School Closure through May 1
April 3: Message from the Superintendent
April 3, 2020
Dear ASD staff, students, and families,
I want to say thanks for your diligence in getting through this week of learning many new things! In some ways, this felt like the first week of school again as everyone worked to build their muscles in our new way of conducting “school.”
Curriculum and Instruction
By now, teachers across the District have connected with their students via Zoom, Canvas, Seesaw, and APEX online learning platforms.
We are concerned about the security and safety of students and staff while online, especially in Zoom. A new protocol was established last week in which ASD’s meetings are invite only, meaning that students and staff must use their ASD password protected account, not a personal one. When each online class begins, students are approved to enter the online environment, and the tools for the session are all controlled by the host, not the participants. Again, permission must be granted. These controls are designed to keep our staff and students safe online.
However, more vigilance is needed. While Zoom, the company, has responded to the security concerns, ASD continues to have students disrupt the learning environment with poor behaviors. Sharing passwords, filming sessions, filtering the media, and displaying inappropriate behaviors while in Zoom class are unwarranted. ASD will address these behaviors appropriately as we do with misbehaviors in our traditional classrooms. Again, cyber misconduct will not be tolerated. We encourage our students to channel their creativity productively, not disruptively. More information for staff to this regard will be going out early next week.
For ASD courses, as a review to our students and parents, schools have been asked to do a phased roll out, with the first two weeks focused on the core subjects of English Language Arts and Math for all grades, and additionally, Science and Social Studies for high school. High school electives courses will begin April 13. For parents, students, and teachers, our collective school from home reality is new. We are taking one bite of the education apple at a time you could say! Thanks for being patient with expectations as teaching and working from home are big actions to juggle in all our lives. Our employees and our parents are both working through the home issues of the challenges COVID-19 has presented. It is good to go slow to go fast later.
As shared before, two of our main priorities for the remainder of this school year are to keep our seniors on track to graduate and all high school students earning credits. We will provide supplemental educational activities for our elementary and middle school students to sustain them until traditional classroom learning is once again a reality.
In summary, one of the best parts about distance learning is that you work at your own pace, in your own place, and your own space! Parents, please encourage all students to participate with focus. Teachers will be providing feedback on our students’ learning.
Equity in Distance Learning
In rolling out our distance learning plan, ASD has been mindful that not all students have access to computers or the internet. To plan for equity of our students, we have made several efforts to narrow this gap by issuing Chromebook computers and 750 Wi-Fi hot spots to those high school students who identified a need. As with instruction, we are also rolling out devices in phases. Beginning next week, we will distribute Chromebooks to middle school students who reported a need. To support students without a computer or internet access at the elementary level, we will periodically mail paper/pencil packets on learning units directly to your home. Please share your needs with your teachers, as this will direct the district-wide support.
Students with Special Needs in Distance Learning
We have a clear plan to address individual needs and have been reaching out to families to discuss their students’ unique needs. ASD recognizes flexibility and creativity may be required to accommodate and work through individual issues, but we are committed to provide for the needs of our students. Please know that because of the circumstances brought on by COVID-19, we are unable to exactly duplicate the services your children experienced at school, but I assure you that we will do our very best to provide the most comprehensive services and best experiences possible for your children.
ASD Engagement in Community-wide Response to COVID-19
Although the vast majority of ASD employees are working from home and practicing social distancing, ASD is fully engaged and integrated in the community-wide response to COVID-19. To this end, many of our employees are working on the front lines, providing key support to our community. They include our school nurses, food service staff, bus drivers, and maintenance and custodial staff.
We continue to operate 26 fixed feeding sites and six mobile feeding routes to provide free meals to ASD students. We are distributing an average of more than 10,000 meals per day, and three times as many on Fridays! We could not accomplish this without the selfless dedication of our food service staff and bus drivers.
Sixty of our school nurses are volunteering for a variety of essential tasks with the Anchorage Health Department, the municipal Emergency Operations Center, and answering 2-1-1 calls. Some have also been trained to work at mobile testing sites as needed.
ASD has contributed a variety of personal protective equipment (PPE) to community first responders from our emergency supply and relocation sites. These include:
· More than 41,000 M95 masks
· 1,300 surgical masks
· Almost 1,800 bottles of hand sanitizer
· Almost 20,000 pairs of gloves
We are in this together and I am confident in the resiliency and resolve of the entire community. Parents, I encourage you to exercise grace and set realistic expectations for your children. Students, please recognize that most parents are not professional teachers, and they need grace too. Do your best and reach out to your teachers or counselor if you need assistance.
ASD teachers have your best interest in mind. I believe in our teachers who have worked to make school happen, from your homes and our teachers’ homes, in just two short weeks. We are local, we are personal, and we know your children. If your school cannot get the supports you need academically or otherwise, ASD has a created new resource tool for city-wide coordination—the Student and Family Wellness Initiative. This is a one stop access to cooperative resources during this pandemic. If you have a need, we will work within our means as well as with community partners to support it!
FOR ANY SUPPORT CALL 742-HELP (742-4357)
Finally, this weekend, I am reminding everyone—teachers, support staff, parents, students, and our community—take a deep breath, try to relax, and remember the most important priority is the health and safety of us all! The choice to succeed is ours to make.
Deena M. Bishop, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Anchorage School District
5530 E. Northern Lights Boulevard
Anchorage, Alaska 99504
Office Phone (907) 742-4312
Mar. 24: ASAA Cancels Spring Activities
Mar. 23: JBER moves to Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Charlie
Mar. 20: Statement Regarding Closure Extension through May 1
Mar. 18: Statement to Families Regarding ASD Services
Mar. 17: ASD Student Nutrition Food Distribution Update
Mar. 16: ASD Education Center Closed to the Public
Mar. 13: Flattening the COVID-19 Curve
Mar. 12: Statement from Dr. Bishop, Superintendent, regarding School Closure
Mar. 11: ASD Families Return from Spring Break
Mar. 10: ASD Staff: Prevention, Sanitization, and Preparation
Mar. 05: ASD Staff: Prevention, Sanitization, and Preparation
Mar. 04: ASD/Family Action Plans
Mar. 02: All school-sponsored domestic travel canceled for March and April
Feb. 28: All school-sponsored international travel canceled for March and April
Feb. 26: Message from the Superintendent
- Mar 20: Office of the Governor Health Mandate
- Mar 16: Municipality of Anchorage Emergency Order
- Mar 13: Office of the Governor Health Mandate
- US Department of Education COVID-19 Info for Schools
- State of Alaska information on COVID-19
- Coronavirus Checker
- COVID-19 Situation Summary website (CDC)
- Multi-lingual Resources
*ASD login required
- Health Services General Leadership (GL) Presentation
- Information Technology GL Presentation
- Work-from-home application links
- Contact Information
- Questions/Answers from GL