With our first day of school a couple weeks away, yesterday's brief from Governor Newsom made some very pointed changes in how and when schools will be able to reopen for in person instruction. The timelines have changed dramatically as his position on the Coronavirus reflects a tightening of restrictions on actitivities by county that will delay the start of in person instruction. Encore is going to continue to schedule every student based on family choice, but the start of school will now be virtual for everyone until San Bernardino County meets the Four Tiered criteria to open for in person instruction. Your family choice is still relevant because Encore is still going to move forward to provide education in the manner of every families' choice as soon as we are allowed.
Yesterday, Governor Newsom released the "Blueprint for a Safer Economy." These new guidelines start status clocks for each county on September 8 and overrides the prior watchlist that we were all tuning in for like the snow day report. The Blueprint is going to slow down reopening of many businesses, including schools, throughout the state because the timelines to move between the "colors" has been increased and the amount of cases per 100,000 to qualify has decreased from 10 to 7. This is a much stricter guideline than what was previously in place.
After watching the brief, going to the covid19.ca.gov website, and reading reports from the brief; this is how Encore is interpreting this new framework.
There are four colors that are guiding the Blueprint (purple, red, orange, and yellow). Purple is the worst catagory and yellow is the best category. (It is noteworthy that there are no colors on the chart that reflect "no modifications needed") The chart above has been taken from the state website and describes how they determine a county rank into each color.
Once a county qualifies to move into the next color, they have to qualify for the next color for 14 days in a row before they will move to that color. That means that San Bernardino County will have to qualify as a red county for 14 days prior to being identified as a red county.
When a county does move from one color to the next, they then have to qualify in the next color for 21 days in a row before they will be able to reopen the businesses that are allowed to operate in that color. That means that San Bernardino County, after September 8, has to qualify on the red color framework for a total of 35 consecutive days before any business in red can reopen.
Then, when the County meets those guidelines, according to the briefing yesterday, schools then have to take two weeks to notify parents and students and staff that in person instruction will be starting before in person instruction can start. That means that San Bernardino County will have to qualify in the red color for 49 consecutive days before Encore can have in person instruction, after September 8. At that time, we will still have to limit the amount of students on campus based on the CDC guidelines that have not changed. Encore's COVID school plan is available at https://www.encoreedcorp.com/covid-19. That means that in a perfect world, the earliest our students will be allowed on campus according to the framework released yesterday will be October 27 (and that is only if San Bernardino qualifies for the red zone by September 8.)
This will update Encore's timelines. That means:
Encore starts school via Distance Learning for all students on September 14
Encore will postpone the start of busing in the high desert until December 1 (unless in person instruction starts in early October / this is also pending CDC Guidelines for busing)
Encore's teaching staff will be working from home until October 5th (pending CDC guidelines)
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Please do what you can to follow the CDC Guidelines so we can get through this. I know that there are varying feelings and positions on the topic, but please:
- Wear a mask
- Social Distance
- Wash Your Hands
- Stay Home When You Are Sick
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILDREN
Single Parents and Dual Income Parents - My heart and our staff is thinking about all of our single parent families and dual income families right now. Many have multiple siblings that are navigating these uncharted territories of distance learning. I know that internet (in general) in a lot of neighborhoods has been taxed with all of the students online. I know that parents are making hard choices right now between educating their kids and putting food on the table by going to work. I also know that our students are older and many of them will likely be playing the role of educator for younger siblings while parents are at work.
Please let your children know that it is OK to tell their teachers what the situation is so we can work with them and help them get a strong education while also helping the family at home. I know this isn't easy for anyone. Our teachers will be recording their live sessions and making them available on their Google classroom for up to 10 days after the original stream in the event that a student can't get online during peak hours or can't do their studies because they are helping their younger siblings. We ask for transparent communication so we can work with you. We have an amazing staff and have talked about this need throughout the summer as professional development. Everyone can understand how hard this is right now. If you ever have any questions or concerns about this process, please email me directly so I can support you through this (email@example.com).
I am confident in the distance learning program that has been built for our students and I am excited to see the roll out of the new school year.
Keeping Your Child Engaged and Adjusted - Nobody likes what is happening. This is so crazy and there are so many emotions that go with what is happening. My own son is a senior this year. He has been on the Encore campus since he was five years old and I look at the senior year that he is going to have and I am sad. Our kids need to have the engagement with their friends and they need to have the engagement with their teachers and the ability to express themselves in their art. Right now, that is not a possibility in the way that we have done it in the past. Yes it is very sad and it feels very unfair. What do we do, especially for our teenagers that are already very emotional and affected just by being a teenager?
Try to stay positive - I know this is a big ask. Many people have lost their jobs and your students have lost their routine. Stay positive and help them stay engaged. Teach them how to research what is happening and where their county stands and talk to them freely about what is happening. This is a HUGE lesson in flexibility and that life is not fair. They are going to grow off of the energy that you give them, so if you are positive they will be more positive.
Make them have a routine - School will be running in real time once we start on September 14. Make sure there is an established place where your student will be attending school and make sure there are designated times for them to complete homework. Make them get dressed and have breakfast before school starts every day so they are prepared. Encore has school desks for sale if you would like to buy some for your house ($10 each. We have box desks and all in ones that we are liquidating. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
Keep your child engaged - We know that our students are reliant on the activities and productions that Encore offers every school year. Even in this virtual world, we are still going to do our best to keep our kids engaged and taking part in events....remotely. As the year unfolds, we will share where and when these events will happen. Make sure your student takes part in these events so they still have the connection to the world. Last year, we found the platform "Twitch" for our virtual prom and it was pretty successful (300 people attended). We are working to plan events and productions that will be seen on "Twitch" this year so our kids can still try to hold on to normal when everything isn't.
Hold your children accountable - When we start back to school on September 14th, it is not the same as the Spring learning for enrichment. September 14th starts the "current normal" so students need to know that attendance to class and completion of work is the only way that they will make academic progress toward graduating from high school. They will need to be held accountable at home.
Encore is going to continue to make a difference this year for our students academically, artistically, and socially like we always have.
Parent Meeting - There is a parent meeting next Thursday at 4:00 pm that will help everyone start the school year. You can RSVP at https://www.encorehighschool.com/calendar
Virtual Team Rush - ASB is working with Encore's team advisors to prepare for a Virtual Team Rush. During this event, you will be able to find out what teams are holding virtual tryouts and membership drives so you can start to meet with your teams virtually as school starts. Some examples of teams are Cosplay, Mock Trial, Dance Team, Hip Hop Team, Cheer, World Scholars and about 20 others. Your class advisors will also hold virtual meetings so the classes can continue to raise money for their senior year.
Encore TV - Starting at the beginning of the school year, Encore's students will work with their conservatory teachers to put together productions that will air on Twitch or Zoom for people to be able to watch. Conservatories, ASB, and teams will still create rallies and productions for the kids to take part in and watch. Art isn't going to stop because the world pressed "pause."
WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT?
School starts on September 14 and there is still time for changes to happen in the world. I will continue to let you know what is happening and give you updates as updates unfold. In the meantime know that the earliest Encore would be allowed to open in person instruction is likely October 27, so get mentally prepared for that. Here is what you need to do to make sure that you are ready for the new school year.
- CHOOSE YOUR CLASSES - If you have not already chosen your classes or your "family choice" program do so today by going to https://www.encorehighschool.com/copy-of-admissions This link will be open for seven more days.
- PLAN FOR DEVICE PICK UP DAY - There are certain days and times scheduled for grade levels to pick up their devices and their novels for the new school year. Check https://www.encorehighschool.com/calendar for guidance on important upcoming dates.
- ATTEND THE PARENT MEETING - Information on the parent meeting is on the calendar link from above. You can attend live or watch the recording after it is over.
- CREATE A FAMILY PLAN - Since school will start at home for everyone, talk as a family to figure out what school at home will look like and how to make sure that everyone is formalizing school as much as possible. Daily attendance is going to be taken and reported to the state, so everyone needs to have a plan.
- SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG - I write a blog for the parents, students, and stakeholders every day to share with you what it going on at Encore. This will keep you up to date. https://www.encorehighschool.com/blog
- BREATHE AND BE POSITIVE - This whole situation is out of our control. We need to breathe, and stay positive in a time when it might feel like the world is imploding. Our personal attitude is going to help or hurt how we get through the current situation. Our personal attitude is also going to help or hurt how our children get through this. Hang in there.
We are excited for a great year. Thank you for your ongoing support of youth arts and thank you for your ongoing support of Encore High School.
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Denise Griffin, CEO is the author of this blog for Encore Education Corporation. Part of Encore Education Corporation is Encore High School, a free public performing arts regional high school in Southern California grades 7 - 12. Encore's program is currently taking applications for the fall 2020 enrollment. Encore offers full time, hybrid time, and independent study programs. Encore offers transporation from the Inland Empire and the high desert. www.encorehighschool.com. Where arts and academics grow together. WASC Accredited. Copyright 2020.