Although learning will be occurring remotely, faculty and staff at STMS are proud to continue to provide students and families with a Catholic education, including a rigorous academic program and faith formation. As always, we appreciate the partnership of our parents in making this possible. Teachers will continue to instruct lessons based upon Archdiocesan standards, Washington State learning standards, and the Common Core State Standards. As usual, teachers will continually monitor and assess student growth towards these standards, as we operate remotely. This document provides information intended to support the successful partnership of home and school in this unique time, striving for meaningful engagement of students in the virtual learning process.
Grades K-5 will continue to use Seesaw as their learning platform, while Grades 6-8 will be transitioning into using Google Classroom. Teachers will also be regularly using Zoom for live interactions with their classes, including direct instruction and check-ins with students. Other online resources, such as IXL and Khan Academy, will also be employed. PowerSchool will continue to be used to track and communicate student progress on assignments and assessments throughout remote learning. Email between school staff and parents will also continue to be as essential form of communication during remote learning, as frequent and open communication will be vital to support students and families through this time.
St. Thomas More Parish School is committed to developing within students a deep understanding and love of the Catholic Faith and Christian principles upon which it is based. During the remote learning experience, teachers will continue to have daily prayer as part of their lessons. Families are also encouraged to establish a dedicated prayer space in the home that supports the practice of daily prayer. This may include a special cloth with liturgical colors, a crucifix, Bible, and rosary. We will also continue to engage the students through various stewardship activities, Faith Families, and Mass with Father Okumu. We also ask you to continue attending Sunday Mass virtually or in person.
When lessons are scheduled to be delivered through virtual means (online), attendance is still required during typical in-school hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30-3:00). Teachers will track virtual attendance in a variety of ways to confirm a student’s participation in virtual learning. This will include taking attendance during live video sessions, monitoring daily logins and responses in Seesaw and Google Classroom, and student completion of daily assignments. These methods will be used to verify attendance so this can be inputted into PowerSchool. The role of parents and guardians is to ensure they and their student(s) are aware of the way in which attendance will be noted daily, and to notify the classroom teacher when students are unable to attend virtually. Online absences are the same as in-school absences and make-up work will be completed for grading. Students must be present and active throughout the day, not just for morning check in.
Sustained periods of virtual education are successful when students have a routine to follow and an appropriate space in which to work and learn. Your child’s teacher will provide a general outline of scheduled lessons and required Zoom meetings for a typical week. Once you have an idea about daily time commitments, take time to discuss the outline of the day and create a more specific plan for your child and family to follow. Stick to a daily routine as much as possible. Don’t forget to include plans for breaks and lunch. It is necessary for students to get up and stretch and that their breaks include some type of physical movement.
In addition to developing a daily learning schedule, it is important to designate an at-home learning space. Ideally, this space should have:
- A computer, iPad, Chromebook or other device with internet access. Cell phones should not be used as the student’s internet device as they are not the best resource for accessing assignments and Zoom meetings. STM has laptops available for loan. Please contact the school office if you are interested.
- A flat work surface and appropriate seating. STM will also loan out student desks if needed for at home learning.
- Good lighting
- Ready access to learning materials and tools
The dedicated learning space should be located in a shared area of your home such as at the kitchen table, a large kitchen counter, or a desk in a living room or family room. This sets the tone of a designated work space separate from sleep, play, and other distractions. Additionally, learning space in a shared area allows parents and guardians to readily support learning while also monitoring online activity.
Virtual learning experiences don’t just require a device, but also require similar materials to in-school learning. Classroom teachers will be sending out a modified list of supplies that need to be readily available at home for remote learning.
As we continue to move through Remote Learning, we will have designated days where families can pick up grade-specific supplies needed to support upcoming curriculum for students learning at home.
Online Computer Etiquette:
To provide a safe and effective online learning environment, it is critical that everyone understands and follows certain rules for appropriate online behavior. At the beginning of each school year, students and parents are required to sign the STMS Acceptable Use Policy. During online learning, these are guidelines that we all must be aware of and careful to follow each day, including parents and other adults who may be helping with online learning. In addition to these specific guidelines, students are expected to use general online etiquette and follow specific expectations laid out by teachers for virtual interactions. These expectations include but are not limited to the following:
- Use respectful behavior and language at all times.
- Stick to appropriate topic discussions.
- Send only appropriate image and video transmissions.
- Use only appropriate icon, emoji, and avatar submissions.
- Be honest and do not plagiarize or copy others’ work – in other words, use academic integrity.
- Do not falsify information about yourself or impersonate others online.
Expectations specific for Zoom meetings include the following:
- Be mindful of the environment around you while in videos, such as additional noises (pets or younger siblings), family conversations, television or music in the background, posters or artwork that would be inappropriate in a school setting.
- Wear school appropriate clothing if you are attending meetings via video.
- Be seated in your work space and not walking around the room.
- Remain visible at all times during Zoom.
- Use only your own name to identify yourself on Zoom.
- Avoid distracting behaviors such as playing with other technology or changing virtual backgrounds.
When everyone remembers to act kindly, show consideration for others, and treat one another online as you wish to be treated in person, we’ll all be able to focus on learning.
Grading and Communication:
During remote learning, teachers will be using traditional grading. All assignments will be due the following day, unless otherwise noted by the teacher. Please follow the guidelines given by the teacher. Meeting the given deadlines for assignments is reflected in the grading; late assignments may not be accepted unless you have communicated with the teacher. Power School will be updated by your child’s teacher every other week.
Teachers are working hard to make this all possible, are dedicated to their partnership with you as parents, and know that communication is essential moving forward. Please know however that teachers’ home telephone numbers are not given out from the office, and parents are asked to arrange to confer with teachers during the normal school day, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We understand the challenges facing all families during this time and it may work best for you to email a question in the evening. Please know that emails or phone calls will be answered within 24 hours.
Social – Emotional Growth, Development, and Support:
Remote learning creates challenges for the social-emotional growth and development for our students. This fact is something that we all need to acknowledge and work to support. Parents need to be in tune to and validate the emotions their child(ren) are experiencing at home. Teachers will be meeting with students for individual check-ins on Zoom. Parents Club and Room Parents will be taking initiative this year to create virtual social interactions for our community as well. Our school counselor, Charlene Takeuchi, is available during remote learning to support students and families in this challenging time. Mrs. Takeuchi has put together a guide for supporting social-emotional health at home which will be sent to you in a separate document.
While we realize remote learning is not the ideal learning environment, we are dedicated to provide the same high-quality, Catholic education you expect from us at STMS to the best of our abilities in this format. Following these guidelines, keeping lines of communication open, and being considerate of everyone online will keep the focus on student learning. No matter the environment, we are dedicated to providing the highest-quality education and spiritual support for your child.