First day of distance learning will now be August 26; August 24 and 25 will be “Orientation” Days for all students
Champaign Unit 4 Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Zola provided further details at Monday night’s board of education meeting about how the district plans to deliver distance learning to its 10,000+ students this fall, addressing everything from internet access to devices to school hours and learning expectations.
The Unit 4 School Board unanimously voted to approve a resolution supporting the re-opening plan.
“It’s very clear that this (distance learning) plan is nothing like it was in the spring,” said board member Elizabeth Sotiropoulos, addressing concerns of parents about the abrupt transition to remote learning when schools closed after spring break.
“It’s very clear that the plan is to serve our students.”
The plan discusses how distance learning will happen at each level, but many details still remain to be worked out.
“We don’t have a playbook on distance learning for 10,350 students,” Zola said.
The plans do provide an emphasis on how to support families. There is an idea to create “student support centers” where families could go to get support, although what kind of support is not exactly known. The student support centers would be on three campuses and have hours daily.
“Initially for the first few weeks we want to make sure there is a place someone could come and get some additional support,” Zola said. “We don’t have a lot more detail, because we are developing that model as we speak.”
Zola emphasized that buildings will be open and staff are welcome in buildings. Teachers will be able to teach from within the school buildings, or outside the school buildings, as to their comfort level, Zola said.
Among the highlights of the plan, which can be found online via the district website HERE:
- Distance learning will officially start on Aug. 26, with “orientation” days on August 24 and 25. These orientation days will vary by building, but may include parent-teacher conferences.
INTERNET AND DEVICES
- The district is working with the city, Comcast, and other local internet providers to make sure that all students have access to internet and home WiFi. (The plan provides way more depth on how the district will do this, which includes Comcast codes, Verizon Wifi hotspots and more.)
- Devices will be distributed to any students who need one.
- Elementary Students will have Chromebooks distributed Aug. 17-19;
- August 17 – Bottenfield, Stratton, CECC, Garden Hills, Dr. Howard
- August 18 – IPA, Booker T Washington, Robeson, South Side
- August 19 – Barkstall, Kenwood, Westview, Carrie Busey
- ALL DAYS WILL BE 9 am to 6pm, pick up takes place in school parking lots
- Middle school students will be able to pick up Chromebooks and chargers
- Distribution will be at all middle school campuses, from 9 am to 6 pm, on August 20-21 in school parking lots
- All high school students will be able to pick up Chromebooks and chargers
- Distribution will be on August 24 and 25 from 1 pm to 6:30 pm
- Families who cannot attend on their students assigned pick up day will be able to do a separate pick up on Wednesday, August 26 between 9am and 6pm at Windsor Administration Building, or other arrangements can be made.
Instruction will be mostly live, and will utilize various technology supports depending on curriculum and grade level. Attendance will be taken, and there will be assessments and grading procedures as appropriate for each grade level.
“In general the expectation is that teachers will be providing feedback to students and assessing students growth,” Zola said.
- Kindergarten through fifth grade students will have 2.5 hours of live instruction, 2.5 hours of independent learning resources. All students will have access to their teachers through Google Classroom environments.
- There will be two sessions for elementary students: 8:45-11:15 am or 11:45 am –2:15 pm. Homerooms will be split into different sessions.
- Parents will be able to give input about preference for times, but can’t always be honored.
- Requests will be handled at a building level.
- Each student will have a device (Chromebook, although kindergarteners can request iPads as they are available).
- Middle school students will have 8 periods, with 25-minute classes, and a 35-minute break for lunch.
- School hours will go from 9 am to 1:25.
- There will be four hours of live instruction per day, with one hour of “independent learning.”
- Teachers will have “office hours” from 1:30 pm to 2:15 pm.
- Attendance will be taken, grades will be reported, every student will have a device.
- High school students will have eight 30-minute periods.
- School hours will go from 9 am to 1:35 pm.
- Teachers will have “office hours” from 8 am to 9 am.
- Lunch hour will depend on the student schedule, three different periods are options.
- APEX will be offered as an optional curriculum support for teachers; teachers can choose to use or not.
Last week, the district announced that due to the ongoing pandemic, the district will only offer remote learning through the first quarter.
“This whole community has to step up and step in to support this framework, it has to be a collective voice coming with solutions,” said Amy Armstrong, board president. “Kids are going to be struggling, parents are going to be struggling, and we need to support each other.”