Updated June 22, 2020
Dear Common Ground Families,
I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and well.
The 2019-2020 school year has come to a end. Final grades for the spring semester should be submitted by the end of the day, and report cards will be mailed this week. Following the cancellation of classes on March 13, we all worked very hard to create a robust Distance Learning instructional program with lots of support. Congratulations to you and your students for making it through this unprecedented spring of Distance Learning.
Final guidelines for school reopening in the fall have not yet been published by the State Department of Education. In keeping with public health protocols, it is likely that we will be utilizing a hybrid model, consisting of both in-person instruction and remote learning, for at least part of the year. We have emailed a survey to gather your feedback about how the distance learning experience worked for you this year and what you would like to see instructionally in 2020-21 for your child. Your feedback will be essential to the staff working this summer to strengthen the Distance Learning program as part of the overall planning process for the next school year.
Students who were not able to complete spring courses successfully will receive incompletes, which they will be required to clear during summer school. This year, Common Ground will be operating a small in-person summer school, in addition to holding summer school classes remotely. Questions about Common Ground’s summer school should be directed to Victor Rios at email@example.com. Additionally, all students are required to complete a Summer Reading Assignment this year. Details about summer reading should be directed to Monique Frasier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, as you all know, I will be retiring at the end of June. As you can imagine, finding a new school leader in the midst of a pandemic was very difficult. I am most happy to announce that Monica Maccera Filppu, Common Ground’s Executive Director, will be stepping in as the school director for the 20-21 school year. We are very fortunate that Monica, an experienced school leader who loves Common Ground and our students, will be able to take on this role until a search for a school director can be reopened in the spring of 2021.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work with you and your students this year.
Wishing you a rest-filled summer and the very best in the next school year!
Other important news from previous school director updates:
- Students who do not earn a passing grade in their classes will receive an incomplete and will be required to attend summer school to clear incompletes. Summer school will be held July 6-31. Most summer school classes will be held virtually, but we will be able to bring a small number of students on campus for in-person instruction. It is very important that all students who are required to attend summer school do attend so that they can earn the credit they need to advance to the next grade for the 2020-2021 school year.
- All returning students will be keeping their Chromebooks over the summer and will be responsible for their safe-keeping. Ana Rosa will be sharing a schedule with times that seniors and transfers can come on campus to return their devices.
- All returning students will be keeping the lockers they had this year in the 2020-2021 school year and can leave items in their lockers over the summer. If a student needs to retrieve an item from a locker, they should make an appointment with Ana Rosa to do so. Ana Rosa will be sharing a schedule with times that seniors and transfers can come on campus to pick up locker belongings.
- Spring semester grades will be completed by June 22 and report cards will be mailed home later that week.
- This spring, students were 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 asked 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.
- 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 (email@example.com) 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 built 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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
Lose Health Insurance Coverage? Access Health CT has a special enrollment period for people who have lost their coverage. 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 email@example.com.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.