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James I Dawson Elementary
(256) 428-7500   |   
(256) 428-7501   |   
5308 Mastin Lake Road

Letter from Principal Howard

Welcome Back from Principal Howard

We are so excited to begin the 2020-2021 school year! The first day of school is Monday, August 17th. This year is sure to be different than any other, but I promise it is going to be GREAT! I am delighted and excited to be serving as the new Principal of James I. Dawson Elementary School.  We are honored that your student will be attending Dawson this upcoming school year. If this is your first year at Dawson, WELCOME!! If you are returning, WELCOME BACK!!

The first day of school for HCS students is August 17, 2020. Huntsville City Schools will begin this year with two learning opportunities, Remote Learning and the Huntsville Virtual Academy.  Students who registered for the Huntsville Virtual Academy (HVA) will work from home for the first semester.  Huntsville City Schools will provide Remote Learning from August 17, 2020 through October 19, 2020. HCS will then decide if Remote Learning will continue or if we will transition back to traditional learning. The decision will be based on the number of COVID-19 cases in the city of Huntsville and surrounding systems. HCS is extremely committed to the health and safety of our students and staff.

While I’m excited to begin the new school year, I also understand many, including myself, are concerned and anxious about what this year may bring with the many changes that are happening due to COVID-19. This year presents unique opportunities and challenges for us all.  Our staff is committed to making the best of this situation an ensuring all students at Dawson are provided with the best education possible.

To ensure our students are prepared for the first day of school, we have scheduled a date and time for Device Distribution. Please arrive on time for your student’s grade level. During the distribution, we will comply with the ADPH guidelines with social distancing and will wear face coverings and remain in your cars.

The distribution times will be:

  • Monday, August 10th
    • Kindergarten                  12:00-2:00pm No Fee
    • 1st Grade                       2:00-4:00pm  $35 Fee
  • Wednesday, August 12th
    • 2nd Grade                      12:00-2:00pm  $35 Fee
    • 3rd Grade                       2:00-4:00pm    $35 Fee
  • Friday, August 14th
    • New Students/Make-up Times 12:00-3:00pm $35 Fee for New Students

Schoology/SchoolsPLP Instruction

  • Our teachers will use the Schoology platform, a learning management system that has been purchased and provided to school districts by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). 
  • Our teachers will use SchoolsPLP, an online, K-12 standard-based curriculum purchased and provided by the Alabama State Department of Education. Classroom teachers use this curriculum to teach the grade-level standards as determined by the ALSDE. They will use other curricular resources to supplement instruction. 
  • Our teachers will design lessons, support learning in the virtual setting, assess content mastery and determine skill proficiency using Schoology and SchoolsPLP. 
  • Our teachers will use additional instructional materials to teach standards, provide additional practice, and meet the academic needs of students. The materials will be uploaded into the learning management system, and your child’s teacher will be sharing additional details. 
  • Art, music, counseling, and library classes will be provided on a rotational bi-weekly schedule. Your teacher will inform you when these classes will take place. Physical education classes/P.E. will be provided daily. 

What Will the Weekly Schedule Look Like?

  •  K-5 students will be issued daily lessons and assignments in English-language arts, math, science, social studies, and physical education using Schoology. 
  • Each K-5 teacher will provide at least three interactive meetings (whole-group lessons) per day during remote learning through the Schoology platform. These meetings are required to provide more direct instruction. Students will have five lessons in each subject that they are taking each week. Students will be engaged in each subject for a specified period each day. 
  • Students are expected to log in to Schoology each day. Please note daily, whole-group lessons will be recorded and placed in Schoology to allow families flexibility to view lessons and complete assignments. 
  • Students may attend live instruction opportunities or retrieve the recorded instruction located in Schoology. Students are strongly encouraged to log in for the live sessions and attend office hour sessions; however, if the assignments are completed on time, they will fulfill the class requirements. 

Student Attendance

  • Student attendance will be recorded when they log in to the Schoology learning management system. Therefore, it is necessary for students to log in to Schoology Monday – Friday. 

Assignments, Grades, and Due Dates

  • Teachers will enter at least two grades per week for each subject. 
  • P.E., art, and music will enter grades when scheduled. 
  • Assignments are due on their due date assigned by the teacher. Assignments are required, and they must be completed as well as turned in on time. 

Special Education

  • Teachers will follow all IEPs and 504 plans. 
  • Students with IEPs and parents of students with IEPs, please use your Teacher of Record (TOR) as your first point of contact for support after the classroom teacher. 
  • If, after speaking with the classroom teacher and teacher of record, your student still needs support please contact either the principal or assistant principal.

Child Nutrition 

Although students will not be on campus while we are receiving virtual instruction, we understand the importance of having a nutritious meal. Huntsville City Schools Child Nutrition Program will be providing breakfast, lunch and supper during the time students are receiving virtual instruction. Parent may pick up meal’s curbside from 10:30am-1:30pm daily, Monday through Friday.

Please remain in your car, and we will bring it to you. If a student is not present, a parent or guardian may pick up the meal(s). 

If you have questions about our nutrition program email our CNP manager Remithia Strickland at 

School-to-Home Communication 

  • Our teachers will communicate using the Schoology platform, email, and/or telephone relating to instruction and other school-connected inquires. 
  • We will send out information on how to login to Schoology and a guide on how parents can set up a parent account. 
  • Our teachers will provide students and parents a daily schedule identifying dates and times when whole group instruction, small group instruction, and intervention will occur during remote learning. 
  • Classroom information, newsletters, important dates, times, and events will be shared with students and parents via Schoology weekly. 
  • The Schoology learning management system will serve as the vehicle to deliver all instructional components to the student and family at home and then back to teachers to gauge mastery. 
  • If there are any conferences needed, these will occur via phone or through a virtual platform. 
  • All Kindergarten students will use Huntsville City Schools-issued iPads to log in to Schoology. 
  • All Grades 1 – 5 students will use Huntsville City Schools-issued Chromebooks to log in to Schoology. 
  • Parents of Grades 1 and 2 students are requested to pay the $35 Chromebook fee as they are the only ones receiving brand new devices. 
  • We will only be able to accept checks made out to Dawson or the exact amount in cash.

Student Internet Accessibility

  • Students can access their assignments by using their Huntsville City Schools-issued Chromebooks and iPads to connect to their in-home WIFI. 
  • School-based Wi-Fi is available on school grounds, preferably within 30 feet of the main building. This is called curbside Wi-Fi. Students should be able to automatically connect to the school-based Wi-Fi using HCS-issued devices. 
  • If you do not have Wi-Fi at home, contact your child’s teacher or call the school 256-428-7500.

Be on the lookout for the following information that will be sent to you: 

  • Classroom Letter from Teacher
  • Open House/Meet the Teacher Video
  • How to access and use Schoology 
  • Students Daily Schedules 
  • Testing Schedule
  • Virtual Office Hours and Academic Support Times

HCS Assessment Schedule

STAR Benchmark Assessment

Grades K-8

August 31 – September 18, 2020

STAR Benchmark Assessment

Grades K-8

December 7 – 22, 2020

ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs

Grades K – 12

January 19 – March 19, 2021


Select Schools (You will be notified if our school is chosen to participate)

March – May, 2021

STAR Benchmark Assessment

Grades K-8

May 3 – 21, 2021

ACAP Alternate

Grades 2-8 

March 1 – April 9, 2021

ACAP Summative

Grades 2 – 8

March 29 – April 30, 2020

DIBELS 8th Edition

Grades K – 3

Dates TBD

Cursive Handwriting

3rd Grade

Dates TBD


PowerSchool Registration (formerly Infosnap):

Please make sure that you have completed your 2020-2021 PowerSchool registration. It is extremely important our students’ information is up to date. If you have not done so, please go to the Huntsville City Schools website, click on Departments, then Assessment and Accountability. If the student is brand new to HCS, please complete new student registration, otherwise, please register your child as a returning student.

Thank you for your willingness to entrust us with your child’s academics. Again, please feel free to contact the school with any questions or concerns that you may have at (256) 428 – 7500 or you may speak with your child’s teacher.

Be safe. Stay healthy,

Belissa G. Howard, Principal