Even with social distancing restrictions, Stephen had a great summer. He’s excited about the new 2020-21 school year but, like his caregiver, worries that this year’s virtual learning process will be like what he experienced in the spring of 2020. Luckily for him, his principal used the summer to take staff through the Simplify/Pattern/Train model.

Three weeks before the first day for students, the principal posts a message on the school’s website. She then uses the all-call system and social media channels to direct families to the message. (This is the one time that “simplify” does not work because she needs to do everything she can to reach all of the school’s families.) She promises on the website, the social media post, and in the call that the message will be mailed to all families and translated into their native languages as well.

Take a look at the principal’s message.  As you read it, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would this be a message you would like to hear from a school principal?
  • How do you think Stephen and his caregiver would feel about the message?
  • What would you want to be added, deleted, or clarified?
  • What would it take for your school to do something similar?

You may also click on this LINK to view or save the sample principal’s letter as a PDF.


8 August 2020

Dear students and families:

I want to share with you our virtual learning plans for the 2020-21 school year. We appreciated greatly your flexibility last spring and want to alleviate much of the stress and anxiety we all experienced in making what felt like an overnight shift to online learning.

From the School:

As principal, I will post a message to our website every Sunday before 7:00 pm. In it I will share critical updates for the week ahead as well as a few highlights from the week prior. I will also record the message and distribute via our all-call system. So, if you prefer to read online, you can ignore my Sunday evening call.

Should you need to reach me directly at any point, please call the school or email my assistant. He will be sure that I get your message, and I promise to reply within 48 hours.

From the Classroom:

Our teachers will post all assignments using Virtual Classroom, a free application that can be accessed by any computer, phone, or tablet.

  • Language arts and science teachers will post assignments on Mondays and Wednesdays before 8:00 am.
  • Math and social studies teachers will post assignments on Tuesdays and Thursdays before 8:00 am.
  • Elective teachers will post via the language arts and science schedule.
  • Counselors and advisors will post via the math and social studies schedule.

Along with each assignment, teachers will share their office hours for the week (between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday – Friday) and links for appointment scheduling. Please take advantage of the chance for 1:1 or small group support! Should you or your student need time outside of the 8:00 am – 4:00 pm window, please call the school, and an administrator will arrange an appointment for you.

If you have other questions, teacher email addresses and school phone numbers are posted on our website. Messages will be forwarded directly to each the teacher’s phone.


Fridays are skill practice and recovery days. Each core discipline has identified an online application for skill practice. Links will be provided with the assignment postings. Students are to log in and spend 25 minutes developing skills tailored by the teacher to each student’s level of achievement.

Remaining academic time on Friday can be used by students who need more time to complete an assignment or had interruptions arise during the week. We believe this built-in recovery time is the modern-day study hall and will keep students on pace throughout the virtual learning experience.

The school commits to the virtual learning design presented in this letter until winter break in December. Should adjustments need to be made, they will occur beginning in January of 2021 and be communicated similarly.

Attached to this post are links to videos explaining how to download, install, and get started with Virtual Classroom. If you have any questions or need a personal tutorial, click the link provided here to schedule an appointment or call the school and they will reach back out to you to help. Once quarantine lifts, I will communicate to you in my Sunday message, the in-person training options we will offer at the school.

We look forward to seeing your student when school re-opens – online or in person. We will be ready!


Principal Jones




– Keith Look, Ed.D. / Senior Program Director for District Services / klook@ets.org