Letter from Superintendent Remy on Continuous Learning
APRIL 17 UPDATE: Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
ORIGINAL POST: I’d like to share with our WDMCS families some important updates regarding your student’s learning opportunities at home. You probably have heard or read a lot of information on the topic of online learning.
You can also view this content through a YouTube video.
The phrase alone can be confusing because online learning can vary in how school districts across the nation are interpreting what that should look like for students. You’ve also probably heard other terms such as virtual learning, distance learning, or e-learning.
To keep things simple, I am going to use the term “continuous learning.” The reason why you may be hearing your cousin in Kansas and brother in Texas are getting different information than what you are receiving from us is that EACH STATE is responsible for defining and providing guidance to school districts regarding public education. The Iowa Department of Education is who is providing us the guidelines to follow for our students.
I shared in a recent communication that the Department of Education put together a Continuous Learning Task Force to provide guidance for continuous learning. This communication is intended to share as simply as possible the plans we now have for the next two weeks based on that guidance. We will continue to provide updates to you on a regular basis to keep you informed and supported during this difficult time.
We are prepared to move forward with what the Department of Education calls “Voluntary Educational Enrichment Opportunities.” That’s a really long phrase that simply means we want to expand the types of continuous learning your student can work on at home. However, this is not required learning and grades will not be given for the work completed. You can expect support and feedback from our teachers. We are working quickly to consider how we can support ALL of our students through an equity lens in this unique situation.
So what DOES the next two weeks look like for you and your student?
Priorities March 31-April 3
- We need to learn which families may need internet access or computers. We have sent out surveys to our families to determine those needs. Thanks to our amazing Technology Department, we are not only ensuring our teachers can work from home, but our current grades 3-12 students’ Chromebooks are supported. So what does this mean for our kindergarten through second-grade students? Well, we have ordered Chromebooks for these kiddos as well and will be reaching out to those families in the coming weeks to get those devices to them. Thank you for your patience because shipments are delayed across the country.
- We also wish to support our students who have Individualized Education Plans. Our optional opportunities are accessible for all learners. In addition, families will receive optional resources from special education staff in upcoming weeks to support areas of need for students with Individualized Education Plans.
- We are supporting high school students who are taking a class for DMACC credit and their online classes started this week.
- Elementary staff are connecting with your students and planning a more formal weekly learning experience for them to start the following week.
- Secondary staff are also connecting with students through Canvas to review content.
- We are continuing to identify what our teachers and staff need to offer a variety of learning experiences online.
As we receive new guidance and information from the Department of Education and other city or state officials, we are sending out emails, app notifications, texts, podcasts, and videos like this to ensure YOU stay informed.
Priorities for April 6-10
- Elementary staff will implement a more formal weekly learning plan with students. Families will receive a list of grade-specific activities that can support wellness, reading, writing, math, social studies, science, and related arts. Don’t feel overwhelmed! These are all optional opportunities to keep your students connected and learning but are not meant to create additional stress. We know you’re busy supporting your family while juggling work and other responsibilities. Please reach out to your student’s teacher with questions.
- Secondary staff will also begin to implement more formal weekly learning plans through Canvas. Because the types of courses vary with each student, teachers will be providing course-specific tasks. They will also share times when they will be available to answer questions throughout each week.
What about the week of April 13?
If we are unable to return to school, we will continue to identify support needs for students and staff. We also hope to be contacting our kindergarten through second grade families about accessing Chromebooks.
Thank you for your dedication and grit. Together, we WILL get through this difficult situation and provide the best possible support to your students. We ARE WDMCS!