Although your summer is likely not playing out as originally planned, we hope you are still finding ways to enjoy the season with your family! The summer has also looked much different at Meridian, with administrators and teachers working together to determine a plan for when it comes time to return to school in August.
We know everyone has questions about what to expect, and while we don't know what the situation with COVID-19 will look like in August, we have been planning several options to best serve our families. It is of the utmost importance to us that all Lions remain healthy, both physically and emotionally, and for students to be given the best opportunity to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the world. These goals require a balanced approach, and all of us will need to work together to do what is best for each individual child.
To date, the Texas Education Agency has provided guidance on attendance and accountability. They have not yet offered guidance on health and safety, though preliminary indications are that this may be left up to the local districts to determine. Therefore, until we receive guidance that is more stringent, we will follow CDC guidelines.
What we know right now is that s
chool will begin on Monday, August 10, and while more details will be shared in the coming weeks, we hope the following information will address many of your questions and concerns.
Safety is the #1 Priority!
We are going to great lengths to ensure we have the appropriate procedures and supplies in place. We will enact protocols for following CDC and TEA guidelines, which will include but not be limited to:
Health screening, including temperature checks in carline
Staggered arrival and departure times with more time allotted for both, if required
Social distancing throughout all activities while on campus
Social distancing in classrooms with limited cohorts in primary and middle school
Bottle-fillers at all water fountains; students bring their own water bottles
Hand sanitizer stations at entrances and in all classrooms
Floor decals and signage in halls emphasizing health and safety
Scheduled handwashing opportunities throughout the day
Masks required for all* students, except when seated at a desk and when eating
Faculty and staff will use face masks, face shields, and/or have shields on their desks for times when close contact with students is necessary
Ongoing cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day and after school
Designated supplies for students rather than sharing "common" supplies
Classroom size will be limited to 12-14 students to allow for desks to be properly spaced apart
Lunch will be served in the cafeteria with limited and designated seating - overflow eating areas will be provided as required to maintain social distancing and allow all to enjoy lunch
Outside time will be maximized to the extent possible for all students - allowing for brain breaks and physical activity
In order to make these safety measures work, we must all work together by keeping students home when ill and by avoiding any behaviors that may lead to elevated risk. Again, we want all to remain healthy.
*Masks will not be required for students who have a disability or condition that prevents the safe wearing of one, as determined on an individual basis. All families are encouraged to purchase or make a variety of masks to fit your child so that they are able to wear a clean one every day, as well as have a backup should it be needed.
Regardless of whether a student is learning from school or home, instruction will be more formal and rigorous than the final quarter this past spring. Respecting each individual faculty, staff, and family's needs and concerns, the following is intended to meet those expectations while providing a guide for the choices to be made.
Options will be given for on-campus and distance learning, and possibly a combination or hybrid, meaning students may be on campus some days and distance learning from home on others.
Balance must be met for the social and emotional needs of students.
Attendance will be required and taken on a daily basis for all classes, regardless of the model selected.
Homework and grading will look more like the first three quarters of last school year, rather than the final quarter after closure.
Students are expected to be engaged and will be held accountable for their learning, including homework assignments, and both informal and formal assessments.
Students will be required to take state testing (STAAR) planned for the 4th quarter.
With the CDC's recommended safety measures and social distancing in place, a portion of our students will be able to return to campus in August. We do not foresee serving all students on campus at full capacity until a vaccine for COVID-19 has been developed and staff and students have been vaccinated. This may not occur during the 2020-2021 school year. The schedule for in-person learning will depend on how many families select this option. If fewer than 60% students return, students will attend every day as they would normally.
Hybrid & Distance Learning Models
Remote learning may be something that all children participate in at least some of the time (if those opting in to attend campus exceed the threshold). This, described below with Red and Gray cohorts, is called the
If more than 60% of students opt in, a Red/Gray cohort system will be instituted with each cohort attending 5 days out of 10 and working from home the remaining 5 days. Example schedule:
Week 1 - Red attends MTW / remote learning ThF
Week 1 - Gray remote learning MTW / attends ThF
Week 2 - Red attends MT / remote learning WThF
Week 2 - Gray remote learning MT / attends WThF
Students who remain home all of the time will participate in remote learning 100% of the time. This is called the
Distance Learning Model.
Remote learning for kindergarten through 5th grade students will include a combination of paper packets and online teacher instruction. If not all students can attend campus every day, those attending campus part-time (hybrid) will bring home paper packets to reinforce instruction that was received on campus. A grade-level teacher will check in with these students when they are working from home.
Students who receive all instruction via distance learning will be assigned a classroom and a teacher. The student may work virtually with students on campus at times, but will also work with other students who are learning solely from home. Again, participation each and every day will be expected and attendance will be taken. For families who choose to have their children learn exclusively from home, parents will be asked to partner even more strongly than usual with your child's teacher to ensure your child's academic progress.
Whether participating in the hybrid or the distance learning model, 6th - 12th grade students will receive streamed instruction from the classroom, along with other online content. Cameras are being installed in all secondary classrooms to make this possible.
Should a hybrid model be required, our planning will include focused efforts to keep families scheduled in the same rotation to minimize inconvenience.
We are finalizing the platforms that will be used in primary and secondary. In primary, Media Literacy will be introduced as a new "specials" class in which students will spend time learning specifically how to use their device for research and navigate platforms, aps, and the internet depending upon their age. Additionally, we will offer online tutorials for parents so that you understand how to best support your students with their devices.
For secondary, teachers will continue to use ManageBac, Zoom, and Google Classroom. Families that are new to middle school and/or Meridian will receive detailed information.
Should there be a need for area schools or Meridian to close, we intend to pivot to a 100% online delivery of instruction.
This will allow us to maintain our approved calendar. In order to make this work to its fullest capability, all students will leave school with their supplies and books every day. This also necessitates that individual students each have their own technology device.
We encourage families that are able to purchase an
K-1 students and a
for students in grades 2-7. (The links include our specific recommendations based on what students currently use in the classroom.) As always, students in grades 8-12 should have their own device for the
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program
A family survey will be sent on or about July 1st to get specific feedback about your students' situation. Updates with more details will be shared after the results are reviewed and more information becomes available. Please be on the lookout for the survey, as your response will guide our staffing and preparation for the upcoming school year.
The goal is to keep our Meridian family of students, faculty, and parents together as we weather this health crisis, knowing that our school community will be stronger once we're through the storm. We thank you for partnering with us in your child's educational journey at Meridian and welcome feedback as we reopen schools.