If you don’t want to read through the following notes and just want to cut to the chase, what was the direction of the discussion? Please note that it was a workshop and no votes or decisions were made. No input from the public was allowed. This was a discussion between the Superintendent (Mark Ross), the Asst. Superintendent (Denny Waters) and some of the support staff with the Board Directors. It appears that the recommendation to the Board is to start the year “online only”. A transition to 2 days per week in-person with 3 days online “could” happen if and when Clark County enters into Phase 4. Now…here’s some of the background that went into that recommendation.
Update: Apparently Mr. Ross sent an email to parents today, July 29, 2020. Here is the email: BG School Restart email Jul 28 2020 from Mark Ross
- March 13th schools closed. Child care was offered for “essential workers”.
- Remote learning efforts were initiated.
- Meals were made available for pickup for anyone up to age 18 under a special authorization from the Feds to use the summer lunch program.
- May 13th OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) created a workgroup.
- The BG district also created a working group.
- A survey was opened to the public to get some feedback from parents and staff. (Here is a link to that survey and results: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-QVMHTL3F7/)
- High school graduation was done “virtually”.
- In June the State provided a guide for reopening with requirements (6ft distancing + masks).
- District measured classrooms and desks and found there was insufficient room for all students to be in class at the same time.
- Conclusion? They could handle 1/2 the students at a time.
Here is the document Mr. Ross shared: BG_School Reopening Paths_Jul282020
Here is a link to what’s on the BG district website now: https://www.battlegroundps.org/reopening-schools/
- OSPI says each district can make plans based on their local situation. However, districts must follow State mandates and must get approval from the local county health officer for changes. That makes it nearly impossible for districts to do anything on their own.
- Mr. Waters: The district is working on streamlining Apps and tools. They are creating “priority standards” for content. They may use the “Teachers Clarity Playbook”? (https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/the-teacher-clarity-playbook-grades-k-12/book263266) The district will be setting learning targets and defining success measures. More work to be done in August on the “standards”.
- OSPI is requiring that each district have a “grading policy” that be approved
- The district is working on identifying gaps in curriculum. They note that there has been more curriculum adopted in the last 2 years than the last 15 years.
- They are rolling out a new middle school book called “History Alive” Here is a link to the publishers website so you can see what they offer: https://www.teachtci.com/social-studies/middle-school-social-studies/
- They have expanded their use of the iReady program. They have been using the testing portion but they are expanding to the text and curriculum support. Here’s an article about the expanded iReady services: https://www.wfmz.com/news/pr_newswire/pr_newswire_technology/curriculum-associates-delivers-i-ready-updates-and-innovative-resources-to-support-learning-gains-in-the/article_97889741-a465-54f7-939a-b8ec712ae363.html
- The are adding the “Lexia” program: https://www.lexialearning.com/ You can read their explanation about “why lexia”: https://www.lexialearning.com/why-lexia
- They are adding https://newsela.com/ for support in ELA, Social Studies and Science
- Sometimes the current Chromebooks are not the best for online learning
- The district has spent $500,000 for new computers for teachers to make online connectivity better
- They have purchased 2200 new computers for students
- They are adding “hotspots” and cell service extenders to help improve connectivity
- Surveys of parents show 95% of families have no issues with internet and computers
- Google Classroom is being used and staff are receiving ongoing training in its use but it can be difficult for younger students
- “Seesaw Classroom” https://web.seesaw.me/ is being adopted for use in K-4 to improve online learning. Training for staff will happen in August.
- They discussed the use of something called “Flip Classroom” https://study.com/teach/flipped-classroom.html
- They discussed the need to engage with parents and keep them informed. Mr. Waters said he thought the teachers and district did a great job with remote learning in the spring given the challenges they had.
- Mark Ross mentioned that they had used some CARES funds to buy PPE and masks as well as sanitation equipment
- No extra money appears to be coming to cover the additional costs
Metrics for restarting school?
- Mr. Ross said there were no clear metrics for determining when school could restart in-person
- They planned based on guidance in place in June which changed dramatically in July
- Apparently the district conducted a 2nd survey from Tuesday July 21st and closed Sunday July 26th. Here is a link to the page with the survey (3/4’s the way down on the right): https://www.battlegroundps.org/reopening-schools-update/
- Rita showed some slides summarizing the data. The feedback from parents was based on the options the district thought might exist. Thus, there was no choice for full time attendance. There are 12 slides in the set. There are significant differences in responses from staff in particular. Please take the time to review the survey results.
- Apparently 2.6% of parents said their children will not return to public school.
- Apparently slightly over 9% of parents said their children won’t return to school without a vaccine.
- Can the district get an exception to use the summer meal program during the school year to provide meals to students?
- Likely those who normally pay for meals would still need to be charged but how will collections be made?
- The district planned on rolling out middle school sports this year. That’s on hold with the possibility of something in the spring of 2021
School restart recommendation
- Mr. Ross recommends starting online only.
- This would continue until Clark County is approved for Phase 4
- In Phase 4 a 2 day per week physical attendance with 3 days virtual would be implemented
- Possible special needs children full time in person?
- ELL students full time?
- Those who can’t connect online and have challenges interacting with teachers?
Social Emotional Learning
- Would be a focus to help children?
Open questions from the Board
- How will teachers be evaluated?
- What about families with multiple children in school all getting calls from teachers or staff and having to connect at the same or different times?
- What if children/families don’t engage?
- What about students in courses that require hands-on learning? Shop, welding, etc.?
- Can the Board/District really make their own decisions?
- What about working parents who can’t be home with children? Childcare?
- If a vaccine is developed and parents won’t use it will that impact students ability to attend school?
- What about meals for students?
From my perspective the district and board are in a catch 22. They are told to make decisions but can’t. The State is demanding all sorts of cleaning, distancing and remote learning but isn’t providing any money so it falls to local tax payers to foot the bill. Given that Inlsee continues to move the goal posts how can the district plan? The district plans and then is told the rules of the game change. How much risk is there to children and adults? The information suggests it’s low but some are more fearful than others and that affects their views. It was clear to me that everyone involved is torn and perplexed. They want to return to normal but also want safety. Everyone agrees that online only is not the best choice but it appears to be the only option for now.
I encourage everyone to participate in the August 10th online meeting and share your thoughts and questions. Consider submitting your input via email to the Board members so they can compile common concerns/questions ahead of time.