For the first time since March, a few scholars are back at IDEA in person for school. Our in-person support launched last Tuesday. We had 100% attendance from our registered scholars. This first phase of reopening is available only for our scholars who are most in need of individual support, including English language learners and scholars with dedicated aides.
This week even more scholars will be learning in the building, each receiving freshly prepared breakfast and lunch daily. Scholars are coming to school in IDEA swag and parents have been extremely supportive of our work in phase one. We plan to announce guidelines for phase 2 of reopening in November.
To prepare for having scholars back in the building, IDEA held intensive in-person training for staff to ensure we are taking the safety and health of scholars and staff seriously and following all recommended precautions and protocols. Staff who participated in the training came voluntarily, as IDEA is not requiring anyone who does not feel comfortable returning to the building to do so.
We are now launching intervention classes for 9th and 10th grade scholars who need extra support in reading and math. Scholars will be working in small groups with our Urban Teacher Fellows to shore up their skills. English teacher Lauren Norfleet will be managing the program, in case you have any questions.
Free On-Demand Tutoring
Understanding that virtual teaching is not the same as being in the classroom, we are now providing a free tutoring service through our partner, FEV tutors, as a free resource to scholars and families. Scholars must register with the tutoring program. Once they’ve registered, they will have access to a tutor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If a scholar logs on to Canvas at 2am they can enter the tutoring platform, chat to ask for help, and within minutes, a licensed tutor will be available to help. We are excited to be able to offer another flexible option to help scholars succeed. Please tune into Thursday’s family town hall call at 6 pm to learn more on how to sign up!
Many thanks to all the parents who participated in parent-teacher conferences last week. This year we expanded conferences to two days to give parents more opportunities to meet with their children’s teachers and understand their progress so far this year.- Especially in this virtual environment it is critical for parents to stay involved in their children’s education to make sure they stay on track. We have been thrilled by the active parent participation in our weekly online town hall meetings. Each week between 30 and 60 parents engage in discussions about what’s happening at IDEA and in our community and what challenges their families are experiencing so we can help each other.
Quarter One Exams
Quarter one exams will take place the week of October 19. Progress reports were emailed to parents last week. Please note that scholars are only being assessed on what they’ve learned so far, based on what the teachers have taught according to the course curriculum. Exams are asynchronous so scholars have from Monday, October 19 through Sunday, October 25 at 11:59pm to complete the exams. We appreciate parents’ help in ensuring that scholars have completed their exams.
We are offering in-person SAT testing for juniors and seniors on October 14 and October 27. Staff members who have volunteered to proctor the exam have undergone safety training. While some colleges have made SAT tests optional during the pandemic, many are still requiring the test for admission, and we want to ensure that our scholars have the opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency on the SAT.
We’ve just launched a new platform called Kazoo to help celebrate the hard work and excellent efforts that both scholars and staff are putting in this year. Kazoo is an online avenue for scholars and staff to recognize others’ modeling of our Guiding Five Principles. This is the first time we’ve created a system where not only can teachers give positive feedback to scholars, but scholars can do the same for teachers and for each other.
Another way to celebrate our school community is at IDEA’s outdoor Fall Festival on October 24. We’ll have a petting zoo, a skating rink and skate rentals, music, and of course, food! This will be a wonderful opportunity for our scholars, families, and staff to connect with each other and get to know the people we usually only see onscreen. We have fun, stay safe, and commemorate the end of the first quarter!
I am grateful for the investment that our staff, scholars, families, and community volunteers have demonstrated so far this year as we all work together to get through this challenging time.