I hope this message finds you and your family well during this time of uncertainty.
In my 26-year career of serving children and their families, I have never encountered a more difficult time to be an educator. As of April 20, Governor Lamont, by Executive Order, directed all public schools in the State of Connecticut to close through at least May 20 and indicated that this timeframe could be extended. This was a very hard message to share with children and their families.
The delivery of Granby Public Schools’ superior education has looked vastly different since moving to a distance learning model on March 23. In a very short period of time, students and teachers had to switch from teacher-directed learning in classrooms to learning at home using technology.
One of the hardest implementation factors to distance learning has been the physical separation of staff and students. Our distance learning plan consists of both synchronous and asynchronous instruction. What is the difference between synchronous instruction and asynchronous instruction? Synchronous instruction occurs in real time, whereas asynchronous instruction occurs through posting of lesson materials to a learning platform. We have found that using a combination of both models provides students with the ability to see and speak with their teachers as well as the flexibility for students to complete daily assignments in a timeframe that works best for both students and their families.
We were fortunate to have a technology plan that was implemented a few years ago by the Granby Board of Education and supported in the town budgets so that we were able to swiftly provide every student with a tablet or laptop. All K-2 students were provided with iPads using a software program called Seesaw to interact with staff. Third–12th grade students have Chromebooks with Google Classroom to interact with staff. The distance learning plan will continue to develop as we move forward.
The Granby District Leadership Team continues to plan for the possibility of an extended closure announcement but with the hope of returning May 20. Discussions have been ongoing regarding what distance learning means for the social and emotional well-being of students and staff, graduation, college and career planning, special education services, summer school, regression, remediation, promotion, retention, grading, credits, curriculum pacing calendars, budgetary impacts, etc. At this stage, we don’t have all of the answers, but will share official decisions with the public as they are made. The critical component in making all decisions is what is in the best interest of children.
As a parent of two elementary-aged children, I completely understand the hardship distance learning places on families. There is no easy way to replicate teacher-directed classroom instruction at home and I know this is challenging for families. During this time the staff of Granby public schools continues to exemplify why Granby is considered one of the best school districts in Connecticut. We created and implemented, in a short time, a distance learning plan that considers the social and emotional well-being of students as well as addressing academic needs.
Please be assured that the Granby Board of Education and the staff of the Granby Public Schools are committed to providing the best possible education for our students moving forward. I urge you to view the district website (granby.k12.ct.us) and (GPS Distance Learning) to learn more about the distance learning plan.
I want to thank the entire Granby community for supporting us during this most difficult time. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns at 860-844-5260 and follow me on Twitter @GranbySuper.
Editor’s Note: As we move towards the May 20 reopening date suggested by the Governor, please check the Superintendent’s Twitter page for information on any changes to that date.