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All Ithaca City School District schools are closed until April 15, 2020. Learn more>>

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Distance Learning Plan

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During our extended school closure, we will provide students with access to instructional activities through digital and non-digital distance learning approaches. Our goal is to ensure that all students have digital and/or non-digital resources that allow them the option to engage in the content they had been learning while at school. Our union and district leadership have developed the following plan to support our young people and staff. 

Given our commitment to equity and inclusion, a unified approach to alternative instruction will begin on March 25, 2020. All learning activities will focus on review of current content and, due to equity and access, no grades will be assigned at this time, nor will extra credit. Please know that we are making plans for more extensive distance learning if our schools are closed for longer than originally scheduled. Our teachers, ESPs, and administrators are working together to design in-depth learning possibilities if needed beyond spring break.

We all want our children and families to have equal access to common learning experiences. In that vein, here’s what you can expect beginning March 25:
 

PreK through 5th grade (primarily non-digital approach)
  • One time per week, classroom teachers will provide
    • 2 ELA activities
    • 2 math activities
  • One time per week, special area teachers will provide
    • 1 differentiated activity/video/resource per grade level on our website
All of these distance learning activities are available online and will be arriving in packets to families who requested printed copies. These will be delivered by members of our transportation department, who will leave packages on doorsteps. For all digital materials by grade level and special area, please visit your school’s distance learning webpage at the links below. 

If you originally requested digital activities and would like to change your preference to printed materials, please just fill out this form again or call us directly.

Elementary School's Distance Learning Pages


Sixth through 12th grade (digital approach)
  • One time per week, teachers will provide
    • 1 activity per course 
  • School Counselors and Deans will provide resources on social and emotional supports and shall continue to work on scheduling, as well as virtual course selection meetings.

Secondary distance learning activities will be provided through Google Classroom. Teachers will be sure to share classroom codes with students.

Secondary families, if you haven't already done so, please complete our Student Device and WiFi Access Survey as soon as possible: https://forms.gle/1Ltf8ZAk77rN97cR7


Distance Learning 2.0

Currently, our educators are engaged in planning for our next phase of instructional delivery, ICSD Distance Learning 2.0.  In the event that school is closed for an extended period of time, our goals for this next phase are:

  • to provide our students with a truly engaging and empowering academic distance learning experience;
  • to ensure our students have access to appropriate social & emotional content, skills, and strategies;
  • to support our educators so that they have the ability to manage their own lives while planning and teaching through a distance learning approach. 
ICSD staff will offer opportunities for students to learn together in a virtual classroom at the same time (synchronous) as well as provide assignments to be completed with or without educators present (asynchronous).  This combination of instructional delivery will allow for all students to learn and connect through a variety of methods.  Depending on your student’s grade level, you will see: 
 
Pre-K-1
Instruction:
  • Assignments and materials (books, workbooks, etc.) will be delivered to your home. We will be recommending supplemental digital resources as well. Students will be learning around 1 hour to 1.5 hours each day, doing work and connecting with their teachers.
Connection:
  • Daily contact (by a teacher - classroom, specialist or aide/TA) via phone, email or digitally as appropriate.
  • Weekly office hours hosted by Master Educators of Inclusion will be available should you have questions or concerns.
 
Grades 2-5
Instruction:
  • Chromebooks, along with print materials (books, workbooks, etc.) will be delivered to your home. Students in grades 2-3 will mostly use software, SeeSaw, and students in grades 4-5 will mostly use Google Classroom. Students will be learning 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours each day, completing assignments and connecting with their teachers.
Connection:
  • Daily contact (by a teacher - classroom, specialist or aide/TA) via phone, email or digitally as appropriate.
  • Weekly office hours hosted by Master Educators of Inclusion will be available should you have questions or concerns.
 
Grades 6-8
Instruction:
  • Chromebooks, if not already, will be delivered to your home. Grades 6-8 will continue the use of Google Classroom.  Students will be learning around 2.5 hours to 3.0 hours each day, doing work and connecting with their teachers.
Connection:
  • Each teacher will connect at least twice per week/per course through office hours and/or direct video lessons.
  • Weekly office hours hosted by Master Educators of Inclusion will be available should you have questions or concerns.
 
Grades 9-12
Instruction:
  • Chromebooks, if not already, will be delivered to your home. Grades 9-12 will continue the use of Google Classroom.  Students will be learning approximately 2.5 hours to 4.0 hours each day, doing work and connecting with their teachers and classmates.
Connection:
  • Each teacher will connect at least twice per week/per course through office hours and/or direct video lessons.
  • Weekly office hours offered by Master Educators of Inclusion will be available should you have questions or concerns.

During the week of April 6-10 we will continue to deliver meals, as well as connect with and provide learning opportunities for students. If an extended school closure is necessary in response to the New York State Disaster Emergency, we plan to transition to the more robust ICSD Distance Learning 2.0 plan beginning on April 13, 2020.


Tech Support Hotline

If students or families are experiencing issues with technology (how to log on, device not working, missing charger, etc.), please call the Family and Student Technology Support Line any time at (607) 882-9850. Please leave a voicemail and someone will call you back as soon as possible.



FAQs: Distance Learning Plan

 
Why will the current distance learning plan not look just like a regular school day? 

While some expect our approach to mirror college and university experiences with distance learning and/or professional work-from-home arrangements, educating PreK-12 students in a print and digital environment requires much different planning and preparation, in that it must include specifically-designed, developmentally-appropriate curriculum, materials, and activities, based on using digital platforms (a novel experience for younger learners). This is why we are differentiating our approach in partnership with our trusted educators and administrators.

Our current focus is on review until spring break (April 3, 2020) and we are in the process of developing approaches that will support longer-term distance learning if we are not permitted to return after this break. 

In collaboration with union leadership, we have carefully considered a number of factors as we designed the current plan, and we will continue to consider them as we craft additional plans. These include:

  • Equity and access: There is uneven student access to additional materials, internet, and adult support, PreK-12, at this time. Although we will rather quickly provide full device access and internet hotspots to students, issues of equity and access will take time to assess and attempt to equalize across our district’s 5,400 learners.

  • Family stressors: Families throughout our community (and world) are struggling with the necessity of going into work because they will not be paid otherwise, sickness, trauma, and other significant life experiences in the wake of COVID-19, and they can not facilitate the same level of learning that teachers provide in school.

  • Students as childcare providers in their homes: We know that many older students are currently providing childcare for their younger siblings while their caregivers are working.

  • Professional development for educators: Our staff do a phenomenal job. We also need to provide professional development to turn a centuries-old tradition of in-person instruction into a print-based and/or online endeavor, PreK through 12th grade.

  • Educators’ family needs: Many of our teachers are at home caring for their own families, and experiencing their own challenges, while also working to create educational experiences for our students.  

 
Why is the ICSD talking about equity and inclusion in terms of the distance learning plan? 

Given our commitment to equity and inclusion, a unified approach to alternative instruction will begin on March 25, 2020. We all want our children and families to have equal access to common learning experiences. Given our nation's current inequities and oppressive systems, our district, and districts throughout the United States, have much work to do as organizations to ensure that the education students receive across the thousands of our homes is equitable.

We fully understand that every student’s situation is unique, and we cannot expect that every child has the same level of support at home. Each family is experiencing its own challenges in the midst of COVID-19. We know that some caregivers must continue to work full time, may be enduring their own sickness, are experiencing trauma in relationship to this pandemic, and/or have varied family support structures. Thus, while these activities aren’t required for students to complete, we encourage you to leverage these resources to offer our young people regular opportunities to learn and grow, even outside of school.

 
Will 6-12 students have access to Chromebooks or the internet?

Yes. Secondary families, please fill out this form by the evening of Sunday, March 22 so that we can learn whether:

  • your 6-12 child needs a Chromebook and does not have one for any reason;
  • you need access to the internet (click here to learn more about Spectrum’s free offer); and
  • your child needs their instrument from school. 
Don’t worry, we’ll call you if you don’t fill this out, as we understand access is not uniform.
 
Will PreK - 5 students have access to Chromebooks or other devices?

At this time, we are focusing on ensuring that our 6-12 students have their Chromebooks and access to the internet. The coordination and delivery of devices to our younger learners is something we plan to look at if we are to remain closed beyond the spring break.  

 
What other resources are available to guide my child’s learning during this time

The New York State Education Department recently released a website full of learning supports and announced that PBS stations throughout the state will be showing educational content during this extended closure. Please check out the NYSED Continuity of Learning website for more information.  

 
How will this prepare students to pass a particular grade or exam, or even graduate?

Our distance learning plan is in place until spring break. In the meantime, we are preparing plans for longer-term distance learning in the event that the Governor declares that we must be out of session for longer. Although we hope that this is not the case, we know that we must be prepared for a closure that surpasses our current reopening date. 

 
What about report cards, conferences, and 5-week grades?

All of these are currently on hold due to our closure and we will be communicating more about these in the coming weeks.

 
What about special education and preschool special education services?

This is an unprecedented time. The IDEA, Section 504, and Title II of the ADA do not specifically address a situation in which elementary and secondary schools are closed for an extended period of time (generally more than 10 consecutive days) due to exceptional circumstances, such as an outbreak of a particular disease. We are working to support all students as we are able and will have updates for you in the coming weeks.

We know that parents and caregivers of children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans have questions and concerns about their children’s special education and services during the closure. While the situation is ever-changing, the ICSD has, at this time, made the decisions outlined below. We will continue to shift what we are doing in response to local, state, and federal directives. 
  • Special Education modifications and guidance will be provided in collaboration with general education teachers to maintain students’ progress toward IEP goals under the current restraints. The focus will be on maintaining skills vs. acquiring new skills.    

  • Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech-Language Therapists, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Adaptive PE teachers will be offering activities and/or home plans to maintain progress toward IEP goals under the current constraints.

  • Office hours will be provided so that Special Education teachers and Related Service providers can connect with students and families on their caseload. We are asking case managers to make initial contact with families.

  • Technology resources, such as Learning Ally, will continue to be available to students and posted on our website. Please contact your Master Educator of Inclusion if you need access to the internet or technology.

  • Therapists will contact families whose children use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC) devices and programs on strategies during the closure.

  • Auditory supports will continue to be available. We are working closely with our audiologists from CiTi BOCES to make this happen.

  • We will be communicating and collaborating with Racker and TST BOCES to determine what and how special education programs and services will be addressed.

  • All CSE meetings will be canceled through April 12, 2020.

  • All testing in process for special education initial eligibility decisions will be suspended. Testing will resume when students return to school.

  • IEP progress monitoring will be suspended and will resume when students return to school.   

If you have questions about your child’s special education services, please contact their Master Educator of Inclusion (MEI) or Sheila McEnery, Director of Special Education. 

 
What about the Committee on Special Education (CSE), Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) and Section 504 meetings?

All CSE, CPSE, and 504 meetings are canceled through April 12, 2020. We will be communicating details on rescheduling meetings in the coming weeks.

 
What about New York State testing and Advanced Placement (AP) tests?

The administrations of the 2020 elementary- and intermediate-level State assessments have been suspended for the remainder of this school year. This suspension for the remainder of the school year applies to the following New York State testing programs:

  • New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) Test
  • New York State Grades 3-8 Mathematics Test
  • New York State Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test
  • New York State Grade 8 Intermediate-Level Science Test
  • New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) in Grades K-12
  • New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) for students with severe cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8 and high school
At this time, Regents assessments are expected to be given as scheduled (June 17-25 and August 13-14).

On March 20, the College Board released plans outlining how students can prepare for AP exams, and potentially take said exams, through distance learning. You can review these plans here.