Dear Ingenium Families
Whether your student attends Barack Obama Charter School, Clarion Charter Middle School, Ingenium Charter School, or Ingenium Charter Middle School, we consider you to be part of our Ingenium family. Thank you for choosing to send your student to one of our schools. We know that in Los Angeles, there are many options for families and feel honored that you have chosen us to provide an excellent learning experience for your student and to ensure joy and meaning in their learning.
I’d like to take this opportunity to share some updates on what we’ve accomplished with distance learning and how we are preparing for learning in the fall, but before I do, I want to share some thoughts on the killing of George Floyd and Ingenium’s role moving forward. You may have noticed that on our schools’ social media accounts, we posted our support for our Black community amid this tragic news. For those of you that missed it, we communicated that, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal and Ingenium will not betray the communities that we serve by being silent during this time. We stand with our communities in stating that we want an end to Police Brutality and we believe that Black lives matter.” I want you to know that our support will continue with a renewed focus on education for our staff and our students on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as a commitment to anti-racist and anti-biased training and continually looking for opportunities to eliminate structures that oppress. As an example of our commitment, we have assembled a committee to review our curriculum this summer as well as revised our hiring questions for teacher leadership roles. Actions like these will continue to take place in the coming months and years. We look forward to you joining us in renewing our commitment to truly creating communities where everyone experiences joy and meaning in learning and we can deliver on our mission to prepare our students to be the best learners, leaders, and collaborators by empowering them with the capacity and tools to continually improve themselves and the world around them. Our world needs our kids to leave our schools prepared to do this. It starts with us. We’re committed. And I hope you are too.
As the school year has now come to a close, I want to take a moment to express tremendous gratitude and appreciation for all that you have done to support your student’s learning at home. I know the decision that the greater education community made to shift to distance learning has had a significant impact on your daily lives and I thank you for your continued partnership and commitment to your student’s education.
There are many reasons why we believe Ingenium will continue to be the right choice for your student next school year. We believe some of our successes in preparedness and responsiveness to the COVID-19 pandemic ranks high among them. Our continued commitment to keep your family safe and ensure a rigorous, high-quality education is another. I am very proud of Ingenium’s preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus far as well as the amazing work our teachers and support staff did adjusting so quickly to a new style of learning and would like to share some of the great things that our employees and families were able to accomplish in partnership.
Before we made the decision to close our campuses, we were already planning for a scenario like the one we find ourselves in. We had already determined a point person to coordinate operations and communications and they were deep into planning. We had distance learning plans already in the works and we had already reached out to several families to better understand your needs to inform our learning plans and communication plans. In just under two weeks time we were able to get almost 90% of students online with technology in their hands. To get us closer to 100%, we worked closely with families that had unique needs and were able to help remove barriers to learning. About a month ago, we conducted a survey to ask whether or not the communications we have sent to you have been helpful and interesting to you. The majority of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed. We know we can get even better at this and appreciate the feedback you gave for improvement. Our food services were up and running and providing meals for you and other members in our communities right away. We’ve already served close to 40,000 meals. We feel honored that we have been able to serve our community in this way.
We have just completed additional family and staff surveys to help inform the design of our model for next year. We are definitely not where we want to be but believe with continued planning, we will be able to offer a high-quality learning experience for your student(s) when we return. We will even be able to provide you with new choices that meet the needs of your family and make you most comfortable knowing that your child will be safe. Like any family, when we work together, we can accomplish much more than we can alone. So thank you again for all of your support.
Let me share a little about what we are currently doing to prepare for a return to learning in the fall. I know that you have questions and concerns about what learning will look like, many of which revolve around how we keep our students safe and ensure a high-quality learning experience with all of the uncertainty. Currently, there is not a directive from our state or other local authority or public health agency about how or when we return to school. Our lawmakers and public health officials have made it clear that these will be local decisions but have provided guidance on how to keep people safe.
Regardless, we are planning on school starting on August 19th. However, based on the guidance we are hearing right now, we believe the least likely scenario is a full return of all students and staff to campus every day but we will be ready if we are allowed to do this.
The other two scenarios we are planning for are a continuation of full-time distance learning and a mixture of distance learning and in-person learning on campus. If we need to continue distance learning full-time, we will have new resources and plans to support teachers and families ready to go when school starts. Our aim would be to significantly improve the programs that we are using to better support you, your student, and our teachers in implementing a high-quality curriculum.
Although we are not committing to any one plan right at this moment, we do believe the most likely scenario will be a hybrid of distance learning and in-person classes. We believe this option will allow us to put in place the safety protocols to keep our students and staff safe as well as give you choices that fit with your family’s needs and desires. If you are not yet comfortable with your student returning to school, we will have a strong distance learning program for them with plenty of support. We also believe that it is likely we will need to split those students that do return into at least two cohorts to ensure adequate social distancing. The current model we are looking at would involve students in a total of three cohorts. One would be full-time distance learning. The other two cohorts would be on campus at least two days per week on alternating days. As I mentioned earlier, this plan has not been solidified as guidance from local and state agencies and our authorizers continues to evolve. However, we know that you are very curious about what next year might look like and we want to be as transparent as possible about where we are in the process.
Right now we are organizing a curriculum committee to review the best instructional options for these different scenarios and to make recommendations to me and our cabinet so we can ensure we are prepared no matter what happens in the fall. And as I mentioned, we are also reaching out to all of you to better understand your questions and concerns so that we ensure our plans meet your family’s needs.
I’ll close by saying that these are definitely uncertain and unprecedented times we are in. I know that it can feel scary at times, too. Please remember that our generation is not the first to be met with such a challenge. We know from history that the human race has overcome challenge after challenge. Not only that, these challenges have helped us grow, adapt, and become even better than we were before. I am confident that our world, our country, the great state of California, AND Ingenium will make it through this challenge and my hope is that we come out the other side with new knowledge and increased confidence that we can do anything together.
My commitment to you is that when your students join us again in the fall, we will support them with every resource we have, keep them safe, and ensure they continue to experience an excellent education.