On Friday, March 13, River Valley Charter School, along with many other schools on the North Shore of MA, announced it would be closing for 2 weeks due to the health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.   This closure was then extended 3 times, culminating with Governor Baker announcing on April 21st that all Massachusetts schools will be closed for the school year.  

Our teachers and staff have worked tirelessly to provide as seamless a transition as possible to a remote learning platform.  Our students and families are also working incredibly hard to keep up their learning through school work, projects, independant research, outdoor exploration, and practical learning opportunites that are available to them in the safety of their homes.  

The April Vacation that Wasn’t

River Valley teachers went the extra mile last week once again to differentiate instruction and keep learning meaningful and relevant! In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on Wednesday, River Valley teachers made it an anniversary week! Teachers put together many (mostly) device-free opportunities for your children to get outside, participate in valuable work, and contribute to the sustainability of the planet. Thank you for sending pictures! I feel immense gratitude for the extra effort teachers made to make the week enriching and fun (and for forgoing April vacation.) I also appreciate the efforts that you parents made, and continue to make, to support your children. We had no idea we would be virtual teachers in the same way you had no idea you would be homeschooling parents! What an exciting year!

 The 2020-2021 School: It Can’t Come Soon Enough!

The first day of school next year has been set! We are planning for a Monday, August 31, 2020 return to the bricks and mortar of RVCS! Please note that circumstances related to Covid 19 could change our plans. Should that happen, we will immediately update you. (We do not have summer school plans solidified as of yet. Those will be shared when finalized as well.)

You may be seeing lots of ideas floating around about what physical distancing could look like in a public-school environment. We are monitoring those as well as guidance from official sources.

Information Meetings for Parents of Students Transitioning from Levels (Ks, 3rds, 6ths)

We have scheduled virtual meetings for parents of students who will move to the next level next year. This includes parents of current Kinderhaus students, third graders and sixth graders. The sessions will be hosted by the teachers from the next level. The purpose is to introduce the team, set expectations, and answer general questions you may have about your child’s transition. The meeting dates and times are included in the calendar information above.

School-wide Planning for Next Year under the Light of Covid 19

As you can imagine, there are a million details for us to figure out to ensure a successful return to RVCS in the fall. We are in the process of working on these plans. 

Surveys

All grade 1-6 classes shared a survey with parents to get input into our Remote Learning program to date. We are using information from the surveys, along with guidance from the Department of Education to continuously refine our remote learning program. Please feel free, at any time, to provide us with feedback. We recognize that your situation may continue changing and therefore your expectations and needs may change over time as well. We will do our best to be responsive to individual needs.

One of the Biggest Challenges for any Teacher….

Is motivating kids to do work! Motivation has been on ongoing conversation among our staff and with parents. We are not always sure if parents are aware of the work being posted, if students are sharing what they are doing, or if our remote offerings align with your family’s situation during the pandemic.  If there are extraordinary circumstances in your family that preclude your child from participating or completing the work provided by teachers, please communicate to the classroom teachers. Specialists are also providing work options- same great teachers, just a different teaching venue. Please take advantage of all the offerings and keep the lines of communication open.

Conferences and other Celebrations

I am working with teachers to solidify a plan for communicating information about your child’s progress this year. Maybe parents will be holding conferences with teachers to keep teachers up to date on student progress at home! More information about this coming soon.

We are also working hard to come up with creative and exciting substitutions for our traditional year end celebrations. This is a challenge when physical distancing is required! We will share plans as they are solidified. (Though some may be kept a surprise!) If you have ideas, please share them.


Support/Help

If your family’s needs change, please reach out to Dan Bouchard (dbouchard@rivervalleycharter.org). We can help with your technology needs or direct you to support with food insecurity challenges. We are working hard to stay connected to various resources throughout the community.

Looking Forward:

Last Friday night, we received information from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education specific to the following four areas:

  1. Best practices in remote learning
  2. Increased needs for mental health support in the shadow of Covid 19
  3. Guidance for re-entry next school year
  4. A set of “power standards” which DESE expects schools to focus on between now and the end of the school year.

Teachers are continuing to refine their practices in response to the guidance. Our counseling staff are working arduously to support students and we are finding creative ways to provide other opportunities for connection (Lego clubs, group recess options, etc.) In some cases, we are leveraging other staff members to help with this work. Please reach out to our school counselor, Katy Field, if your child needs extra social/emotional support.

As always, whenever we have more information to share, we will.

Be well. Stay safe. Stay connected,

Jonnie Lyn