View our Live Q&A for Valor Families Here
Friday, March 27, 2020, 4p CT
Hey everyone -
I hope everyone is doing OK. I have been thinking of everyone often and hoping that you are finding your way through the new terrain as best as possible. What a week we have had here at Valor. We have produced a few months of work in the past 5 days and are (almost) ready to go for Monday. The amount of focus, creativity, commitment, and courage that has been displayed by the Valor community is remarkable.
A few highlights:
We spoke with 96% of our families to understand their basic needs during the pandemic
We coordinated getting chromebooks to 98% of our 5th and 6th grade families on Thursday and Friday
We connected 51 families to the internet with hotspots
We helped over 600 families find food sources close to their homes
We delivered grocery gift cards to families in extreme need
We designed and trained all staff on the academic and culture systems for our distance learning plan
We developed distance learning lessons across all grade levels and content areas
We creatively designed ways to serve our diverse learning population during distance learning (IEPs, 504s, behaviors plans, etc)
We built a website and training videos for families for Monday and Tuesday
When you build teams to start schools from scratch, you often attract creative, entrepreneurial talent. So, I know that moments like this are opportunities for those strengths to shine through. But this week they have surpassed my expectations in many ways - I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude. I know that we will hit bumps in the road in the coming weeks as we learn how to do school totally differently, but I can honestly say I don’t think our team could have performed any better under the current circumstances in getting us to this point. Please reach out and thank teachers and leaders when you have a chance. :)
Distance Learning Plan for Monday
We decided to make the directions as simple as possible for Monday. At 3pm on Sunday, March 29, the new Valor Distance Learning website will go live. After 3pm on Sunday, please do the following:
Go to the current Valor website: www.valorcollegiate.org
On the front page there will be a button called ‘Distance Learning’. Click the button.
You will go to the Distance Learning homepage. On the homepage will be directions and videos that will show you what to do next.
We strongly recommend that parents/guardians and students watch the videos and try the short first day of learning together. It should take about 45m. We decided to have it available Sunday night in case that would help some families with scheduling this request. The last activity of the Monday session is to fill out a google form before 12pm Monday so do not start later than 10am Monday morning.
You will hear this in the training video as well, but wanted to let everyone know we made a strategic choice to start very slowly in Week 1. Monday is a very short series of actions that will allow us to make sure everyone is accessing the website and understands how to navigate it and fill out a google form. It will only take about 30m to complete. Teachers will then call mentee families Monday afternoon to check in on families that struggled with the technology. If you are a tech-savvy family please know Monday will not take much time. :)
We are providing a great set of extension activities for families and students to peruse as well, and are encouraging students to try one activity that looks interesting to them on Monday.
Read Baby Read!
We are also encouraging starting Monday that every student read independently for 30m per day. Ensuring that our kids are reading as much as possible during this pandemic is the best thing you can do for them academically. You can start discussing and picking out books this weekend!
Check out the Live Q&A for answers to questions you might have. Leave a new question if you have one. We are updating it regularly.
Looking forward to starting our new adventure on Monday.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 7pm CT
Hey everyone -
We hope you are doing okay and were able to connect with your Pride Leader/Mentor today. Teachers are calling all their mentees Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week. If you did not speak with them yesterday or today, please be on the lookout for their call tomorrow! Our goal is to speak with all families by the end of day Wednesday.
We have spoken with 1321 families (over 90%) in the past two days - it is good to be connected again and to be able to learn how we can support you and your family. We are also aware that some folks have had some glitches related to Bloomz, which we are working on resolving. In the meantime, if you would like to access a different format, we’ve created an archive of all of our communication on our website at this new page as well.
Here are some updates for you from our end:
COVID-19 CASE IN VALOR COMMUNITY
In our calls with families today, we learned and have confirmed that a Valor Flagship student has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. This student is reported to have started symptoms on Friday, March 20th.
The Metro Nashville Health Department has been notified by the student's pediatrician's office, and their family is quarantined for 14 days. The Health Department will contact us if there are any new developments and we will update you accordingly.
VALOR/MNPS SCHOOL CLOSURE EXTENSION THROUGH APRIL 24th
MNPS is heeding to Governor Lee’s request to close schools through April 24th, which is what we have been anticipating and planning for. As is our policy, Valor will follow MNPS for school closures and will be closed as well.
TECH PICK UP INSTRUCTIONS
Valor will be doing a “drive-thru” tech pickup for chromebook devices and internet hotspots this Wednesday 3/25 and Thursday 3/36 from 8am-4pm. Families can arrive any time in that time window. This initiative is primarily for 5th/6th Grade families and families without reliable internet access. If you spoke with your mentor teacher they discussed this with you, but we wanted to confirm a few details;
The drive-thru pickup will be done with the highest level of safety precautions. Families should remain in their vehicles, and we will deliver what is needed directly to your car.
The drive-thru route is utilizing the Voyager/VCP Traffic Circle behind the building off of Cotton Lane. This is the ONLY pick up spot for all three schools.
Bring any non-functioning device with you - if you are seeking a different chromebook because your current one does not work, bring the broken device with you.
If you or anyone in your family has been diagnosed with COVID19 or is exhibiting any symptoms, please do not utilize this service and contact your mentor instead to coordinate another way to get your scholar a device.
Keep in mind, with the limitations placed on social interactions, in-person technology support will NOT be available. We ask that you put systems in place to support your scholar and avoid damaging or losing their technology equipment. If you need any technology support, please reach out to your scholar’s mentor for guidance.
Click on this link to be directed to the MNPS Family Resource Map to locate food resources closest to where you live: https://bit.ly/mnpsresources
Food Pickup windows at the locations indicated on the Green Buttons are from 10a-12:30pm every weekday we are out of school. We know that there have been some sites that have been running out of food, so we advise you to go early, as close to 10am as you can. We are closely monitoring this situation and expect that it will improve as MNPS works out the first week of this.
ANY child under age 18 can go to these resources for breakfast AND lunch at the same time, but they must be physically present to receive meals.
If you are looking for additional food options, Second Harvest Food Bank has compiled a map as well to guide you to the closest food pantry to you: https://www.secondharvestmidtn.org/get-help/
DISTANCE LEARNING DETAILS TO COME THIS FRIDAY 3/27
Please expect more information from us this Friday, March 27th about the Distance Learning launch that will begin on Monday, March 30th on Bloomz. We will also post in on our website and the Valor Facebook page (via our FAC leaders).
Please continue to use this Live Q&A if you have questions. There are answers to all questions submitted already, so you may find the answer to your question already in there: https://bit.ly/3aURNpO. These answers will continue to get higher quality as we prepare to launch the distance learning plan in the coming days.
I have been overwhelmed with gratitude at the amount of creative work and planning that the Valor team has accomplished this week - the level of collaboration and focus on providing the support that our community will need in the coming months is hard to describe well. The dedication to your children (and mine) is remarkable. We will hit bumps in the road in the coming weeks as we learn how to do this really well, but I am confident it will be really good considering the extreme circumstances.
Sending everyone well wishes and support,
Friday, March 20, 2020, 4p CT
Hi everyone -
I hope everyone was able to find some time to enjoy family in the past week. The Dickson's made lots of forts and did a lot of puzzles. :) Here is an update for you all on the latest information re: the pandemic, as well as a reminder of the plan at Valor in the coming weeks.
TN has cancelled TNReady testing at the end of year.
The 180 day school year will not be enforced - Districts will send waiver requests to State (incl MNPS) . Valor will be included in the MNPS waiver.
Many experts are pointing towards the pandemic lasting for a long time - we are planning for the rest of the school year at a minimum, and are starting to think about it going into Summer/Fall in our planning .
What updates mean to Valor Community
Basically, these updates are what we expected. It means that we are planning for 8+ weeks of 'optional but highly encouraged' distance learning. (Note: CDC, the State Department of Education, and MNPS will ultimately make recommendations about the remainder of the school year in the coming weeks, but it is our belief it is highly likely they will keep schools closed for the remainder of the school year).
We believe a distance learning plan will be critical for families/students to have some structure and sense of social connection. We also believe it will be an effective way for us to help support our communities' overall well-being. We also know it is really important for their long-term academic trajectories - some students could face up to 5 months (inc tornado, Spring Break, 8+ weeks of school closures) of limited to no school - using common 'Summer slide' data, that could wipe out an entire year of learning for vulnerable learners. (Yikes!) We will therefore highly encourage all families to do their best to take part in the distance learning plan.
Week of March 23-March 27
The main objectives for Valor this upcoming week are:
Get all families connected to food service if needed
Get all families on Bloomz by Wednesday
Get all families laptops and hotspots by Thursday
Get all staff trained on distance learning plan by Friday
The main objectives for families this week are:
Talk to your mentor teacher on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. They will call all families on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to check-in.
Pick up your chromebook and/or hotspot (if needed) at Valor (details will be included in mentor call)
There is no school scheduled for students next week. If interested in trying out a version of distance learning next week, feel free to try Khan Academies suggested schedule by grade level here: https://www.khanacademy.org/ (click 'Schedule' on pop up tab)
Week of March 30 - April 3
We will send communication next Friday, March 27th with details about distance learning that will start Monday, March 30. We are currently building the plan and will train teachers on March 26 and 27 on the plan. We will start with a very basic plan to ensure that it works well, and then will add functionality and complexity each week if needed.
For planning purposes, we are currently thinking we will have 2-4 hours of learning per day (varying by grade level), as well as a menu of additional material for families who would like more connection, learning, and well-being opportunities. The details of this plan will be communicated next Friday via Bloomz and again on Monday, March 30 via a live webinar with families.
Please continue to use this Live Q&A if you have questions. There are answers to all questions submitted already, so you may find the answer to your question already in there.
Leave No Community Member Behind
I know that the coming quarter will be like no quarter of school I have ever been a part of, and there are a lot of unanswered questions about how it will all work. I am confident we will figure it all out, but I do know that it is going to feel more fluid and fast paced than is sometimes optimal or comfortable. We will try our best to navigate through it as clearly and thoughtfully as possible. I do believe that the best of the human spirit arises in times of crisis and I know that there will be many moments of inspiration and connection ahead that will carry us through the scary and confusing moments.
With much love,
Monday, March 16, 2020, 5pm CT
Dear Families -
As you may have heard, MNPS has cancelled school through at least Friday, April 3rd, in line with Governor Lee’s recommendation to close all schools through the beginning of April. We have been anticipating and planning for these closures. Therefore, we will follow the basic plan we outlined Friday.
Although we are waiting for additional guidance from the state and MNPS in this rapidly evolving landscape about almost all of the below, here is that plan with a few more details.
We will communicate a food plan for the week of March 23rd by this Friday, March 20th via Bloomz.
We will communicate an internet readiness and laptop distribution plan by the end of day, Monday, March 23rd via Bloomz.
Our current plan is that the week of March 23rd will not have any regular school learning activities - it will essentially be treated as a two-week long Spring Break for students.
We plan on creating a distance learning plan (learning at home) for Valor students that will begin Monday, March 30th. That plan will be communicated by Thursday, March 26th via Bloomz.
Our current plan will be to have a very basic distance learning plan for the week of March 30th, and we will add complexity to the plan in coming weeks if school closures are extended.
It is our belief that school is likely to remain closed beyond April 3rd, and we will be preparing for that possibility. We will communicate with you as soon as we have more information.
Our main focus is on ensuring students and families are safe during the pandemic. Secondly, we want to ensure everyone is fed and their well-being is being attended to. Third, we want to ensure that students continue to learn and grow so that they don’t take steps backwards in their hard earned growth that makes the coming years of school more challenging.
It is going to continue to be an unprecedented time in the coming months and we are all going to need to work together to accomplish all of these priorities. I have been overwhelmed by all the families offering to help - we will be in touch in our planning on ways that you can ‘leave no community member behind’ in the coming weeks and months. Thank you.
Please put your questions here in the Live Q&A. We will answer questions daily: https://bit.ly/3aURNpO
If you have not completed this survey, please do so now. We are using it to assess food, laptop, and internet needs. Please also tell your student to nudge their friends in their mentor groups to make sure their parents/guardians have filled it out as well. We are at about 75% completion.
Thank you - I hope everyone is hanging in there. Sending you all love and support.
Monday, March 16, 2020, 10AM CT
Hey all -
Governor Lee urged all schools to close until April 1 this morning. I have a call with Superintendents across the State at 12pm today to learn more about guidance from the State on next steps. We will send a post out this afternoon with additional information as we learn more.
If you haven't filled out this survey please please do it now - it is critical to help us plan next steps.
Friday, March 13, 2020, 4pm CT
Dear Valor Families -
We wanted to give you an update on our most current thinking on the evolving world events regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. We know this is a time of anxiety and uncertainty for many of us and will be working hard to provide our community with a strong plan through the rest of the school year.
Please fill out this Google Form as soon as possible. See details below.
The following resources from the CDC, Metro Health, and MNPS Health department contain the most up to date information about COVID-19. We recommend you consult these resources first for all up to date information.
Possible School Closures
It is our current belief that a likely scenario following Spring Break is that schools will be closed, possibly for an extended period of time. We are hopeful this does not turn out to be the case, but we do think at this point it is likely. Ultimately we will follow the guidance of the CDC, Metro Public Health Department, and MNPS leadership to decide our next steps in the coming months.
We are deeply committed to our students academic development and well-being regardless of the circumstances. We are therefore planning for various scenarios of distance learning (learning that would take place at home) that would allow students to keep up with their growth and learning. I am sure as parents this raises many questions about the details of what that might look like, and we will work hard to get a clear plan communicated as quickly as possible. Moving entire schools to distance learning is a huge undertaking so we will all need to work together to make the experience as effective as possible. We have listed some basic information about what to expect and what to do now to prepare for this scenario.
What to expect IF schools are closed after Spring Break
Valor will communicate by no later than March 20 at 5pm via Bloomz if school will be closed following Spring Break for any period of time.
If school is closed, the first week after Spring Break will not have any distance learning. We will instead be using that week to finalize a distance learning plan and train teachers on it.
We will tentatively plan to communicate the distance learning plan to families by Thursday, March 26. This will include information about required assignments, grades, and any other relevant information about distance learning.
We will tentatively start distance learning Monday, March 30.
Please note, again, that this is a tentative plan that we will confirm by March 20. Things are changing rapidly and it is possible a new plan may need to be communicated by March 20.
What to do now before and over Spring Break
Fill out this Google Form to help us understand Chromebook, internet, and food needs to prepare for possible extended school closings.
Consider the risks of any travel over Spring Break. We encourage you to follow these up-to-date CDC guidelines for travel.
Upon return, please follow CDC guidelines on recommendations for testing, self-quarantine, etc.
Should you need to self-quarantine upon return for any reason, we ask that you let Valor know so we can support you and your student. Please email or call Daren Dickson at firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-760-0072 and he will support you in planning next steps.
Talk to your child about the various scenarios that could happen after Spring Break, and assure them that they will be supported in their growth and learning, AND that they will need to be adaptive and flexible in the coming months to ensure their own growth and learning.
Begin family planning for how you will manage the challenge of your children being home for possibly extended periods of time.
What to do if you test positive or have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus
If you think you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus or if you are exhibiting symptoms, please call your medical professional immediately. Medical professionals are staying up to date with all current recommendations.
If you cannot reach your medical professional, please call the Tennessee Department of Health Coronavirus Public Information Line at 1-877-857-2945.
Real-Time Q&A Document
Feel free to enter questions into this real-time Q&A document. We will try to respond to questions listed as quickly as possible.
Thank you all - sending you love and support.
Friday, March 6, 2020, 6pm CT
Dear Valor Families,
We have been closely monitoring the developing coronavirus outbreak and are aware of yesterday's announcement about an identified coronavirus case in Williamson County and the closure of Williamson County schools. We have been working closely with the Metro Public Health Department, which follows guidance from the CDC and the State Health Department, as well as other local school leaders and medical professionals to be as informed as possible about how to plan for and respond to this situation.
Here are the immediate precautions we are taking at Valor:
We are deepening our efforts to clean and sanitize things here at all Valor campuses. Our cleaning company is completing a deep clean/sanitization effort before scholars return to school on Monday.
We are continuing our reminders to everyone across the Valor community to practice preventative hygiene per CDC guidelines. Please ensure your scholar understands the importance of these guidelines and encourage them to be mindful while at school to reduce risk for everyone.This includes washing your hands for 20 seconds. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
If your scholar has a fever, please do not send them to school and wait until your child is fever free for 24 hours before returning to school. We will ask the same of our faculty members.
We are increasing our attention and vigilance to scholars who may demonstrate symptoms at school. If a scholar has a fever, we will send them home from school.
If your scholar or a member of your family has demonstrated symptoms or you are worried that you may have come into contact with COVID-19, please proactively reach out to Sarah Giblin (email@example.com) or your scholar’s principal.
We are working with Metro Nashville Public Schools and other local schools to formulate a plan in the event schools are required to close for any extended period of time. We will continue to work with MPHD and monitor the situation to make the best possible decisions for the Valor community. We are discussing how we can maintain our top 1% academic experience for families in the case that a closure is required or necessary. As soon as we have more information about this plan and what you might expect should an extended closure be necessary, we will share this with you.
Below are additional resources to review. Although the resources address the flu, the same protective measures should be taken for COVID-19. Routine good cleaning and disinfecting daily is key.
TN Department of Health COVID-19 Resource Page: https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html
What You Need to Know about COVID-19 (From CDC):https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf
What To Do If you are Sick with COVID - 19 (From CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/sick-with-2019-nCoV-fact-sheet.pdf
If you have any questions, you may send me a Bloomz or email me. You may also communicate with your scholar’s principal.