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Principal's Message

Pivot to Remote Learning 11/11/2020

Dear Escalante Community, Thank you for your understanding as we pivot to Remote Learning due to the COVID-19 surge we are currently seeing in our community. Our intention is to serve students in-person, but the impact on our ability to staff our schools became so diminished with the need to quarantine that we were forced to go remote through December 18th. On December 11th, our school district will make a decision about how we will reopen schools in January; remote, blended, and in-person are all possible options. The rate of spread of the virus will inform the decision. If your family is experiencing technology issues, here are some ways we can help. Contact Mr. Tidwell through email at stidwell@durangoschools.org. He is committed to shepherd EMS through our remote experience, and he can help get you the support you need. If you need help with internet access or receiving an additional laptop, contact Ian Lennox, ilennox@durangoschools.org, or Kim Osby. kosby@durangoschools.org. I understand that technology struggles can be extremely frustrating, but please be kind when you contact them as Steve, Kim, and Ian are working extremely hard to solve problems as they arise. For the duration of the remote closure, we will be conducting weekly Zoom meetings on Tuesdays from 5:00 to 6:00 pm. We will utilize the Zoom translation technology for our Spanish speaking families. The purpose of these meetings is to: Provide updates to the community about remote education at EMS Collect feedback from the community to improve our systems Communicate strategies for parents about supporting your child’s remote instruction. Counselors will lead these portions and rely on Neurosequential Model in Education (NME) research. Watch for IC Messages that will include the Zoom Meeting information. Not getting IC messages? Contact Dona in office 247-9490. Work is also currently underway to get started on projects using funds from our recently passed bond. If you would like to be involved in the planning process, you can apply to join the Bond Oversight Committee by following the link below. On a final note, keep in mind that we have no school from November 21 - November 30. Classes will resume after break on Tuesday, December 1st. I hope to see you next Tuesday night over Zoom, and thank you again for your understanding as we pivot to remote instruction. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss and David Tanaka EMS, Administration
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Principal's Message

Message from the Principals 8/05/2020

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, 8/5/2020 As of today, about twenty-five percent of our families have selected a model of learning for the coming school year. Yesterday, we conducted two live Zoom sessions to assist people who had questions about their selection. If you would like to view a recording of the session, you can watch it by following the link below. The first thirty minutes covers safety procedures. The second thirty minutes gives information about the set-up of our schedule and explains the three models: 5 days in person Blended home and remote 100% remote After I viewed the recording, it is clear that I have a long way to go before I’m ready for a television career! While it will be short on entertainment, you will find detailed information on our plans for next year. Sorry, but we were unable to download the chat for some reason. See the 8/04/2020 Zoom Community Updates link below: Once your family has selected a learning model, please complete the school district’s form as soon as possible. The deadline is August 10th. If you have already filled out the form, but have changed your mind, you can fill out the survey again and we will go with the most recent survey. See the link to the form below. As soon as we have all of the information from the selection form, we will begin to build our Crews for next year. Keep in mind that we will be forming all new crews this year due to the strict guidelines set out by the state. The most restrictive safety measure on our scheduling is that students will be with their Crew for the entire day - we will go to great lengths to avoid any mixing of our student cohorts. Because social interaction is so important for our students, we are making attempts to pair each student with at least one friend who they work well with. If you would like us to consider social connections for your child, you can complete the form below to help guide our decisions when we build cohorts. This survey will close on the 10th as well. See the link to that survey below. I have a few other updates to share with our school community. Athletics: The state has postponed fall and winter athletics to the Spring. Depending on the local circumstances, we will have all of our middle school sports’ seasons compacted into our Spring athletic season. As we get closer to February, we will share information about sports. Volleyball and football will not start next week. We will provide updates when we receive clarification on our ability to resume a program on an intramural level. Delayed Start to the School Year: Last night, our school board pushed back the start of our school year to August 31st. Back to School Night Zoom Style and a new School Day Preview Event at Escalante will be scheduled during the week of August 24th. Even though we will be delaying school, we will be using that time to prepare students and families for the school year. As soon as we have dates selected, I will email them out, but your attendance at these events will be instrumental to our ability to have a successful launch for our school year. Thank you for your patience, input, and participation as we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss and David Tanaka EMS, Administration
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Principal's Message

Final Thoughts From Principal Voss - Have a Great Summer!

Dear EMS Community, As we bring the 19-20 school year to a close, the 20-21 school year planning is ramping up. There is one last step to finishing this year - finalizing year-end grades and mailing them home. This year, the vast majority of our students will be getting grades of Pass, Pass Minus, or No Credit. While no credit sounds ominous, it would best be labeled Not Yet Demonstrated. Essentially, there is no judgement behind these grades as we are aware that families had vastly different circumstances during the closure, and the onus is on us to accelerate students to address any gaps in learning that may have occurred. No students will be repeating a middle school grade because of the closure, and our teachers are already at work building in potential learning gaps into next year's curriculum maps so that all students can demonstrate learning. Currently, I am working on scheduling for next year and preparing for a wide range of possibilities. The most current word I have from the state can be viewed in the article below: https://co.chalkbeat.org/2020/6/3/21279852/colorado-schools-fall-plans-reopening-polis-predicts-larger-classes When we start-up in the fall, it is looking like we will either be in a blended model, which combines two days of school with home-based learning, or in a model that allows for up to 25 students in a class, which would allow us to schedule a traditional approach combined with safety precautions. By the end of June, I anticipate having more clarity on Colorado's plan to reopen schools, and I will be sharing information with our families as soon as I have concrete information. On a final note, I am also working to start up a summer learning program. As of today, 87 families have indicated that they are interested in summer school based on the most recent district survey. If you have yet to take that survey, please follow this link: https://app.surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?DFFB9788DE9B8F84DD If you indicated that you would like your child to participate in summer school, I will reaching out with our plan once we have finalized the structure and dates of the program. I hope you have a safe, healthy, fun-filled summer and I look forward seeing you all when school resumes in the fall. Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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Principal's Message

Community Newsletter 5/04/2020

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, The week of May 4 to May 8 is Teacher Appreciation Week. Under normal circumstances, we would treat our teachers to a wonderful lunch and honor them with kind notes and cards. This year, please encourage your child to drop them a nice line as they turn in their weekly assignments. Like many professions, this is a very challenging time to be a teacher, and I am extremely grateful for their perseverance and kindness throughout the school closure. Over the past few weeks, we have seen an uptick in concerns for students and families who are struggling with anxiety, grief, and stress. Ian Lennox, Kristen Spielgel, and Theresa Jennings collaborated to put together an informative video about stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage you to watch the video below. Many of our staff, myself included, found the information extremely helpful. Additionally, we will be conducting Life Presentations for our 8th graders this year. The information will soon be distributed to students, and much of Life Presentation content will be completed through students’ 8th-grade assignments. Please encourage your child to complete the Life Presentation as it provides an opportunity to have a meaningful reflection of their middle years that will support their transition into high school. On a final note, this week we are working with the district to finalize plans for how students will drop off school materials such as uniforms, technology, or books that belong to the school, as well as retrieve any belongings they may have left at the school. My hope is that we can communicate these detailed plans next week. Thank you for your continued support. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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Principal's Message

Community Newsletter 4/13/2020

Dear Escalante Middle School Families, 4/13/2020 Over the past week, I’ve received a great deal of feedback from a variety of parents, students, and teachers about our home-based educational program. At Friday’s staff meeting, teachers reflected on the feedback, worked collaboratively to identify the best instructional techniques we’ve discovered so far, and named the specific training that we needed to improve our systems. This week, we are providing training on five different home-based instructional tools. I appreciate our staff tremendously for their dedication to engage in professional development amidst the uncertainty of the times. Additionally, much of the feedback I’ve received has been less about the quality of the lessons, but more about the quantity. Roughly one-third of families believe we are assigning too much work, a third just right, and a third reporting we are assigning not nearly enough. This feedback is a clear reminder that the school closure and COVID crisis are impacting each family in profound, yet unique ways. In order to assist families across this spectrum, our staff is working to provide all students with an accessible entry point, and then assign more work through extensions and options that create a very high ceiling for students. In case you missed it over the weekend, the school district also pushed out a couple of very important documents recently that I want to make sure you are aware of. The first is that we are switching to a weekly attendance system, as opposed to a daily system. The attendance form will be significantly shorter as well, and will be shared with students on Fridays. You can read about the details here: (See ATTENDANCE link below) I also am glad we can offer clarity on how grading will occur for the second semester. You can read the details on our temporary policy here: (See GRADING link below) While I certainly miss our students and “regular” school day, EMS is determined to do the best we can to continue improving our home-based instruction until we get to return to our campus. Thank you for your support. Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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News & Announcements

Instructional Feedback Survey

As a reminder, we are asking families to share your remote learning experiences with us every week. Your feedback helps us to continually refine and improve the instruction your children receive while remote. We want to be swift in our response to your feedback and we will ask you to complete this each Friday so that we can make adjustments early the next school week.

9-R Community Update - 11.20.20

As shared last weekend, the district will focus its communication on Friday to update you on important matters at the district level during this pivot to remote learning for our students. In this video, we hope to share updates with you on: - The rationale for the shift to remote learning; - The current status of our community with regard to the COVID crisis; - Our pathway forward as we look forward to reopening our schools in a safe and careful manner; and, - Reminders about services currently available to our students as we provide remote services to our K-12 students.

EMS hosting Book eFair!

While families won't be able to browse the shelves filled with exciting titles this year, we have created virtual shelves to peruse. Using the brand new Follett eFair platform, we're able to offer even more books than normal. Through his eFair, students can browse titles, create wish lists, and parents can make purchases from the comfort of your home! And, since we're partnering with Follett, a larger portion of each purchase will go toward funding our school library than with a traditional Scholastic fair! The eFair begins on Monday, November 9th and will run until December 1. Books purchased will be delivered directly to students at school for an exciting unboxing! When the fair begins (remember, we have to wait until Monday), it will be accessible through the link below. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact Steve Tidwell (stidwell@durangoschools.org).

EMS Student Wins BIG at the CAGT State Conference

CAGT is the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented. The state conference was held virtually Oct. 19-20. GT students were invited to submit a piece of art interpreting the theme: Through Their Eyes: A Wider Lens of Gifted. Delia Bong, a 7th Grader at Escalante Middle School won 2nd place out of entries from all over the state. Title: 2020 in a Nutshell Delia's Description: "I wanted to represent 2020 and how it has been a complete disaster, but I also wanted to show that there is still hope in the world during the tragedies of today." Delia is the daughter of Sarah and Matt Bong. Way to go Delia! You are an amazing artist and we look forward to seeing more of your work!

Remote Learning Expectations

Thank you for partnering with us during the next few weeks as we engage your child in remote learning while we prepare to hopefully open our schools after the winter holidays.  On Friday, we will provide you with more information as to our community's progress in getting control of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and our metrics we will look for as we prepare to reopen our schools in the future.

Remote Meal Services

Order your FREE meals for pick up from school sites or bus routes. Durango School District 9R Food Services is requesting families fill out a form and pre-order meals for delivery starting 11/16. Order deadlines will be the Friday before the delivery week.

Apply to be on the 9-R Bond Oversight Committee

We are so incredibly grateful for the ongoing support the community of Durango has for education. Thank you to all of those who supported the bond initiative, whether you helped on the committee or filled in the 'yes' circle. As we move forward with the expenditures of the bond dollars, we are seeking community and staff members to support the work ahead of us.

9-R Pivots to Remote Learning for All Families - 11.10.20

Dear Families, We commend all the efforts that our families and staff have made to allow 9-R to open up our school year with three different learning models, including in-person. That was not an option for many districts across the state and the country, and we are grateful for the opportunity to support students and enjoy success in the first quarter of the school year with little to no issue.

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Empowering students to apply the habits of work, learning, and scholarship to become productive and caring citizens.

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