Back to school: For some, school will be at home

Chad Frey
Image by <a href="">F. Muhammad</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>

For about 240 students in the McPherson school district, the first day of school this fall will look radically different than the first day of the 2019 school year.

According to superintendent Shiloh Vincent, 239 students have enrolled in a remote only option — meaning as the school district and state try and slow the spread of Pandemic COVID-19 students option for remote only will attend school online.

The first taste of that came in the final quarter of the 2019-20 school year, when Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order to close school buildings. Schools, however, were still mandated to deliver educational services.

That led to schools rebuilding their delivery models in just a few days. And, schools did that again this summer.

“I am extremely proud of the staff, teachers, and adminsitrators who have worked hard over the course of the summer and this fall to develop an entirely new system for how we educate students in USD 418, including three models of learning: Face-to-Face, Hybrid, and Remote Learning,” Vincent said. “We have appreciated the patience and understanding that parents and students have demonstrated throughout this process, and we look forward to a successful start to the school year.”

That first day is Sept. 1.

For remote learners there are still items to check off for the back-to-school list. Making sure they understand how time spent on educational activities are tracked, when online meetings with teachers will occur and getting technology in place so they can attend classes from home are all on that list.

Our principals and building staff have reached out to each of the students (and families) who selected Remote Learning for this school year to see if they need a device for this school year. We do not want technology - or internet access - to stand in the way of a student meeting the learning goals,” Vincent said. “We are working to ensure students are provided a device if they need one.”

Students will be required, according to the State Department of Education, still need to meet the same minimum requirements for time spent on educational activities during the school year as if they were in a school building every day.

That means six hours of work each school day.

“Each student and their parent/guardian will use a Daily Learning Log to track the work they are doing in the Remote Learning model,” VIncent said. “ There will be regularly scheduled meeting times and class periods for students working in the Remote Learning model. As issues arise with scheduling, our staff will work with the student and family on a case by case basis.”

And participants in the free and reduced lunch program will have access to a meal program. That will likely be a “grab-and-go” sach lunch similar to the meal program offered last spring and this summer.

Students enrolled in remote only learning will also be able to participate in sports and activities.

“We did not want the learning model that students and families selected to influence whether or not they could participate in an activity. With that in mind, there will not be limitations placed on remote learners regarding activities,” Vincent said.