Important Letter to GAMS Students and Families

Welcome to GAMS Important Letter to GAMS Students and Families

August 7, 2020

Dear GAMS Families,

Last weekend, you received an update (community letter and video message) from our Superintendent, Dr. Lura Hanks, regarding GASD’s plan for the re-opening of our schools. Last evening, our Board of School Directors confirmed our District’s Health and Safety Plan (which may be reviewed in its entirety on our website - GCASD.org) as an essential piece of our preparations.  The Board also approved a revised school calendar that designates Monday, August 24, as the first day for our middle school students. From now until then, GAMS is accelerating our professional development and collaborative planning efforts to empower us to effectively operate regardless of our degree/frequency of physical presence.  GAMS’ Apple Vanguard Teacher Group as well as our Digital Teacher Team are providing leadership and support to our virtual instructional effectiveness capacity. Next week, GASD Faculty and Staff return to our campus on Thursday, August 13. We will begin the day together with Dr. Hanks “Setting Sail.” As part of establishing our course, our professional staff is reading, “The Distance Learning Playbook,” and will hear directly from its author as we collaboratively plan for educational excellence in the year ahead. 

This year, we are offering a “Virtual Open House & Building Tour” to our students and families! Special thanks to Mr. McManus, Mr. Bowman and Mr. Yelton, for their work on this project. Please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHOLRqJCy1c to participate in our Virtual Open House at your earliest convenience. Similarly, Mrs. Martin has created a “Communications and Technology” support and information video for parents.  I highly recommend viewing this excellent tool upon its release next week. Watch for a School Messenger alert announcing its release. In advance of those information tools, permit me to speak to some additional topics.

FOOD SERVICES

  • Breakfast will be available each day.If a breakfast is desired, those students should enter the Cafeteria, wait in line (spaced apart) to receive breakfast; then, take breakfast to Homeroom where they will eat at their assigned area.
  • Lunch will be available each day. Classes will be escorted to the cafeteria in shifts. Approximately half of our students will be able to eat within the cafeteria and maintain the necessary spacing. The remaining students will eat in other assigned and supervised areas within our building or courtyard (weather permitting).
  • Students will be encouraged and provided opportunity to wash hands prior to eating.
  • Regardless of the location of lunch, all seating is assigned for distancing and contact tracing.
  • Seating and tables will be cleaned and sanitized before new student populations arrive.
  • A new hands-free point of sale system will be used in the cafeteria.
  • Parents can access their child’s meal account through the GASD website or by visiting www.shoolcafe.com. Money can be deposited through this site or can be sent to school in an envelope clearly marked with the student’s name and PIN number. Checks should be made payable to GAMS Cafeteria.
  • Parents are encouraged to apply for free and reduced meals online via the GASD website.
  • Questions regarding food services should be directed to Mrs. Foust, Food Services Director or her assistant, Mrs. Thrush.

HEALTH & SAFETY GUIDELINES (including face masks & shields as well as positive case identification)

  • Anytime that 6 feet of separation can’t be guaranteed/maintained, students must wear a mask/shield. This will always include riding on the bus and traveling within hallways. This may also include classrooms where there is inadequate physical space for distancing or instructional activities interfere. Only students with appropriate Health Care Provider documentation will be excused from this requirement.
  • Any/all school provided tools that are used during instruction will be cleaned and sanitized between student use.
  • Students will be escorted as a single, family unit to and from outside of classroom locations employing established safety procedures.
  • Instruction will maximize the use of digital tools and minimize materials that could diminish a sanitary environment.
  • No lockers will be assigned or used this year.
  • Students will NOT change clothes for Wellness this year. Activities have been adjusted.
  • Students will be discouraged from bringing anything unnecessary from their homes and encouraged to bring their own water bottle and school tools (please see the needed student supply list posted on our GAMS website). Students will have access to a “touch free” water bottle refill station located within our school cafeteria.
  • All restrooms have non-contact flushing devices, soap dispensers, sinks and towel dispensers.
  • Information regarding monitoring and responding to student and staff health concerns at school as well as all health considerations and protocols may be found within the District’s Health and Safety Plan (posted on our GASD website).
  • Questions regarding student or family health concerns should be directed to Mrs. Hamilton, School Nurse. Questions regarding our Health & Safety plan may be directed to Mr. McManus, Assistant Principal. 

SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL LEARNING

SPECIAL EDUCATION

TEACHING & LEARNING (including student schedules)

  • Student schedules will be available to view on the PowerSchool Parent Portal of Wednesday, August 12. Your student’s schedule will convey their Homeroom (this room will serve as their primary physical location throughout the school day), their courses and the names of their teachers.Should “MS-Virtual” appear on your child’s schedule, this is your confirmation that your child has been enrolled on our fully virtual “Digital Team.” Should you believe there to be an error on your student’s schedule, please contact Mrs. Martin or her Assistant, Ms. Leggett, for assistance.
  • Students will have a 6-period day. All 7th and 8th graders will have: ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, Specials and Launch.All 6th graders will have: ELA, Math, Science, STEM, Specials and Launch. Instrumental music students will receive lessons through a “pull out” schedule.
  • Students will physically attend school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and FridayInstruction will be fully digital on Wednesdays.  Please note that new instruction occurs daily and students will be held accountable for daily attendance and participation. Obviously, those students registered to be on our Digital Team will work remotely from home each day. Similarly, students within this program also have five days of new instruction per week.
  • Particular teachers (Art, Music, Science, STEM and Wellness) will be taking every opportunity to provide students with “outside the classroom and building” learning experiences within our courtyard, adjacent fields and our school’s environmental center.
  • Our K-12 School Counseling Department will be working with students, teachers and families to address our student’s vital social and emotional needs. Each counselor maintains a Schoology website account filled with valuable information for students and parents alike.
  • You are encouraged to contact Mr. Fred Yelton, GAMS Counselor; his Assistant, Denise Boyer; or any of our agency partners for information or support.
  • Student IEP’s and 504’s will address the needs and appropriate school responses.
  • Specific questions should be directed to Mrs. Ginger Thompson, Director of Special Education; Assistant, Mrs. Keri Lewis; 504 Assistant, Mrs. JoAnn Papoutsis; or, the student’s Teacher Case Manager.

TRANSPORTATION

  • Students may walk to and from school. Walkers should enter the main doors and exit the door closest to their last period classroom.
  • Students may be “dropped off” at school. If doing so, cars should enter the drive behind GAMS from Leitersburg Street and enter the building through the rear entrance to school. At dismissal, drivers should remain within cars that should line the sidewalk within our bus lane. Obviously, cars may not enter the driveway until after buses have departed.
  • Students riding school buses should have their temperature taken at home prior to pick-up. Students must wear a mask/face shield and remain within their assigned seat during transport.
  • There are NO temporary bus changes permitted this year. Should a permanent bus change be needed, request forms should be submitted to our Transportation Department at least 48 hours in advance. Questions should be directed to Mr. Blubaugh, Transportation Director, or his Assistant, Mrs. Bland.
  • Students will be permitted to enter the building at 7:05 a.m. Homeroom begins at 7:30 a.m.
  • Students will report directly to their Homeroom (this will be printed on their schedule) unless getting breakfast.

Wow!  That was a lot of information.  Yet, I am sure that you still have tons of questions. I hope that this will be sufficient to allow us to move forward with trust and cooperation. Be assured.  We are here to serve you to the best of our ability. We care about your children and providing them with the best educational experience possible. We know that we are part of a true community that is unparalleled and maintains an incredibly positive reputation. We will relentlessly pursue excellence for our students and expect it from our students … for the sake of their present and future success … that is our mission.

Sincerely,

Mark W. Herman
Principal, GAMS
Instagram:  gamsprincipal