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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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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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News & Announcements

Attendance Reminders for Blended and Remote Families

If you are a remote or blended learner, it is critical that you complete your attendance DAILY. For blended learners please note this applies to your at-home days only; your teacher will mark your attendance when you are in-person.

Update on Middle School Fall Sports

Dear Families, Thank you for your patience as we worked through the many logistics around considerations of running fall sports. Middle School sports are under different guidelines than high school, and the San Juan Basin League helps to guide decisions around safety and scheduling. After much discussion, the San Juan Basin League Principals and Athletic Directors voted to hold off on the 2020-21 football season, and follow the current guidelines issued by the state to wait until Season C, or February, to resume regular fall sports.

Native American Parent Advisory Committee Meeting

The Durango 9-R Native American Parent Advisory Committee will host our first meeting of the 2020-2021 academic year. We hope you’ll join us for an opportunity to get acquainted and begin our school year positively. We will also vote on a schedule for future NAPAC meetings for the remaining academic year.

Meal Calendar Now Online

The 9-R Meal Calendar is now online! You can go to the website or download the app to see what is on the menu at your child's school, for both breakfast and lunch, as well as access nutritional information.

Kids Eat Free!

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture announced the extension of the free meals for kids aged 0-18 through as late as December 31, 2020. The flexibility allows Durango 9-R to operate the summer food service program, which makes free meals available to all children through the fall months. This unprecedented move will help ensure – no matter what the situation is on-the-ground – children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attendance Guides and Instructions for Remote and Blended Learners

Hello 9-R Families, On August 18th, 2020 the school board passed a resolution to help our district define our attendance policies and procedures for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that the experience you had last year with the daily google form was cumbersome and inefficient so we are starting a new way for remote learners and blended learners to let us know they are “present” while away.

Meal Services Information

This year, with students both in schools and out, meal services will look a little different. Durango School District 9-R Student Nutrition program is working hard to create a healthier school nutrition environment for your children. We promote healthy eating by offering organic grass finished beef, organic apple products, whole grain foods, a variety of vegetables each week, salad bar, beans, no fried foods, fresh fruit selections everyday and of course, local sustainable foods whenever possible.

9-R Cleaning Procedures and Expectations

Many families and staff members have been wondering what the cleaning and disinfecting procedures will be in the school this year. While the custodial staff has always had high-quality standards following the guidelines from CDE, those look a little different this year.

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Mission

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

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