March 19, 2020

Dear TSS Families,

First, a huge thank you to our families who have been overwhelmingly supportive and patient while we work to transition everyone into new learning environments. We appreciate the efforts being undertaken at home to provide access to the materials teachers are posting and support for students to engage remotely. While there are a lot of successes to celebrate over the past three days, we recognize that there are also challenges, from frustrating technology glitches to the stress and added anxiety as a result of a significant number of changes in a short period. 

As shared in our first communication, the short-term objective is to provide resources, materials, and engaging activities to reinforce skills and continue opportunities for student learning. Given the timing and circumstances of this unplanned closure, we made a decision to develop immediate learning opportunities we felt many of our students would be the most comfortable with as they adapt to changes in routine.

Because there is so much uncertainty about a potential timeframe for being closed, we recognized a need to take a multi-tiered approach to remote instruction. Therefore, we are planning for the upcoming weeks as though we will need to provide remote education for an extended period of time Our leadership team has been working fervently to structure the second layer of remote engagement, which will include direct, live student instruction online. 

Please note: While it may seem like a simple task to move instruction online, it is not. Many schools, including universities, have shared plans to hold classes remotely, yet there is a wide range in what those learning opportunities look and feel like online. Moreover, many types of programs and classes do not lend themselves easily to online learning, and many schools are working to understand how to deliver content and teachable experiences for the first time. Those are just some of the considerations taken into account when we consider how to provide students with thoughtful, engaging, multi-sensory instruction.

We are incredibly fortunate to have several vital resources, including leading experts in the fields of instructional technologies and literacy development, on our TSS team. Through our work training and mentoring teachers through the CoLAB, we have experience teaching and coaching people using the same types of approaches to instruction we use at TSS each day.  In addition to curating and posting lessons online, our faculty is simultaneously planning to deliver classes online and collaborating with colleagues virtually so we can make this transition as smooth as possible. 

Early next week, you will receive additional information, which will include instructions for accessing our online platform, schedules, times, expectations, and more.  The anticipated start date for beginning online classes is Monday, March 30 Initially, live classroom instruction will rotate on an alternating class schedule basis, so students will have three of their classes delivered live on Mondays and Wednesdays, with their other classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students will continue to receive class-specific work and assignments posted on Google Classroom for their classes that do not meet “live” that day. Because of the current challenges in providing physical packets or sending home materials, all of the teacher-provided resources will be virtual or may include the use of regular household items. Again, as guidelines evolve and access to resources and materials change, this may change too.

These are unprecedented times, but we are working with tremendous effort to pull everything necessary together to make this time count for our students . We also want to set clear expectations. There will be bumps. There will be glitches. There will be adjustments. There will be changes. We ask for your patience and support. Our faculty is working incredibly hard. They are learning new skills, attending virtual meetings and training, and developing new materials and resources for virtual use. While they work to provide resources for our students now, please remember they are also managing professional and personal changes like all of us. In the meantime, the buildings have been cleaned and sanitized so we can allow faculty to return safely and pack the materials they will need to teach from home. 

In closing, we share our thanks for the tremendous support and encouragement. This is a difficult time, and these are difficult circumstances. Some things will likely change as a result.  One near-certainty, however, is that education will not look the same for our children after this moment in time . And that is a good thing. Change is not easy, even in good times. While this experience is not what any of us planned, we endeavor to find the opportunities to position our students as strongly as we are able. Our commitment is that we will continue to support our kids today, tomorrow, and well into the future.

Warm regards,
Ben Powers