Dear GMS Parents and Guardians,
This is by far the most surreal ending to a school year that any of us could have imagined. We are sure that all our GMS families are still trying to adjust to this new reality, as are our staff members.
The only thing we know for certain is that we are all doing the best we can under very trying circumstances.
We wanted to reach out to our families to find out first and foremost, how you are doing. PLEASE let us know if you have any questions or concerns about your child, our program, or our school in general. We will try to answer any questions to the best of our ability.
Much of what our teachers are doing academically right now is governed by either school or district policies.
Some of those new policies include:
A block schedule that has students “attending” their classes only on Mondays and Wednesdays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays. Many teachers are doing Zoom classes during those block days. On Fridays there is to be no new instruction, but we are to hold “office hours” for students or parents to reach us. The office hours schedule for all teachers is attached to this email.
A new grading policy that says no student may receive a grade lower than the grade that they had on March 13, when we began sheltering in place. Teachers were also told that the 10-week grades also could not be lower than the grade a student had on March 13. Grades can go up, however, at a teacher’s discretion. The 10-week grades should be mailed home soon.
In effect, students have already figured out that missing work will not be counted against them. If students had a high grade, they have very little incentive to keep working, although we are highly encouraging them to do so.
We can give students “unsatisfactory” marks in work habits and cooperation, but if a student is really having issues learning at home, it would seem unfair to do so.
Our grading scale has also gone from an A-F to an A-D scale. No student will fail the spring semester, no matter what grade they had before or after the school shutdown. However, our understanding is that if a student receives a D in a class, they will automatically be enrolled in summer school, which will be held strictly online this summer. Teachers will also have to document that they tried to reach the parents of any student receiving a D for the final semester grade.
Because many students stopped working once they found out that missing assignments will not affect their grades, it is more important than ever for parents to urge their children to keep working and learning. Fortunately, we were already three-quarters of the way through the school year. But that is still a lot of time to miss in an academic year, and we expect that every student in the United States will fall behind in their studies to some degree because of this sudden transition to online learning.
Exactly how much a student falls behind will depend greatly on a student’s individual motivation level, or a family’s ability to provide a strong, supportive learning environment whenever possible. That means it is more important than ever for parents to sign up for the LAUSD Parent Portal (https://parentportalapp.lausd.net/parentaccess/) and log into Schoology to track student progress if at all possible.
Most teachers are putting in either full credit for an assignment, or a designation of “incomplete,” which does not affect a grade one way or another. When students are not logging into Schoology or completing assignments for more than a week, teachers have been directed to contact parents to find out why.
We have been told that the district has teamed up with Amazon to provide noise-canceling headphones to all students to help with one major learning-at-home issue, and that is a step in the right direction. But in order to make this online transition even somewhat successful, we realize that parent involvement is critical.
Many of us are having a hard time focusing, sleeping, or simply not worrying during this very unsettling time. We are primarily concerned about the physical and mental wellbeing of our students and their families right now.
Wherever possible, however, we will continue to teach and learn the best we can. GMS was off to a great start this year, and we don’t want to go backwards…we want to look forward to better times.
With gratitude for your continued support,
The GMS Team