***en Español***

Good Morning, Families:

First, I want to assure you there are no April Fool’s Jokes embedded in this message. While I love a good prank as much as the next person, today is not the day for it.

Thank you to our entire school community for your effort during our first day of distance learning. As predicted, there were both success stories and challenges. We all have to work together and have patience as we join the rest of the nation in this transition to a different way of educating children. I know this is exciting for some families and completely overwhelming for others. There will be high and low points as we embark on this distance learning journey together. We stand ready to help.

The data from Schoology and SeeSaw is delayed by one day, so it will take another day before I can provide specific data about March 31. Qualitatively, the successes of the first day included:

  • The care our educators demonstrated for their students by prioritizing re-building relationships and modeling lifelong learning by using new tools, like Zoom. I am incredibly proud of the thoughtful and professional approach to their classes in this different learning environment.

  • 868 middle school students logged on to view the live morning Zoom message from Assistant Principal Michael O’Keefe.

  • Positive feedback about the stability and success of Zoom, allowing our students and staff to see each other face-to-face and also giving access to students who called in via telephone.

  • Reports of good attendance numbers from across the system.

  • Numerous compliments for our technology team. We strive to be administratively efficient and have six technology staff members supporting roughly 4,500 individual devices and systems. They are doing amazing work.

There were obviously some challenges. These included:

  • A nationwide performance issue with Schoology impacted our students and staff in the afternoon. It appeared to impact the iPad app more than accessing it from a web browser. Students who have trouble with the iPad app can try to use Safari on their iPad to access Schoology. You can also see the Schoology status dashboard to see if the issue is more than just your device here.

  • Some families needed help with login information for Zoom, Schoology, or SeeSaw.

  • We continue our relentless pursuit to ensure every student is connected. Our current data shows we have 1.6% of students still needing access. We are working with a number of providers, Benjamin Bus,  and the City of Northfield to push this to 100% access. We received a shipping confirmation from T-Mobile last night that our 50 hotspots are en route.

  • There were some other issues unique to individual students that we expected during this start-up phase. These are the kinds of issues that prompted us to “start slow to go faster.”

I salute our students for their engagement today, flexibility, and problem-solving in this new educational environment. I salute our fabulous team of educators for their hard work to make the first day an overall success. I salute our families for their patience and perseverance during this time of transition.

While I won’t update you every day, I will continue to update you multiple times per week during our distance learning period. Once again, I thank you all for your support, patience, understanding, and forgiveness as we all continue to improve in the distance learning environment.

Most sincerely,

Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools