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State of the District September 11, 2020 Graphic

Dear PSD Staff and Families:

It has been an amazing effort by everyone to get our school year off to a great start! Staff are meeting, students and staff are Zooming, meals are being provided and buses are transporting small groups of students to receive much needed services. Masks are on, hands are sanitized, and physical distancing is being observed. Here are some news items for this week:

Back to School First Day Video
In case you missed it, here’s our video from our first day.

Kindergarten and First Grade Family Survey
We are excited to invite our youngest learners back into our school classrooms starting Monday, Sept. 21. So we can prepare for the right amount of staffing, elementary principals emailed a survey to families with children in kindergarten and first grade to find out which families want their child to come to school for in-person learning and which families want their child to learn remotely. We are able to offer this option because Pierce County's COVID-19 case rates are in the Moderate range, as defined by the Washington State Department of Health Decision Tree. The plan to invite K-1 students for in-person learning assumes Pierce County COVID-19 case rates continue to be stable or decrease. 

If you didn’t receive the survey via email, or have questions before you feel comfortable making your selection, please call your child's school. You can also refer to our FAQ. Survey responses are due at the end of the day on Sunday, Sept. 13.

Student Zoom Safety
Student safety is our top priority, especially while learning in a remote environment. Therefore, this week we changed the way our students access Zoom meetings with their teachers. This means only Zoom accounts that end in will be allowed to enter Zoom meetings created by PSD teachers. Students must log in through My PSD Portal into Zoom and THEN join their class meetings. Students can also log in directly to Zoom at using the SSO (Single Sign-On) option. Watch this video to learn how. If your child is having problems logging in, please email or reach out to your child’s school for further assistance.

Student Attendance Update
An important change from the spring is that teachers are now taking attendance for all classes. According to research, attendance at the start of the year is critical to building relationships and sets students up for success throughout the year. Whether students attend school in-person or remote, daily participation is critical to academic and social development.

While we know that attending live instruction with teachers and peers is the best learning environment for students, we understand this may not be possible for all families during remote learning. Recent changes to state attendance rules count any student participation as present - even if the learning takes place outside of normal school hours. Students will be marked present for turning in assignments, working on Schoology, or messaging a teacher on scheduled school days whether they attended a scheduled Zoom session or watched the recording later.

Through Oct. 2, all absences from remote learning across the state will be marked as “Remote Learning Absences (RLA).” These will not count as unexcused absences. This change is intended to provide families with flexibility to start the year. Beginning on Oct. 5, students may be marked as excused or unexcused with a note from a parent or guardian about whether the absence was from in-person or remote learning.

School staff will continue making calls home for absent students to encourage attendance and make sure families are notified early of any absences. If you know that your student will be absent or unable to attend a live session, please call the school. These calls help everyone work together to support student learning and safety.

Free Meals for Students Continuing via PSD Grab & Go Service
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week it will extend funding for student meals, so we are again offering Grab & Go meals at select school sites throughout the district. 

Meals are available at no charge to Peninsula School District students 18 years and younger through December 2020, depending on federal funding. This is a change to what we previously shared regarding meals for the 2020-2021 school year. We still encourage families to submit free and reduced meal price applications, if appropriate. Find further information, including meal sites and routes information, on the Nutrition Services web page. 

Safety Protocols While Visiting Schools
All visitors to buildings in the Peninsula School District during the pandemic, including children, are required to complete a health screening. This includes taking your temperature and answering questions regarding your health. Also, you must wear a mask and physical distance. Thank you for your cooperation.

We appreciate your partnership and patience as we continue to work through the many details related to school reopening. We hope you have a nice weekend.

Thank you,

PSD Leadership

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