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Superintendent's Message 2020-10-08

Dear families,

On Tuesday, we had one of our longest Board meetings in a while. Our Board and district leaders spent a lot of time reviewing the feedback you gave us via our online survey, looking at the latest data from the Salt Lake County Health Department, and weighing our options for how to provide the best possible education for our students right now.

After meeting with the county health department and learning more about COVID-19 cases in other schools, learning from other school districts in the county, and examining conditions in Salt Lake City, I made a recommendation to the Board to allow for more flexibility in our in-person learning opportunities during the remote learning period.

As needed, some small groups of Special Education students and English Language Learners have been able to attend in-person sessions with their teachers this fall. We are extending that flexibility to schools as they look at other targeted populations, including some of our youngest learners (pre-K through 2nd grade) and high school seniors at risk of not graduating. Please check with your student’s principal for information related to in-person small group instruction.

I also shared with the Board a little bit about the Utah Health and Economic Recovery Outreach (HERO) project. I’ve been meeting with representatives from the university to discuss testing options for our schools. If we can work with this project to amplify testing opportunities for students and school employees, we may be able to safely return to in-person learning sooner.

I will keep you in the loop as I learn new information that might impact our learning plans in the Salt Lake City School District. Please read the information below for some important updates.

DISTRICT HOTLINE

Our Family Resource Hotline is open and ready to help. District families in need of resources can call 801-301-6476 to ask for help. The hotline will operate Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. A voicemail inbox will be available during off-hours and will be monitored throughout the weekend. 

The hotline will provide support to families needing help with homework, student tech/devices, emergency food resources, and other basic needs. Families can also arrange emergency food deliveries if they are unable to make it to our food distribution sites. If we cannot directly provide assistance, we will do our best to connect families to community resources that can help.

Help is available in English and Spanish. We can provide support via interpreters in other languages, as needed.

ELP APPLICATIONS DUE

If your student is currently in grades 1-7 and you are interested in enrolling them in our Extended Learning Program (ELP) for the 2021-22 school year, applications are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Assessments will begin in November.

Extended Learning Program (ELP) services are provided to meet the needs of identified gifted/talented and high ability students. These services offer students the opportunity to engage in learning with greater depth, complexity, and rigor through differentiated curriculum and instruction. More information is available on .

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FALL RECESS

A quick reminder that Fall Recess is next week, and we will not have classes on Thursday, October 15 or Friday, October 16.

INTERNET ACCESS

We realize access to the Internet is essential and that many of our families struggle with getting adequate access for their students’ remote learning. To help alleviate this, we have ordered and received an additional 800 Internet hotspots, which can be loaned out to families during the remote learning period. The Salt Lake Education Foundation has also created a partnership with Comcast to provide broadband Internet service at no cost to families in need. These services are available by requesting help from your school.

If your family needs help with Internet access, please contact your school’s principal, and they will refer you to the proper district contact.

KIDS CAFE DINNERS

We’ve partnered with the Utah Food Bank to provide a Kids Café Dinner at select schools, in conjunction with our regular “Grab and Go” meal service program on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

In addition to receiving breakfast and lunch, at nine designated school sites, children ages 0 to 18 may now also receive food for dinner on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm. Each child will receive enough food/groceries to provide dinner for five days.

This FREE program is open to ALL children ages 0 to 18. School enrollment or free/reduced lunch status are not required. Kids Café dinners will be provided on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the following schools:

Tuesdays

  • Bennion Elementary
  • Mary W. Jackson Elementary
  • Meadowlark Elementary
  • North Star Elementary
  • Parkview Elementary

Wednesdays

  • Edison Elementary
  • Glendale Middle School
  • Liberty Elementary
  • Rose Park Elementary

STIMULUS CHECK ENROLLMENT ASSISTANCE

There are approximately 70,000 people in Utah who are eligible for a stimulus check but haven’t claimed one. Families and individuals may be eligible even if they didn’t complete 2019 taxes.

Next week, Tax Help Utah, in partnership with Utahns Against Hunger, Salt Lake City, and the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office for New Americans are providing enrollment assistance October 12-14th from 2-6pm at Library Square 210 E 400 S (in the old KCPW office). A future Saturday date is currently being planned. (Please note that face masks will be required.)

November 21 is the deadline to request your stimulus check, but the sooner you apply, the faster you will receive that money.

SURVEY RESULTS

Thank you to those of you who responded to our survey last week. We heard back from the parents of nearly half of the students in our district. The survey was sent to parents via email in both English and Spanish.

The feedback from the survey has already been incredibly helpful. Our goal is to return students to in-person learning as soon as we can safely do so, but for now, we want to make sure we optimize the remote learning experience as much as possible. Below are some of the things we learned from your responses:

  • 72% of parents felt that remote learning is manageable for their child.
  • 99% of parents indicated they have access to Internet at home. This percentage was the same across the East, Highland, and West networks.
  • 98% of parents in the East and Highland networks and 97% of parents in the West networks indicated their student has access to a computer or tablet to use for remote learning.
  • By November 10, if COVID-19 numbers stay close to what they are right now, 54% of parents would prefer to continue with remote learning.
  • 31% of parents indicated they would prefer for their student to return to in-person learning regardless of COVID-19 numbers.
  • 18% of parents would opt to keep their child in remote learning, even if the district as a whole is able to return in person.
  • 64% of parents felt safe with their student participating in socially distanced, in-person, small group instruction at their school.

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What this survey tells us is that remote learning, while not a perfect solution for every family, is working for most families in our district. We have heard from many of you about the desire for more flexibility and hope that expanding small group work as described at the beginning of this email will help meet some of the needs our families have communicated to us.

Thank you again to all who participated. We will have additional opportunities for families to provide input, but I want to remind you that you can always reach out to me or to your School Board member directly. .

Sincerely,

Larry Madden
Interim Superintendent
Salt Lake City School District

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