Two Rivers Family Update on Remote Learning & Resources

March 27, 2020

Dear Two Rivers Families,

We hope this letter finds you well as we all continue to navigate this unprecedented challenge. Our network team, school leadership teams, and staff have been working hard this week to plan for what our remote learning will look like given our extended closure. This letter includes important updates about remote learning and non-instructional supports between now and April 27th.

During our planning process, we have worked to live the Two Rivers core value, Be Thoughtful, and have developed an extended remote learning plan based on these principles:

  • CONNECTION: We believe that the most valuable time your child has with their teacher is live - whether it is over a video screen or over the phone. Whenever possible, we have prioritized live interactions over pre-recorded content. We have also structured time for crews to maintain connections with each other in age-appropriate ways.
  • CORE ACADEMIC CONTENT: Our main goal during this time of closure is to help students avoid the loss of core skills. We are not looking to introduce many new skills, but there are a few key skills (particularly in math) that we want students to master. We plan on working on these with an appropriate amount of support to ensure they can master them by the end of the year.
  • CURIOSITY and CREATIVITY: During our first week and a half of closure, our focus was to ensure that students had work with which to engage (and we understand that this, unfortunately, did not happen for everyone). Given this extended closure, we are striving to infuse the opportunity for students to engage their curiosity and creativity during this unique moment in time. We are experimenting with how to do that and you should see some opportunities for your students to do this during our plan. We also welcome suggestions from you!

Based on these principles, your child should experience:

Elementary

  • Live crew meetings three times per week
  • 2-3 lessons per week in math and literacy/expedition (live and/or recorded) along with related activities and assignments
  • Virtual crew meet-ups/playdates
  • Individual check-ins and office hours (depending on the grade)
  • Additional lessons and/or at-home activities provided by specials teachers

Middle

  • Live crew meetings every morning at 9am
  • Open and by appointment office hours
  • Live and recorded math, ELA, and expedition instruction
  • Weekly assignments/activities across math, ELA, expedition, and specials
  • Additional opportunities for middle school students to connect and give back to the community (virtually of course)

In addition to the above, English Learners and students with IEPs can expect weekly instructional check-ins to support progression in individual learning goals and access to the general education curriculum.

We recognize that most of you are not trained educators and do not have eight hours per day to devote to being your child's teacher. We have tried to create a plan that will not only provide your student with the opportunity for CONNECTION, CORE ACADEMIC CONTENT, and CURIOSITY and CREATIVITY, but will not feel like full-time virtual school. We also know that as we get up and running with this new plan, we will need to make adjustments along the way.

In order to make the shift to this new plan for elementary as well as making some adjustments to our middle school plan, we will be using Tuesday, March 31st as professional development day. Your child will not have virtual meetings this day, but may have assignments or activities to work on. You can expect our revised remote learning plan to begin Wednesday, April 1st. Parents of elementary students will receive communication from teachers early next week regarding schedules and access to virtual platforms.

Non-instructional Support

We also want to take this opportunity to share some of the non-instructional resources you have asked about. We know that COVID-19 is being felt by our families in many different ways, and that students need food and internet access to be able to focus on learning. We've heard from staff and families that you'd like information about the following areas:

Internet & Device Access

Through the survey and outreach conducted by staff immediately before closure, we identified a significant number of families in need of either or both internet and a device. Two Rivers initially supplied one Chromebook per family with a Two Rivers student in grades K or above that did not have a computer in the household. We also purchased and distributed a limited number of MiFis to families without internet. Since our initial communication to families, Comcast began offering a free Internet Essentials package that does not require a Comcast account or social security number to participate; if you have a Comcast account that is overdue, that may pose a barrier. We are also closely following the city's efforts to help us close remaining gaps in device and internet access. We will continue to provide updates via School Messenger, but please be in touch with a member of our staff about any unmet technology needs you have in the meantime.

Food & Groceries

Since our last communication, we have been pleased to see a coordinated citywide effort to set up meal sites offering breakfast, lunch, and supper to students who normally would receive these meals at schools. Some sites offer shelf-stable foods that can be picked up for multiple days at a time. The best information about the location and offerings can be found at: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/food

We also know that replacing school meals is not enough to meet the considerable financial challenges many families are facing right now, and we are grateful to be a part of a supportive community. Prior to closure, with the help of your donations, we were able to send home more than fifty bags of groceries with families in need. If you want to support TR families with additional groceries during COVID-19, please visit the "Support Two Rivers" page on our website and indicate COVID-19 in the "comment" box. We are grateful to be working with our PSA to help families meet their food needs during this stressful time.

Other Supports

Our team is here for you! Please continue to touch base with our school counselors, deans, and assistant principals to receive the support you need during closure. All of these staff are working to support families remotely and are connecting regularly with our network leadership team about resources needed due to the COVID-19 closure.

Finally, we are working to update the Two Rivers website, www.tworiverspcs.org, to be a centralized hub for both instructional and non-instructional content during this time. You will be able to access learning resources for your child on our website under the "COVID-19" section under "Remote Learning". Additionally, we are in the process of launching a list of food resources and other community resources under the "Community" tab (it will also be linked at the banner on the top). Please check back regularly for updates!

We know that this is unchartered territory for all of us, and we are leaning into another core value, Experience and Grow, as we navigate the road ahead. We appreciate your patience, grace, and flexibility as we address these challenges together.

With gratitude,

Aurora Steinle, Chief of Staff

Gail Williams, Director of Operations

Jeff Heyck-Williams, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Jessica K. Wodatch, Executive Director

Kenneth McCants-Pearsall, Chief Academic Officer

Khizer Husain, Director of External Relations