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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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Principal's Message

Community Newsletter 3/30/2020

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, March 30, 2020 Welcome to our second week of EMS home-based learning. Because our school model has changed dramatically over the past week, we will be checking and adjusting our plans frequently. This week, we are focused on identifying the best communication strategies to interact with students and maximize their learning while schools are closed down. I certainly appreciate your patience as we identify the best ways to distribute, collect, and give feedback on student work. Below are a few updates and announcements on our current home-based instructional model. For Students Accessing Lessons Online: Teachers will be pushing out lesson plans for the week by each Wednesday at noon. We are working as a staff to build consistent communication platforms through the use of Google Classroom, team websites, YouTube, and Zoom to streamline our instructional delivery. Mail or School-Pickup of Paper Lessons: Our copy rooms will be hard at work for families who requested paper mail delivery or school pickup, and we will be distributing those items each Thursday and Friday. Our target time for school based pick-up is from 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm on Thursdays, and 8:00 am - 12:00 pm on Fridays. Last week we experienced copier breakdowns and other similar hurdles, which delayed our timeline. To save parents from taking unnecessary trips to EMS, we will text parents when the work is out and available for pickup, so please check your phone and/or emails during those time periods. If you are expecting school-based pick-up but are not receiving a text, please email your child’s Crew teacher so that they can update our records. When you pick up work from the school, please maintain social-distancing with other families and ensure that your hands are washed before accessing the materials in the pick up bin. We will sterilize the bin each to prevent the spread of germs. Submitting Work: Submitting work to be graded can be a challenge when students demonstrate evidence of their learning on paper. The most efficient method to submit paper based work is to scan it with an App such as Genius Scan, and then email it to the assigning teacher. You can view Mr. Tidwell’s video below to learn more about this. How do I change my work delivery method? If you would like to change how your child is receiving their work, please email your child’s Crew teacher, who will update our communication systems. Report Cards: We will be creating 3rd quarter report cards this week. We will mail home a copy of the report card only to families requesting paper copy service. Families who are currently receiving work online can view the third quarter report cards on Infinite Campus. We will notify families when the report cards are ready to view online. Attendance: Middle school students are receiving emails daily to notify our office that they are engaged in school. Students should complete this form once a day. Students who do not complete the form are marked absent for the day. Please ensure your student is checking their email daily to fill out the attendance form. If your household does not have access to email, please continue to leave a message at 247-9490 Ext 1 to record your student is attending home based school on a daily basis. Thank you for your partnership as we work through this unprecedented public health crisis. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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Principal's Message

Watch for Updates on the Durangoschools.org Website

Dear EMS Community, March 13, 2020 It’s definitely been a hectic few days with a quickly shifting landscape in regard to our nation’s response to COVID-19. I encourage you to be checking in with our district’s website for details. Here is that link: https://www.durangoschools.org/ I want to make sure that we are clear in our communication on a couple of events specific to Escalante. In alignment with our district’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus, we are canceling all after-school activities, athletics, field trips, and events that invite numerous community members into our school until further notice. This means that we will not be conducting in-person student-led conferences on March 30th. One of the ways you can support our efforts is to reinforce some hygiene habits. If they can return with hand-washing skills intact it would go a long way towards keeping our school healthy. I look forward to welcoming back our students when the restrictions are lifted. Please do regularly check the district’s website in the event that the state’s guidelines for school response changes over the next weeks. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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News & Announcements

P-EBT Benefit for Families

Colorado was approved to provide P-EBT benefits for eligible families. Families with students that were eligible for free or reduced-price meals during the 19-20 school year (or were newly eligible within the months of March, April or May) could receive up to $279 per eligible child.
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News & Announcements

Board Approves Reduced 2020/21 Budget

The 9-R Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the $56.6M 2020/21 budget at their board meeting on June 23, 2020. This year’s budget work included adjusting for a 5-percent reduction in state funding, considerations for using CARES Act funds, and enrollment predictions and impacts.
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News & Announcements

ABC Award Winners!

We were so excited to partner with McDonald's in recognizing our amazing teacher’s for going “Above and Beyond the Call,” or ABC, with an ABC Award, which includes a cash prize of $500 for a lucky teacher at each school site! We received many wonderful and heartwarming nominations from parents throughout the community who were blown away by their efforts to adjust their instruction to meet kids at home during the COVID-19 closure.
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News & Announcements

Parent Feedback Forum - 6.3.20

Last week, Dr. Connell shared information on our thinking regarding different ways we are exploring to serve your children. Of course our greatest desire is to have all of our students back in school and will continue to strive for that unless restricted to do so.
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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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