TJHSST Distance Learning Plan

Dear TJHSST Families:

I hope this message finds you, family and friends healthy and connected. Many of our daily routines have changed dramatically in the past three weeks. Moreover, our roles have shifted and homes have become proxy locations for work and education. I deeply respect all that you are doing to manage a vibrant household. Most of all, as you welcome us into your homes to engage students in distance learning, we will be sensitive to your needs while we continue to provide high quality educational experiences that are the trademark of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

This past week our faculty and staff have been attending training and meetings in preparation for fourth term starting on Tuesday, April 14. Teachers are currently reaching out to students with directions on how to complete outstanding third term work by April 24. They are also giving a preview of what to expect during the next several weeks. Please take time with your child to visit FCPS Blackboard 24-7 Learning where teachers post messages that are visible for students and parents.  Blackboard and Google Classroom are the two FCPS-approved digital platforms for instructional delivery and where students will be able to video conference, collaborate, and complete assignments.

When the distance learning plan launches on April 14, all high school students will follow a rotation schedule of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Mondays are reserved for teachers to plan and collaborate; during this time, students may work independently. Tuesdays will follow a Blue day modified schedule, periods 1-4, and Thursdays will be a Red modified day with periods 5-8. Wednesdays and Fridays are time for asynchronous learning, student collaboration, independent work, and teacher office hours. The complete TJHSST Distance Learning Plan may be found here on our web page.

We know students, parents and teachers continue to have many questions about how grades will be calculated through the end of the year. There are many complex factors to consider and FCPS leadership has assured us they will have more answers and next steps by the time we return from Spring Break and implement our Distance Learning Plan on April 14.

I feel fortunate our community has engaged in Challenge Success initiatives during the past two years. Many of the philosophies, tips and strategies resonate loudly in this time of uncertainty. Do we need to define ourselves by letter grades? What is really important when we’re engaged in learning? I heard a TJ parent the other day counsel her son, saying, “Now is the time to differentiate yourself when grades aren’t as much a factor. Show your teachers how you are resilient, be present for sessions, complete activities, be there for your classmates, and take initiative. Those are the human qualities that make you stand out. Not a letter grade.” That’s powerful advice!

Challenge Success has created several new parent resources for distance learning in response to the pandemic impacting our educational systems. Our lives have been interrupted, none more than our seniors who will miss many time-honored traditions enjoyed by high school graduates. In a very real sense, we are experiencing loss, a type of grief. One of our teachers shared an article from Harvard Business Review about coping with loss during these strange times. And Dr. Brabrand has acknowledged these sentiments in his letter to the Class of 2020.

Thank you for the support and patience you will give to teachers and students in the coming weeks. We know we cannot start over. We cannot even start where we left off. We can only start where we are. We will do the best we can in the moment. We are TJ. We got this!

Be well- mind, body and spirit.

Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus