Families can choose for fall semester
espite the prevalence of the coronavirus disease, the Park Hill School District announced Monday it will reopen schools this fall for in-person learning and offer a virtual learning option to school age children in the district.
For families, the decision to this option is a matter of enormous significance.
Families were given 11 days to evaluate their risk tolerance and choose between in-person or Park Hill Online.
For many, the decision–due by July 24–is quite burdensome. Certainly, parents cannot ignore the risk of COVID-19, but many parents are well aware of the obstacles associated with the district’s virtual learning option.
Two of the most important implications for virtual learning are that children miss out on social interaction with their peers and the reliance on parents to play a more prominent role in their child’s virtual learning.
Indeed, these challenges affect the entire family structure.
While specific plans remain subject to change, the district provided much clarity about academic options, health and safety precautions and reopening information.
“As we prepare to reopen our doors for fall, we are trying to do the right things to take care of our students, our staff and our community. This is a difficult time for everyone, but it helps to know that this won’t last forever,” district officials say.
The district is asking parents to screen their children for symptoms each day and if the child is experiencing symptoms to notify their child’s principal, who will notify their supervisors of the exposure.
“If we need to close down a classroom, a school or the entire district because of a COVID-19 outbreak, our in-person students and teachers would move together to Distance Learning,” district officials say.
“This would look similar to the Distance Learning program we used when we shut down after spring break, although we have been hard at work this summer to improve it based on the feedback we received from students, teachers and families,” district officials say.
Virtual learning option
Based upon feedback from more than 4,000 students, family members and staff members, the district is also offering families an online option during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district says Park Hill Online will function similarly to the virtual learning program it utilized for the 58 days schools were shut down during the spring semester.
Park Hill Online will require students to complete daily assignments and the district acknowledges its reliance on parents to help students complete their work. The district stipulates students who select the virtual learning option must stick with it for at least an entire semester.
“They will not be able to switch back to in-person learning until the next semester,” district officials say.
The amount of time necessary to complete virtual learning assignments will differ from student-to-student.
When teaching students virtually, educators will use various educational methods.
“It will include both direct teacher instruction and independent student work, with a combination of virtual one-on-one meetings, virtual group meetings, live class sessions and pre-recorded videos. These students will not be on campus during the school day for activities like celebrations,” district officials say.
Even though students who choose the virtual learning option won’t be able to participate in class parties, they will be able to participate in sports, band and choir. Elementary students will also be allowed to participate in before-or-after school clubs. But the district stresses that parents will be required to provide transportation for their child to these programs.
“Please keep in mind that, while we will take all the safety precautions we can, we can’t always provide full physical distancing or ensure mask wearing with these activities,” district officials say.
Park Hill will issue an age appropriate device to all students who choose the virtual learning options.
“This will include iPads for students in kindergarten and first grade and laptops for students in grades two through 12. Students without internet access will receive hot spots,” district officials say.
Distinct from in-class learning, parents will receive weekly progress reports from teachers and have virtual parent-teacher conferences each semester. Parents can also schedule telephone calls or video conferencing calls as needed.
Like in-person schooling, virtual learning will come with tests and state standardized assessments.
Over the course of the year, students K-5 will receive grades quarterly and middle and high school students will receive letter grades each semester. As always, students can check their grades on Infinite Campus.