DEER — Students will be able to continue to learn from home after the pandemic as the school district has submitted its request for digital waivers to the Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The school district's board of education approved the Digital Learning and Alternative Methods of Learning plan at its regular monthly meeting held Monday, April 26.
Arkansas schools who choose to offer a remote digital program for the 21-22 school year must seek State Board of Education approval. DESE has established a Digital Learning Guide and a streamlined Act 1240 application process specific to digital learning that includes frequently used waivers to implement such a program at a school. The Deer/Mt. Judea digital waivers request is not to exceed five years.
Under the plan, for a student to be counted present in a virtual class/setting they are expected to log in weekly to the content management system (CMS) and submit assignments according to specific due dates.
A teacher with full virtual classes may have over the DESE rules governing class size. The district is requesting 10 students more in a course.
The district is requesting a waiver of the 6 hour instructional day or the 30 hours per week on days when the student is learning virtually. The students may not need 6 hours to complete the course standards.
In a virtual setting where students are learning in an asynchronous environment, students may not need the 60 hours of seat time or clock hours to complete the course standards.
for students in a virtual setting, the district is requesting a waiving of the 40 minutes of recess. There is a request to waive the rules governing nutitirmion and physical activity standards and body mass index due to students learning off-campus in a virtual environment.
The plan also takes into account expectations and participations. Students in a virtual environment will learn asynchronously. Teachers who have a class where all students are learning virtually will have components of synchronous instruction. Students/teachers will communicate with each other regularly so teachers will know the students' needed supports.
Virtual students are expected to turn in assignments on time and ask for help from the teacher, counselor or administrator.
During the time when a student may need additional support, the student can come to campus or can meet with the teacher in a digital meeting. A virtual platform can be video conferencing, emails and phone calls.
The school district would like to offer students a virtual option to support their individual needs. The plan calls for both virtual and blended approaches.
Virtual - Teachers will be fully dedicated as virtual teachers, or have dedicated time/periods for virtual students. they will use Apex, Lincoln Learning, virtual Arkansas or district-created materials.
Blended - Teachers will have students who are learning asynchronously using teacher-created district curriculum Apex, Virtual Arkansas. The teacher of record will support the student as needed. In some cases, a teacher may have a dual role, simultaneously teaching the on-site and virtual.
Teachers have received training on Google Classroom. Support will be ongoing throughout the year.
Circumstances may arise that are not outline in this plan. If this occurs the student and parent/guardians will discuss with the building principal about being in the virtual setting.
Teachers will interact with students and their families at least once a week. It is expected that parents/guardians and teachers to work together to ensure student success. Parents need to ensure students complete assignments and seek support from the teacher when concepts are difficult.
If additional support is needed with technology or working with families, the administrator will provide the support they need.
Virtual teachers are responsible for posting material in Google classrooms. Content posted ranges from instructional videos to interactive virtual labs, links to learning sites and supplemental content.
The district will provide Chromebooks to students int he virtual setting. Some families may choose to use their own devices. Hotspots will also be available to students who need a device to connect to the internet.
The plan also ensures virtual students have access to food security, school nurses and school counselors.
Academically, to prevent students from getting behind, if a student's grades start to slip or fall below a B, they will be provided tutoring opportunities.
To stay in a virtual learning model, students must turn in assignments within three days of the due date and must maintain passing grades or show meeting growth. This will be checked each quarter.
Administrators can be a layer of support. However, in cases where the student is not being successful, students may be asked to return to face-to-face instruction.
The plan addresses teaching students with dyslexia and meeting needs for gifted and talented students. virtual students will have an Individualized Education Plan that addresses their unique needs.
During the meeting's time allowed for public comment, a parent expressed his objection to a piece of content he found present in the curriculum. He said he felt the subject matter was inappropriate for younger students to interpret. The board asked the parent to present the specific location of the information in the curriculum and it would be addressed.