COVID-19 Update: Remote Learning Phase 3 Details

April 16, 2020

Dear Erskine Academy Students and Families,

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well as you deal with the disruption and worries that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing in our daily lives.  During this uncertain and unnerving time, you continue to be in my thoughts and close to my heart.

Earlier this week. Governor Mills extended the state of civil emergency through May 15, 2020.  Therefore, on-campus learning continues to be suspended, and Phase 3 of our Remote Learning Program will begin Monday, April 27 and run through Friday, May 22, 2020.  This program and timeline are subject to change, pending state or federal actions.

Day-to-day and hour-to-hour developments prompt us to regularly reassess and revise our Remote Learning Program.  Phase 3 is heavily informed by what we have learned about the student, parent, and teacher experiences from the first two phases. In this next phase, we hope to better manage the assigning and completion of school work and improve student/teacher communications.  

REMOTE LEARNING SYSTEM: PHASE 3

During Phase 3, the learning standards, assignments, grading, accountability, and expectations for Phase 2 continue to be in effect.  My March 26 letter to you describing Phase 2, including Q and A, can be found below

In addition, in Phase 3:

  • One assignment per class is assigned each Monday with a flexible due date being the following Monday

Assignments should be doable by students working independently or with some teacher instruction, academic assistance, or special education support. This assignment may include a  virtual class meeting; if so, it will be recorded so that students can view the class at any time.

  • Office Hours for Teachers–10:00am-2:00pm

Regular office hours for teachers may be used for group or individual instruction, for getting help, and for receiving email and calls.  Student/teacher communication may occur outside of regular office hours by appointment. Please contact your teachers following the schedule below.

Tuesdays, 10:00am–2:00pm:  Mathematics/Science/Art/Music/Health/PE

Wednesdays, 10:00am–2:00pm:  English/Social Studies/Foreign Language/Business/Shop           Tech/Family and Consumer Science

Thursdays, 10:00am–2:00pm:  Special Education/Academic Assistance/JMG

NOTES:

  • During Phase 3, in addition to the weekly assignment, students should continue with any work not yet completed in Phase 1 and Phase 2.
  • AP and Dual Enrollment students will continue to participate during Phase 3.
  • Due dates for assignments are not deadlines but guidelines to keep students on pace.
  • Students may improve third-trimester ratings by redoing assignments or submitting “late work.”
  • Finals or comprehensive exams will not be given this year.

END-OF-YEAR (PHASE 4?)

Given our current schedule, and pending no further disruptions, we are on track for a last senior day (anticipated Friday, May 29) and last regular student day of Friday, June 12.  

Phase 4 (timeline to be announced) will be for credit recovery for those whose graduation is in peril and for underclassmen who may be unable to return to Erskine in the fall due to a lack of credits.  Phase 4 may potentially begin as early as May 26 and end after June 12 with an extended school year or summer school for some. 

GOOD ADVICE, SO PLEASE TAKE IT

I have been asked by several students recently, “If only the first and second trimester are being counted for the final grade, then what does the 0-1-2 grading for the third trimester count for?” The third-trimester rating is not calculated into the GPA, but it is used for credit.  Students who receive a “0” for the third trimester will not earn credit for the class for the year. Therefore, it is in your best interest to work with your teachers and assignments as best as your circumstances allow so that you earn at least a “1” for the trimester. Please do your best!

Despite the challenges we currently face, it is also important that we periodically pause and celebrate notable accomplishments. I know you have lost much, or had a lot altered at least–spring sports, prom, class night, and graduation.  About this, I too have a heavy heart, and I’m sorry. Following April vacation, I will be working with our student services staff to think about how we might attempt replacement activities and how to recognize and graduate our seniors.   

In closing, we will get through this.  I look forward to the day when I can once again hold the doors of Erskine Academy open to you.  Until that time, be well, and take good care of yourselves and those around you.   

Warmly,

Mr. McQ

Michael J. McQuarrie

Headmaster 

 

 

Previous Updates:

This is a point of clarification to my extensive letter below~
Please know that students need to complete their assigned work EITHER with the Internet (preferred) OR the paper-pencil packet available from the school.  Paper-pencil packets should be requested ONLY by those having no-to-limited Internet connectivity. In no case, does a student need to complete both the Internet and the paper-pencil packet of assignments.
Finally, depending on the course and teacher, some paper-pencil packets contain one-week of work; others will have the full three-weeks.  Regardless of the amount assigned, please work at a pace that is comfortable and suited to your home circumstances.
As other sources of confusion or concern become known to us, we will send out clarifications and explanations.  Thank you.
Best wishes,
Mr. McQ

March 26, 2020

Dear Erskine Academy Students and Families,

Always, but especially during this anything-but-normal time, you are in our thoughts and hearts.

I write to you today to overview Phase 2 of our Remote Learning System, developed with guidance from the CDC, Office of the Governor, and the Department of Education, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have made difficult but critical decisions to suspend on-campus learning and continue with remote learning until at least April 27th and likely beyond. With this change, and those described below, we are doing our best to provide you with educational and support services, albeit it differently.

Wednesday was a remarkable day for your teachers and administrators, who met in small groups throughout the day to establish this academic program for this third trimester. This program is subject to change, but we believe it to be appropriate for the short term and adaptable for a longer-term recess if needed.

LEARNING STANDARDS for the THIRD TRIMESTER, 2020:
Engage students’ minds with the use of activities from the academic content areas
Ease and comfort student and family anxieties and concerns
Nurture and sustain the student/teacher and school/home relationships

CURRICULUM & ASSIGNMENTS:
To achieve the above standards, instead of pursuing regular content goals and rigor, teachers will assign activities that engage students in reviewing, exercising, applying, and extending previous learning. Some additional information may be introduced to support these assignments, and in such cases, the teacher will provide the material in digital format primarily but also in “paper packets” upon student or parent request.

GRADING:
A three-point rating scale of “0-1-2” will be used to grade student participation in this program of studies (both Phase 1 and 2), assignments, and a final grade for the third trimester.
“0” Student is uninvolved and produced no to little work
“1” Student is involved and produced work
“2” Student is highly involved and produced work that exceeds a basic expectation for performance
These stand-alone ratings of 0, 1, 2 will not be translated into traditional number (0-100) or letter grades for the calculation of grade point average or class standing, They will be used, however, to indicate the successful completion of the third trimester and averaged with the first two trimesters to earn class credit for the year.

ACCOUNTABILITY AND EXPECTATIONS:
Communication between teachers and students/parents will be through Erskine247Gmail and our Google Suite (Google Classroom, Google Meet, etc.). Students are asked to please observe any “office hours” or contact times that may be established by their individual teachers.
Both teachers AND students are expected to initiate regular communication with one another. Check and use email regularly.
Until required to do otherwise, the school’s main building will remain open to limited access for picking up and dropping off “paper packets” of assignments, Monday through Thursday, 7:00am-3:00pm. When doing so, please follow our posted guidelines for physical distancing. Also, please call the school (445-2962) in advance of your visit to ensure the building is open and that your learning materials can be gathered and presented to you at the entrance.
Although teachers may provide multiple days of assignments, due dates are flexible. Teachers may ask for work to be returned on a particular schedule; others may ask that students keep completed assignments in a portfolio for turning in and grading at a later date.
Students should attend regularly to their school work but at a pace reasonable for their home circumstances.
Adhere to the “Six P’s” Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance, by working closely with your teachers and following their instructions.

TIMELINE FOR PHASE 2 and BEYOND:
Monday, March 30, 2020, through Monday, April 27, 2020
Phase 2 “paper packet” assignments are ready for pick up from noon-3pm on Monday, 3/30, and 7:00am-3:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
No instruction will occur during the week of April vacation (4/20-4/24)
April 27, 2020, the remote learning system will be reassessed and refined for its possible continuation

ANSWERS TO ANTICIPATED QUESTIONS:
Q. Do I have the necessary tools and supports to enable my participation in the school’s program.
A. Assignments will be made available in digital and paper formats.
A. School-issued Chromebooks are available to you upon request.
A. Contact Technology Director Colby Foster with your technical questions at cfoster@erskine247.com.

Q. Will I receive Special Education or Academic Assistance support?
A. Yes, only differently. Our special educators, education technicians, and academic assistance teachers are as accessible to you as your regular education teachers. This support staff will work with your regular teachers to ensure that class activities are as closely aligned to your IEP as possible and practicable while remote learning.

Q. Will the 0-1-2 rating scale have a negative effect on my GPA and class standing?
A. No. Class standing and GPA for this year will be calculated by averaging the grades for the first and second trimesters.

Q. What will colleges and scholarship sources think of my academic transcript?
A. For seniors, college admissions and scholarship decisions are generally based on the average of the first and second trimester grades; third trimester grades are requested to verify the consistency of your academic performance since applying for and/or accepting an offer of college admission. In other words, they want you to keep working and learning during this change in program.
A. Attached to the final academic transcript will be a school profile that details our academic program during the COVID-19 outbreak, including the 0-1-2 rating scale. Colleges and prospective employers will not downgrade your achievements because of the program instituted by your school. However, they will want evidence that you engaged in the learning program as established by your school, i.e., 0-1-2 in each of your classes.

Q. If colleges, scholarship sources, and prospective employers will be understanding and not hold me to regular letter or number grades for the third trimester, why should I bother to do my remote learning assignments?
A. To earn credit for your classes you must complete the third trimester successfully by receiving a final grade of either a 1 or 2. Receiving a 0 for the trimester could cause you to fail for the year and thereby jeopardize credits required for graduation.
A. Colleges, scholarship sources, and prospective employers will be interested to know how well you were involved or weren’t, how responsible you were or weren’t, and what you achieved or didn’t with the school’s remote learning program.
A. Your 0-1-2 rating for each class taken this trimester will be affixed to your academic transcript and permanent school record.

Q. What if I was counting on this trimester to pull up my previous trimester average so that I might pass for the year and earn credits?
A. We will be working out how to recover credits through an extended school year, summer school, or credit recovery program available to students through our Academic Assistance program. If you have this concern, it is certainly in your best interest to be active in the remote learning program.

We recognize this change in program presents numerous challenges, the degree of which differs by personal circumstances. Our shared vital interest in “flattening the curve” of COVID-19 transmission, has led us to impose dramatic changes that are clearly not typical of the Erskine experience, which is hard, particularly for a school community that is deeply human. We ask that you bear with us, just as we will bear with you, during this unnerving and uncertain time.

In closing, we feel the strain of your absence from us and our inability to be together in traditional ways. Although physical distancing is the present demand, we still need to stay socially connected, and we can do so by the means we have available to us. So let’s reach out often and keep in touch. While away, be well, and please do well for those around you.

With affection,

Michael J. McQuarrie
Headmaster

   

March 18-

The Erskine Academy campus and services will be closed on Friday, March 20, 2020, so that our employees can attend to their loved ones.  Operations will resume and the campus will reopen to faculty and staff, and to visitors by appointment, on Monday, March 23, from 7:00am-3:00pm.

Thank you and be well.

Michael J. McQuarrie
Headmaster

March 17, 2020

Dear Erskine Academy Students and Families,

We miss you.  We miss your presence and the life you breathe into our school.  Simply put, Erskine Academy is not the same without you.

As stated in previous communications, in response to the governor’s declaration of a civil emergency and the Department of Education’s recommendation that schools cease classroom-based instruction as soon as practicable, we have opted to meet your learning needs by implementing remote school days.

Beginning Wednesday, March 18, we will be launching our remote learning system. You will soon hear from your teachers regarding class assignments and the supports in place to aid your learning.

We have anticipated some logistical challenges with this new educational delivery method such as your technology needs and access to the Internet.  If you are in need of your personal belongings, a school-issued Chromebook, or, for those without Internet connectivity, a “pencil paper” packet of assignments, please call the school at 445-2962 to arrange for a pick up of these materials on Wednesday, March 18, from 8am-5pm or Thursday, March 19, from 7am-4pm.

While in recess, we recognize the continued need that many of our members will have for meals.  We have learned from the middle and elementary schools in our sending communities that high school students are welcome to bag lunches and breakfasts from these locations:

  • Windsor, Chelsea, Palermo, Whitefield–9am, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

  • China Middle and Primary School–9am-11am, Monday through Friday

  • Vassalboro Community School–9am-10am, Monday through Friday

These schools would appreciate a call from you in advance of your visit so that ample supplies of food are on hand.

These are extraordinary times and circumstances that have required our thoughtful and careful actions regarding our educational program.  Clearly, this is not our preferred delivery system, as this represents only a part of the Erskine Academy experience. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we endeavor to do the imperfect as perfectly as we can. I am confident that together we can navigate these challenging times.

Sending you my sincere wishes for your good health,

Michael J. McQuarrie, Headmaster