Welcome back, everyone!
Weather made for a challenging time for APS last week, causing us to cancel school from Wednesday, January 17 through Friday, January 19. And let’s not forget the Hurricane Irma days from September and bad weather on January 8 too! I explained to you that even though our charter does not require us to make up school days, we are all concerned about the amount of instructional time we have missed thus far. Remember, we have some very important assessments this spring, including the Georgia Milestones in elementary and middle school, and End of Course tests in high school.
Given the potential impact on our stakeholders’ lives, APS distributed a survey to you – our students, teachers, principals, staff, community members and others – featuring six options that APS could implement to make up some of the instructional time we have missed since the beginning of the school year. Thank you for participating!!!
I am so excited to share that 14,421 of you completed the survey by the deadline (wish it could have been open longer but we had to get moving on a decision!), which was Sunday, January 21 at 11:45 p.m., and the highest percentage of you (at 27.88%) selected Option 5 as your preferred choice. (FYI, it is not my preferred choice but your voice in this process does matter and weighed heavily on this decision.)
Here were the options and votes per option:
|Option Number||Description||Number of Votes/Percentage|
|Option 1||Make up the days on February 21 – 23, during Winter Break
|Option 2||Make up the days on February 19 – 21, during Winter Break||1,188 (8.24%)|
|Option 3||Make up the days on February 19-20, during Winter Break and the
March 19 professional learning day
|Option 4||Make up the days on February 22 -23, during Winter Break and the March 19 professional learning day
|Option 5||Extend the school day by 30 minutes from January 29 to March 30||4,021 (27.88%)|
|Option 6||Add 15 minutes to start of the day and 15 minutes to end of the day from January 29 to March 30
Here is a more detailed breakdown of our survey results:
Total survey responses 14,421
- Students: 2,976 (20.64%)
- Parents: 6,973 (48.35%)
- Employees: 3,945 (27.36%)
- Community: 527 (3.65%)
Total option responses
- Opt 1: 2,183 (15.14%)
- Opt 2: 1,188 (8.24%)
- Opt 3: 2,583 (17.91%)
- Opt 4: 1,066 (7.39%)
- Opt 5: 4,021 (27.88%)
- Opt 6: 3,380 (23.44%)
Additionally, we surveyed our principals separately and nearly half of them (49%) preferred Option 5 as well.
I want to thank everyone who took the survey! Your participation and engagement is much appreciated! Therefore, APS will move forward in implementing a plan for Option 5 by adding 30 minutes to end of the day from January 29 to March 30. This means:
- Elementary school will release at 3 p.m.
- High school will release at 4 p.m.
- Middle school will release at 4:35 p.m.
(Please remember schools not operating on the APS district bell schedule will also add 30 minutes to their instructional day. You will need to contact them directly to get detailed schedule information.)
Now comes the hard part – making this work! In order for our plan to be successful, it’s going to take continued engagement and commitment from all of us:
- We have asked our principals to work on schedules that maximize the additional instructional time to make sure that time is used in a meaningful fashion.
- Employees in our Transportation Department are altering their schedules.
- This option poses a bit of a challenge for our athletics department and our high school coaches, athletic directors and principals. They are working with our Transportation Department to develop plans for our student athletes and teams. Golf and tennis teams will carpool to some competitions, when necessary. Also, middle school basketball teams (girls and boys) will complete their regular season schedule this Saturday. Then, next Saturday (Feb. 3), APS will host the first round of a “March Madness” style tournament where all 16 teams will participate, instead of just the top four. The quarter finals (Elite Eight) will be held Feb. 10, and the semifinals (Final Four) will be held Feb. 17. The date for the championship games will be determined later.
- Our Human Resources and Finance Departments are developing strategies to ensure that all of our hourly employees are treated fairly, while ensuring that the plans we implement are “cost-neutral.”
- Our Communications Department is working on a plan to share this information with parents and stakeholders this week.
We will continue to provide everyone with additional details about our plan in order to ensure its success. Again, I want to thank all of you who took time to engage with us and complete the survey. APS will continue to move forward in the best interest of preparing all of our students to succeed, and we look forward to your continued support in that effort.
Also, I got lots of questions about virtual learning opportunities for APS students on bad weather days. Fair enough, APS does not currently have a district-wide approach to utilizing digital learning, as many of our families and students do not have digital devices and/or internet to gain access to assignments and school work. This is why we have made closing the digital divide a priority in our work with partners and elected officials. Many of our partners have offered extensive support in this effort:
- Sprint 1 Million Project provides devices for high school students
- Connect Home provides low cost internet for Atlanta Housing Authority students
- Power My Learning provides devices and family workshops
- Comcast provides low cost internet at select APS schools in low income communities
- myBackPack is platform that is accessible from any device and provides students with access to digital learning tools, 2,200 e-books, secure email, cloud storage and the complete Microsoft Office Suite. Parents and students can access myBackpack by using the following steps:
- Through an Internet connection –navigate to https://mybackpack.apsk12.org
- Students should enter their APS student computer login id.
- The myBackPack screen will load with your unique username and password.
- For questions or concerns please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
But even with partner support, there is more work to be done. It’s imperative, however, that on inclement weather days students and staff use the extensive resources we already have. So, don’t forget these resources in the future!
Finally, I just want to thank @Promise Youth Center, Atlanta Police Foundation, Chris 180 and Atlanta Community Food Bank for coming together with our Student Support Services and Social Work Departments to provide over 4,500 meals to our families in need during those cold winter days!
Again, welcome back and let’s get to work!