Spire's Response to COVID-19
Planning & Preparation for School Closures: In anticipation of school closings due to COVID-19, The Spire School proactively planned for distance learning. Prior to school closings, we conducted a school-wide survey of students, parents, and faculty to ensure reliable internet service, access to a dedicated electronic device with video and audio capabilities, and a space to work productively. For those students who indicated they did not have a device, we provided a Chromebook for home use and worked with local districts to provide students wireless internet access. We provided training to all faculty and staff on the Google Suite™ (including Google Meet™, Google Classroom™, and Google Docs™), with a specific focus on conducting classes using video and audio conferencing. We then provided training and extensive in-class practice to all students, troubleshooting any issues that arose.
Implementation: On March 16, 2020, The Spire School was prepared to respond promptly to the COVID-19 school closures by implementing a virtual synchronous special education program, complete with psychoeducational support and related services. Our distance learning program mimics our daily and weekly schedule of the in-school classroom experience. Classes take place Monday-Thursday 8a-3p, Fridays 8a-12:09p, with each class period lasting 45 minutes. Our students log into each of their classes at the time they would normally do so at school. Teachers and students experience face-to-face meetings each period, every day. Core and elective classes are conducted using direct instruction, class discussion, cooperative learning, and independent practice through video conferencing with Google Meet™/Hangouts™. Students are assigned independent classwork, homework, and longer-term projects, and are assessed through a variety of traditional measures. Likewise, students are receiving all related services as prescribed by their IEPs, such as individual resource support for math, reading, and writing, speech and language, EF coaching, three therapeutic groups, and individual counseling sessions.
Ongoing Support: Throughout our distance learning, Spire has been providing ongoing technical support to students, teachers, and parents. We continue to closely monitor student attendance, participation, and productivity in each class by taking daily and class-by-class attendance through PowerSchool, and grades for all classes are continuously updated in PowerSchool. To facilitate ongoing communication and collaboration among our faculty and staff, we continue to hold all regularly scheduled faculty/staff meetings virtually, including student team meetings, quarterly rating meetings, pre-PPT, and PPT meetings. Additionally, we send regular updates via email to our families, districts, and board members, and are conducting our parent-child workshops, parent training seminars, and parent-teacher conferences via video-conferencing.
Assessment, Grading, Year-End Procedures, & ESY, 2020:
1) After much research and discussion, we chose to not administer traditional final exams during a formal final exam period at the end of the school year. Instead, our teachers developed a 4th quarter assessment that was cumulative in nature but counted as a regular test grade in students' 4th quarter grades.
2) Students' final grades for the year were calculated based on their quarterly grades, and each quarter was weighted equally (25%) toward the final grade. While many surrounding schools elected to use pass/fail grades, we used letter grades for the 4th quarter and final grades for the year. We do not believe pass/fail grades appropriately represented students' achievement nor the effort and hard work they applied to their classes since the start of our distance learning. For certain students and under the right circumstance, however, we reserved the right to use pass/fail. This decision was made with input from Life Coaches, teachers, administrators, and parents.
3) Senior internships were canceled; instead, seniors continued their regular classes and submitted weekly reflections during the final month of school.
4) InSpired Summer, our Extended School Year (ESY) program took place for 5 weeks, starting June 29, 2020, and ending July 31, 2020. All 5 weeks of Spire’s ESY were conducted through distance learning.
Academic Year 2020-21:
We opened for in-school learning on Tuesday, September 8th, 2020. Given our small class size (on average 3-6 students), and large new building, we are enjoying seeing all of our students back in the classroom! Students, faculty, and staff wear face coverings throughout the day, maintain safe physical distancing, and wash/sanitize hands and shared resources frequently. Our enrolled families can access our school reopening planning and presentations here. We follow national and local recommendations, guidelines, and procedures closely and hope you find the following information helpful: