March 27, 2020
Dear APS Families,
We are finishing our second week of school closure due to the Coronavirus. I can only imagine how disruptive this has been for so many of our families. School districts around the state and around the country are struggling to find a responsible educational path through this difficult time. We are in new and uncharted terrain that is challenging us to find new ways to provide instruction and to support our students.
When I made the decision to close schools on March 13th, we had no idea what the future held, but realized that this closure might last longer than the initial two to three weeks. With Governor Baker’s extension of the closure to May 4th, we are entering a second phase. We do not know how the pandemic will progress and whether the closure will be extended again.
To provide some sense of normalcy and consistency for our students, families and educators, the district is planning to return to advancing our curricular program so that our students experience some continuity in their learning over the coming weeks. We know that we can’t replicate the engagement or rigor of the classroom or expect that we will be able to cover all the content or skill development remotely that we would have if we were in school. However, we can support our families and students in both the academic and social-emotional arenas and enable our students to make progress toward the learning targets we had hoped to achieve. We also recognize that you must balance your children’s educational needs with your family’s other demands as do many of our teachers during the closure.
In the first phase of the closure from March 16 to April 3, our educators are providing review and enrichment learning activities. As the closure is now extended, we will be providing a deeper level of resources for our families moving forward. We will adapt our approach to provide students greater structure and more regular connection with teachers and classmates and introduce new content that is important for their continued success. This second phase will begin on Monday, April 6, 2020, in order give our staff the time to prepare. I have heard from many families who are looking forward to this enhanced content and structure for their children and from teachers who want greater engagement with their students.
We have to think carefully about what learning objectives are most critical and which ones we can realistically achieve by the end of the year and focus on those. Our administrators and coordinators, in collaboration with Sandy Trach, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, and Sara Stetson, assistant superintendent of student services, have been working to provide resources for our next steps. We are being thoughtful about issues related to equity and addressing the needs of all students as we plan. We have to be balanced and thoughtful about the expectations we hold for our students and ourselves at this challenging time, understanding the limitations we are all confronting and the emotional toll this pandemic is taking on families in our community. While we are in a better position to provide remote learning than some districts, we do not have a centralized learning platform. That means teachers, working remotely, will have to coordinate tools, resources, and accessibility considerations to the best of their ability. We have no doubt we will learn as we go, and we appreciate your continued patience during this very challenging time. We will have more details on our remote learning plan for you next week.
Our staff continues their efforts to provide families with resources our students may need during the extended closure. Earlier this week, I provided information on technology for students’ at-home use. For those families that have requested these services, we are working to connect our students with devices in the coming week.
Additionally, our Andover Food Service team has worked diligently to provide our students in need with access to breakfast and lunch. Pick-up is available at Andover High School and our food services team can also be found in our neighborhoods. A schedule and locations can be found here.
As I said at the beginning of this message, this is new terrain for all of us. We have much we can learn in the coming months. It will call on all our educators to be their most creative and open to new learning. There will be wonderful moments in which we truly connect with our students and families. At that same time, there will be difficult moments when we are puzzled by the challenges that are in front of us. I have confidence that working together with you, our families, we can make a difference for our students at this very difficult time. Thank you for your patience and support.