It’s hard to find a segment of American (worldwide?) society that hasn’t been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps nowhere have things been rocked like they have in the world of public education.
The fallout is felt on the Plateau, as elsewhere, with both the Enumclaw and White River school districts beginning the coming school year with a “remote learning” model. With just a few exceptions, students will be sitting at home instead of in a classroom, staring at a computer instead of a teacher.
In both districts, teachers are being asked to arrive in their classrooms daily to provide online lessons.
The Enumclaw district sought information from families during the summer and, according to the district website, “The number one request from families and students was for us to provide a consistent and predictable delivery format that allows for easy wayfinding and navigation for both students and parents.”
Here are some key elements of the district plan, taken from a question-and-answer element on the website.
How will learning be delivered?
Weekly Learning Modules will be uploaded by their teacher(s) into Google Classroom for the coming week every Friday afternoon for all K-12 students.
Common features of our remote learning
Learning activities will be based upon grade-level learning standards and skills.
Learning will include synchronous (online together) and asynchronous (done independently) learning experiences each day.
The week’s learning will include both video content and written learning assignments.
Classes will include opportunities for individual support and small group help with the teacher.
An attendance ticket will be uploaded into Google Classroom daily and will need to be submitted by the student or parent/guardian by 2 p.m. each day.
Standard grading, assessment and feedback will be provided, based on student work.
Individual teachers will design and customize the learning components for their students’ age, the learning content, and individual student needs.
Why is our learning designed in this way?
Flexibility: Learning and working remotely looks different from student to student and family to family. Flexibility in scheduling is important.
Wellness: Research shows that the ability to manage how much and how often students are expected to be on video calls at any point is important for overall wellness in a remote learning situation.
Learning Support Resources
All students in grades 6-12 will have a Chromebook checked out to them for their learning needs.
Our goal is to provide a Chromebook to every elementary-aged student/family who has expressed that need.
We are working with individual families who have expressed a need for internet access and will be providing support such as a wireless hotspot or access to a school internet location on a scheduled basis
All necessary learning support materials will be provided for your student to be able to complete their learning activities.
WHITE RIVER SCHOOL DISTRICT
In White River, the decision to abandon in-person learning was made after the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department advised it was unsafe to open schools as normal.
Heading the Health Department is Dr. Anthony Chen, who wrote, “We all understand the importance of quality education, social‐emotional learning, addressing food and special needs, parents’ need to work, and so many other critical issues. However, it is of utmost importance that we protect the health of our students, education professionals, and school support staff. At this time, I do not feel we can do so if we open schools for onsite instruction in September.”
In a subsequent letter to district families, Superintendent Janel Keating Hambly delivered the news about distance learning.
Focusing on the positive, she explained that the district was prepared. “Because we knew that this was always a possibility, we’ve had a large team of teachers and administrators working on what a full distance learning model should look like,” Keating Hambly wrote. “As a result of this effort, we can guarantee distance learning will be improved for the coming year.”
Staff will be delivering instruction daily from the school buildings, she wrote, adding that teachers and staff will be required to follow all the safety protocols.
Assistant Superintendent Scott Harrison noted that some students will continue to visit school buildings. Those include students with special needs and requirements.