SSMA Plans Fully Virtual Learning Start for 2020-21 School Year

Dear SSMA families,

Thank you to the many parents who took the time to complete our most recent survey about your preferences for fall learning pathways. This has been a challenging several months since we were suddenly thrust into the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate your patience, collaboration, and resilience during this unprecedented time in history. 

We are writing to inform you that our board and executive leadership have come to the difficult decision that we must pivot to the 100% virtual learning pathway this fall, through the first trimester, which ends right after the Thanksgiving break.  We have come to this decision based on several factors:

  1. According to information from our city’s leadership, the trends in the community spread of COVID-19 in Washington, DC have taken a turn in the wrong direction. While we have confidence that our elected officials will lead us through this, we must do our part to protect our school community and the broader community from the continued spread of the virus. Our students come from every ward in this city and a variety of family situations. One outbreak in our school could have widespread and devastating impacts and consequences.

  2. There was a considerable shift among parents from the first survey to the most recent survey results. A majority of parents said that in light of recent developments they would prefer the 100% virtual as a start of school option. 

  3. The well-being of our staff and their families is also extremely important. In addition to the health and safety concerns, a majority of staff live in nearby jurisdictions where their own children will be required to be in virtual learning at home. 

One bright light in this situation is that Mrs. Jenkins and her team have been very thoughtful about developing a robust, and engaging Montessori program for distance learning. We are also excited that our new Assistant Principal, Mrs. Vyju Kadambi has a background and expertise in virtual Montessori learning in ways that are captivating and will advance learning for students.

We will continuously monitor the situation and our learning options as the trimester progresses. If we are able to change our model at the start of the 2nd trimester, please keep in mind it is most likely that we will then move to the original two pathway options - (1) 100% virtual and (2) the hybrid model. 

We recognize that there are families for whom this will be very difficult. Please know that we are committed to working with parents to address issues around technology support, social-emotional development, keeping children on task, and even concerns about meals and other basic necessities at home. We are not just a school. We are a community whose members take care of each other. Part of our pivot will include learning new ways to be a community school under these circumstances.

We ask that parents who are concerned about how they will make virtual learning work for their family to please get in touch with Mrs. Jenkins (academics) or Mrs. Moore-Gause (technology, enrollment, meals, etc.) so they can assess the full range of needs within our community.  The board and executive leadership will work to identify resources and solutions so that none of our children are left behind this school year. 

We must work together to make the best out of this less than ideal situation. 

We look forward to continuing this conversation on July 29th.

Warm regards,

Anthony King, Esq., Chair, SSMA Board of Directors 

R. Rodriguez-Garcia, Ph.D. Executive Director