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Family Updates - 9/29/23

Dear Achieve Language Academy Families,

It's always a great day to be a part of this wonderful community.  Part of what makes this community special is the family support that our students receive from each of you.  While we embrace this support, we have a few reminders and a few changes that we are going to implement starting next week to help our students be successful at school and for security.

NO SCHOOL TOMORROW

There is no school for students tomorrow, Friday, September 29. 

NEW BUS ROUTES & TIMES

Our bus company has revamped routes, and starting Monday, October 2, student pick up and drop off times may be different than they have been. Please check students’ new bus tags that are coming home today for their new bus times. 

BUILDING VISITOR POLICY

Effective Monday, October 2, 2023, no visitor to the school will be allowed beyond the front desk area unless a scheduled meet is in place.  If parents choose to come into the building to drop off students, the parents and families may drop their student off at the front desk area, but the student will need to walk the rest of the way to the cafeteria for breakfast or to their classrooms.  Parents will not be allowed to accompany the student to the classroom.  Scheduled meetings with teachers, or immediate needs with someone from administration will be the only exceptions to this change in procedure.  

Rationale:  The purpose of this change in procedure is two-fold.  First, many students experience increased anxiety when parents continue to be present when staff are attempting to take students to their appropriate locations.  By minimizing the amount of time parents have inside the building, student anxiety will begin to lessen and will eventually allow for the student to understand the need to come directly into the building and to their appropriate location.   Secondly, safety is always a concern.  By minimizing additional people in the building, all adults will be staff only, or accompanied by a staff member if a family is transitioning to a meeting.  Any adult in the building without a pass or staff liaison will be questioned and accompanied to the front exit.

At a recent legal conference for Charter Schools, these changes in procedures were highly recommended and will be outlined in a policy on our website within the next 3 board meetings as ALA has chosen to adhere to these changes effective October 2, 2023.  As we work together to help our students succeed and be secure in our building, we respectfully ask for your understanding and adherence to this new procedure.

SMARTWATCHES AND CELL PHONES

At the same law conference for Charter Schools, the topic of internet capable devices was discussed.  ALA's current policy on cell phones prohibits a student from having their cell phone during school hours.  When a student arrives at school with their cell phone, they are required to check-in the cell phone each day.  The cell phone is then checked-out at the end of the day as students are leaving.

Smartwatches are also internet capable.  This means that messages to/from other students, parents, etc. are possible, along with tracking students and even phone calls if a phone is close enough to sync with a watch.

We have also learned that apps on smartwatches allow students to access the internet, allow for notes to be taken and retrieved for later use, and even recording of audio.  Currently, smartwatches are prohibited while taking state standardized tests; however, the recent law conference suggested additional oversight on smartwatches throughout the day as they have many of the same basic functions of a cell phone.

Therefore; effective October 2, 2023, smartwatches will be treated the same as cell phones.  Smartwatches will need to be checked-in each morning and will be checked-out at the end of the day as students are leaving the building.  This will help with distractions, equity, appropriate use/access of information, and even security. 

As an example of security concerns: A recent lockdown in a school that allowed students to have cell phones and smartwatches resulted in many students contacting their families during the lockdown.  While it is certainly understandable that parents would want to know that their student is safe, the result of having communication directly with students in a lockdown allowed for several parents to contact 911.  The issue that became immediately problematic was that the 911 dispatch office became overwhelmed with parent phone calls and was delayed in receiving the actual phone from the school to share vital information with the police.  

While we support the use of cell phones and smartwatches as a means of communication with your students, we ask that all communication during the school day take place through official channels and the front office.  

Thank you for your understanding as we begin enforcing this new procedure on Monday, October 2, 2023.

Please feel free to contact Dr. Windham with any questions at cwindham@achievemn.org.

Upcoming Events

July 25

Operations Meeting

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

August 5

Academic Committee

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

August 6

Governance Committee

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

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