may include intersession course work during Spring Break, Saturday Academy, after school tutoring, and summer school; June 2021-August 2021;
    • Continuing to prioritize remediation opportunities in our budget in the 2021-22 academic year;
    • Developing an individualized “Student Success Plan” for every student in grades PreK-12 by May 1, 2021. Each plan will chart a trajectory from the student’s present level of performance to grade level standard or byond by June 2023.

     

    ***Each Academic Support to Ensure Equitable Outcomes for All Scholars will have a real, measurable cost associated with it. COVID recovery dollars from the US Department of Education and the State of Washington should be prioritized to do as much as possible to ensure student success in reaching grade level standards and beyond.

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  • The Pain of the COVID-19 Pandemic is Real

    Posted by Superintendent Andrew Kelly on 12/21/2020

    The Pain of the COVID-19 Pandemic is real and has been one of the most challenging leadership dilemmas that I’ve faced in my 30 years in public education. It seems at every juncture, I as your superintendent, have been thrust into impossible decisions which no matter how I proceed, will not adequately meet the needs of each of our kids, our staff, and all of their families.

    Here are two graphs from the Washington State Dashboard for Decisions showing the rapid spread of COVID in the state and in Grays Harbor County.

    Washington state COVID case growth

     

    Grays Harbor County COVID Case Growth

     

     

    Graphs are updated daily here.

     

    As of December 6, 2020, more than 281,000 Americans have died and more than 14.7 million COVID-19 cases have been documented across our nation. The numbers in Washington State and Grays Harbor County are just as staggering.

    In Washington schools, the Washington Department of Health and the Grays Harbor County Health Department have asked district superintendents to follow the “Decision Tree for Provision of in Person Learning among Public and Private K-12 Students."

    As you can see by reviewing the guidelines within the Decision Tree below and the current state and county numbers, we clearly are not YET at a place where we can work to bring ALL our kids back to school at all the same time.

    State's decision tree for returning to in-person learning

    Said differently, unfortunately the science and the data isn’t yet at a place for us to “get back to normal."

    I am hopeful for the coming vaccinations and improving therapeutics that are increasingly becoming more available for all. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but the data suggests that we have a bit of darkness yet to endure.

    My position since the beginning of this Pandemic last March, has been that I, as your Superintendent, and the district holistically, must work aggressively to give every student/parent “what they need” to be successful within the context of the disease.

    The first and most important goal of our district MUST be to protect the health and safety of our students, our staff, and their families. Then, as quickly as possible, we must come back and support as many kids as possible in delivering high quality “in person” instruction.

    Let me assure you that NO educator likes “distance learning.” Despite our best efforts, we know that it isn’t as successful with as many kids as in person, face to face learning.

    Just as importantly, we also know that schools, for the past 100 years have been the primary “social services” provider for most of our kids. Schools are expected to not only educate, but also to feed, provide basic needs, support through counseling, provide mental health intervention, be the safety net for Children’s Services, and many, many other vital supports for kids.

    I worry each and every day about kids (and families) who need our direct in person support through school that we haven’t yet been able to provide at the level that I would like.

    As we race towards the New Year and “end of the tunnel” that is COVID-19 the North Beach School District will continue to do the following.

    • Provide the very best distance learning opportunities that we possibly can and continue to improve as a district in our educational approach.
    • Continue to provide daily delivery of school breakfast and lunch to our families who have requested.
      Offer as much “in-person” instruction, to as many students as possible, given the constraints of the COVID numbers in our county, the requests by our kids/families, and our locally negotiated MOUs.
    • Provide Holiday Food Boxes to the 110 families, across our district, who have requested this help/support on Saturday, December 19 and 26.
    • Provide a Holiday Gift Giveaway, collaboratively with District partners on December 20. (As of December 6, 181 parents have signed up).
    • Expand the health/medical services available to ALL NBSD students by creating on campus health clinics beginning Janury 4, 2021.
    • Continue to plan for returning to a full hybrid, in person instructional modality (under the guidance provided by the Decision Tree).
    • Continue to respond to ALL parent requests for support in an attempt to mitigate and resolve any concerns or needs that come up.

    Who would have known when I began as your superintendent and adopted the hashtag, #riseABOVEtheTIDE, that we would experience some of the most turbulent waters of my lifetime. I’m confident that as we engage with and support each other that we can emerge from this Pandemic with a better school district which provides better instruction and does an even better job of meeting the needs of each scholar than we ever imagined possible.

    Thank you for your continued support and encouragement! Please do your part by staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask when you are in proximity to others, and continuing to social distance.

    For Kids,

    Andy

    (360) 870-3321

    akelly@northbeachschools.org

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