News Flash

School - WSS

Posted on: August 26, 2020

Welcome Back Letter from Principal Martin to Grades K-1

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year at Waterford Street School!  These past six months have presented unprecedented challenges for families and schools as we grapple with how best to safely educate our youth amidst a global pandemic.  My experience with the outstanding staff and families of Waterford during this time has given me great confidence that, together, we can rise to the challenge of providing our kids a quality education, regardless of the mode of learning.  This summer I reviewed teacher and parent input from last spring, as well as worked with our district, school, and family reopening teams, to plan for a successful and productive start to the year.   The following is some important information regarding the reopening of Waterford and the start to our year. 

Waterford Street School’s Reopening Plan: 

  • Remote Learning: The superintendent proposed and the school committee approved a full-time remote learning model to start the year for most of the district’s students with the potential to shift to a hybrid learning model (students receiving 2 days of in-person instruction at the school - either Monday/Tuesday or  Thursday/Friday - and three days of remote learning) when it’s deemed safe to do so.  Therefore, the majority of our students will begin the year learning from home.  The state has asked districts to prioritize some in-person learning for “high needs” (cohort C) students.  This includes students who spend a large portion of the day in a substantially separate classroom and our preschool students.  We are still working with our district leaders and our various employee groups to determine who these students would be and how we can offer some effective and safe in-person instruction.  There will be more information coming out on this group in the near future.   

  • Calendar Change:  Teachers will begin their school year on August 31st while the first day for our Kindergarten and 1st Grade students will be September 15th.  The first day of preschool is still being finalized but I anticipate it will be a week or so after the rest of the building starts.  We’re hoping to solidify this start date soon and will let families know as soon as we do.  

  • Technology: Similar to the spring, we will ensure that every family who needs a device for remote learning, will receive one.  There will be a process to distribute these devices just prior to the first week of school.  Students will receive either an iPad or Chromebook.  It was conveyed to us last spring that our young students preferred the touchscreen feature of the iPad over the keyboard feature of a Chromebook laptop so we will distribute as many iPads as we have available before distributing Chromebooks.  We have also applied for and will likely receive a grant to purchase Chromebook tablets that have a touchscreen feature.  

  • Online Learning and Communication Platforms: We very much understand the need for our young students to conduct online learning through a platform that’s easy to use and doesn’t require as much adult assistance, while still providing outstanding virtual instruction capabilities.  To enable this, we purchased a building-based license for the Seesaw remote education platform.  This easy to use, engaging, and interactive application will enable your child to hear and see their teachers model directions and skills and, more importantly, virtually apply and practice these skills.  Teachers will use the Seesaw app to communicate with you and your child as well.   There are also a variety of other applications teachers will adopt to aid instruction.  Opportunities for parents to learn about these programs will happen during the early part of the school year.  We understand that children only have a certain attention span and tolerance for online learning and there will be many activities and learning opportunities for kids offline too.  This online learning will look different than the spring when teachers were thrust into a new virtual instruction environment for which they were not trained.  While I feel our staff did an incredible job with last spring’s unique circumstances, they will be receiving more training and this year’s remote learning will be more robust.  From a parent perspective, there will also be some differences - virtual attendance will be taken and grades based on progress toward state standards will be issued.  We are very aware that many families have work or other requirements that make assisting their child difficult, and are focused on finding ways to help these families and their children with remote learning.  

Your Child’s Teacher: 

  • This information will be sent in a hard copy letter that should arrive within the next few days.

    • NOTE: Incoming 1st Grade students and their families received teacher assignments at the end of last year with their report cards.  Some of these teacher assignments needed to change over the summer to enable a more equal distribution of classes if and when the district shifts to a hybrid model.  

 Additional Important Information: 

  • School Hours: Our school day begins at 9:00 a.m and ends at 3:45 p.m.  Even though students are beginning remotely, we are looking to provide families with more structure through a schedule with some built in flexibility.  We will send a copy of this schedule to families as soon as it’s finalized. 

  • Orientation: While orientation will look different this year, we are planning to schedule a time for an orientation so you and your child can meet their teacher, familiarize yourselves with the remote class expectations, and gain an understanding of the technology and platforms your child will be using.  This orientation will most likely occur during the first two days of school.  We’ll be in touch with more details in the near future.  

 Regardless of the mode of learning, we at Waterford are committed to being a place where students experience the joy of learning, the care and commitment of staff, and the pride associated with becoming an academic achiever.  We strive to accomplish this by: 

 Learning and practicing what it means to be a safe, respectful, and responsible Waterford Street School citizen - these three words make up our school mantra.  We teach and live these values daily.  

  • Providing a rigorous, enriching, and enjoyable academic experience.  We want your child to finish every day with knowledge to share, skills to demonstrate, and a smile on their face!

  • Fostering positive relationships between the staff, students, and their families.

  • Infusing your child with a sense of belonging and pride in their school. Go Waterford Wildcats!

  • Incorporating every child’s family as part of the school community. My door - literally and virtually - is always open and I welcome questions, concerns, and ideas parents and other members of the community would like to share. 

For those of you returning to Waterford, I look forward to seeing you again! For those new to our school, I can’t wait to meet you!

If you should have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time.

 Sincerely,

Earl Martin

Principal

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