Summit School District adjusts plans for remote learning
FRISCO — While the Summit School District has finalized its hybrid learning plan, district leaders are still coming up with ways to teach students who are not comfortable with learning in person this fall.
At a school board meeting Thursday, Aug. 13, less than two weeks out from the start of school Aug. 26, Chief Learning Officer Mary Kay Dore presented an update to the district’s plans for students who are choosing the remote learning option. While the district still plans to use Edgenuity, a third-party learning platform, for middle and high school students, it has decided not to use the platform for elementary students.
At an informational meeting Aug. 5, parents shared concerns about the Edgenuity platform. Overwhelmingly, parents and students asked that the remote learning option still allow them to be connected to the school.
“What I have noticed with both of my children is their mental health,” Rebecca Ramert-Richmond said at the public comment section of the meeting. “My husband and I are just very concerned about (them) interacting with their peers and what it is doing to them. I’ve seen both of my children’s just daily mental status go way down.”
Dore said the district is working to have teachers and counsellors available to high school and middle school students who will be using Edgenuity.
“(The high school) is trying to work with staff members to do check-ins, having advisory classes for those students, trying to keep those kids connected as much as they can to Summit High School,” she said.
At Summit Middle School, administration is working with teachers to have health and art classes taught by Summit teachers as well as dual language class options.
“We know this isn’t going to be the perfect plan for everybody, but we’re really trying to take people’s feedback and comments and trying to make sure that we keep our families and our kids connected to school during this time,” Dore said.
The district’s plan for elementary school students is still being ironed out; however, it is proposing to start remote learning after Labor Day to give teachers more time for professional development.
Dore said elementary principals have met with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a publishing company that created an online learning platform taught by Summit teachers.
The platform, which is called HMH Anywhere, allows for materials to be in Spanish and learning content that can be downloaded and done offline, Dore said. The district’s hope is to have teachers that are at a high risk for the virus to help teach remote learning classes in whatever platform it eventually lands on.
While the number of students who want to do remote learning makes up less than 10% of the total district population, each student means more funding for the district. Board members emphasized the importance of having a strong remote learning plan so that students don’t leave the district for home schooling.
“Anecdotally, I know of five to 10 families who have said to me they’re going to choose home schooling over remote learning or in person,” board member Chris Alleman said. “As treasurer, I’m really aware of the fact that some people may be interchanging home schooling and virtual and not understanding the complete difference between the two and what the effect on the district would be.”