Communication Updates

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

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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

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October 9, 2020

Dear Parents,

I want to personally thank you for your trust and partnership over the past seven months as we navigated one of the most challenging times in the history of our school district.

During Spring Break 2020, I sent the first letter to you letting you know that we were preparing for the storm of COVID-19.

Seven months later we stand on the cusp of Fall Break 2020. The world looks vastly different, yet our shared values have bound us together as we weathered this storm. We have leaned heavily into our motto, “Where Education is a Community Effort”. I am grateful for your partnership as we worked to provide an education and a sense of normal to your children and family during the most unusual of times.

While the COVID-19 virus will play a role in shaping what learning looks like over the next several months, I anticipate the most drastic changes are behind us now. We have created solid frameworks for remote and hybrid learning. And when the conditions are such that it is reasonably safe to do so, we know how to do in-person instruction better than any school district in the state.

After Fall Break, we will continue with hybrid and brick to click instruction. We will also continue to work closely with both the Arizona Department of Health and Pima County Health Department to determine when it is reasonably safe and stable enough to move into full in-person learning.

It will be pretty quiet around the Vail School District over the next two weeks. I am encouraging our staff to unplug and get some much needed rest. If you have specific questions, please contact your student’s respective school, or you can always ask at: newschoolyear@vailschooldisrict.org.

I hope you enjoy time with your children over the break, too. Please be safe and be well.

Kind regards,

John Carruth
Superintendent

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September 28, 2020

Dear Desert Sky Families,

Good afternoon! I hope your week is off to a great start!
I am writing to notify you of a change in our half day dismissal time. Due to conflicts with our K-8 and high school transportation routes, our new dismissal time on half days will be 11:30 a.m. This Thursday, October 1st is a half day with dismissal now at 11:30 a.m. Please make pick-up arrangements accordingly. Also, Friday, October 2nd is also a scheduled asynchronous half day. Students will be taking their Writing Benchmark asynchronously at home on Friday.
Please feel free to call our office at 879-2702 if you have any questions.
Have a wonderful day!
Sincerely,
Katie Dabney

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September 18, 2020

Dear Desert Sky Families,

We are so excited to be able to welcome our students back to campus for the Hybrid Learning Phase starting Monday, September 21st. School begins at 8:00 a.m. and dismissal is at 2:00 p.m. School will look different during the Hybrid phase. Please watch the attached video with your student for information on new school procedures and safety information that will be in place during the Hybrid Phase.
Our Website is also an excellent resource for up to date information. Click here to learn more about our safety precautions and procedures in place during the Hybrid Phase.
There will be an opportunity to walk the Desert Sky Campus with your child this weekend. On Saturday, we will open the front school gate from 10:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. for families to get acquainted with our campus and see the outside of their classrooms. We are hoping that this eases some of those first day back on campus jitters. You will find school maps at the front gate. We will not have staff members available to answer questions, but you will be able to familiarize yourself with the Desert Sky campus if needed. Please wear a face mask if you plan on stopping by.
We have also changed the location of our bus bay to help alleviate traffic back up on Rankin Loop. Please see the attached letter.
If you plan on dropping your student off or picking him/her up from school, please see the attached Parking Lot Traffic Flow map. We ask that you help keep our parking lot safe by following the traffic flow and entering/exiting the parking lot through the designated entrances/exits. Feel free to drop students off after 7::45 a.m.
Also, it is important to note that the City of Tucson has disbanded the small crosswalk at Rankin Loop and Rita Road as a designated school zone crosswalk. As soon as the City paints the crosswalk yellow (only white crosswalks are school zones), we will no longer have a crossing guard at that intersection. We had a very few number students use that crosswalk on a daily basis. If your student walks to DSMS and needs to cross Rita Road, please encourage him/her to use the large crosswalk at Esmond Loop and Rita Road. There is a hawk light and crossing guard at that crosswalk from 7:15- 8:00 a.m. and 1:50 -2:30  p.m. to aid in a safe crossing of Rita Road.
Please be sure to have your child bring a water bottle to school as the drinking fountains are closed during this time.
I have attached the new Daily Team Schedule below. The new schedule applies to both Brick to Click students and Hybrid students. The new schedule will take effect on Monday, September 21st. 2020.
Thank you for your understanding as we plan through all of the logistics to reopening our physical campus to our students. We cannot wait to see you all next week. As always, please reach out to me with any questions.
Sincerely,
Katie Dabney
Daily Team Schedule
 
6th Grade – Team 6.1 (Jeffries, James, Smith-Dryden, Thorpe)
Advisory: 8:00-8:15
Specials: 8:15-8:53
Period 3 (Core Class): 8:53-9:50 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Literacy Skills: 9:50-10:28
Period 5 (Core Class): 10:28-11:25 – Follow Remote Learning Structure 
Break: 11:25-11:44
Lunch: 11:44-12:03
Period 8 (Core Class): 12:03-1:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure 
Period 9 (Core Class): 1:00-2:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure 

 

6th Grade – Team 6.2 (Thach, Olvera, K. Hill, Willard, Crabtree)
Advisory: 8:00-8:15
Period 2 (Core Class): 8:15-9:12 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Specials (CIP remote in MPR): 9:12-9:50 
Literacy Skills: 9:50-10:28
Period 5 (Core Class): 10:28-11:25 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 6 (Core Class): 11:25-12:22 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Break: 12:22-12:41
Lunch: 12:41-1:00
Period 9 (Core Class): 1:00-2:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure

 

8th Grade – Team A (N. Costa, Abrigo, Galvan, Sapp)
Advisory: 8:00-8:15
Period 2 (Core Class): 8:15-9:12 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Literacy Skills: 9:12-9:50
Period 4 (Core Class): 9:50-10:47 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 5 (Core Class): 10:47-11:44 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Break: 11:44-12:03
Lunch: 12:03-12:22
Specials: 12:22-1:00
Period 9 (Core Class): 1:00-2:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure

 

7th Grade – Team B (Tanner, T. Hill, Moore, Andreotta)
Advisory: 8:00-8:15
Literacy Skills: 8:15-8:53
Period 3 (Core Class): 8:53-9:50 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 4 (Core Class): 9:50-10:47 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Lunch: 10:47-11:06
Break: 11:06-11:25
Period 6 (Core Class): 11:25-12:22 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 8 (Core Class): 12:22-1:20 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Specials: 1:20-2:00

 

7th Grade – Team C (Isaac, Murray, Nussmeier, Little)
Advisory: 8:00-8:15
Literacy Skills: 8:15-8:53
Period 3 (Core Class): 8:53-9:50 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 4 (Core Class): 9:50-10:47 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Specials: 10:47-11:25
Period 6 (Core Class): 11:25-12:22 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Lunch: 12:22-12:41
Break: 12:41-1:00
Period 9 (Core Class): 1:00-2:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure

 

7th Grade – Team D (Vera, Ricciardelli, Jackson, Gremel)
Advisory: 8:00-8:15
Period 2 (Core Class): 8:00-9:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 4 (Core Class): 9:00-9:00 Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 8 (Core Class): 10:00-11:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 9 (Core Class): 11:00-12:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure

 

8th Grade – Team D (Vera, Ricciardelli, Jackson, Gremel)
Advisory: 8:00-8:15
Period 2 (Core Class): 8:15-9:12 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Literacy Skills: 9:12-9:50
Period 4 (Core Class): 9:50-10:47 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Break: 10:47-11:06
Lunch: 11:06-11:25
Specials: 11:25-12:03
Period 8 (Core Class): 12:03-1:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 9 (Core Class): 1:00-2:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure



8th Grade – Team E (Jordan, Bustamante, Edwards, Rojas)
Advisory: 8:00-8:15
Period 2 (Core Class): 8:15-9:12 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Literacy Skills: 9:12-9:50
Specials: 9:50-10:28
Period 5 (Core Class): 10:28-11:25 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Lunch: 11:25-11:44
Break: 11:44-12:03
Period 8 (Core Class): 12:03-1:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure
Period 9 (Core Class): 1:00-2:00 – Follow Remote Learning Structure

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Dear Desert Sky Families,

Superintendent Carruth shared in his previous correspondence that we are targeting September 21st as the date for when we will transition to the Hybrid Learning Phase of opening schools. Like most things during the COVID pandemic, this assumes that conditions continue to improve and do not get worse.

As we begin our next phase of learning I want to ensure that you are informed of what the Hybrid and Brick to Click models will look like on our campus.

What is Hybrid Learning?

Hybrid learning is a mix of in person learning and at home Remote Learning. To ensure that physical distancing is maximized in classrooms and in school shared spaces, students will be cohorted and grouped into an A or B group based on your student’s last name. “A” group students will physically attend DSMS on Monday and Wednesday and will continue with Remote Learning on Tuesday and Thursday. “B” group students will physically attend DSMS on Tuesday and Thursday and will continue with Remote Learning on Monday and Wednesday. Both A and B groups will continue to have their asynchronous learning day on Friday. On Friday’s, students will remotely complete Formatives and/or Remote Schoology lessons for classes completed at your child’s pace (no live video Conferences).

What materials will my child need for Hybrid Learning?

School issued Chromebooks will be distributed to all students for use while on campus. Students will not be permitted to use personal devices on campus as personal devices are not permitted on the Desert Sky School networks. Students who have not done so already must complete and

return the Middle School Insurance form (accepting or declining coverage) as well as the Middle School Responsible Use Policy. Please be sure your child comes to school with their fully charged Chromebook and charger everyday he/she is physically on campus.

What is the difference between Hybrid Learning and Brick to Click (B2C)?

Hybrid students will receive two days of on-campus in-person instruction through Schoology and three days of off-campus Remote Learning instruction through Schoology each week. B2C students will receive five days of off-campus Remote Learning instruction through Schoology each week. Students participating in BTC must remain as a BTC student for the duration of the Hybrid Learning Phase.

Will my child’s schedule be different during hybrid learning?

Yes, our master schedule will be adjusted during the Hybrid Learning Phase. This change will apply to all students (students attending school under the Hybrid Model and for our B2C students). Our Hybrid students will physically attend school on their assigned days from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Please note that the physical school day ends at 2:00 p.m. during hybrid learning. Students must get on the bus, walk home, or be picked up at 2:00 p.m. Students may have work to complete remotely from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. if their classwork was not completed during the school day and/or if your student participates in a specialized program. Teachers will be available to support our B2C students between 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.. We will be sending out an updated daily team schedule next week. All students will need to follow the updated daily team schedule starting on September 21st.

What will my child’s school day look like on the days that he/she is physically on campus?

Students that are on campus will follow the Remote Learning structure. Teachers will support students as needed in class and reteach classes will occur during the Literacy Skills period.

What will my child’s school day look like on the days that he/she is not physically on campus?
We will continue to follow the Remote Learning structure your child has become accustomed to during Hybrid Learning. Students will still log into their teachers’ live Conference at the beginning of each class and then work through the Schoology lessons posted for the day. Teachers will not have office hours during Literacy Skills as students will physically be in their classrooms at that time. Teachers will have office hours each day between 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Hybrid Cohort Groups

Students will be split into two groups (A & B) based on the first letter of their last name. Students in group A will attend school on campus on Mondays and Wednesdays and students in group B will attend school on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays. To create consistency in our groupings, the groups were separated at different points in the alphabet for each team. Please see the chart below for which group your child will be in. We will work with families to ensure that all students from the same family attend school on the same days. Please contact Stacey Couzens at couzenss@vailschooldistrict.org if you have children at Desert Sky or at other schools who are scheduled to attend school on different days. All other requests cannot be accepted at this time.

It is important to note that every staff member and student on our campus will be required to perform a daily wellness check at home, wear a face covering on campus, and have their temperature taken before entering campus every morning. I encourage you to read through our A

School Day at Desert Sky Information on our website to learn more about the home daily wellness check and other safety protocols we have in place at Desert Sky.

A School Day at Desert Sky…

If you have not already completed the “Hybrid Learning Phase” survey for each child at Desert Sky, the survey will close Sunday, September 13th. The link can be found here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdOlHHaB8f9kq9_WNZQqmT1pZ0f4Vj3F53- l3h8HrZ0PoyvBw/viewform

If you plan on having your child physically attend DSMS during the Hybrid Learning Phase, please see the letter on our shared responsibility below. As a condition of returning to In-person/ On-campus learning parents/guardians will need to sign an acknowledgement form prior to the start of the In-person Hybrid option. This is a stipulation put forth by the District’s insurance. The electronic version that needs to be signed will be emailed next week.

We hope you continue to stay well and we look forward to partnering with you during this next phase of learning.

Sincerely, Katie Dabney Principal

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September 4, 2020

Dear Parents,

Last week we were excited to announce that the health metrics surrounding COVID-19 in Pima County are improving. Assuming the metrics continue to improve, we are still targeting September 21st as the date when we will move to the next phase of opening schools – the hybrid phase.

The purpose of the hybrid phase is to welcome students on campus, but physically distanced as much as possible and/or keep them in the same groups throughout the day. This is made possible by the reassigning and restructuring of classes and teachers,.

Under the hybrid phase, parents who did NOT choose the Vail Innovation Center for the first semester will have two choices for their students:

Hybrid – Partially In-Person/Partially Remote (with modified schedules)
Brick to Click* – Remote Instruction Connected to Your School

These two options will look a little different at each level.

Vail Inclusive Preschool: See note below**

Elementary:
Hybrid: 4 days of on campus learning, a shortened school day, one hour of at-home learning each of the 4 days, and independent learning on Fridays
Brick to Click: teacher contact 3 days a week, including live lessons for Language Arts and Math on Fridays. Brick to Click is ideal for families who are not yet ready to come back to school on campus or who have the support at home to continue learning remotely.

Middle School:
Hybrid: 2 days of on campus learning, a shortened in-person school day, and one hour of at home learning each day. Students will follow their class schedule from home on the at-home learning days with Friday serving as an independent learning and office hours day.
Brick to Click: students will follow their class schedule from home 4 days a week with Friday serving as an independent learning and office hours day.

High School:
Hybrid: 2 days of on campus learning for a full day with 3 days of at-home learning.
Brick to Click: students will follow the same daily schedule as their peers. Fridays will serve as an independent learning and office hours day for all students.

Smaller schools of choice like Civano, Esmond Station, Pantano, VAHS, and Vail Blended may have different scenarios.

We will make every effort to keep students in the same family on the same schedule.

You will be receiving further communication about the specifics of each option from your students’ principals on Wednesday, September 9th. If you are ready to make your choice for the hybrid learning phase now, please feel free to do so here.

You will be able to make and/or change your selection through Sunday, September 13th when the survey closes. Please also visit School Opening – Hybrid Learning Information on our District website for more information.

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us at: newschoolyear@vailschooldistrict.org

Again, thank you for your patience and support as we work to develop sustainable plans for each phase of learning. We are grateful for our community.

John Carruth
Superintendent

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September 4, 2020

Dear Desert Sky Families,

We highly value our DSMS Site Council. The elected Site Council members (parents, teachers, and staff) serve in an advisory capacity to the school administration. The Site Council provides informal feedback and makes formal decisions on a variety of topics. This year we have two Parent Representative spots available. We received three nominations for the Parent Representative openings. The elected parents will be your voice. Please take a minute to read the bios of the nominees, and vote for TWO parents to join our 2020- 2021 Site Council. You will have until Wednesday, September 9th at 4:00 p.m. to vote.

Click on the link below to vote:

Parent Nominees:
Natascha Blum – My name is Natascha Blum and I currently have a sixth grader here at Desert Sky Middle School and a junior at Cienega High School.  I have been a parent in the Vail School District for over ten years and have enjoyed being a part of such an amazing community.  In the past I have volunteered at Cottonwood and Desert Sky, have been on the PTSA board at Cottonwood Elementary and also on the Site Council there for the last two years.  I would appreciate the opportunity to be involved and support the Desert Sky community by joining the site council this year.
Tisha Lee – I was born and raised in Indiana. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and am a certified K-8. I am married to my wonderful husband, Wesley. We have 3 daughters. My husband and I moved to Tucson in 2013 a week before our 2nd daughter started Kindergarten at Mesquite.  Our girls are now 6th and 7th graders at DSMS. Their older sister attends Mercer University in Georgia.  I am a first-grade teacher at Mesquite.  Prior to teaching, I was an inclusion paraprofessional and worked in the admission departments for Pima Community College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  I love my girls and the Vail School District. I would love to give back Vail and be more involved in our DSMS community.
Meridy Twilling – My name is Meridy Twilling, I have lived in Tucson since I was 10.  I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design, but have been a stay at home mom since my oldest was born.  My husband, Shawn, and I have 3 children, one of which, is a 6th grader at DSMS.  I have been volunteering in the VUSD since my oldest started Kindergarten (2011).  I have volunteered in the classrooms over the years, held the positions of Vice President and Treasurer of the CWE PTSA, and have served on the CWE Site Council.  It is very important to me to be active in my children’s education, and at their schools, I like to help when I can.  With a little one still at home, Site Council is a great way for me to be able to serve the community, VUSD, DSMS, and still be able to be present at home.  Thank you for your consideration.
 

Thank you for taking the time to vote and for your support!

Sincerely,
Katie Dabney

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August 31, 2020

Dear Desert Sky Families,

We wanted to send out a quick note regarding the next two scheduled half days. Both Wednesday, September 2nd and Wednesday, September 16th will be regular full day schedules as there is no need for the half day inservice during remote learning.

Sincerely,

Katie Dabney

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August 28, 2020

Dear Parents and Staff,

Two weeks ago, we wrote to let you know that the Vail School District would be using the recently established public health metrics as a guide for when our schools would transition between the three phases of delivering instruction during the pandemic. Those phases, as outlined by the Arizona Department of Health, are: Remote instruction, hybrid instruction, and in-person instruction.

We also communicated that it was likely that Vail schools would be able to move to the next phase of instruction sometime between September 14th and October 5th.

The good news is that the conditions are improving. The metrics indicate steady progress in the reduction of the spread of COVID-19 in Pima County.

As such, we are targeting September 21st as the date for when we will move to the next phase of opening schools. Like most things during this pandemic, this assumes that conditions continue to improve and do not get worse.

The next phase will allow for hybrid instruction during a time of moderate risk. The hybrid phase involves another shift in the way instruction is delivered, staff are utilized, and campuses operate. The purpose of the hybrid phase is to keep students physically distanced as much as possible and/or keep them in the same groups throughout the day.

Plans are being developed for what the hybrid phase will look like at the preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school levels. We will communicate the details of these plans to you by Friday of next week.

Remote instruction will continue to be a choice for students during the hybrid phase. Brick to Click* will be available through each school, and the Vail Innovation Center will continue to provide full-time remote learning to students who have chosen this option.

Please send any questions you may have to: newschoolyear@vailschooldistrict.org

Thank you for your continued patience and support as we work to get students back to school safely.

John Carruth

*During the hybrid phase students will not be able to move between Brick to Click and in-person learning unless in the case of illness or the need to quarantine. Further, students who choose Brick to Click will be asked to remain in Brick to Click during the hybrid phase.

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August 26, 2020

Hello Desert Sky Families,

I hope you are all doing well! We are already in our 3rd week of the 20-21 school year. In an effort to keep you well informed, please read this updated information on Remote Learning carefully.

REMOTE LEARNING UPDATE

1. As we move forward, we will slightly adjust how remote learning works at DSMS. In fact, all middle schools in the Vail School District will be making this change. We will be shifting to four days a week of the current synchronous style of learning (Monday – Thursday) and one day of asynchronous learning (Friday).

What does this mean?

Your child will still attend all their live sessions Monday – Thursday, as it is currently. On Friday, teachers will post new materials and activities for your student to complete in Schoology. Our teachers will use this time to create video content for their lessons, administer Formatives, provide feedback and grades to students, and work with individual and small groups of students that might be struggling. Formative Assessments will be administered on Fridays. Math Formatives will be administered between 8:00 – 9:30 am and Language Arts Formatives will be administered between 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. If your child has a Formative(s), they will need to log in during those times to take the assessment. Teachers will be sure to clearly communicate if there will be a Friday Formative(s) for their Math and/or Language Arts classes. If your child has a Math Formative, the assessment will count as your child’s Math class for Friday. If your child has a Language Arts Formative, the assessment will count as your child’s Language Arts class for Friday. For Science and Social Studies (and for Math or LA if there is not a Friday Formative) your child will log in to Schoology whenever it is convenient on that day. Once logged in, they will go to each of their classes, view any lessons, and complete the tasks assigned. The workload will NOT be greater than their normal expectations and this asynchronous opportunity will offer students (and parents) flexibility and some much needed (and requested) time.

This change to our weekly schedule will not begin until the week of August 31 with Friday, September 4 being the first asynchronous day for students.
2. Attendance in each class, each day, is required. Starting August 31st, students will have synchronous instruction (via Live Teacher Conferences) Monday – Thursday and Fridays will be asynchronous instruction (independent work to be completed.) On synchronous days, students are expected to sign into their teachers’ Live Conferences and into Schoology for each class following their remote bell schedule. Students who do not participate in the Live Conference(s), will not be counted present for the day and you will receive an automated phone call and email of your child’s absence. If your student will be unavailable for a class(es) for any reason, please call the attendance line at 879-2702 to have them excused.

3. Participation in Live Conferences is required of all students. Cameras must be turned on and microphones must be used when requested. Remote instruction is not effective if teachers are not able to see or hear their students. This makes participation and assessment nearly impossible. If you have any concerns regarding the use of cameras, please contact your child’s advisory teacher. If there are tech issues with the computer’s camera or microphone, please call our Tech Desk at 879-2775.

REMEMBER… Remote learning is different than what was offered 4th quarter. Attendance is mandatory, participation is expected, and assessments for mastery of the content are being given. Grades are being updated in PowerSchool on a weekly basis.

Thank you for your patience and support as we navigate and fine tune Remote Learning!

Sincerely,

Katie Dabney

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August 14, 2020

Dear Parents,

Please watch this video for the latest information on schools remaining in remote learning.

https://youtu.be/B3t4FtTRm58

Please email newschoolyear@vailschooldistrict.org if you have any questions.

Recap:

  • Remote learning will continue to be in place on Monday, August 17th through at least September 14th.

 

  • Tuesday evening the Vail School District Governing Board voted to utilize public health benchmarks developed by the Arizona Department of Health (ADHS) and Pima County Department of Health to guide the district’s decision on when to safely return to in-person instruction.

 

  • A key component to reopening school buildings for in-person instruction is tracking the level of COVID-19 spread within a community. The ADHS benchmarks track the spread and are updated every Thursday. You can follow these benchmarks here  (click on Pima County to see our county level data).

 

  • Currently, the benchmarks have not been met. Utilizing the ADHS benchmarks and in consultation with Pima County Health officials, it is estimated that it may take an additional five to seven weeks before the criteria for opening schools are met. The Vail School District is targeting a transition from remote learning to occur sometime between September 14th and October 5th. We will continue to utilize these public health benchmarks to refine the exact date.

 

  • We intend to provide parents with at least a two week notice for when the transition out of remote learning will occur.

 

  • We are committed to opening schools as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so. We share the beliefs of many parents that having students in school is best for children and their families.

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August 9, 2020

Dear Parents,

There is nothing more exciting or anticipated than the first day of school. Possibility, growth, friendship, and hope are all on the horizon as the journey of a new school year begins. For all of us, that journey will start a little differently Monday via remote instruction.

If there has been one constant since schools were closed by executive order this past March it has been frequent change. The past five months have taught us that adaptation, perseverance, sacrifice, and grace are necessary pursuits to navigate the ever changing dynamics of life in a pandemic.

This past Thursday brought more change. Under the direction of an executive order by Governor Ducey, the Arizona Department of Health (ADHS) released public health benchmarks that are intended to guide the safe return to in-person instruction. ADHS has created an online dashboard explaining these benchmarks and tracking progress toward meeting them. It can be viewed HERE.

The good news is that the benchmarks are trending in the right direction. The bad news is that they are currently above what will be required to open schools for in-person instruction on August 17th.

Further, Pima County issued a statement to school districts on July 28th, that included recommendations from Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia and Public Health Director Dr. Teresa Cullen. In short, the guidance stated that the earliest in-person instruction could safely be anticipated to resume would be after Labor Day, September 7th.

I will recommend to the Vail Governing Board that our district follow the public health data provided by ADHS and Pima County Health in determining when it is reasonably safe to resume in-person instruction.

Following these data points will likely mean that in-person instruction won’t be an option through at least Labor Day.

The Vail Governing Board will be meeting on Tuesday, August 11th at 7 p.m. to review the ADHS benchmarks and the Pima County Health data. They will also review adjustments to instructional options that may need to be put in place in order to reopen schools.

We recognize that COVID-19 is creating challenges beyond just the physical safe return to school. The social, emotional, and academic well-being of our children is of utmost importance to all of us. As we plan to open schools as soon as possible, we are also dedicated to connecting with your children, welcoming them back to learning, and providing them with the best learning experience possible starting Monday, August 10th.

As we start this school year, we will likely make some mistakes along the way. Operating in a pandemic is historic and unfamiliar for all of us. When we fall, we will do so with every intent of falling forward in the pursuit of creating high quality, safe learning environments for your children. We will get up together. We will adapt. We will persevere. We will sacrifice. And, we will offer grace. Perhaps these are the most important lessons presented to all of us this year.

I wish everyone a safe and blessed school year.

John Carruth

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August 7, 2020

 

Dear Desert Sky Families,

 

The start of a new school year is almost here!  I would like to share some information that will be helpful to you regarding the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

 

Teacher/Team Assignments and Team Daily Schedules
  • All student schedules are entered in Powerschool. You can log into Powerschool to see your child’s teachers and class schedule. 
  • Please note each team has a different daily schedule. Refer to the attached Team Daily Schedule to determine the start time for each period for your child’s team. The bell schedule view in Powerschool does not line up with our daily schedule and is inaccurate. Please use the attached Team Daily Schedule.
School Start/End Times and School Day Structure  
  • Remote Learning will begin on Monday, August 10th. 
  • Just a reminder that school (remote learning) begins at 8:00 a.m. with Advisory/Math Skills and ends at 3:00 p.m. Attendance is required. If your child is sick, please call our Attendance Clerk at 879-2702 to report your child’s absence as normal. 
  • Advisory/Math Skills will be a live class through Schoology Conferences everyday starting at 8:00 a.m. For the Four Core Classes (Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science), students will need to log in to their teacher’s Schoology page at the beginning of each class period and click on the Conference link to be connected to the live video portion of each lesson where attendance will be taken and the daily lesson introduced. Students will then progress through pre-recorded Schoology lessons for the remainder of each class period.
  • To see more on the Remote Learning structure, click here.

 

Student Schoology Login Tutorial
  • We have emailed a student login tutorial video to all DSMS students. The tutorial is also posted to our DSMS Schoology page for students to access. If you would like to view the tutorial click here.
  • Please be sure your child views the tutorial before Monday morning.

 

In closing, I look forward to a great year working with you and your child! We know this year will be unprecedented  and we will most likely face some unique challenges. We are a strong community and we’ll tackle these challenges together.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our front office staff at 879-2700. You are also welcome to visit our website at https://dsms.vailschooldistrict.org  for more information about Desert Sky, Remote Learning, teacher introduction videos, Meet the Teacher presentations, and recent communications.

 

Sincerely,

 

Katie Dabney,
Principal

____________________________________________________________________

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