JCSD Online Learning Update
(This information was messaged to parents and staff on April 09, 2020)
Johnston Fulfills State Requirements to Provide Voluntary Online Learning Through April 30, 2020
During the week of March 30, the district assembled a Continuous Learning Task Force (CLTF) to support the online learning initiative in Johnston, similar to what the state Department of Education is doing. The task force is largely district and building instructional coaches, district learning coordinators, our district student well-being coordinator, and our preschool director. It’s headed up by our Executive Director of Teaching & Learning, Dr. Nikki Roorda.
When the DE came out with their voluntary or required program options, we thought long and hard about what this looked like for all students, of all abilities, in our district. It is critical to remember how this will work for students who are served through something like an IEP, language support, or special education services. We also need to take into account [internet] accessibility, device access, parental involvement, etc. What works for one family may not work for another.
The CLTF has been working around the clock to build curriculum and content for all grades, all subjects, including school counselors, related arts, and social-emotional resources. As of Monday, April 6, we have been approved by our Board of Education to submit our plan to the DE for the voluntary option. At the bottom of this news post is the link to our Board presentation, outlining our voluntary plan. The time missed and out of school due to COVID-19 closures have been waived by the Governor.
The well-being of our students and our teaching force are at the heart of this decision – we recognize there is a delicate balance between home life and work expectations. Our online Continuous Learning Plan, which will be implemented April 20, 2020, is designed to increase student engagement for all learners PK4 – 12, and will provide new learning experiences to students and offer multiple opportunities for students and teachers to engage with one another through learning and social/emotional connections.
We are being as flexible as possible (for both students and educators) in our approach to continuous learning. Building principals and instructional coaches have been working very hard to create plans that accommodate this unconventional time in people’s lives.
Our CLTF and building principals will be reaching out to all staff in virtual meetings on Friday (April 10) with this district plan and the specific plans for their buildings. A number of our teachers have already connected with students from their classes. The JCSD Continuous Learning Plans will bolster those efforts to provide daily structure and new learning expectations for students grades PK4-12.
How will this be accessible by parents and students?
Our plans are built within Google sites and by next Friday (4/17), we will have areas on the district website and each school website that takes them directly to their schools’ learning plans. We want to make this as easy as possible, trim down email notifications and traffic, and use platforms familiar to our audience for housing all this information. This second phase of online learning officially begins on Monday, April 20.
Grades vs Credit
At this point, and under the voluntary option, student participation is up to the individual and any work turned in is not graded, but teachers can provide feedback to them. We are awaiting more guidance to inform our decision on issuing grades or using the pass/fail option for students for this period of time. We have local control as a school district to determine what works best for our students. Our goal is to hold students harmless in this period of time and help ensure our seniors earn the credits they need to graduate.
Honoring Class of 2020 Graduates
Graduation is one of the biggest events of a student’s school career. Depending on the COVID-19 safe gathering guidelines, the traditional commencement ceremony and honoring of our graduates may look different than it has in the past. We are investigating different ways we can, at some point in the near future, provide the Class of 2020 with an exceptional commencement ceremony. Please look for additional information as time goes on. Senior parents, please watch your emails for a district message regarding complimentary “Class of 2020” yard signs coming to your inbox on Friday, April 10.
At this point, we have distributed iPads to students in the district, in an attempt to ensure that there is at least one [school-owned] device in a household for them to use if they don’t have their own. We have also approved the purchase of wireless hotspots to provide to families without internet access. We’ve opened up wifi access at our schools, so vehicles can pull up along designated areas and access the internet from their cars.