Teaching and Learning

The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, the school will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration.

These days will also be utilized for student orientation. This time will allow small groups of students to meet with their new teacher and begin to establish the relationship necessary for a successful school year.

As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels.

The school has developed a continuity of learning plan for the 2020-2021 school year for in-person, remote, and hybrid models of instruction.  

When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, special education students, English language learners, students who did not engage in remote learning during the spring of 2020, and students with technology or connectivity needs.

Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice.  

Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study.  

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.

While schools have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, the school is also planning for remote/distance learning, as well as  for a blended model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning. Parents will always have the choice to remain in the remote learning model. In writing, parents will be required to state their intentions for their preference of their child’s learning, to the principal and the teacher.  Students and families can contact the school regarding questions about learning or technology through email or phone.

In-person Instruction

Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart, and when necessary a clear divider will be provided.

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

The school will minimize the movement of students. This potentially means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) may be pushed into the classroom.  Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity.

To the extent possible, students will remain in cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.

Regular, substantive interactions will occur between students and teachers and clear opportunities for instruction will be accessible to all students.  All instruction will be aligned with State Standards and will include time for students to interact and seek feedback and support from teachers.

Information on school schedules is included here and on our website: visit smsaschool.org SMSA reopening plan.

Remote/Hybrid Instruction

Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, the school has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.

Instruction will not only focus on “core” subject areas to the exclusion of elective courses. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

As noted previously, student schedules will remain the same whether instruction is in person or remote so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously.

Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers finding ways to provide live instruction and lessons to students. While recording of live lessons is still essential for students unable to attend at a scheduled time, teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.

To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students.

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.

Information on school schedules is included in this document and is included on our website: visit smsaschool.org SMSA reopening plan.

Technology and Connectivity

Through a survey we will determine the level of access to devices and high speed internet for students at home.  The school will then arrange distribution of appropriate devices to students in need if remote learning is needed.  We will do everything in our ability to provide work and assistance to those students who do not have access to high speed internet.  If learning packets or one on one meetings are needed teachers will provide these to their best abilities.