Letter from Chuck: Creative Minds’ Plan for the Start of the School Year

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July 22, 2020

Dear Creative Minds Community:

Thank you for your patience as my team and I developed plans for the 2020–21 school year, which begins on Monday, August 31.

After hundreds of hours of discussion, in which we considered feedback from community members, guidance from city agencies, and the evolving public-health situation in Washington, DC, we have decided that Creative Minds will start the school year on a virtual-only schedule, with all students learning remotely.

As you can imagine, choosing to return to school only virtually was a difficult decision. Weighing against this decision were the needs of parents and caregivers who are essential workers or who cannot otherwise work from home. We also know that students learn best with in-person instruction. But what took precedence was the need to keep our students, staff, and families safe.

The virtual-only schedule, or V Schedule, will remain in effect as the only option until at least the end of October. This roughly coincides with the current expiration date of DC’s public-health emergency, on October 9.

We would eventually like to add options for in-person learning, if it is safe to do so. In early October, we’ll send an update about whether we’ll offer options for learning in the school building in 2020. The V Schedule would continue for any families that choose it.

Nayamka Long, Creative Minds’ chief academic officer, and our program directors have been deeply engaged in preparing for a remote-learning program that promotes the growth and learning of students and delivers high-quality instruction, resources, and support. The program will ensure the following:

  • Students have regular, personal touch points with teachers and other school staff, who will check in with students about their basic needs, social-emotional well-being, and any academic needs
  • Students have regular touch points with their classmates to continue building community
  • Students engage in learning experiences that are holistic and are guided by both grade-level expectations and student interests

Please see our FAQs page for more information about the school day and virtual learning.

Technology & Other Resources

Because remote learning works only when students have the technology to learn remotely, we will be distributing a digital device to each student and WiFi hot spots to any families that need them. We will also distribute school supplies, books, and other resources before school starts. Please stay tuned for information about a distribution date.

Meals

Our free-meals program will continue, in modified form, with the delivery of five breakfasts and five lunches each week to students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. We’ll share more information soon about signing up.

In the meantime, if you believe your child qualifies for FARM and you haven’t yet applied, please complete an application, in English, Spanish, or Amharic, and email it to frontdesk@creativemindspcs.org.

Safety & the School Building

Please see our FAQs page for more information about how we’re preparing the building for any return to in-person learning, and the safety protocols that would be in place.

Family Meetings

The Creative Minds Leadership Team is hosting Zoom meetings at which families can ask questions about reopening. We’ll be recording the meetings for anyone who is unable to attend.

We’ve posted our July 25 new-families meeting to YouTube and Instagram.

You may also view a recording of any of the meetings by emailing Stephanie Kime at stephanie.kime@creativemindspcs.org for access information.

Meetings for Returning Families

Wednesday, July 22, at 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 25, at 11:00 a.m.

Meeting for New Families

Saturday, July 25, at 10:00 a.m.

If you have any questions about the information in this message, please email Heather Hesslink, director of operations and compliance, at frontdesk@creativemindspcs.org.

I’ve thought about little else but the return to school since February, when it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would greatly alter the coming school year. (My very gracious family can attest to this.)

I take heart in the strength of our community and your willingness to be adaptable; thank you for this. All of us at Creative Minds are here for our students and committed to their growth and learning, no matter where and how that growth and learning takes place.

Best,

Chuck Jackson
Executive Director

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