Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Blaine County Students to Return to ‘School’ with a Fluid Plan
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The need for hospital resources in Idaho is projected to peak around May 1.
 
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

Blaine County School teachers will head back to work Monday, April 6 as they prepare to teach students online and by phone while Idaho schools remain shuttered.

Teachers, who are currently receiving virtual google training, will connect with secondary students April 6 and 7 and distribute lessons on April 8. The long-distance learning will start try April 13.

The school board approved a fluid six-page plan Monday night. But President Keith Roark said it is being revised almost hourly.

The school district had already loaned secondary students Chromebooks—laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS. Problem is, some students left theirs in their lockers as school was dismissed for three weeks because of the pandemic. And, so, they will have to be retrieved.

Teachers will hand packets to many younger students. The district has 1,620 families who have answered the Technology Survey and 114 who reported no internet. The survey was delivered electronically so the district will discover more families without the internet as it goes forward, said Heather Crocker, director of communications.

The school district hopes to set buses with cradle points in the parking lots of some apartment buildings  and purchase hotspots and other infrastructure to provide better internet accessibility.  This would lower significantly the number of students without access to the internet, Roark said.

The goal is for every teacher and student to have access to Chromebook with priority given to high school, middle school, then elementary.

As middle school students await their chrome books, teachers may have them read in a book or write in a journal while they’re waiting.

Kindergarteners through fifth-graders will be the last to receive their Chromebooks.

The state is assuming four hours of some form of learning each day for grades 1 through 12 and 2.5 hours for kindergarten.

Students will be able to take advanced placement exams from home.

Teachers will record student learning using GoogleClassrooms, Schoology or Lift. Or, they’ll use text, email and other means to collect assignments and provide feedback.

Teachers are still determining how they will grade assignments.

Wood River High School counselors are working with state officials to determine how to support seniors through to graduation.

The Learning Continuity plan notes that a minimal number of staff will need to leave their homes to retrieve materials from their classroom or deliver materials to students without connectivity. Staff who are ill or who live with someone who is ill should not access the school until their self-quarantine is over.

Staff are being told to restrict their movement; custodial staff will be present while staff are there to disinfect common touch surfaces.

The school district is currently surveying the district to find out how many teachers and students do not have internet access or the bandwidth needed to provide a uniform education.

It will be up to the teacher or school whether outdoor play and recreation will be interspersed between learning. And whether students will be offered time to exercise their creativity.

Roark said he did not know whether school might be extended if students are able to return to the physical classroom in May.

“We do have some flexibility there but not a lot due to contractual arrangements with teachers,” he said. “If we were to extend the school year, we would have to pay additionally. Whether we extend will depend on how successful we are with distance learning and what waivers we’re able to obtain from the Board of Education.”

If school is not extended, two weeks of summer school from June 1 to 12 could accommodate students who are behind in math and literacy.

 

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