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SMNW Announcements

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April 24, 2020

Dear Northwest Families, 

We hope this message finds you healthy and well. We remain excited to welcome students to our virtual classrooms as we engage in continuous learning. If the first focus for your student is social-emotional needs, please scroll down to find resources available to all of our students. 

This week our focus is on improving communication with our parents and families. We respect the different perspectives and realities of our families as we navigate the many changes in our daily lives. We are encouraging student participation as appropriate for each family circumstance. Teachers will continue to work with students to both improve their third quarter grade percentage and provide priority learning in preparation for next year’s courses. 

On Mondays, each teacher will send a weekly agenda for their classes. If you have been seeking more information, this will address that need. If you do not want more information, please simply disregard. We do appreciate your partnership and feedback as we engage our students in learning. Below we have listed some reasons why it is important for students to continue their engagement in classes. 

Why it is important for student to “Opt-In” to classes and participate in these learning activities: 

  • Maintaining social-emotional wellness and balance. School provides teacher mentors and is a healthy activity for students, a familiar connection and routine. Participating in classes, even virtually, provides an anchor and a source of strength for our students’ wellness and connectedness. 
  • Disengagement brings challenges. Summer often marks a regression of students’ skills. Adding two months to that break without engagement in classes creates an even larger gap in skills. Our teachers have aligned their learning activities to the priority skills that will ensure a successful transition for next fall. Ask your student to visit the “virtual classroom” platform (Google Classroom or Schoology) at least once per day, complete an activity of interest, or attend a class session weekly. Help them keep those skills current. 
  • We miss our students! Our teachers would love for ALL of their students to drop by their virtual classrooms and join in an activity, even if it is random. Our teachers work hard to build positive relationships with students, and we want to stay connected to know they are doing well. 
  • We encourage your child to consider participating in the SMSD Virtual Research and Development Forum. Information is included in an attachment to this letter. 
  • It is not too late for your student to participate. If you are just now joining continuous learning, we welcome you and have some fun activities planned for you! 

Teachers will continue their current plans with students working to improve their 3rd quarter grade percentages for the final semester grade. Teachers are determining ways to update the grades in Skyward and that will vary a bit based on the structure of teacher’s gradebooks. Teachers are recording as students successfully complete the standards and grades will be updated. 

Communicating engagement to families: Starting this Monday, teachers will use Skyward to communicate an engagement score to families that is a “No Count” assignment. This assignment will not impact student grades, rather it is to communicate to all parents how their student is engaging in the class. Students will receive a 10 if they have participated fully and met expectations, a 5 if they have engaged at some level or met some expectations, a 0 if they chose not to engage (no penalty just communication) and an X if students are not participating due to social-emotional needs or family hardships. Only the student and family can access this communication in Skyward. It is completely confidential and for communication only. 

We have continued supports available for your student, please reference the information below. Tele-Counseling Consent Information for Families: The Shawnee Mission School District will offer tele-counseling from your school’s mental health providers as a part of the continuous education services being provided from April 7 through May 27, 2020. All counseling sessions will be virtual through a platform called WebEx. WebEx is HIPAA and FERPA- compliant. To the extent that it is possible, providers will be in a room in their house that is away from all other family members, providing confidentiality between them and your student. School mental health providers may be in contact with you about continuing services with your student. If you would like your student to speak with a mental health professional, feel free to contact them via email. Schools and staff emails can be found for social workers here or counselors at this link. Prior to receiving tele- counseling, all parents must provide informed consent. Consent may be given here or by emailing your school social worker/counselor to request a digital form. For any general questions, please contact your school’s administrators, social workers, counselors, or Dr. John McKinney, Director of Family & Student Services, at 

Honors and Awards Ceremony: Our building leadership team continues to collaborate to create alternatives for the celebrations and ceremonies we have scheduled in the spring. We are compiling the names of our award recipients for department, state, and national awards. Stay tuned for more details on how we will recognize this spring’s honorees. 

Access to Building: We are currently restricted to essential access for our buildings for the next two weeks. Once we receive further guidance from our state and local health departments, we will update families about the plan to access student items left in the building. 

Please contact me if you have questions or need additional support throughout these upcoming weeks. 

Take care, Dr. Lisa Gruman