August 24, 2020
Dear Northwood Families,
Typically, my letter to families regarding the new school year is sent at the beginning of August. I have waited to send it this year because so much of our schedule and our planning for the start of school was still in flux. I now have more definitive plans and schedules to share. Thank you for your patience and your understanding about the complexities of starting school during this challenging time.
Topics in this letter include:
- MIYFS Counselors Restored
- RSVP Process - Required of All Families
- Red Remote Learning Plan
- Open House Virtual Events
- Remote Learning Kits and Supplies
- First Day of School
- Student Class Placement
- Important Dates
MIFYS Counselors Restored
I am excited to share that Laura Falsgraf will once again serve the Northwood community as our Mercer Island Youth and Family Services counselor in the coming year. We are thrilled to have her services dedicated to Northwood families and students. Here is the formal announcement from MIYFS:
“As part of the City’s response to pandemic-related budget reductions, two Youth and Family Services (YFS) Department school-based counselors were laid off and placed on standby status and all other counselors were reduced to 28 hours/week. Thanks to generous donations from the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Foundation, the City Council has reinstated the West Mercer Elementary and Island Park Elementary counselors and increased all school counselor positions to 32 hours/week. The City is pleased to partially restore school counseling services for 2020, and thanks the MIYFS Foundation for their generous donation that made this possible.”
RSVP Process - Required of All Families
Even though this is a unique year, some tasks remain the same. To complete your child(ren)’s enrollment you must complete the RSVP process annually. This is online and should take just a few minutes. This “RSVP” process is open now and will need to be completed before the first day of school, September 2nd. I encourage you to take a few moments and complete this process as soon as possible because teacher assignments will not be available to you until the process is complete. This is an important process each year…please also review all contact information (including emergency contacts) to make sure we have current information to communicate with you. To complete your RSVP, please log into your Skyward Family Access account and complete all forms, including uploading requested documentation. Details on how to do this can be found here: https://www.mercerislandschools.org/Domain/175
IMPORTANT: You will not be able to access who your child’s teacher will be until you have completed the RSVP process. Teacher assignment will be available on Friday, August 28th at 5:00pm for all who have completed the RSVP process.
Red Remote Learning Plan
I assume all have heard by now that we will begin our school year remotely in what we are calling the Red Remote Learning Plan. More information about the plan can be found here: Elementary Red Learning Plan
In addition, the elementary administrators have been creating videos and posting helpful documents on the details of the fall learning. If you haven’t already seen these videos and supporting documents (or you would like to see them again) you can access them here: Elementary Fall 2020 Information
While remote learning is a change from our normal routine, and perhaps not what many of you wanted, our staff have been busy all summer engaged in learning and planning to make this a successful year for all! Teachers have been particularly thinking about how to develop relationships with and among students. We know that relationships are vitally important for well-functioning classrooms. Part of this relationship building will entail a personal meeting with you and your child. Some of our teachers are planning for this right before school begins and others are incorporating it into the first weeks of school. Please be looking for more information from your child’s teacher as we get closer to the start of school.
Open House Virtual Events
An important annual event to kick-off the school year at Northwood is our Open House. The purpose of the Open House is to help students feel comfortable in their new classroom, to begin to know who their teacher is, where the class will be meeting, and who their classmates will be. We plan to continue our Open House tradition on the day before school begins (September 1st) with a combination of asynchronous (video sent by the teacher to be viewed whenever it fits with your family’s schedule) and synchronous (Zoom call that all families and students in the class participate in) events. Please be on the lookout for an email from your child’s teacher on or before August 31st with the asynchronous welcome video as well as a link to the Zoom session that will take place on the afternoon of September 1st. Since we know many families have more than one student at Northwood, we have scheduled a different time for each grade level’s synchronous Open House. To help with your planning for that day, here are the Zoom meeting times for each grade level:
- Kindergarten: 12:30pm
- 1st grade: 1:00 pm
- 2nd grade: 1:30 pm
- 3rd grade: 2:00 pm
- 4th grade: 2:30 pm
- 5th grade: 3:00 pm
Remote Learning Kits and Supplies
The start of school also means preparing materials and supplies to allow learning activities to successfully take place. This year since the learning will be primarily happening at home, we know we need to help prepare your home for the tasks to come. We are preparing for a Remote Learning Kit (important school supplies) pick up day on Tuesday, September 1st. Pickups are being scheduled from 12:00-4:00pm. More details about this pick-up schedule will be sent soon.
The kits that we are preparing will include:
- family purchased school supplies (for those families who ordered from SchoolKidz last spring)
- curriculum workbooks
- whiteboards, etc.
These kits, along with the iPads that are being handed out at the iPad pick up days (8/20 & 8/27), will provide for a successful launch to the school year for your child(ren).
For those families who did not purchase school supplies through SchoolKidz in the spring, the grade level supplies lists can be found on our Northwood website here: https://www.mercerislandschools.org/Page/16171
First Day of School
First day of school for students in 1st through 5th grade is on Wednesday, September, 2nd. Students’ are to log on to their teacher’s Zoom class at 9:15am for the start of their school day. This is our normal start time when in the building and we want to foster a consistent sense of routine for our learners and families.
Kindergarten families will participate in WaKids Connection Conferences by appointment during these first three days of the school calendar: September 2, 3, and 4. Please watch your email in the coming days for information about scheduling this Kindergarten meeting.
The first day of school for Kindergarteners is Tuesday, September, 8th. Students’ are to log on to their teacher’s Zoom class at 9:15am for the start of their school day.
Student Class Placement
A great deal of time, effort and thought has gone into the process of student placement for the 2020-2021 school year.
Careful consideration was given to input from staff and families as well as student learning styles. Classrooms have been balanced academically and socially. Our class lists are structured to provide equitable class sizes at each grade level. Moving students is difficult without causing imbalances and inequities.
Thank you so much for being positive with your child and helping him or her understand that it is impossible to place all students with a preferred best friend or teacher. ALL of our staff works hard to make school a positive experience for ALL students. The Northwood staff is eagerly looking forward to enriching your child’s life. Thank you for understanding that it can take a few weeks for a child to acclimate to a new grade, peer group, and teacher, and for encouraging a growth mindset in your child.
Teacher assignments will be available through Skyward on August 28th at 5:00pm (but only if you have completed the RSVP process).
Class Assignments (K-5) will be posted in Skyward @ 5:00pm (only available for families who have completed the RSVP process by this time).
K-5 “Open House” Zoom sessions with your teacher, please refer to schedule of times listed above
School begins for students 1st-5th! (9:15am log on)
School begins for Kindergarten (9:15am log on)
Curriculum Night (via Zoom):
● 5:00-6:00 K-2 & ECSE
● 6:00-7:00 3-5
Our amazing Northwood PTA Leaders have been meeting throughout the summer, and we are working with them to consider ways to adapt some of our cherished PTA-hosted community events in this remote learning setting. Please visit the Northwood PTA website, https://northwoodowlspta.membershiptoolkit.com/, to learn more about current dates and event plans and to see how you can become a member and get involved.
At Northwood, we are committed to partnering with you to make this the best year we can for ALL of our children. We love our students, our work, and our school. Staff has put in countless hours this summer to shape this year as one of growth for our students and ourselves.
Welcome back to school! Together we can make this a wonderful year, regardless of the circumstances.
Northwood Elementary School