Parent Letter: Back to School 2020-21

Important Information

August 24, 2020

Dear Earl Boyles Parents, Students, and Families, 

Welcome to the 2020-21 school year! Although this year looks different than any other year, we are dedicated to providing your children a memorable, interactive, engaging distance learning experience with the hope of eventually being able to safely return to school in person. In my 29 years in education, this fall is nothing like anything I have ever experienced before as an educator.  As a principal and parent, I am very empathetic to what you are going through as you plan for the upcoming year.  I know that there are still so many unknowns and unanswered questions and I recognize that this is frustrating.  What I do know is that our community has the most dedicated and loving staff and families!  We are pleased to have you as partners and want to assure you that we will do our best to help your child experience academic, social, and emotional growth during this challenging time.  With your help, we will succeed!

This letter includes important back to school information that helps in achieving a good start to the year.  As the year progresses, and as you become either more informed or more puzzled, we encourage you to call the school and talk with those who might be of help.  If your questions deal with online class events, please ask to speak with the teacher.  If it deals with the overall program, curriculum, or activities, please feel free to contact me directly.  One of our goals is to see that parents and guardians of students, like the students themselves, feel comfortable to openly discuss their educational experiences.  To accomplish this, we will continue to communicate through our bi-weekly online newsletter called the BARK, and informational emails to all EB families who have an email address on file.  If you are not receiving school and district emails, please call the Earl Boyles office at 503-256-6554 to provide your correct email address. You many also find us online on our School Website: eb.douglas.k12.or.us. Families will receive our bi-weekly electronic school newsletter beginning in October. We also have a shared Facebook page with our SUN Partner IRCO which has resources available at https://www.facebook.com/IRCO-Earl-Boyles-SUN-Community-School-114046377007113/?modal=admin_todo_tour

We welcome, and encourage your participation, and communication, as this will be key as we move forward.   

This fall we will be in a full virtual format called Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) from September-December with the hopes of reuniting at school on January 4th, 2021.  Our plan for coming back to school physically, of course, will be determined by the number of COVID cases in Multnomah County.  I want to assure you that we will do our best to help your child experience great gains academically and socially even in a virtual format.   We are always open to suggestions on how best to fit the needs of your child and pride ourselves on having an “open door” policy so please feel free to reach out during the year.  

In order to best plan for you and your child, we would appreciate some information from you as we start to plan for the year so we know how best to communicate with you and your child.  Please take a moment to complete the Earl Boyles Family CDL Survey so we can support you to the best of our ability.  The link to the survey is below:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZyqVWbndDf78I8KN45SDrPv2StT1SCKzA5J9d2M8pwo/edit OR

https://forms.gle/9VEnsi2kj9aHgfJZ8 (If link above doesn’t work, try this one.)

Below and on the back of this page are some points of interest for your planning as we start the year.

COMPREHENSIVE DISTANCE LEARNING (CDL): Although most of us experienced distance learning last spring, I wanted to let you know that  it is going to be very different this upcoming year.  Our district has adopted an online curriculum that our teachers will be using.  Students will have live instruction every day from their teachers in reading, math, and writing. We will also have instruction in social studies, science, PE, music, library and art.   Students will participate in both whole group and small group instruction.  There will also be assignments to be completed off-line.  Just like in past years, attendance is going to be crucial.  However, we know that some parents may have other obligations (like work) so we are exploring the possibility of recording all the live sessions.  The most important thing is to support your child with logging on to our online learning platform every day so they can boost their academics as well as connect with their friends and teachers. Don’t worry, we will show you how to do this in the coming weeks. Below are four priorities that we adopted from the Oregon Department of Education’s guidance that we are using to plan for the upcoming year.

  1. Ensure safety and wellness: The decision to return to school settings must be driven by health and safety considerations.  
  2. Cultivate connection and relationship: Quality learning experiences require deep interpersonal relationships and a learning environment where people feel safe, seen, and valued.  
  3. Center equity:  We recognize the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Latino/a/x, Pacific Islander communities; students experiencing disabilities, and students and families navigating poverty. We are applying an equity-informed, anti-racist, anti-oppressive lens to promote culturally sustaining and revitalizing educational systems that support every child. 
  4. Innovate. The complex circumstances in which learning is currently situated requires ongoing reflection and innovation to assure deep learning for every student. 

START OF THE YEAR SCHEDULE:  We are all eager to get started with our students, however, our teachers and assistants need time to learn the new curriculum for seven different subject areas and new teaching and learning platforms so that they can optimally teach your child.  The teachers’ first contract day back is August 31st. Therefore, we are postponing the start of school until September 14th. Please note the dates for the following events:

  • September 8-11: Planning /Virtual Grade Level Open House and Individual Calls
  • September 14: PK-grade 5 students first day online-Soft start with building connections, relationships and routines
  • September 14-18: Virtual Open Houses with teaching staff will be scheduled, and personal calls to families if needed
  • September 21: Online Academic Instruction begins with routines, expectations and building classroom community

VIRTUAL CDL FAMILY SESSIONS: Earl Boyles, Gilbert Heights, Gilbert Park, Lincoln Park and West Powellhurst principals will be hosting an online informational Q&A session about Comprehensive Distance Learning for our school families.  We will provide a brief 5-8 minute presentation which will be followed by opening the platform for any questions you might have. The meeting will be held virtually on Monday, August 31 at 5:00. A link for this session will be emailed to families soon so please be on the lookout for this information.

VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE:  We will have a virtual Open House by grade level so you can meet your child’s teacher, learn expectations, and find out how to support your child during the year.  These Grade Level Open Houses will be scheduled the week of September 14th. They will be recorded and the link will be posted on our website. More information to come.

PERSONAL PHONE CALLS:  Each parent will have one on one time with their child’s teacher either through Google Meets or on the phone so we can build relationships, answer any questions and help you support your child’s learning.

STUDENT CHROMEBOOKS: As our students return to school in September, we will be providing each student with a Chromebook so that they can engage in synchronous (live), asynchronous (recorded), and applied (independent) learning.  Our plan is to distribute Chromebooks to our families using the same distribution plan that was used this spring.  Please access our district website at https://www.ddouglas.k12.or.us/school-during-covid/family-technology-support/ for specific locations and times.

TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS/FAMILIES: We will be providing support to our families so that they know how best to help their children. Our Curriculum and Technology Department will provide video tutorials to help parents and students.  We will also provide technical ‘Helpdesk’ support via email and phone for our staff, families, and students.  In addition, each day our teachers will have office hours where you can call and check-in if you have questions.Most district communication and updates for families will occur via email and online platforms, and all student education will occur in this format.  If you need assistance with this, please reach out via DDSD family support for technology: Phone number-503.261.8391, Email: family_help_desk@ddsd40.org  The district is currently applying for grants to help provide Wifi to families in need.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES: This year we will not be collecting a $20.00 supply fee for students.  Our district will provide supplies that will be used throughout the year for online learning that support our new curriculum. Supply kits for each of our students will be made available during our soft start week of September 14. 

STAFF CHANGES AT EARL BOYLES:  Each spring we work hard to place students into balanced classes, and notify parents who their child’s teacher will be in the fall.  Unfortunately, we had a decrease in enrollment this fall, and as a result of that we’ve lost a teaching position.  Because of this we had to shift staff to different grade levels, and unfortunately your child may not have the same teacher we anticipated in the spring.  Fortunately all staff members are committed to providing your child with a positive learning experience, and are ready to serve. Teachers will be in contact with families starting the week of September 8. We have some new staff members this year that bring a diverse range of talent and skills, and  I look forward to having you meet them. Please see below for staff changes.

Grade level teams:

  • Preschool: Kristina Catt, Mahyte Colon-Carrion, Katie Nordstrom
  • Kindergarten: Cynthia Casteel, Vickie Saula
  • First Grade: Heather Gerritz, Karen McDonald
  • First/Second Grade Blend: Crystal LeGallo
  • Second Grade: Holly Loew,  Matt Marlia 
  • Third Grade: Heidi Buckner, Linda Long
  • Third/Fourth Grade Blend: Megan Larsen
  • Fourth Grade: Annemarie Reyes, Les Womack
  • Fifth Grade: Fanny Bretsch, Kim Graham, Kayla Thomas

Specialists:

  • Special Education: Jennifer Mazalook
  • Speech: Racheli Ross, Rachel Ludeman
  • Title I Reading Specialist: Sody Fearn
  • Music: Mari Schay
  • PE: My Thach
  • Language Development Specialist (LDS): Maria Adams 
  • Student Achievement Specialist (SAS): Lindsay DeFazio
  • Student Behavior Specialist (SBS): Carrie Tercek
  • Counselor: Chris McHone
  • SUN Coordinator: Erika Hernandez
  • Technology Support: Christopher Lee
  • Library/Media: Adam Reich

The staff has been working diligently to prepare for the students’ first day of school and will continue their high standards for student learning, and behavior throughout the school year. I apologize for all of the changes, but we didn’t anticipate the decrease in enrollment.

STUDENT DAILY SCHEDULE: Students will have a daily schedule from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  There will be scheduled time blocks including a mix of live teaching sessions, recorded sessions, student work time, lunch, movement, small group breakout sessions, and specials (music, P.E., and library).  Specific schedules are still being finalized.

MEALS DURING CDL: The summer grab and go meal will continue through September 11.  During CDL, we will serve free breakfast and free lunch to all who are enrolled in David Douglas schools. This will be a similar grab and go with breakfast and lunch served together between 12:00-1:00.  These may be picked up from Earl Boyles or from designated bus stops.  Please access our district website at https://www.ddouglas.k12.or.us/school-during-covid/food-resources/ for specific bus stops and locations starting on September 14.

CURRICULUM: The elementary curriculum for this school year will be FuelEd,  a research-backed online curriculum that is designed to meet the needs of each student.  More information will be provided about this during family orientations.  

PRESCHOOL FOR 3 AND 4 YEAR OLDS: Earl Boyles is proud to continue to offer preschool to our 3 and 4 year olds living in our enrollment area. The preschool is in partnership with Head Start and David Douglas. This year we will be offering a full-day program.  We will also be serving students and families virtually during Comprehensive Distance Learning. We believe that by partnering early with families we can support your child through their educational journey together.

SUN COMMUNITY SCHOOL: Earl Boyles is a SUN Community School. The SUN Service System (SUN) leads to educational success and family self-sufficiency through an integrated network of social and support services for youth, families and community members. This nationally recognized system of care, works to ensure families are healthy so they can champion and support their children.  Through our SUN partnership, we are able to offer weekly food boxes, adult education, and many more exciting experiences. 

Family Comprehensive Distance Learning Meeting on August 31 at 5:00: If you were unable to attend our informational session regarding Comprehensive Distance Learning and the start of the school year, we recorded the session for you.  You can access the recorded meeting at: https://youtu.be/xxMIZyN9C3g

HAVE MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT COMPREHENSIVE DISTANCE LEARNING?  Available via the DDSD website is a document intended to answer some of your questions about CDL – the who, what, where, why and when of distance learning. Comprehensive Distance Learning is a new way of learning and teaching for students and staff, and we are all adapting as new information and challenges emerge. You may find this document in English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Somali, and Chinese at the following url: https://www.ddouglas.k12.or.us/2020/08/2020-21-school-year-plan/

I also want to acknowledge that we are in a time not only of public health uncertainty but also of great social unrest. As a principal, I am committed to ensuring that Earl Boyles is not complicit in perpetuating systemic racism. In solidarity with our community members, our staff will continue to promote justice by listening, learning, growing and improving our educational practices to create an environment in which every child knows they have the same opportunity to flourish unhindered by prejudice or bias.  This is the moment for everyone to be thoughtful allies, critical thinkers and problem solvers. We hear you, value you,  and we are so very proud of every single student, individual and family in our community.

We have a new, and very different year ahead at Earl Boyles, but I am up for the challenge.  As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Out of adversity comes opportunity.” I love working in such a fine school with outstanding staff members, great families, and wonderful children.  I feel extremely privileged to be a part of the Earl Boyles community, and to work with a staff that is dedicated to a quality education for children. We have an opportunity this year to do a better job if we work together.  

Warmly,

Ericka Guynes 

Earl Boyles Principal