Updated May 11, 2020
Greetings Common Ground Families and Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all of our Common Ground Moms,
I hope that you are all staying safe and well as we enter Week 8 of our Distance Learning program. It is hard to believe that we have been operating in this mode for two months and that the end of the school year is around the corner. We know now that in-person classes will be cancelled for the remainder of the school year. I want to share with you the information we have at this time about summer school and the 20-21 school year.
Common Ground’ s Summer School will operate from July 6-July 31, and could extend into August, depending on need. We are expecting guidance shortly from the Governor’s office and public health officials regarding whether summer school instruction will be delivered online or in-person and will share that information as soon as it becomes known to us. As of yet, we have received no specific information about how instruction should be delivered in the 20-21 school year.
I also wanted to share information about spring semester grading. This spring, students will be given a choice about how they would like their Spring 2020 grades calculated: Pass/Pass with Distinction/Incomplete (P/PD/Inc) or a letter grade. We will ask students to make that choice on or before June 20 (assuming that many of them will want to know how they fared on final unit tasks/tests before choosing).
Pass/Pass With Distinction/Incomplete Option:
- Students passing a course in Buzz (with a 60%) will earn credit. A pass means that a student has learned what’s essential in this course, and is ready to move to the next level.
- Students who have an 85% in Buzz will earn a pass with distinction. This will appear on students’ transcripts that go to colleges, but will not impact their GPA.
- Students who do not earn a passing grade in classes at the end of the school year will earn an incomplete. They will need to continue working with us over the summer to turn an incomplete into a pass, so they are ready to move to the next level in the fall.
Letter Grade Option:
Letter grades for spring semester courses will be calculated as they have been calculated traditionally. Those grades will be reported on a student’s transcript and will impact a student’s cumulative GPA.
Please do not hesitate to contact me or any other member of our administrative team with school operations or grading questions.
We will be reaching out to parents of seniors directly regarding plans for a virtual graduation celebration that we are planning together with our students.We promise this will be much more than a Zoom meeting! All seniors who successfully complete graduation requirements prior to June 19 will be receiving a diploma with a June 19, 2020 graduation date. Please reach out to me with any questions that you have about graduation.
And finally, we know that the prolonged sheltering in place has been very difficult for so many members of our school community. Please continue to check out website for information about accessing essential supports, including mental health supports. And please do not hesitate to reach out directly to members of our Support Team.
Take good care,
Other important news from previous school director updates:
- At this time, we have connected or have the means to connect all of our students to Chromebooks, chargers, and the Internet. Please use our Help Desk ticket system or email Ana Rosa directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) to report any and all technology challenges. We will try to help you to resolve them quickly.
- All students are expected to attend two virtual check-ins and complete weekly assignments for all classes. Here is the weekly class schedule. As part of distance learning, it is very important that students check email throughout the day to make sure they are getting important updates from teachers and staff.
- We have LOTS of support built into our Distance Learning Program.
- Student can ask to schedule support with Teachers and Support Educators during their class check-ins
- Students and parents can request support using our Student Support Scheduler
- Weekly support has been scheduled for all students with disabilities
- Support is available afternoons, evenings, and Saturdays
- We have build a robust and equitable Distance Learning program and will be including work completed as part of the program when assigning grades and awarding credit for the Spring Semester.
- State mastery testing has been waived for the 2019-2020 school year, which means that our juniors will not be taking the School Day SAT and the NGSS test. We know that many students use the no-cost Connecticut SAT for college placement. The CSDE is working closely with the College Board to offer interested grade 11 students the opportunity to take the SAT on a weekend administration at no cost. More details will be shared with schools as soon as they are available, and we will share those details with you
- We know that this is an especially hard time for our seniors given the uncertainty surrounding the end of the school year. We can definitely say that the graduation ceremony and prom will take place, although they may not happen on the dates on which they are currently scheduled. Details on how senior defenses and senior projects have been adjusted for distance learning and shared with students. All of our students are feeling the potential loss of cherished year-end traditions and rites of passage. We are evaluating how we can make some of those activities available virtually and which activities can be moved to the fall.
We know that many people currently do not have all the resources that they need for an extended stay at home or may be struggling with other COVID-related non-medical emergencies. The United Way of Greater New Haven has compiled a list of Community Resources that could help families in addressing some of those needs. Please also reach out to our student support staff (contact information to the right) to communicate those needs, and see additional resources below.
For Families: Supporting Students Who Are Learning at Home
If you are in need of emergency food while school is not in session, please contact the school office. Common Ground is delivering food to Common Ground families who need it on a weekly basis, in partnership with CT Core, Haven’s Harvest, and community volunteers.
NEW 5/7: The State of Connecticut has created an emergency Pandemic EBT system to provide food support to all families that qualify for free & reduced lunch. All Common Ground families are eligible. You should be receiving an P-EBT card by mail between mid-May and June, with mailings first going to families that already qualify for SNAP, TANF, and HUSKY. The mailing will contain instructions on how to access this benefit. Click here for a copy of the brochure you should receive along with your card.
New Haven Public Schools has reinstated its Summer Meals program, which allows any students living in New Haven to go to a neighborhood school and pick up meals to go. Click here for a list of sites and times. UPDATE: New Haven will now open up schools for food pickup between 9 and 12 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Hamden is also providing meals for students residing in Hamden. Information about getting meals at a Hamden school can be found here.
Health & Mental Health Supports
We also know that these are incredibly challenging times on so many levels. Engaging students in the routines of school with regular check-ins and scheduled support helps, but certainly does not address all of the needs arising from this public health crisis. Please check out the resources below for COVID-related stress and anxiety and contact school administrators with other concerns. Our school Social Worker, Rachel Haymann, is also available by email to respond to questions and concerns. Rachel’s’ email: email@example.com.
- Here are three resources for parents, recommended by our school social worker:
- Here are three resources for students and parents, recommended by our socail worker:
- We encourage you to read through this CDC guidance on managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis, which contains much helpful advice and information about additional resources.
- We are also recommending an app called CALM, which has been researched and found to be effective in decreasing stress among college students. The app has different sections such as sleep, anxiety, self-care etc. In each section there are free activities and some that can be purchased.
- The NAMI Information and Resource Guide, and Mental Health Coping Strategies, published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, utilizes a Q&A format to share information and advice about many COVID-related concerns
- A Guide for Parents and Caregivers recently released by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) contains guidance to help family members cope with COVID-related stress.
- The COVID-19 MUTUAL AID & ADVOCACY RESOURCES: a resource for people looking out for themselves and their communities through personal preparation, collective care, mutual aid and advocacy.
- Coronavirus quarantine resources for parents and caregivers: Info for parents/caregivers, ideas for keeping children busy at home.
Also, the Yale COVID-19 call center at 203-688-1700 is a great resource for COVID-related health questions.
Need Health Insurance? Access Health CT has opened a special enrollment period between March 19 and April 2. Get more information here.
One thing students can be doing while away from Common Ground: applying for summer jobs. See this page for more information.
- Buzz. While we are in distance learning mode, students will complete all assignments, see their grades, and access course materials in Buzz. Parents and guardians can log into Buzz to check their students’ progress. Families, if you need help accessing Buzz, contact Ana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Schedule of Classes. All classes meet twice per week by Zoom video conference.
- Teacher & Staff Emails. Students and families should feel free to reach out to teachers and support staff by email with any questions or concerns. All high school staff will be checking and responding to emails at least twice each day.
- For Families: Request Academic Support for Your Student. We’re mobilizing a big team to make sure students get the support they need. Use this form to request academic support in of your child’s classes.
- Technology Help Desk. All students need to have working Chromebooks and chargers to work in this Distance Learning Program. Students who need Chromebooks/ chargers or who need help with a tech issue should be using our Student Help Desk Ticket system. If you need help with connecting to an Internet provider, please contact Ana Rosa at email@example.com or 203 389-0823 ext. 1202.
- Free/Low Cost Internet Access at Home from Comcast and AT&T. Qualifying families can access free or low-cost internet access during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Free use of Xfinity WiFi Hotspots for Everyone. Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots, and then launch a browser
- Engaging Virtual Activities & Adventures. Check out these virtual opportunities pulled together by Carla Lia at Common Ground.
At this time, we will have at least one member of our office staff in the school office from 9:00-2:00 Monday through Friday. School Office Staff Contact Information:
203 389-0823 ext. 1203
Ana Rosa—Office Manager
203 389-0823 ext. 1202
Iris Jimenez—Administrative Assistant
203 389-0823 ext. 1200
Student Support Staff Contact information
Monique Frasier—Assistant Director
203 389—0823 ext. 1218
Victor Rios—Student Support Coordinator
203 389—0823 ext. 1218
Miriam Sheffield—Student Support Assistant
203 389-0823 ext. 1207
Main Phone: 203 389-4333
Complete Staff List
- Liz Cox, School Director, x1203 Email
- Monique Frasier, Assistant Director x1218, Email
- Ana Rosa, x1202, Office Manager,Email
- Iris Jimenez, Educational Aide, x1200, Email
- Sharyn Lopez, Student Opportunities Manager, x1206, Email
- Brian Kelahan, Post High School Planning & Recruitment Manager, x1281, Email
- Miriam Sheffield, Student Affairs Assistant. x1207, Email
In each of the last 5 years, between 97% and 100% of our graduates were accepted to college. Our 4-year graduation rates significantly exceeded the state average in 4 of the 5 last school years. Recent Common Ground 9th and 10th graders have made greater gains in reading, writing, and math than 90 or more percent of their peers across the country, according to results of the NWEA MAP. Common Ground was the state’s first U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School and a recipient of many awards and grants in recognition of our work.
Common Ground’s curriculum combines rigorous high academic standards for all, responsive relationships with adults and peers who really care, relevant, real-world learning that’s rooted in the community and environment, and real roles and rights for students. Imagine studying …
- Math while you … decide what should be planted on Common Ground’s farm to maximize production, nutrition, taste, and cultural relevance.
- Science while you … turn what you are learning about climate change into beautiful paintings, spoken word, and graffiti art
- English while you … work with professional actors to write and perform plays about social justice issues that matter to you.