Cougar Connection: September 4, 2020

Important Information Regarding the Start of School
As we approach the start of the 2020-2021 school year, I want to start by saying “Thank You!” Over the past few months, our staff has consistently received words of encouragement, affirmation, and support from our parent community. Words cannot describe what this means to us as educators. Every staff member, from teacher to custodian, has made the decision to work at a middle school because we want to make a positive impact in the lives of children. Your positivity is contagious, uplifting, and deeply appreciated.

It is my commitment to share as much information as possible, in as timely a manner as possible, and with as few changes as possible. This Cougar Connection has a lot of information, some for In-Person learning (which is beginning in Distance Learning mode) and some for VirtualED learning. Although some of the information is the same for both modes of learning, I will still address each mode individually. 

Regardless of which learning mode your child will participate in, please know that our staff is committed to creating a learning environment that is organized, meaningful, caring, and effective. The LKMS staff has been and will continue to learn and prepare themselves so they can best meet the needs of our students. Our staff is so excited to start the school year and can’t wait to meet their students soon.

Start Here…
The 2020-2021 Schedule Explanation video will provide you with some additional clarity as to what our schedule will look like for the start of school.

The LKMS First Four Weeks document will give you an overview of the first four weeks of school.

The Student Schedules video will give you an overview of what to expect when you receive your student’s schedule. *Please note, student schedules will be available on ParentVue on Tuesday, September 8.

In-person/Distance Learning for LKMS students – general info
The information below applies to those students who registered for In-Person Learning. As you know, In-Person learners will begin the first four weeks in the Distance Learning mode – if a transition to Hybrid or full in-Person Learning is announced more information will be shared with families.

  • Student schedules will be available in ParentVue by Tuesday, September 8.
  • The daily class schedule is posted in the LKMS 2020-2021 Schedule. At the middle school, we will follow a modified block schedule, which is unique to the middle school and not the same as the high school’s odd/even block schedule.
    • Each grade level’s schedule is unique, including the sequence of courses. With the exception of students who are accelerated a grade level in math, all students in a grade level follow the sequence for their grade (i.e., all 6th graders follow the 6th grade schedule).
    • When you view a student’s schedule in ParentVue, courses will be listed in a period 0 – period 9 sequence.
    • This year we have added a period 0 (zero) so we could schedule an intervention period as period 0 and our usual FLEX period during the day. Please note that during Distance Learning, only those students who have an IEP will be expected to have Zoom meetings with their case managers during the FLEX or Intervention time periods. 
    • The classes that will alternate days are the CORE classes. Elective classes for each grade level will meet every day.
    • We will identify alternating days as Odd Days or Even Days for the whole school. Odd and Even applies to the sequence of CORE courses each, not to the sequence of periods of the day. To clarify:
      • During an Odd Day students will go to their 1st and 3rd CORE class as listed on their schedule. *Please note it is easy to think on an Odd Day students would go to their ODD periods on the schedule. This is not accurate. Students will go to their Odd CORE courses.
      • During an Even Day students will go to their 2nd and 4th CORE class as listed on their schedule. *Please note it is easy to think on an Even Day students would go to their Even periods on the schedule. This is not accurate. Students will go to their Even CORE courses.
  • Students should expect to join Zoom/live/synchronous classes at their published start times in the Student Schedule. Students should consider these time as a remote version of getting to class on time.
  • Students can expect to connect live each day, but the length of synchronous/live instruction will vary each day – just like it would in a typical school day. Class may be “in session” but students may have time to work independently/off-line while teachers remain in the Zoom for questions. Teachers may incorporate physical activity, stretch breaks, or other non-sitting/non-screen activities as well.
  • The ODD/EVEN schedule will be used whether we are in Distance, Hybrid, or In-Person Learning modes.
  • Lunches are 45 minutes long – this allows for In-Person accommodations such as staggered dismissal to/from the cafeteria, adjusted cleaning protocols, and limiting lines at the kitchen. During Distance Learning, it allows students time to tend to their personal needs or get their lunch without missing the next class start time.
  • The Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) has determined that attendance will be taken while we are in a Distance Learning mode. The Blue Valley School District has been in close communication with KSDE as to how we will take attendance in a Distance Learning mode. Information regarding how we will take attendance will be emailed on Tuesday, September 8.

VirtualED for LKMS students – general info

  • CORE classes (Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and English Language Arts) for LKMS students will be primarily taught by LKMS teachers. Please know there are some students who will receive their instruction by Blue Valley teachers from a different middle school. Additionally, there may be some students from other BV middle schools in some of our classes as well.
  • Students enrolled in the VirtualED mode will receive their synchronous (live) instruction in CORE classes at times dedicated to VirtualED classes only. 
  • The VirtualED CORE Schedule document will help you with this. Your child’s schedule, as listed in Parent/StudentVue, will identify which teacher they have for each CORE subject. Please check your child’s Canvas courses (available Tuesday, September 8) for specific information. Additionally, your child should be prepared for synchronous activities according to the First Four Weeks schedule. Your child’s VirtualED teacher will communicate class start/end times and elective teachers will communicate days-of-the-week for live/synchronous activities via Canvas.
  • Elective courses will be taught by teachers from Blue Valley middle schools. Many LKMS students will not be in classes with LKMS teachers. This is due to the volume of electives offered and the variability in each student’s schedule/elective choices.
  • Students involved in the VirtualED program will have at least one synchronous session per week for elective courses. As shown below, students will experience synchronous sessions on a rotational basis as determined by the day of the week. On days in which students do not have synchronous sessions, they will still have asynchronous/offline learning experiences.
  • Every Blue Valley middle school follows the same grade-level rotation of electives (7th grade in the morning, 6th grade in the middle of the day, and 8th grade at the end of the day). Because of this, CORE and elective classes will not overlap for a student. Additionally, this schedule allows elective teachers to stagger their live/synchronous lessons on different days of the week rather than at a specific time every day.
  • Students will need to pay close attention to their Canvas calendar and any messages from teachers so they are aware of Zoom log-in details, scheduled activities, and course expectations. As needed, synchronous sessions may be recorded and shared with students who are unable to attend. If students are not able to attend a synchronous session, they will need to proactively communicate their absence to the teacher. Make-up work, including viewing the recorded session, may be required by the teacher. Students can expect a minimum of one synchronous session per course per week and many classes will host more.
  • The Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) has determined that attendance will be taken for students in the VirtualED learning mode. The Blue Valley School District has been in close communication with KSDE as to how we will take attendance for students in VirtualED mode. Information regarding how we will take attendance will be emailed on Tuesday, September 8.

6th Grade Orientation: Tuesday, September 8 at 8:15
6th Grade Orientation for all students (In-Person Learning and VirtualED) will be held virtually between 8:15 and 9:15 on Tuesday, September 8. During this time we will officially welcome our 6th grade students to LKMS! As part of our presentation, delivered live via Zoom, we will discuss a variety of topics to ensure your child is prepared for the first day of school! Please reference the email sent on September 4 for more specific information, including Zoom links.

School Supply Pickup: Tuesday, September 8 from 1:00 to 3:00
As you may remember last year our wonderful PTO offered LKMS parents with an optional opportunity to purchase a kit containing school supplies for your child’s core classes for this school year. If you ordered school supplies for this year via the PTO, please pick up your supply kits on Tuesday, September 8 from 1:00 to 3:00.

To help us be as safe and efficient as possible, please note the following:

  • Please post a sign in your vehicle’s front window with your student’s first/last name and grade level so we can quickly find and provide your supply kit.
  • Enter the front circle drive off of Edgewater and pull up towards the main entrance.
  • Please stay in your vehicle – PTO parent volunteers will wear PPE and hand the supply kits to you.

If this date/time does not work for you, please contact the LKMS front office at 913.239.5800.

2020-2021 LKMS Resource Page
For your convenience we have created a one-stop shop resource page for our parents to reference. If you are ever looking for a specific piece of information, you can simply go to the 2020-2021 LKMS Resources page.

Technology help for families
The Blue Valley ITS Department is committed to providing the best technology support possible to Blue Valley families and students. The dedicated BV Care team is available to provide remote technology support for minor issues, as well as in-person support for device-break and/or hardware-related issues. Please see important instructions below, by learning mode, to request technology assistance.

  • Distance Learning AND VirtualED Learning:
    • Families/students should submit a BV Care “Technology Help” form online. The BV Care team will work to schedule remote assistance or an in-person appointment at the district’s designated BV Care support site. BV Care support is available from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Additional information regarding appointment date, time and location will be shared with you once your online help form is submitted.

The Blue Valley ITS department is committed to providing quality care in a timely manner. However, we recognize that as we all adjust to multiple new modes of learning, there may be an increase in support tickets. Depending on the volume of support requests and the severity of the issue, families may be asked to use a personal home device as an interim solution. We thank families for their patience and understanding as our BV Care team works to address each support request as quickly as possible.

Important Back to School updates from the district
Did you catch the latest middle school Back-to-School update from the Blue Valley School District, including information on the new Food and Nutrition Services Point of Sale system, online meal service ordering/pick-up options and technology support? Check out the latest information and updates in this district newsletter.

LKMS Spirit Wear (Deadline to Order is Wednesday, September 23rd)
LKMS spirit wear online store is now open for orders! We are excited to offer so many options to choose from to show your LKMS pride. 

Order now: https://lkms2020.itemorder.com/sale

Spirit Wear will be delivered directly to LKMS approximately 10 days after order deadline or you may opt to pay to ship to your home. The online spirit wear store will close at midnight on 9/23/20. Show your school spirit! A small percentage of each sales goes back to the PTO. Thank you for your support — Lakewood PTO

Safe + Sane + Seen: Blue Valley West Feeder Schools K-12: 9/23 @ 10AM
Struggling with knowing how to help your kids have healthy screentime habits in the world of virtual learning? This 60-minute virtual event will help you make a game plan to manage screens at home. We'll share fresh, expert-informed concepts that can apply to all ages of kids, and give you an opportunity to exchange tips and offer support with other parents and staff in the Blue Valley West community. The content is designed for adults only; please note that some information might be disturbing for younger kids. You will walk away with practical ideas to help your child stay safe, sane and seen in an increasingly digital world.  Can't join live? No worries! The event will be recorded and sent to registered parents to view at a time convenient for you.  Registration is now open, click here to get started. 

Athletics/Activities 
As per district communication on Friday, September 4 all Middle School Activities and Athletics are postponed until in-person learning begins. With this announcement, we have decided to cancel the Fall Activities Parent Meeting that was scheduled for September 8th. We will continue to communicate with you and keep you updated when we receive more information in the future surrounding Athletics and Activities. 

Please feel free to contact Assistant Principal, Meaghan Graber, with any questions at magraber@bluevalleyk12.org.