August 17, 2020 Update

Dear Ascension Public Schools Families,

Happy Monday and happy second week of the 2020-21 school year!
We hope you all had a restful weekend, that you are safe and healthy today, and that you remain energized about the work ahead as we press on in these very unusual times. We want to share with you some information early this week that includes both gratitude as well as a request to be mindful of the support, cooperation, and patience our schools and teachers need for their work in online learning. 
First, much appreciation as you all once again showed confidence in your public school system by supporting the next list of major capital improvement projects (see more at We are encouraged and greatly appreciative of the overwhelming voter support (71%) to extend the dedicated millage that funds our school construction projects. I know the children of our community will be the ultimate benefactors of your continued generosity and support. We look forward to making progress quickly on the project list, but, as you all know, construction never has a perfect timeline. Our goal is to open a new high school in the fall of 2023, and we believe that is a reasonable goal. However, as we begin our work immediately to pursue and accomplish that goal, we will, as we always do, keep you abreast of any obstacles we experience along the way to achieving that timeline.  That promise is extended to the other projects on the list. We will keep in constant contact with you regarding the progress of these projects and anticipated completion dates as soon as we know them, and we will be sure to also notify you when obstacles occur that could potentially delay our stated goals. 
We are also very grateful for our outstanding teachers who are courageously pursuing excellence to support in-person learning while at the same time supporting excellence in synchronous online learning (Home-Based Virtual Program and students on alternate schedules). This is a brand new concept that has multiple layers of complexities and challenges. Our teachers are determined but need both your patience and your cooperation to make this a success. Please remember that the home-based learning option requires your child to participate with us in real-time online. This participation has many potential interruptions that will need the support of parents to minimize and eliminate. Your child needs a workspace that is conducive for their learning and is not a potential disruption or distraction to the learning of others. This includes items visible in the camera. Anything visible in your child’s learning environment must be school appropriate. For example, the presence of pets, distractive noises, and items that promote prejudice of race, religion, or gender are not appropriate. If the item is not appropriate for school, the item is not appropriate on the camera. In addition, neither your child nor any other individual at home is allowed to take pictures or videos of the online sessions. This is strictly forbidden and, when compromised, will require consequences that could include transitioning the student into the Blended Learning Program, which does not interact live with a classroom. This option requires more oversight by the parent or guardian.
These things mentioned are among many of the items in the Home-Based Virtual Learning agreement signed previously. We are asking each of you to revisit those items as they will be enforced to protect instruction and learning for students participating as well as to support and minimize distractions to the actual work of the teacher. Your cooperation is very much appreciated by our teachers that are committed to making this a good learning experience for your children!
We hope you all have a great week! Thanks for your support and cooperation to help us and our wonderful teachers learn to do something that can eventually be another great innovation for education but will take some time to refine. That timeline will be shorter if we can minimize the unnecessary distractions that could exist in this live online learning by creating a “school-like setting” for the online learner that is as similar to the settings of a classroom as possible. 
David Alexander
Ascension Public Schools