Spartan Update on Distance Education at Spencer Butte April 10, 2020

Spartan Update on Distance Education at Spencer Butte April 10, 2020

Dear Spencer Butte Community,

This letter is a substitute for our Spartan Update. We will continue with the regular Update starting next week. This is a compiled list of key information and questions that I am receiving from the district, staff members, and all of you.

This week is bittersweet for us. It is fantastic to connect with students and families and it is hard because we are not here all together at school. It is new work for our school, district, and community to support educating all of our students at a distance. We are rapidly learning promising practices that are equitable for all students and families. We are trying and failing, modifying and adjusting, and improving over time. Also, all of us understand, especially those of us with school aged children, how distance education and on-line learning can be challenging for parents and families to support.

What exactly will Distance Education look like moving forward? Students start Monday in their third trimester classes. Teachers are using Google Classroom to post assignments, give feedback, and conduct discussions. Some teachers may use the Zoom video conferencing program for instruction, office hours, or team building, but it is not required for students or teachers. School will happen for different students at different times, depending on when they are able to connect and complete the Google Classroom assignments.

What should a student’s day look like? From our State guidance, students should be doing the following:

  1. A maximum of 3 hours per day of learning that is directed by the teacher (approximately 30 minutes per class for their 6 classes)

  2. 1-2 hours a day of supplemental learning (suggested by teachers or chosen by the student/family)

  3. 2 hours for nutrition and wellness needs

Our recommendation is that we encourage students to accomplish the 3 hours of learning in the mornings and reach out to teachers for extra help in the afternoons. We are building much of our teacher work schedule on that recommendation, with teachers having dedicated office hours in the afternoons to answer questions and offer extra help. Teachers will strive to accommodate all of the possible different circumstances, they will be checking Google Classroom and emails, and they will accommodate different extra help requests as best as possible.

What will grades look like? For all classes, students will receive a “Pass” or a “No Basis for a Grade” mark on their third trimester transcript instead of A,B,C,D,F or Proficiency Based grades. This is true across the district. Teachers will provide feedback to students and may give percentages, but they will not be assigning letter grades for assignments.

How will we take and record attendance? Based on state and district guidance, for all classes, students will be considered present based on having interactions (for example: work turned in and feedback) with teachers through Google Classroom, email, phone, or video conferencing. At this point, students will be considered present for the entire week of that class if they have at least one interaction with that teacher. Students who have no interaction with the teacher will be marked absent for that class for the week.   

What about students with an Individualized Education or 504 plan? Your case managers are currently meeting at Spencer Butte and across the district regarding how we will be providing support for students. They will be reaching out to families individually as we learn more specifics. Building-wide we are collaboratively developing our on-line lessons to be as accessible as possible, with built in accommodations for students. Also, we will continue to offer study and social skills classes and office hours. Scheduled yearly IEP and 504 meetings will still occur using video or phone conferencing.

Distance Learning Web Page: We are constantly updating our school Distance Learning Page. It can be reached from our main page, or directly at

This page is a one-stop site for information about Google Classroom, Zoom, Frequently Asked Questions, Student Expectations, the 4J Technology Agreements, use of iPads, technology requests, etc.

How do students/families get technology support?

  • English: 541-790-7531

  • en espanol: 541-790-7770 (Deja un mensaje de voz)

  • Email (English and en espanol):

When can we pick up personal items from lockers?

The district is developing a plan for all students to gather their belongings from their locker that maintains social distancing requirements. We will release it as soon as we get it.

My child and/or I am getting too many emails from school, what can I do?

We understand how all of this communication is overwhelming and are taking steps to remove redundancy. One thing you can do in Google Classroom is to turn off the option of getting an email notification when there is activity in the classroom. As long as students get into the habit of going to their Google Classroom and checking into what is happening in their classes, they do not need a million notifications. Also, student should frequently empty their email trash, or they will begin to get emails about having too many emails.

Phone calls to students’ personal phones?

Staff have received requests to communicate with students using their personal cell phones. For very good reasons, this has always been against district policy except in cases of emergency. Given that we are in uncharted waters, it is possible that our counselor, registrar, case managers, or administrators might need to reach a student through a personal phone. However, we will continue with the direction to teachers and most other staff to not call student’s personal phones.

Yearbook Update

There are 40 yearbooks left for sale. Click here to order the yearbook online.

The yearbook ID for Spencer Butte is 11732520. Email Jenn Kotlarek ( prior to ordering if you are unsure about a previous purchase or if you have other yearbook questions

You deserve a prize if you read this far. I know I speak for all of our staff when I say that while we still have questions about how all this will work, we are excited to be teaching and working with students and families again. Take care.



Peter Tromba