Adams 12 opts for remote start

District delays opening until Aug. 27 with students online

Staff Report
Posted 7/29/20

Adams 12 school students will stay home for the first two weeks of the 2020-21 school year, using an enhanced remote learning program according to a plan from Superintendent Chris Gdowski.The …

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Adams 12 opts for remote start

District delays opening until Aug. 27 with students online

Posted
Adams 12 school students will stay home for the first two weeks of the 2020-21 school year, using an enhanced remote learning program according to district’s Board of Education.
“This is not being driven by employees who do not want to serve or who are heading down a pathway that is anything other than very committed to balancing their interests with their students,” Superintendent Chris Gdowski told the district’s board of education at a July 29 special virtual meeting via the internet.
Gdowski released his recommendation online July 28 and members of the board of education voted unanimously to approve the plan a day later.
According to his plan, schools will begin with remote learning for all students on Aug. 27. That’s a week later than the original pre-COVID-19 calendar, which called for classes to begin Aug. 19.
According to the superintendent’s plan, teachers and staff will use the additional week get familiar with the district’s latest enhanced remote learning curriculum and platforms.
The district is scheduled to make a decision about the rest of the semester — whether students will continue the remote program, return to in-person education in the schools or begin some sort of hybrid plan — by Sept. 11. The district will review the latest local COVID-19 trends with public health, gauge parent and staff opinions to make that decision.
No matter what Gdowski said, remote learning will continue through at least Sept. 25 and the district plans to transition to the new model, whatever that is, on Sept. 28.
“We’ll look at a lot of data,” Gdowski said.
That includes disease trends, current quarantine rules and how well the remote learning is working.
Students and parents who prefer to continue with remote learning would have the opportunity to do so, according to Gdowski.
Curriculum models
The district will use curriculum created by Florida Virtual Schools, a national online K-12 set of course work that will be supplemented by Adams 12’s own programs. The district will also move teachers and students to two remote learning platforms, Schoology for middle school and high school students and Seesaw for elementary students.
Most of the classes will be live, with teachers working with students online or in person, although the there will be saved content that some students will be able to access. Those could include documents and pre-recorded lectures.
“Even if we do a hybrid model — where you have kids in the school every other day to reduce class sizes — we would never be able to get class sizes down to 12 in the middle and high schools. We’d need to have many more teachers and more space to do that.”
There are limits, however. Gdowski said that the hybrid model, with students rotating in to the classrooms every few days, places a burden on families and staff.
“There is no way for the teachers to support the kids that are in class one day to simultaneous support the kids that are learning remotely,” Gdowski said. “You can’t be in two places at once.”
Under the plan, the district will also experiment with Learning Pods for remote students. Those are small groups of 10-12 students supervised by our support staff. Those students will attend classes with their assigned teachers remotely, via the remote learning platform, but will get more detailed support from staff.
Nationally, some families have started forming pods on their own to supplement their children’s remote classes but most of those families have been more well-off. Gdowski said the Adams 12 versions won’t like that.
“We are not going to let that stay a solution that parents create on their own,” he said. “We don’t want it to be a solution that only the better-resourced families have. We want it to be something for all of our kids in Adams 12, too.”
The pods will offer free-of-charge in-person tutoring with a substitute teachers or other education professionals. Students would be in the pod for up to eight hours and would have internet access. Space in the pods will be limited based on staff availability.
“When kids are stuck and trying to read, can’t figure out a math problem or are trying to organize some project, our support staff people already provide support,” Gdowski said. “Now, we want to leverage that support and serve our students so parents are not placed Ina position where they cannot support their child’s needs and maintain their jobs at the same time.”
In school options
New students and those transitioning to new schools will get orientation, according to the plan. Preschool, elementary, and sixth and ninth grade students will get the opportunity to attend an in-person back to school orientation in small groups, outdoors, weather-permitting.
Some special needs students will have access to in-person instruction, according to the plan.
Students with disabilities, students with an advanced learning plan, English language learners, preschoolers and other specialized student populations will be provided as staffing is available to mitigate heightened needs and challenges for these students resulting from extended use of remote learning.

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