With safety as our number one guiding principle, Freire Schools has decided that ALL students will start the 2020-2021 school year learning at home, also known as virtual learning. No students will physically be inside the building any days of the week. This will be the case for at least the first month, and potentially longer. We will share more updates as the year unfolds. Below you will find critical information for the 2020-2021 school year.
Materials & Schedule Pickup
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 12 AND THURSDAY AUGUST 13
9:00 – 1:00 AND 2:00 – 6:00
All students, not just new students, must come to Freire Charter Middle School to pick up materials and the virtual schedule (including all Zoom information). For new students, this includes their Chromebook. Anyone listed in PowerSchool, including the student, can pick up these materials. The student does NOT have to be present to pick up materials. To limit the number of people inside the building, please only have one person per student attend. You must wear a mask inside the building.
While picking up materials, we will ask a few brief questions about internet access. Please make sure whoever is picking up the materials knows what the internet access is at the home your student will be engaging in virtual learning at.
Students will participate in live whole-group lessons, live small-group lessons, and pre-recorded lessons. We will use the ABCD model, meaning each day is either an “A”, “B”, “C”, or “D” day. The day of the week (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) does not matter. Here’s an example:
- Tuesday 8/25: A Day
- Wednesday 8/26: B Day
- Thursday 8/27: C Day
- Friday 8/28: D Day
- Monday 8/31: A Day
- Tuesday 9/1: B Day
- Wednesday 9/2: C Day
- Thursday 9/3: D Day
- Friday 9/4: A Day
Live lessons (both whole-group and small-group) will take place via Zoom. Google Classroom will be used as the learning platform. PowerSchool will be used for attendance and grading.
“A” and “C” days: Live learning via Zoom
The schedules are the same on both A and C days. Below is an example student schedule. Attendance is mandatory for all classes, including Enrichment.
All students start the day at 9:00. Each day starts with a morning meeting to build community and to ensure that all students are present. If your student is not logged in at 9:00, expect a phone call!
- All students have class from 9:00 – 11:30.
- All students have lunch from 11:30 – 12:30.
- All students have class from 12:30 – 2:40.
- All students end the day at 2:40.
Example A/C Day Schedule:
- 9:00 – 9:15 – Advisory
- 9:20 – 10:00 – Enrichment
- 10:05 – 10:45 – Math
- 10:50 – 11:30 – Math
- 11:30 – 12:30 – Lunch Break
- 12:30 – 1:10 – ELA
- 1:15 – 1:55 – Social Studies
- 2:00 – 2:40 – Science
“B” and “D” days – Live small-group learning via Zoom and pre-recorded lessons
Students are split into two cohorts – Dragons and Flames. Students will have a small-group session for each content area: ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies. When not in a small-group session, students will have two pre-recorded lessons to complete. Below is a sample schedule.
All students still start the day at 9:00 for a morning meeting.
To the extent possible, siblings are in the same cohort.
Example B/D Day Schedule – Dragons:
- 9:00 – 9:15 – Advisory
- 9:20 – 9:40 – Math Small Group
- 9:45 – 10:05 – Math Small Group
- 10:10 – 10:30 – ELA Small Group
- 10:35 – 10:55 – Social Studies Small Group
- 11:00 – 11:20 – Science Group
- 11:30 – 12:30 – Lunch Break
- 12:30 – 3:00 – Pre-Recorded Lessons
Example B/D Day Schedule – Flames:
- 9:00 – 9:15 – Advisory
- 9:30 – 12:00 – Pre-Recorded Lessons
- 12:00 – 1:00 – Lunch Break
- 1:00 – 1:20 – Math Small Group
- 1:25 – 1:45 – Math Small Group
- 1:50 – 2:10 – ELA Small Group
- 2:15 – 2:35 – Social Studies Small Group
- 2:40 – 3:00 – Science Small Group
Assignments / Grading
This will NOT be like Quarter 4, where assignments were all due at the end of each week. Assignments and assessments will be due at various times, at the guidance of the teacher, just like in in-person school.
Grading will still be available via PowerSchool.
We will still have Yet cards. For our new families, Yet cards mean that students can redo any mastery assignment at any point. We have a growth mindset at Freire Charter Middle School. If a student scored a 60, we see that as a student hasn’t mastered the content, yet. If a student then scores an 85, the 60 goes away and only the 85 counts.
Every session is mandatory, just like in-person learning. Students not at the Zoom will be marked absent. If your student is not logged in at 9:00, you will get a phone call from your student’s cohort support teacher. Attendance will be tracked via PowerSchool. This year, we have a Community Outreach Coordinator, with one of her main roles being student attendance. Her name is Tracie Slade. Continued absences will result in a meeting with Tracie and an attendance support plan. We need students logged in and learning every day, just like in-person school. Tracie can be reached at email@example.com.
Seeing the School
We understand new students want to see the actual building. We will be posting a virtual tour of the school and classrooms by the end of August.
It is critical that we have an easy way to communicate with you and the students. You must ensure we have an active email and phone number on file for you. If your contact information changes at any point during the school year, please contact Ms. Dionna at firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.
Please also read every email we send! I know we can be a lot with emails. I get it! But it’s our main source of communication with you. Read every email in its entirety.
We know that sitting in front of a computer screen all day isn’t engaging or fun. Our teachers have been working tirelessly to change our instruction to meet the needs of virtual learning. You can expect more projects and assignments that last throughout the course of a week or two. This is called Project-Based Learning. We are incorporating more interactive learning applications, breakout rooms for group work and conversation, and more. We know students now more than ever need rigorous, engaging instruction to close any learning gaps caused by COVID-19. We are “Accelerating, not Remediating.” Our students need daily grade-level instruction with in-the-moment support that is worthy of their time and talents.
There is also a space for paper and pencil learning in our virtual world. When you come to the school, you’ll receive a bag of materials. Please keep these in a safe space as your student will use them throughout our virtual learning. Their materials include workbooks for math, investigative journals for science, science lab materials, whiteboards for math, novels for ELA, and more. While we will provide many supplies, you will receive a supply list specific for your grade when you pick up materials (think pencils, notebook, etc. – nothing major).
We remain committed to best serving our students with individualized education programs and 504 plans through inclusion. There will still be co-taught classes, with both a general education and special education teacher. All related services will continue virtually. Social and emotional supports will continue. As you would during in-person school, please speak directly with your student’s case manager or Ms. Erin Gibbs, the Director of Student Services, at email@example.com with any student services questions.
Our Emotional Supports team will still provide mental health supports to students via virtual sessions.
Genuine Engagement through Love
We know that students love the social aspects of school. We love it too! It helps create a safe and genuine community, one that is safe enough for students to learn in. We are committed to creating that space virtually. Your student will start each day with their Advisory. Each advisory will create their own community and our hope is that the advisory group leans on each other. If a student has a question about an assignment, text someone in her advisory class, as an example. There will be set topics to cover during the daily advisory class.
We will still add in the FCMS fun! Look out for information on our first monthly assembly – virtually of course.
Dean Darryl and Dean Chris are still active members of our school community and will be sliding in and out of Zooms to ensure students are treating each other with the respect and love that is needed for authentic learning to happen.
Afterschool Clubs and Athletics
We will have clubs; however, they will not start until Monday, October 5th. All clubs, including academic support centers (Math Center, Writing Center, Dragon Center), will be held virtually. Athletics will resume once deemed safe to do so through the School District of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Moving from Virtual to In-Person Learning
We do not have a set date for when our virtual learning ends and in-person learning begins. We are always assessing the current spread of COVID19 and will only return to in-person learning when it is safe to do so. While we do not know for certain, it is reasonable to think we will move from all virtual learning to hybrid in-person learning rather than right to 100% capacity full-time in-person learning. When we do move into in-person learning, you will have an option to remain fully virtual. To ensure we are prepared for in-person instruction when it is feasible, we have developed a Health and Safety Plan, which is available on our website at freirecharterschool.org/families/coronavirus.
There are some calendar changes to maximize our instructional time. We moved days off as often as possible to Mondays. We didn’t make any days that were days open to school closed days. We added days back to the instructional calendar to meet the state requirement of 180 school days. You will receive a copy of the school calendar when you pick up materials.
The first day of school remains Tuesday August 25th.
Technology Support for Parents and Students
We will hold weekly Zooms for parents to best understand the technology being used during virtual learning. The Parent Technology Zoom Series will be every Tuesday at 7:00, starting on Monday August 17th. Our first session will cover Google Classroom.
For students, the first month of the Enrichment course will be dedicated solely to computer literacy. Your student will learn the tools (email, Google Classroom, etc.) needed to be successful within the virtual learning world. Your student’s Advisory teacher will also support your student with technology issues.
Our IT team remains available via phone call or email to troubleshoot any computer issues (for example: my charger isn’t working, I can’t download a program, etc.). Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instructional Support for Parents
In each weekly email, we will preview what is happening inside the classroom for the upcoming week so that you can be informed as a parent on what your student is working on. Included will be ways you can best support your student.
Students do not need to wear the school uniform during Virtual Learning. Wait until we are moving to in-person learning before purchasing uniforms.
At this time, the State of Pennsylvania has asked individual schools and school districts to use their discretion as to whether to offer in-person instruction or fully at-home instruction this fall. Given the information that is currently available regarding coronavirus safety, we have decided to proceed with the most cautious approach possible, and to begin the school year with all students learning at home.
Our hope is that when conditions improve, our students are back in our physical building. Again, safety for our entire community – students, staff, and our family partners like you – is our guiding principle on reopening our physical building to students. We will constantly assess current guidelines and data in determining when to reopen the building. I encourage you to wait until we have a return date before purchasing uniforms.
We have been hard at work planning the best learning at home experience for our students and families. Our learning will be rigorous, engaging, and worthy of our students so that they have the power to build the future.
As a parent of three children myself, I know how hard this is. I want nothing more than to be back with my 500 other kiddos. The magic of Freire Charter Middle School and the magic of our students are what drives me to do this work and I miss it terribly. It is time to create that magic while learning at home. I thank you immensely for your partnership.
Head of School – Freire Charter Middle School
Health and Safety Plan
Please note: Freire Charter School is beginning the 2020-21 school year using an all-virtual model. The plan linked here discusses Freire Charter School’s reopening plan at such time as conditions permit us to open the building for in-person learning. Click here to read Freire Charter School’s Phased School Reopening Health and Safety Plan.