Evergreen superintendent details expectations of distance learning

Email sent to parents Friday to explain what is coming up for students

In a move that is likely happening at school districts across the country, Evergreen Public Schools has reached out to parents in hopes of explaining the way schools will operate with distance learning in the coming months. 

Mike Merlino, the district’s superintendent, sent out an email, close to 700 words, detailing what is to come now that Evergreen has had a few days to consider the effect of Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to close school campuses for the rest of the academic year.

Superintendent Mike Merlino
Superintendent Mike Merlino

The district has been in continuous contact with parents and teachers with several emails throughout the crisis in recent weeks, all archived on the district’s website.

However, parents, teachers, and students expressed concern this week in how to go forward now that in-building learning will not happen this academic year due to Covid-19.

Evergreen Public Schools recently completed the hiring and assignment of administrators for the 2018-19 school year.

The district, the largest in Clark County, on Friday sent out guidelines on grading, high school credits, and also described how distance learning will look like for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Each school will be creating its own virtual learning center on its websites. The plan is for those to be online next week. 

Earlier this week, a teacher reached out to Clark County Today, expressing frustration over the confusion. 

“Be patient with teachers,” said the high school teacher, who asked not to be identified. “We’re learning. We’re trying things we’ve never tried before.”

She noted she did not want to say negative things toward the district because this is all new to the administrators, too.

Bill Oman, the chief academic officer for the district, responded to those concerns.

“We can do better, and we will do better,” he said Wednesday, less than 48 hours after the governor made the announcement to end in-school learning through the academic year.

Oman asked for a little grace as administrators, teachers, parents, and students work together in these unprecedented times. Merlino’s email to parents on Friday is a step toward getting on the same page. 

Oman also said that a survey might be going out to parents in the coming days to find out what is and is not working in regard to online instruction.

Here is Merlino’s email to parents:

Dear Evergreen Community:

As we end the first week of our new virtual learning environment for instruction, I want to start by saying how appreciative I am of both our staff and our families.  This is new territory we’re covering and in the most difficult of circumstances. Teachers and all of our staff miss your children. Our students miss being at school.  They miss their teachers, building staff, their bus drivers, and their friends. I hope they’ve been able to access the resources provided to stay connected. I am amazed and impressed at how quickly and how collaboratively we’ve been able to respond with our new instructional model.  We will continue to expand our School Virtual Learning website and provide answers to commonly asked questions.

School Virtual Learning Websites

Beginning next week, each school will be creating their own virtual learning website in order to streamline communications for students and families.  This will provide one-stop shopping as families will be able to see the weekly learning plans for their class. All school websites will be linked to the EPS homepage as well as individual school sites.

Our schools will also be putting out a common weekly schedule that will help students and families know when they can count on virtual class meetings, when they can expect to receive feedback, and when teachers are maintaining office hours.

Print Resources

In order to maintain continuous learning for students that are having difficulty assessing materials on-line, elementary and middle school grade-level packets have been produced and are currently being printed.  Packets will be available during food pick-up, or other designated times, and may also be sent by mail. Please contact your school principal for more information,

Grading

Due to the emergency closure of schools by Governor Inslee, high school students and middle school students earning high school credits will have two options for how final grades will be posted.  Additionally, the governor has stated that student grades will not be harmed as a result of the closure. Student grades may only increase during this time.

For high school semester two final grades, students may choose to receive a pass or no credit option or a traditional letter grade on their high school transcript. Students must notify their teachers by June 1st.  Students not making their choice will receive the pass or no credit grade on their transcript. Pass or no credit grades do not impact cumulative GPAs. Students in dual credit courses may only earn college credit by selecting the letter grade.  If you are maintaining NCAA eligibility, please check with the clearinghouse before choosing an option. Counselors and principals will also be supporting students in this decision as needed.

For middle school trimester three final grades, students will be receiving a pass or no credit grade.  Middle school students taking high school level courses will be graded in the same manner as high school students.

Elementary school report cards will be completed by June 15th. Teachers will record marks for all applicable areas which apply under distance learning circumstances; some areas will not be able to be assessed and will be marked with an asterisk.

High School Credits

EPS has applied for the emergency waiver through the State Board of Education that gives principals the ability to waive credit-based graduation requirements if the student was previously on track to graduate this school year.  Counselors and administrators will work with individual students where this may apply.

Graduation

Graduation is a significant event that celebrates each student’s journey.  It is also a celebration for each student’s family. We will be working with staff and students to plan a virtual ceremony in June, and we will also plan on having a traditional graduation ceremony at the earliest, safe date allowed by our state. EPS is committed to providing a graduation ceremony for all of our seniors. 

Again, I want to personally thank our staff, our students, and our community.  I am proud of the work that is happening in Evergreen, and we remain committed to serving our community.

Mike Merlino, superintendent

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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