7.16.2020 School Year Update

Click here for a recorded message from Mr. Ferguson regarding the 2020-2021 school year!

Message Transcript:

Hello Parents, 

This is Mr. Ferguson with a New Salem Update.   I hope each of you are enjoying the summer and are making plans for the start of what can be our best year yet. I am sure that you are apprehensive about the future of our country, community, and the school year. It is my sincere hope that the information that I will share today, will in some way, alleviate your concerns about school.

Our current status is that Governor Cooper has placed North Carolina Public Schools in Plan "B" to start the school year. UCPS has created a plan in which every student in grades K-12 will attend one day of school for face-to-face instruction. Families will be assigned a day to attend by the school. The remaining four days will consist of remote learning.

Each family has TWO options to consider:

  1. Face to Face/Remote Learning - Send your child to school (1 day for "face-to-face" learning and 4 days of remote learning) OR keep your child at home for remote learning 5 days each week with the option to return to "face-to-face" learning at any point that you deem appropriate. Your child will be assigned to a teacher and will remain with that teacher as he or she transitions back to "face-to-face" learning.
  2. Virtual Learning (also known as plan D) - This option is available for students in Second through Fifth only at the elementary level. Students would learn exclusively in a remote environment. Students would be assigned to a teacher within the Piedmont cluster AND would change to another teacher at New Salem upon returning to "face-to-face"/remote learning. Families must commit to virtual learning for a minimum of one semester and would NOT be permitted to change to "face-to-face" within this period of time. I invite you to email me if you are considering this option (denny.ferguson@ucps.k12.nc.us). I would be happy to provide you with additional information.

Prior to school going out in March, our New Salem staff asked ourselves a very serious question.  We asked, “Why, as an organization, do we exist?”  The answer that we all agreed upon has become our new school mission.  We agreed the reason we exist is that “We empower ALL students academically and socially to thrive in a changing world.”  

We are working hard to create a model that allows our students to thrive regardless of the challenges that our current reality poses.   

So, if I choose “Face to Face/Remote Learning” (plan B) what will learning look like at NS?   

  • Students who are “on site” will experience very small classroom ratios somewhere around 1:10 maybe even 2:10 or 3:10 when considering teacher assistants.  This will allow a higher amount of personalized education.
  • During remote learning days your student will be able to access that day’s new learning in an “on demand” format.  In other words, the teacher will have videoed herself teaching the lessons and then will guide the student through the learning.  Then the student will complete a task or tasks and submit the work for the teacher to check and provide feedback.  This will all be done from ONE platform, Canvas.  (Yes, we will offer virtual parent workshops on how to use Canvas at home if you would like.)  
  • During remote learning days our teachers will, on a routine rotation, conduct live remote small group instruction in reading and math.  Small group instruction beyond the one face-to-face day is absolutely key to growth.  
  • Finally, teachers will maintain daily “live office hours” where students and parents have direct access for questions and work support with their teacher.    

Back to the two options…

I would recommend that parents choose the option that provides your child with the flexibility that you desire, while permitting your child to return to school when you deem it is safe for your child to do so. All students will be enrolled in a classroom at our school unless the parent opts for virtual learning. Those students will be assigned to a teacher within the school or the Piedmont Cluster (based on availability). Virtual students will NOT be permitted to return to "face-to-face" learning until the end of the semester. 

So, what’s next?  I want you to know the critical projects we are working on right now at school:  

  • Teachers are reviewing the New Salem Plan B  instructional plan and fine tuning our plan to make sure our students are set up to thrive in this new structure.  
  • We are collaborating with the Piedmont cluster schools to create our plans for which students come to school for face-to-face learning and on which days.  A major part of this plan is to ensure that siblings in the school and between different levels of schools are able to come to school on the same day.  Stay tuned...New Salem will be attempting to tell parents as soon as humanly possible what day your child will be assigned.  This is a beyond complex task that has many more layers than just siblings...so please give me some grace as we attempt to tackle this project.  
  • I will be hosting two virtual “Kitchen Table Talks” where I will simply be available to you for questions and your input.  There is SO much information and misinformation out there.  I would like the opportunity to field your questions and you get the answer directly from the principal of your community school.  The first session is  Monday, July 20th at 6:00 PM and again on Tuesday, July 21st at 8:00 PM.  The link to connect to the meeting will be posted on Facebook and emailed out to parents the morning of the meetings.  
  • I’m meeting with our PTO board tonight for a Q and A.  
  • Next week I will begin rolling out model schedules of what school will look like at New Salem.  This schedule will create a clear picture for you of how our team will be working with your student during the week.  
  • We are currently recreating the concept of “Open House”.  I will be surveying our PTO board on what topics our teachers can address virtually during open house to give you what you need to start the year strong.  

As you can tell, our New Salem team is not gearing up for an awkward, depressing, or frustrating year.  We are gearing up for the best year yet.  I am absolutely confident that with our team, our students, our parents, and our community, we will thrive this year.  Thank you in advance for your support.  

Please expect frequent updates as we near the kick off on the new school year!  

Finally, It is very important to me that our New Salem families have direct access to the best information you can get in a timely manner.  Please feel free to email me at denny.ferguson@ucps.k12.nc.us with any questions.  I will most likely call you back to answer your questions.  Or, you are always welcome to call my cell at 704-219-7980.  I already have parents asking lots of great questions and it delights me to serve you.

Thank you, and I will keep you in the loop as we move forward.  

Regards,

Mr. Ferguson