Update on reopening schools in the fall

By Rachel Davis, Hawkeye Staff

The Edmonds School District hosted a school board study session to give the community updates about the reopening plans for schools in the fall on July 14. Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas began the meeting by expressing his hope for more student voices in the future on the plans for reopening. He then continued by acknowledging the political issues surrounding school reopenings and said he does not like the involvement of politics when it comes to students safety.

“This is becoming a political issue and it shouldn’t be a political issue, it’s not helpful in any way to what we are trying to do,” Dr. Balderas said. “…our kids need to go back to school in a safe manner so our staff is safe, I hope we can open in September.” 

Executive Director Dr. Robert Baumgartner began the updates by explaining that the planning for institutional learning is dealt with in three separate categories, or “buckets” as he called them.

“So it is important to make clear that the work we are doing in terms of instructional planning hits three related but very different buckets,” Dr. Baumgartner said. “One is building an instructional program for our hybrid model, two is our Continuous Learning 2.0 and three is our remote learning option [group c]. This is for families that are planning to not send their children for in-person study.” 

The work done for reopening is managed in two separate groups, one for elementary and the other for secondary schools. Elementary Education Manager JoAnn Todd is the director of the group in charge of making plans for reopening elementary schools in the fall. She explained that they hope the two in-person school days will look the same as any other day, and the day(s) for remote learning will be more effective than in the Spring. She expressed her hopes for as much personalized contact between each student and teacher as possible. 

“Teachers will be communicating via the websites, Seesaw for grades PK-2 and Canvas for grades 3-6. Using some of these websites for remote days, also make it so that the parents can see what their kids are doing even at home,” Todd said. “When the AA/BB comes in, the 2 in-person days will be like normal days with added precautions. Online days will be pre-recorded lessons and online work to practice taught skills. 2.0 will be pre-recorded lessons and time for small group instruction and feedback.” 

Todd said that the ESD will focus on making online platforms accessible to both students and parents, especially since teachers may communicate through those platforms during their office hours to students participating in remote learning. 

Director of Secondary Education Kim Hunter directs the group working on reopening plans for middle and high schools. Hunter said that the group has a lot of plans for the upcoming year, but they’re aiming at consistency and flexibility in the schools’ programs. 

“We are focusing on flexibility to fit the unique needs of our families, routes and structures need to be established and kept throughout the school year,” she  said. “Teachers will need more time for planning so that all the teachers have the same courses within the school, once the time is right we can expand on it.”

Hunter also said she wishes to expand more on the remote learning that happened during the initial school closures in the spring, and  the fall system will be improved enough so  the same issues will not resurface if full remote learning were to occur.

“…assessments should be diverse, so projects, tests and portfolio assessments should be given. In-person time should be focused on a lot of engaging work that can’t be done at home, home education will be for direct instruction [videos], practice of skills and independent aspects of project-based learning,” she said. 

The plans for reopening in the fall are looking up, and the ESD is still hard at work to improve the hybrid model for the 2020-21 school year. 

 

The Edmonds School District asks that all families take the Back-To School 2020 Intent Survey for each student by Friday, July 24. 

https://www.edmonds.wednet.edu/news/what_s_new/back-to-_school_2020_intent_survey

 

The district is also hosting multiple community forums in the upcoming days and weeks to answer questions from the community on the reopening of schools.

The first community forum will be held on Wed., July 22. (Spanish interpretation will be provided.)

The second community forum will be held on Thur., July 23. (Forum conducted in Spanish, English translation will be provided.)

The third student-focused community forum will be held on Wed., July 29. (Spanish interpretation will be provided.) 

All meetings will occur from 6 to 7 p.m. Students, parents and other community members are encouraged to attend.