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Getting Ready For The First Day

Back to School Message From Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts

Dear KSD Community,

Any given year, the night before the first day of school can bring feelings of excitement, nervousness, anxiety, and joy all at once. This year is different and yet oddly the same in many ways. Tomorrow is the first day of school for our students in grades 1-12, and I know our students and families also have mixed feelings, as do our staff.

What I am sure of is that our teachers, principals, school support staff, and central office leaders have worked incredibly hard to welcome back our students. Starting the new year in remote learning, under these circumstances, is new for all of us; tomorrow, we will make history in Kent School District.  

This week teachers and principals have started reaching out to you and helping you get ready for remote learning. We recognize there are still many questions. In the first few days, I know our educators, who are so excited as we all are to see our students, will be working to address your questions and concerns and support students in acclimating to this new learning environment.

Over the summer, many of our teachers and principals were involved in our Back to School Taskforce designing our remote learning plan. Our labor groups and teams then worked together to operationalize the plan, as guidance has continued to change from local and state officials. It has been a busy summer.

On the eve of the start of a new school year, here are a few things you can expect.

Live Instruction Every School Day

One improvement from what students experienced last spring is teachers can provide live, online instruction every school day. In elementary, middle, and high schools, the expectation is that teachers will provide live, virtual instruction each school day through Microsoft Teams. 

Included in the daily live instruction for all students is an opportunity to engage in social-emotional supports. We know this is something families wanted to be prioritized for the school year, and it is also critical to us. This can look like morning meetings, the teaching of specific social-emotional skills, and or reflection time. These supports will vary by classroom and will change as teachers respond to the needs of students. 

Additional time for check-ins and office hours will also be provided each day live through Teams. There will also be activities for students to complete on their own through Canvas, iReady, or other district-approved resources. Teachers will provide instructions on how to access these lessons and resources.

Schools have received district guidance on scheduling for all content areas and have the flexibility to develop their own schedules for instruction. Schedule guidance is available in the KSD Remote Learning Plan. Please check with your teachers for schedule details if they haven’t been shared with you already. 

Technology Supports

In this remote learning environment, we are all more reliant on our devices, the internet, and customer service providers than ever before. I want to thank our DARTS Team, “DARTS” represents the functional areas of Data, Assessment, Research, Technology & Strategy that are all parts of the Organizational Effectiveness community, for their continued support to our students, staff, and family. I also want to highlight some additional DARTS supports to ensure students and families have what they need for a successful start to the school year.   

  • Watch this Getting Ready for the First Day short video from our Digital Learning Team.
  • Extended Customer Support Center Hours, 7 am – 7 pm by email at  csc@kent.k12.wa.us or by phone at 253-373-7030. 
  • In-Person Student & Staff Device Support Deployment/Fix/Swap by appointment on Tuesday or Thursday Laptop Support days from 8 am – 4 pm.
  • Equipment Delivery Service by bus delivery to students on Wednesdays and Fridays, information coming soon.
  • Digital Learning Toolkit: Learn about the different digital tools students use from the classroom and home.
  • Family Tech Academy: Discover resources, information, and free Microsoft virtual training for families. 

In closing, I want to say thank you to our staff, our students, our families, and our community partners. As we continue to work together, I know there will be challenges that will be presented to us this year. I also take great comfort in knowing we will continue to get through this together. 

Here is to a healthy, safe, and positive school year. 

In partnership and service,  
 
Dr. Calvin J. Watts 
Superintendent