March 8, 2021

March 8, 2021

I know I say this at the start of every month, but it feels truly remarkable to be at this point in the school year, particularly after the spike in positive cases we experienced at Alcott right before February vacation!  As we approach the one year milestone of when this pandemic forced us all to change our lives dramatically, I need to express my gratitude once again to everyone who has made it possible for us to make it to this point.  The last year has shown what a remarkable community of students, staff and families we have at Alcott!  I know we may all be feeling pandemic fatigue these days, but, personally, I only need to look around at all of your children learning together with their teachers each day to remind me that all of the distancing, restrictions and sacrifices have been worth it.

Spring 2021: As I imagine you are all aware now, late last week, the state board of education voted to approve a mandate to fully reopen schools in early April.  We have already started conversations about how to make this possible without jeopardizing any of the important safety measures that we already have in place.  I want to thank everyone who completed the survey that Dr. Hunter sent out when we first learned of this possibility – your feedback is going to be critical as we make plans for full in person school days!

Professional Day: This is just a reminder that tomorrow, March 8th, is a professional day for teachers, which means there is no school for students.  There is also another professional day scheduled for March 26th.  Although coincidental, the timing of these two days is fortunate as it gives school staff time to prepare for reopening in April.

Asymptomatic Pooled Testing: We completed our second first week of pooled testing last week.  Although we did have one positive pool, all individual PCR tests came back negative, which was wonderful news.  We hope future testing continues to reassure us that there are not asymptomatic positive cases in the school.  If you did not sign your child up for pooled testing, I want to urge you to consider doing so.  One incredibly powerful safety measure that we can implement is widespread testing.  The more students who participate, the more likely we can catch asymptomatic cases quickly and prevent school based transmission.  Particularly as we make plans for a full reopening, it is more important than ever that we screen for asymptomatic positive cases.

Drop Off Time: This is just a reminder that students are expected to be in their classroom by 9am.  Please make sure that you are arriving at school with enough time to get to the front of the drop off line and for your child to get into the building on time.  In response to questions about why we don’t direct cars into the bus loop every morning after buses have departed, it is because it is just safer to use the smaller loop for car drop off.  We do direct traffic into the main bus loop on mornings when the line is particularly long.  However, it is much harder to control the flow of traffic, ensure cars are driving slowly, prevent unsafe passing, and safely help individuals use the main crosswalk when the larger loop is in use.  If your arrival time has been slowly creeping later and later in recent weeks, it would be great if you could adjust so that you are arriving with enough time for your child to get to their class by 9am.

Star Reading Assessment: Please see the following note about the Star Reading Assessment, given three times a year to measure student progress in reading and math.

Dear Parents/Guardians,

During the 2020-2021 school year, your child participates in the Star Early Literacy or Reading assessment.  To monitor progress, students will be tested three times during the year (fall, winter, spring).  Students are assessed in areas of alphabetic principle, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension with this 15 minute computerized test.

The STAR assessment is used to screen students for dyslexia. “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Students at risk for reading difficulties are followed by additional testing or short-term progress monitoring.  Further assessment may be appropriate for students who do not make adequate progress.  Upon identification, parents will be informed and students at risk will receive evidence-based, code-based, core instruction or intervention, in addition to regular classroom instruction.

Our school is committed to identifying and addressing the needs of each individual child.  I encourage you to reach out with any questions you may have about your child’s Star Early Literacy score report or concerns about your child’s development.