Communication Updates

This page will be updated frequently as more information becomes available.

____________________________________________________________________

For the most recent information from Vail School District, visit the health and school opening page at the link below

Vail School District – Health and School Opening Updates

____________________________________________________________________

July 31, 2020

Dear Desert Sky Parents,

I hope you are all well! We are looking forward to the new school year!
Our Chromebook check out begins next week. If you have not yet signed up for a check out time, please see the directions below.
We would also like to emphasize a few items. Please remember to please wear a mask, and honor all physical distancing requirements while on campus. We are asking that only one parent/guardian attend the check out process. Also, our teachers will be engaged in inservice trainings all next week. If you are on campus to check out a Chromebook, teachers will not be available to meet. If you would like to meet your child’s teachers, we will be holding a Virtual Meet the Teacher on Friday, August 7th from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. If you can’t make it at that time….that’s okay! We will be recording the presentation and posting teacher introduction videos to our website. You’ll be able to view those when it is convenient for you. Watch for more information on Meet the Teacher early next week.
Please be sure to sign up for a time to pick up your child’s Chromebook. Families will be able to pick up their Chromebooks the week of August 3-7th.  For the 2020-2021 school year, students will receive either a Lenovo ThinkPad 11e, or Lenovo 100e.

Pick-Up Dates 
Monday August 3 – Last Names Beginning with A-G (8am-3pm)
Tuesday August 4 – Last Names Beginning with H-N (8am-3pm)
Wednesday August 5 – Last Names Beginning with O-T (8am-3pm)
Thursday August 6 – Last Names Beginning with U-Z (8am-3pm)
Friday August 7 – “Make-Ups” (8am-11:30am, 3pm-6pm) – Appointments available for anyone unable to attend Mon-Thu

Steps to pick up your Chromebook for the 2020-2021 school year:

First: Please sign up for a pick-up time at the link below:
https://www.ptcfast.com/schools/Desert_Sky_Middle_School_1

Second: Please review and sign the Responsible Use Policy and Insurance Agreement documents attached below.  Both documents must be signed and turned in to receive a device, even if you choose to decline the insurance coverage.

Fees must be paid by Cash or Check, we cannot accept cards at this time.

Responsible Use Policy

Insurance Agreement

Third: Arrive at Desert Sky on the day and time you selected. Proceed to the table in front of the gym. You will turn in your signed Responsible Use Policy, Insurance Agreement, and insurance fee (if not declining). Once all three are turned in you will receive a receipt, one Chromebook, and one charger.

If you have any questions or need to make other arrangements, please contact our Site Technology Coordinator Daniel Hughes at hughesd@vailschooldistrict.org
Thank you again for your continued support!
Sincerely,
Katie Dabney

____________________________________________________________________

July 24, 2020

Dear Vail Families and Staff,

We have wrapped up our virtual town halls this week. It was wonderful to connect with so many families. We miss you and your children and look forward to the time when we can be together again. I was again reminded just how strong our community is. Vail is most certainly a place where education is a community effort. I know that we will get through every challenge we face in the coming months together.

So, what’s the update for this week?

Yesterday, Governor Ducey held a press conference and issued a new executive order regarding the opening of schools. We are working to unwrap what the order means for the Vail School District and will inform you once we have a clear understanding. This morning a small group of superintendents met with Pima County and Pima County Health Department leaders to determine what metrics should be used to determine when schools can safely re-open, as referenced in the Governor’s order and press conference.

As we anticipated the executive order would make changes to reopening schools, we have delayed sending out the survey for parents to choose an educational option for their child(ren). Our intent is to open up the survey for parents in the next week after ensuring that our plans are in compliance with the new instruction from the State.

In the meantime, please review the graphic below to see what our options currently look like, and get more details around each educational option on the district website at vailschooldistrict.org.

Thank you again for your continued patience and support as we work to provide you with the most accurate and up to date information. Please let us know if you have any further questions at newschoolyear@vailschooldistrict.org.

John Carruth
Superintendent
Vail Unified School District
(520) 879-2004

____________________________________________________________________

July 20, 2020

Dear Desert Sky Parents and Families,

Good afternoon!

I am writing to update you on our school opening. I apologize for the long email, but we have a lot of important information to share today.

Full remote learning will begin on Monday, August 10th and in person school will begin on August 17th (according to Governor Ducey’s Executive Order). I have received several questions regarding the opening of school that I will address in this email.

What does full remote learning look like?

At the middle school level, students will be required to remotely attend five classes per day (Advisory/Math Skills, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science) following their class schedule. Class schedules and teacher assignments will be available on Powerschool starting next Monday, July 27th. Simply log into Powerschool to access student schedule information. If you need assistance with your Powerschool log in, please contact our Office Manager, Muriel Bruyn, at bruynm@vailschooldistrict.org.

Remote Learning is very different than the Educational Opportunities we provided during 4th Quarter. Attendance is required and you will receive an automated call and email if your child is absent (just as you would during in person school). Assignments will be required to be completed and turned in, grades will be assigned, and students will take Formative and Benchmark assessments as normal. The first ten minutes of each class will be live video conferencing, where the teacher will take attendance, explain the lesson objective and expectations for the lesson. Students will then go through the pre-recorded lesson on Schoology. Each lesson will follow the Vail method of instructional delivery including Bellwork, Anticipatory Set, Direct Instruction, Practice, Closure, and Independent Practice (homework assignment/practice). Teachers will have daily virtual office hours during the Literacy Skills period and the Reteach & Enrich period for students to receive additional support and assistance. To learn more about Remote Learning click HERE.

What do I need to do to register my child for the new school year?

For our returning 7th and 8th grade families, your child is already registered. We will be sending out an email once school starts for you to update your child’s information (address, phone numbers, etc.) as we do at the beginning of every school year. This is done online through your parent Powerschool log in.

For our 6th grade families, if your child attended a Vail elementary school, your child is also already registered. Your child’s elementary school forwards us all the information/files we need. You will also receive an email at the beginning of the school year to update your child’s information in Powerschool.

If you are new to Vail (just moved into our attendance boundaries or your child was accepted under open enrollment), you will need to complete the registration paperwork. Our Registrar, Jessica Escalante, can help you through the process. She can be reached via email at escalantej@vailschooldistrict.org or at 879-2712. Our normal office hours (7:30 am – 3:30 pm) will begin on Monday, July 27th.

Will there be a Meet the Teacher event before school starts?

Yes, we will hold a virtual Meet the Teacher on Friday, August 7th. More information regarding Meet the Teacher will be emailed soon.

When and how do I check out a Chromebook for my child?

We will be providing a Chromebook for every student at Desert Sky.

Families will be able to pick up their Chromebooks the week of August 3-7th.  For the 2020-2021 school year, students will receive either a Lenovo ThinkPad 11e, or Lenovo 100e.

Pick-Up Dates
Monday August 3 – Last Names Beginning with A-G(8am-3pm)
Tuesday August 4 – Last Names Beginning with H-N(8am-3pm)
Wednesday August 5 – Last Names Beginning with O-T(8am-3pm)
Thursday August 6 – Last Names Beginning with U-Z (8am-3pm)
Friday August 7 – “Make-Ups” (8am-11:30am, 3pm-6pm) – Appointments available for anyone unable to attend Mon-Thu

Steps to pick up your Chromebook for the 2020-2021 school year:

First: Please sign up for a pick-up time at the link below:
https://www.ptcfast.com/schools/Desert_Sky_Middle_School_1

Second: Please review and sign the Responsible Use Policy and Insurance Agreement documents attached below.  Both documents must be signed and turned in to receive a device, even if you choose to decline the insurance coverage.

Fees must be paid by Cash or Check, we cannot accept cards at this time.

MS Responsible Use Policy 2020-21

Vail MS Insurance Policy

Third: Arrive at Desert Sky on the day and time you selected.  Proceed to the outdoor snack bar behind the gym.  You will turn in your signed Responsible Use Policy, Insurance Agreement, and insurance fee (if not declining).  Once all three are turned in you will receive a receipt, one Chromebook, and one charger.

If you have any questions or need to make other arrangements, please contact our Site Technology Coordinator Daniel Hughes at hughesd@vailschooldistrict.org

Thank you for your continued support! If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me at dabneyk@vailschooldistrict.org or to our Assistant Principal, Rebecca Marsh, at marshr@vailschooldistrict.org.

Sincerely,

Katie Dabney

____________________________________________________________________
July 17, 2020
Dear Vail Parents,
Our virtual town halls with parents this week have been going very well. They have given us an opportunity to answer questions, listen to feedback, and connect with Vail families. Because of the high level of interest in attending the virtual town halls, I have added three additional town halls to accommodate the requests we received.
A common question we have been hearing surrounds the difference between Remote Learning, Brick to Click Learning, and full time virtual learning through the Vail Innovation Center (VIC).
We have created the following videos to help clarify the differences. The first video shows what Remote Learning and Brick to Click in K-8 will look like and explains the difference between them. A written description for 9-12 is also attached. The second video explains what full time virtual learning through the VIC will look like. (See Attachments)
Click HERE to watch video on Remote Learning and Brick to Click in K-8.
Click HERE to watch video on what virtual learning through the VIC.
Many of the other questions we have been hearing are specific to individual schools. In order to help parents find important information we have added site specific information to the Vail School District website.
To find it please go to vailschooldistrict.org. Click on the purple “School Opening and COVID-19 Information” box. Then click on the “School Day” tab and the “Communications from Schools” tabs.
We know this is not anyone’s ideal start to school. It isn’t ours either. However, as the Vail community continues along the path of reopening schools in these uncertain times, we are committed to continuing to serve parents.
Again, we appreciate your patience and support as we work to re-open schools. Please let us know if you have any further questions or concerns at newschoolyear@vailschooldistrict.org.
John Carruth

____________________________________________________________________

July 14, 2020

Dear Desert Sky Parents and Families,

Good Afternoon!
As we move closer to August 10th and the remote opening of school, I will be sending out a weekly email each Monday to keep you updated with the latest school opening information.
Also, we will be updating our website and DSMS Facebook page on a weekly basis. Our planned safety procedures are being updated on our DSMS website under “A School Day at Desert Sky” tab. You can view that information here .
More information regarding remote learning and Chromebook checkout will be emailed on Monday (7/20).
Attention 6th Grade Parents, due to the Governor’s Executive Order, we unfortunately have to cancel our 6th grade student orientation. As soon as we are able to, we will be planning some special events for our 6th graders including 6th grade only dances, movie nights, skate nights, etc. We are excited to get our 6th graders connected to Desert Sky and will planning events to make that happen.
Thank you all for your support. Watch for our weekly update emails each Monday.
Sincerely,
Katie Dabney

____________________________________________________________________

July 13, 2020

Dear Desert Sky Parents and Families,

 
I hope this email finds you well.
 
I am writing to share some information regarding the opening of school. As we prepare to open school, we will be implementing several safety procedures in order to help keep our students and staff healthy. Keeping our campus safe will take the effort of all staff, parents and students. 
 
We intend to physically open school with as close to normal operations as soon as we are able to do so. Due to COVID-19 and Governor Ducey’s Executive Order, school buildings cannot open for in person learning until at least August 17, 2020. We will remotely open DSMS on Monday, August 10, 2020. Students will remotely attend their Core Classes (Math, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies) following their daily school schedule. Attendance will be required. We will be sending home more detailed information regarding remote learning soon.
 
To help facilitate remote learning Desert Sky is going 1 to 1!

 
We are excited to announce that for the 2020-2021 school year, Desert Sky will be a 1 to 1 technology school!  Just like our Vail High schools, all students will be issued a Chromebook device to use in class and at home. This will facilitate teachers and students connecting during online learning at the beginning of school, as well as throughout the school year whether students are in class, working on homework, or attending via “Brick to Click”.  Families with more than one Desert Sky student will receive one device per student.

Families will be able to pick up their Chromebooks the week of August 3-7th. (see Schedule Below)
 

Monday August 3 – Last Names Beginning with A-G
Tuesday August 4 – Last Names Beginning with H-N
Wednesday August 5 – Last Names Beginning with O-T
Thursday August 6 – Last Names Beginning with U-Z
Friday August 7 – “Last Chance” – Appointments available for anyone unable to attend Mon-Thu

 
In a few days, we will be sending out a link for you to choose a time on the assigned day for your child’s Chromebook pick up. We will also be uploading student schedules into Powerschool soon. 
Watch for another email with more information regarding remote learning and Chromebook checkout coming soon.
 
Sincerely,
Katie Dabney

____________________________________________________________________

July 10, 2020

Dear Parents and Staff,

I’d like to provide you a quick update regarding our plans for the upcoming school year.

School Start Date: Vail schools will open remotely on August 10th.

Governor Ducey has delayed the start of in-person school until August 17th. However, schools are able to open remotely prior to that date. The Governor also stated they would, “continuously re-evaluate that date.” If a decrease in COVID-19 rates are not seen, it is possible that the Governor may delay in-person classes beyond August 17th. VUSD will open in-person as soon as the State allows.

School Choices:
Once our campuses are able to open for in-person classes, there will be three options from which parents must choose:
On Campus Learning (begins when campuses re-open)
Brick to Click Learning (begins when campuses re-open)
Full Time Digital Learning through the Vail Innovation Center (begins August 10th)
Because in-person classes are delayed, the On Campus and Brick to Click options will not begin until campuses are allowed to open. It is important to note that remote learning before our campuses open may look different from the Brick to Click option.

For more information regarding these three distinct options and other school opening information, please visit vailschooldistrict.org.

When school begins on August 10th, all Vail students will be taught remotely by their classroom teacher(s). Elementary school students will be provided with instruction and lessons to be completed daily. Middle and high school students will follow their course schedules.

We know parents have many questions regarding the three educational options and the remote start. We will be hosting a series of Virtual Town Halls over the next two weeks to answer questions that parents have. Please see the dates and times below.

Parents will receive a link the week of July 20th to an online portal where they will be asked to select the option that works best for their child(ren) and family.

School Calendar:
Starting school on August 10th requires that a few adjustments be made to the school calendar for next year. This issue is currently being studied by the Governing Board, but the current plan is to have a two-week fall break for all students from October 12th – 23rd and a one week spring break from March 15th – 19th. A draft of the school calendar is attached to this email.

I intend to continue sending a weekly email until school begins on August 10th. We are working out the details on issues like Senior Exit Projects and student travel. I hope to have updates on these issues as well as any new developments that may occur over the course of the week.

Thank you for your continued support.

John Carruth
Superintendent

Virtual Town Hall Schedule
Wednesday, 7/15 – 12:00pm
Thursday, 7/16 – 6:00pm
Friday, 7/17 – 11:30am
Monday, 7/20 – 6:00pm

Please RSVP to Cindy Petersen at petersenc@vailschooldistrict.org if you would like to attend. You will be sent log-in information at that time. Spots are limited to ensure quality discussions via zoom. Additional sessions will be added if needed.

____________________________________________________________________

July 3, 2020

Dear Parents and Staff,

Earlier this week I sent an email explaining what Governor Ducey’s June 29th Executive Order means for the Vail School District.

During the press conference Governor Ducey reviewed the upward trajectory of COVID-19 in Arizona. “Our numbers continue to increase. They are going in the wrong direction. We are going to take additional actions to contain this virus and get back on track.”- Governor Doug Ducey.

For this reason the Governor ordered that in- person learning cannot begin until August 17, 2020. The Governor also said that Arizona will, “continuously re-evaluate this target date.” So, we want to acknowledge the possibility that the order to delay could be extended.

The executive order allows schools to open remotely prior to August 17th. Last week the Vail Governing Board voted to delay the start of school until August 10th. In light of the executive order, we are planning for schools to open remotely on August 10th and starting in-person learning on August 17th, or when the order is lifted. Information on what a remote start will look like is currently being developed and will be shared with you as soon as it is available.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), which governs all high school athletics, has also made a decision to delay the start of fall sports. The fall sports season, which was scheduled to begin on August 21st, has been postponed. The AIA Board will be meeting to determine the start date for the fall season. More information about AIA can be found here.

In the meantime please take some time to familiarize yourself with the information in the School Opening section of the VUSD website. School Opening and COVID-19 Information

New information is being added daily. As we receive questions from parents, staff, and students, we are adding the answers to the FAQ section of the website. You can also expect regular email updates from me as the situation evolves between now and the start of the school year.

Please be safe and enjoy the holiday weekend!

John Carruth

____________________________________________________________________

June 29, 2020

Dear Parents and Staff,

Friday evening the Vail School District Governing Board voted unanimously to postpone the start of the 2020/2021 school year to August 10th for the following reasons:

• Additional time is needed to plan and execute the work necessary to address three distinct instructional models as well as develop and execute specific plans for health and safety needs at each school site.

• Arizona and Pima County are currently experiencing record rates of spread of the COVID-19 virus. Additional time will allow for statewide measures, including the Pima County Resolution requiring the use of face coverings, to take effect to help slow the spread.

Today, Monday June 29th, Governor Ducey announced at a press conference that schools will be required to delay the start of in-person classes until August 17th. However, the order allows schools to open remotely through distance learning prior to August 17th.

Over the next few days we will be unwrapping the details in today’s executive order and what they mean for opening schools in Vail. We anticipate being able to communicate our next steps with you by early next week.

In the meantime, please take a moment to review the new section of VUSD’s website. Information regarding educational options, health and safety, and much more can be found at vailschooldistrict.org.

John Carruth
Superintendent
Vail Unified School District

____________________________________________________________________

June 25, 2020

Dear Parents,

It has been a little less than two weeks since I last wrote to you. At that time, I indicated that we were working hard on plans to open school on time in July. In the same email, I also noted that the conditions around COVID-19 remain very fluid.

As of this writing it has become apparent that additional time before the start of the new school year would be very helpful to address the following issues:

1) Arizona and Pima County are currently experiencing a record spike of COVID-19 cases. According to Governor Ducey’s news conference today, this spike is expected to last into July.

2) Additional planning time is needed to ensure that details around the three instructional choices and safety precautions for schools are fully developed and in place before the start of the school year.

As such, our Governing Board is meeting tomorrow evening at 6:00PM to discuss the possibility of moving the start of the school year to August 10 for all K-8 schools and high schools.

The Governing Board will also review three instructional choices for your family that will be made available next year along with health and safety plans for school sites. The instructional choices include:
On Campus Learning where school will be as close to normal as possible with enhanced health and safety precautions in place.
“Brick to Click” Learning that allows students to learn remotely for short intervals of time while remaining connected to their regular schools.
Full-Time Digital Learning with the Vail Innovation Center (VIC) delivered by Vail teachers to provide virtual learning in your home for a full semester or school year.
The board meeting will be streamed live for those who would like to view it. A link to the livestream video will be made available on our website at www.vailschooldistrict.org.

If you have questions or comments regarding the new school year, please feel free to reach out to us at newschoolyear@vailschooldistrict.org.

Thank you for your support and understanding.

John Carruth

 

____________________________________________________________________

June 12, 2020

Dear Parents,

I hope that you and your family are healthy and are enjoying your summer. I’d like to provide you with an update on plans for next school year.

Our primary focus since the end of the school year has been planning for our return to school. Thank you for your feedback through the parent survey and other correspondence. It has helped shape the decision making.

We are planning to open schools on-time in July.

We are working closely with Governor Ducey’s office, the Arizona Department of Education, and state and county health officials. As of this writing, Governor Ducey has stated that schools will be allowed to open on time.

The reality is that conditions around COVID-19 are fluid and will likely remain so through much of this next school year. As such we are planning for flexibility and parent choice.

We are developing three primary choices for you and your family.

1. School as close to normal as possible with reasonable health and safety precautions in place. 

A list of logistics and safety precautions being considered is attached to this letter.

2. A “Brick to Click” option that allows students to learn remotely for short intervals of time while remaining connected to their regular schools.

A student or group of students may want to remain connected to their regular school but may need to learn remotely due to health concerns, illness, or personal reasons.

3. On-line school with the Vail Innovation Center delivered by Vail teachers to provide virtual learning in your home for a full semester or school year.

For over 15 years, Vail has offered on-line learning to support parents who choose to home school their children or need them to learn remotely. This program is offered through our Vail Innovation Center. Information about this program can be found here.

Our desire is to provide you with information about your family’s options for the start of the new school year. We are not asking you to choose right now. As more details develop around each plan, we will share them with you and let you know how to indicate your choice. If you have any questions, please contact newschoolyear@vailschooldistrict.org or me directly.

Vail’s Mission Statement reads: We seek to provide parents with safe and nurturing school communities, where their children can obtain a quality education. As we plan for next school year, it is our deep desire to execute all three of these core values.

Thank you for your continued support as we navigate this uncharted territory together.

John Carruth
Superintendent

Safety_Logistics Considerations