Letter to Families from Principal Whaley

August 18, 2020

Dear Mohawk Families,

The start of school is right around the corner!  The District team has been hard at work this summer getting plans in place for the fall and making sure you will receive the best possible education, whether we are learning from home or able to be on campus.  I have heard many of you have questions like, “What will school look like this fall?”  Here is a short Q and A that may shed some light on your questions:

Q. Is this the same thing the kids did in the spring?

A. No. This fall’s Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) is a significant increase in rigor and expectations from the emergency distance learning model last spring.  Students will be required to participate and complete assignments daily and will earn letter grades again which will affect their GPA.  For more information about state requirements for school in the fall see the MSD website at www.marcola.k12.or.us.  More information will be posted there to help you prepare for school this year.

Q. Will my child get a computer again?

A. Yes. Technology upgrades are happening now to prepare new computers for student use in the fall.  We have replaced and refurbished older computers and chromebooks to hit the ground running when school starts.  Students will be picking up their assigned computers the first week of school, September 9-10. (See event below.) 

Q. How will the district make sure that my child is learning this year, even in CDL?

 A. There are two big instructional changes that will help us achieve student success this year:

  • Mohawk will be moving to a 5 period day with 3 trimesters for the 2020-21 school year.  This will accomplish several things- 1) make it easier to communicate with fewer teachers on a daily basis, 2) allow longer daily class time to participate in learning activities such as projects and other hands-on curriculum, 3) offer high school students the opportunity to earn 7.5 credits, ½ credit more than last year, to help regain credits they may have missed in the spring, and 4) align with the college quarter system for students taking dual credit or college courses.
  • Also, this year, students will be clustered in learning cohorts or “pods”.  This will allow flexibility to hopefully transition from Comprehensive Distance Learning to possible on-site instructional with required health precautions (which would most likely include limiting student contacts to a smaller cohort of students) based on state metrics.   Each student group will operate with two teachers to cover core curriculum and one or more elective offerings for each group to limit possible exposure.  This model will further simplify communication and will allow for one-on-one and small group supports as needed.  Teachers are hard at work planning engaging and challenging lessons for students.

Q. What about extracurricular opportunities for my child?

A. OSAA has sent out guidance for athletics for the 2020-21 school year.  We are using a revised calendar that pushes back the start dates for the various seasons until later in the year.  (To read the news release and see the calendar, click here.)  Also, Mohawk is in search of Student Leaders!  Since we didn’t get to hold Student Body Officer elections this spring, we will be holding them early in the fall.  Stay tuned for more information about how to campaign and/or vote as we start the school year in September.  Speech and Debate will be all virtual for 2020-21.  Some activities (like robotics) are on hold this year, but we expect to have them back next year.

Q. How will the district keep parents informed about what is going on? 

A. The District website is a critical resource for information (www.marcola.k12.or.us).  Check back often for updates.  Also stay tuned for more information coming as phone messages and emails to the numbers and address(es) you have on file with the school.  If you are not receiving updates, please contact the office at 541-933-2512 to verify your contact information with Mrs. Gill.

Q. What do I need to do to get my child ready for school?

A. Online registration is required for all families of students in Marcola, both new and returning students.  The link can be found on the District webpage under the “District” tab and then “Enroll and Register”, starting on August 25. Please make sure the information we have is up to date and accurate so you can stay in the loop about school happenings and key information.  To help ease the transition to on-campus learning when it is safer, have your student practice wearing a mask periodically throughout the day.  Masks are required for students on campus.  Think about setting up a specific place in your home for “school”.  Limit distractions and access to things like computer games in that area.  Have school supplies, computer, charger, and other materials readily available nearby.

Q. How will my child know when school starts again and what to do?

A. Come visit! We hope you join us for a Reverse Parade, “Mustang Madness”, on the first day of school- September 9.  Students and families are invited to parade through the parking lot, pick up their school materials, and meet their teachers sometime between 4-7pm.   Teachers will be reaching out to connect virtually with students for initial activities the week of September 14.  In the meantime, talk about your expectations for their success and be encouraging.  We have some exciting things planned for students this year and can’t wait to get started!

Q. Why can’t we just start school in the building?

A. Given the directives from the Oregon Department of Education, the state, and the Lane County Health Department, we are hard at work creating systems of tracking, cleaning, sanitizing, distancing, and protection on campus. However, state and countywide metrics around COVID-19 will dictate when we can return to in–person instruction safely.  In the meantime, wear your masks, wash your hands,  and do your part to help slow the spread so we can get back into the buildings for school as soon as possible.

Q. What should I do if I need to make alternate plans for my child’s education this year?

A. Please contact the school.  It is very important to us that no child slips through the cracks and misses out on their education.  We recognize that every family has different situations to consider and we may be able to offer something different that will work for your child.

If you have more questions, please join us for a panel Q and A discussion on Wednesday night at 6pm on Zoom. The link will be on the District webpage.  Enter your questions in the “chat” during the conversation and the moderator will pass it along to our expert panel of teachers, administrators, and safety staff.  Despite the challenges that this year brings, I have every confidence that our amazing Mohawk Family will come together to support each other and have a great year.  Go Mustangs!!


Stacey Whaley
Mohawk Jr/Sr High School