• What You Need to Know - July 29, 2020

    • Students who select the Responsive Learning option for 2020-2021 will be starting in Remote Learning for the first quarter of the upcoming school year. Remote Learning will be taught by Clayton teachers using the District’s curriculum. 
    • Students/families who are not comfortable with the possibility of learning at school should still opt-in to Learning@Home.
    • The deadline to select an option is Friday, Aug. 7.
    • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found on the Return to Learn website.
    • Students/families can learn more at the Virtual Q&A sessions scheduled for next week.

     

    Dear Clayton Families and Staff,

    Last week I shared with you our Return to Learn Plan for the 2020-21 School Year, which included two options - Responsive Learning and Learning@Home. Since that time, I have heard a number of divergent ideas and perspectives from students, parents and staff. The following points are those that I heard most frequently: 

    • Students need to be back in school every day for their social/emotional well being. 
    • Students should not be back in school due to health concerns.
    • Students should only be back in school when it is safe.
    • If students are in remote learning, then it needs to be more synchronous and high quality.
    • We need to figure out how to get our youngest learners back in school.
    • There is a great deal of fear of returning to school with the number of COVID-19 cases going up in the St. Louis area.

    This week, we have made the difficult decision to start in the Remote Learning phase of our Responsive Learning Plan for the first quarter. Students will have daily remote instruction by Clayton teachers, using our curriculum. This decision was based on the increasing rate of COVID-19 cases in the St. Louis area, the current, significant delays in COVID-19 testing and concern that spread of the virus will disrupt continuity of learning.  Missouri, especially St. Louis County, continues to trend at high levels for COVID-19 infection, with St. Louis County classified as “active/immanent outbreak” in terms of a COVID-19 threat level. Please know our goal is to return to our buildings by the second quarter.   
     
    I want to make sure you understand that the remote learning we will provide will be different from what our emergency remote learning was last spring. There will be daily schedules, more synchronous learning, cultivation of personal connections, and accountability aligned with our current grading practices. There are additional details about what that will look like, as well as answers to your frequently asked questions, on the Return To Learn website as well as more information about the comparison of our Learning@Home to our remote learning.  The Virtual Questions and Answer sessions scheduled for next week will also be helpful and informative. 

    We are making decisions that look beyond just how we start the 2020-21 school year or the first few weeks of school.  We are planning long-term for an entire year of learning knowing that school will look different from here on out.  Our goal is for students to be learning in our schools in safe ways. To accomplish this transition back into school buildings, we will use the first quarter, while in a remote learning platform, to provide in-building opportunities for all of our students, staff and families (in small groups) to orient them to new procedures and learning structures with a goal of students again learning in school buildings. We know our students and staff are returning to the new school year with a range of emotions and signs of trauma related to the last five months. A measured transition back into our buildings will help support the overall social and emotional well being of our teaching and learning community. 

    While our primary structure for teaching and learning at the beginning of the year will be through students learning from home, we are developing ways to support students with varied needs during this period of remote learning. We are committed to all students experiencing success and in order to accomplish this, we have to think creatively and in a personalized way.

    I know many of you will have conflicting feelings about this decision, but it’s a decision I feel is necessary in order for us to keep our students and staff safe, to maintain continuity of daily learning and to contribute to the decrease of cases in the region. All of us have a responsibility to do our part to reduce the number of new cases in our region.

    We want to be back at school as soon as possible and believe that if we invest time during the first quarter, we will be better prepared to stay in school more consistently when we return to the buildings. We will take the time to effectively orient our students, teachers and families as well as focus on providing all of our teachers with additional assured professional learning focused on effective remote instruction.  

    Again, I appreciate everyone’s support and flexibility and understanding as we make these difficult decisions. My goal is to get our students back into their classrooms for learning as soon as possible. Until that happens, we are focused on providing high-quality, remote learning opportunities.

    You will receive an update from us in a few weeks that will include information about device deployment, food service, student support, expectations for this first quarter and how we will implement our plan for returning to our buildings for the second quarter.

    Best,

    Sean N. Doherty
    Superintendent

     


    Virtual Q&As Postponed; Deadline Extended to Aug. 7

     Postponed

    What You Need to Know

    • The Return to Learn Virtual Question and Answer sessions have been postponed until next week. The new dates are as follows:
      • Clayton High School Students/Families - Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m
      • Elementary Students/Families - Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m.
      • Wydown Middle School Students/Families - Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m.
    • The District will still announce on Wednesday, July 29, how students who select the Responsive Learning will start the school year. Answers to many of the questions submitted by parents will also be posted on Wednesday.
    • The deadline to select a learning option for the 2020-20201 school year has been extended to Aug. 7.

    New Dates for Virtual Question and Answer Sessions
    The District has rescheduled the three virtual question and answer sessions for parents and families. We have received more than 350 questions from parents since last week. After reviewing the questions and listening to other feedback, we feel it will be most beneficial to hold the Q&A sessions after the District has announced how the 2020-2021 school year will start. The sessions will be live-streamed on the District's YouTube channel at claytonschools.net/youtube. Each session will be set up to take live questions and will be structured to focus on students/families of a specific age group:

    • Clayton High School Students/Families - Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m
    • Elementary Students/Families - Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m.
    • Wydown Middle School Students/Families - Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m.

    Frequently Asked Questions/Start of School
    The District will still announce on Wednesday, July 29, how students who select the Responsive Learning will start the school year. We will also be posting answers to parents’ most frequently asked questions on Wednesday. With a set direction for starting the school year, and answers to frequently asked questions, parents and families will be able to ask more focused questions during the rescheduled virtual Q&A sessions.

    New Deadline for Selecting a Return to Learn Option for 2020-2021
    While we recognize that many parents still have questions and need more information before making a decision about the 2020-2021 school year, we want to let you know how we will be collecting that information. 

    • Parents/guardians will use a form in the Parent Portal on PowerSchool to select a Return to Learn option (Responsive Learning or Learning@Home) for each student in their household. 
    • The Return to Learn form can be found under the FORMS tab that is located in the left hand column. 
    • The form is available now and must be completed by Aug. 7

    Accessing the Parent Portal on PowerSchool

    1. You can access the portal directly at https://ps.claytonschools.net/ or www.claytonschools.net/powerschool.
    2. You can also visit the District website at www.claytonschools.net and click on the “P” in the blue toolbar on the right side of the homepage. NOTE: If you are browsing from a mobile device, you will find the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. 
    3. If you have any questions or if you need help accessing the PowerSchool Parent Portal, please contact the District's Technology Help Desk at 314.854.6033.

     


     July 20, 2020

    Dear Clayton Students, Parents and Staff - 

    The start of a new school year can be a source of excitement and anxiety for many of us under normal circumstances. It goes without saying, this upcoming year will be different. Today, as parents, students and educators, we are being asked to think about how we return to a learning environment after having been away since Spring Break and in the midst of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in St. Louis County. I want to thank you for your patience as we make decisions for our return to learning on August 24. Given the circumstances, I am being purposeful in saying our return to learning - and not school - because our options for learning will look very different this year. 

    We have been working tirelessly to make decisions about the opening of the 2020-2021 school year, focusing our work on three key areas: risk mitigation, health promotion and educational adaptation. We established a number of guiding principles to direct this work, including:

    • The safety and health of the students and staff will guide all decisions.
    • Our students will receive a high-quality education, whether they are learning in-person or remotely.
    • The social/emotional well-being of our students and staff will be a priority.
    • All decisions will be made with an equity lens.
    • Any plans will be agile enough to adapt as public health conditions fluctuate.

    We also listened to feedback from our students, parents and teachers about their experiences last spring. A working group of more than 45 staff members and administrators helped push our thinking. From this work, a number of things became clear about any decision we would make. We need to take care of all the members of our learning community and their different needs, meet expectations for a Clayton education and embrace change as it may be the only constant for the foreseeable future. It’s also clear that we are not just planning for Aug. 24 or the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to think about the long game and the need to reconsider and redefine how we deliver learning to our students.

    Our Return to Learn plan has two options in order to meet the varied needs of our students, staff and families. These options include different phases of learning within the District and an option to learn from home for the entire semester. We plan to hold a series of virtual question and answer sessions to address any questions you may have about either of these options. These sessions will be scheduled for the week of July 27 Aug. 3and details will be shared with parents and staff later this week. We have also posted additional information on our website at claytonschools.net/returntolearn.

    REturn to LEarn

    Our first option is called Responsive Learning. This flexible plan is designed with the goal of safely learning at school but being agile enough to respond to changing public health conditions. It has three phases (In-Person, Hybrid and Remote) for learning based on the health and safety needs of our community. We also recognize that we have students and families who are not able to consider an option that includes learning in person. 

    Our Learning At Home option provides a fully virtual approach to school with access to a wide variety of courses taught by a Clayton teacher, a teacher from a neighboring district or a state-approved virtual provider. This option will include synchronous and asynchronous instruction, a daily schedule and consistent grading expectations. Students who select this option will be asked to commit to it for the entire semester in order to ensure continuity of education. We are asking families who are interested in this option to commit by July 31. We will be sending out more information about Learning at Home, including how to opt-in, to families tomorrow. 

    We are also developing a separate Return to Learn plan for the Family Center to support the needs of our youngest learners. Our Director of the Family Center, Debbie Reilly, will be sending out that information soon.

    Given the rise of COVID-19 cases in St. Louis County in the past two weeks, the County Health Department has asked school districts to delay announcing how they will start school. Based on current data, it’s difficult to say today which phase of Responsive Learning we will use to start the school year on Aug. 24. It is very likely we will implement either the hybrid learning model or start the year with remote learning. Our goal is to let you know by July 29.    

    I know that any decision we make as a District will be challenging for all of us and may not be what everyone would prefer. We continue to meet regularly with public health officials and will use their guidance to help inform our final decision. I assure you that we will be prepared to provide a high-quality education no matter the option. I appreciate your trust and support. We are going to return to learning with hope, optimism and excellence. 

    Sincerely,

    Sean Doherty
    Superintendent

     

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