A Message from the CAO
Dear Parents and Guardians of ACPS Students:
On behalf of the entire ACPS educational team, please know that we understand how confusing and frightening the past weeks have been for you and your child(ren). The closure of all Maryland public schools, that began on March 13, 2020, through the current time period, is unprecedented for all of us. We recognize the hardships that the school closures and this crisis have caused you and your family, and we are here to provide help and support for you and your child(ren). We are also here to answer your questions to the best of our ability during this crisis. We understand that there will to be concerns about Internet connection or the lack of Internet connection, access to technology, and a variety of other issues which can lead to feelings of frustration, stress, and helplessness.
For parents of our high school students, we understand your anxieties and fears about meeting graduation requirements, earning credits, losing athletic seasons, extracurricular activities, and senior events such as prom and graduation. This is a challenging time, and these concerns are weighing heavily on your minds. We are working very hard to problem solve and to come up with solutions to numerous issues caused by this pandemic, while still adhering to all of the orders provided by the state health department and the government.
Please know that the direction and guidance that we receive from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and Governor Hogan can change very rapidly. ACPS, as well as every other school district in the State, was asked to determine a Continuity of Learning Plan. Our plan, like other districts, involves both online learning and learning packets for those without Internet connectivity and/or technology. Online learning officially begins this week (April 6th). School principals and members of their staff are assembling these learning packets for distribution after Easter break. Parents who reserved learning packets for their child(ren) will be notified of the pick-up date and times via a school-level phone message. We are requesting that you do not call the school regarding a pick-up date/times as schools are experiencing a high volume of phone calls.
Last week, Dr. Salmon, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, announced that while schools may distribute learning packets, using safety precautions in their preparation and distribution, schools may not collect learning packets once they are completed for health and safety reasons. Parents will need to maintain the completed packets until we receive additional guidance from the MSDE. Please know that we are required to follow the guidance of the MSDE. Several of our parents and guardians reserved learning packets because it seemed like an easier alternative to online learning. I encourage parents to reconsider and use the online learning platform if you have Internet connectivity and technology at your home. Our administrators, teachers, and support services through the IT Help Desks are here to assist and support you.
As you and your child(ren) navigate through online learning or learning packets, please be reminded that your child(ren) will need breaks during the day for play and relaxation. Students are not expected to work full days as they do within a regular school day. At most, students should be involved in their learning one to two hours per day, unless a student is enrolled in Advanced Placement Courses and/or Early College. These lessons may certainly take longer to complete. We know that many of you are working from home and need to use the technology for your business or work. Creating a daily schedule may help alleviate unnecessary stress. We understand that each student and his/her family have different capabilities and situations. Using technology will get easier. Everyone has a learning curve. You can do this. We are here to help. Please update teachers if you and/or your child is having difficulty. Teachers will have identified office hours to help and support students, which will be posted on the online platform. You may call the school regarding a teacher’s office hours.
In addition, our school counselors and other mental health service providers are working to provide their services through teleconferences and phone calls. Information on these services will be forthcoming. We recognize that the outbreak of the coronavirus disease may be very stressful. Fear and anxiety about the disease can be overwhelming to our parents and students. We want to help our students cope with the stressors that they may have. The ability to cope with stress will make you, your child(ren), the people you care about, and our community stronger.
We appreciate you. Thank you for your kindness, patience, and understanding as we navigate through these uncharted roads together. You and your family matter to us, and we will do our very best to help you during this crisis. We are better and stronger when we work together. May you and your family have continued health and wellness, and may you be strengthened to meet daily challenges.
Dr. Kim Kalbaugh, ACPS Chief Academic Officer