Discussions of equity influence plan

Virtual+ plan tries to engage and support more students

August 21, 2020

In recent weeks, there have been many discussions regarding equity as it relates to online learning, as well as how it fits into the general school environment. 

In response to complaints highlighting the underrepresentation of student and diverse voices, a meeting was held on July 22 to address some of the themes that had been brought up in earlier discussions. The meeting was recorded and posted to the Shorewood School District Video YouTube page, titled “School Reopening Plan Discussion on Equity Considerations.” Coleman, Shorewood Moving Forward members, teachers, school administrators, school board members and community members participated. 

“The purpose of that meeting was to understand considerations for equity and then to make sure that the plan addressed those considerations,” Coleman said.

One of the things the group talked about was how “engagement” was going to be quantified during virtual learning. 

[We ask] what other supports or opportunities do we need to put in place or make available so that students can still keep up with the learning and get the support they need or teachers.”

— Sam Coleman, director of curriculum and instruction

“From an equity perspective, we know that not all students can participate at the scheduled times that those meetings are happening,” Coleman said. “We wanted to address the way we record and document attendance or participation in those meetings, not from a perspective of wanting to ding students for not participating, but more from a perspective of teachers and administrators being able to understand who has the opportunities to participate in those sessions. For students who we see not being able to take advantage of those scheduled opportunities, [we ask] what other supports or opportunities do we need to put in place or make available so that students can still keep up with the learning and get the support they need or teachers.” 

One possibility the district is exploring is the ability to record classroom sessions and post them after the fact. This would allow for students who were not able to attend the synchronous session for whatever reason to still have access to the instruction. 

“My expectation is teachers are recording their synchronous lessons and making those viewable or available on their learning management system, [either] Google Classroom or Seesaw,” Coleman said. “My expectation will be that those lessons are recorded and made available in the same way that the [equity meeting was recorded and put online]. People can go back and view that, they can rewind, they can fast forward, they can skip over.”

Coleman also recognizes, however, that posting every minute of every live class may not be feasible. 

“I don’t claim to be an IT expert, so I’m assuming that that takes a huge amount of time and space in the cloud, or whatever it is, to store all these videos … I think we need to figure that out and that’s a work in progress.”

The district notes that for many families, finding childcare may be an issue, and they are therefore trying to provide accommodations. 

We’re working on a plan to be able to provide support for families that will need that supervision.”

— Bryan Davis, superintendent

“We’re working on a plan to be able to provide support for families that will need that supervision,” Davis said. “We have about 30% of the families in our initial survey indicated that they needed some childcare if we were in a hybrid model, so we’re assuming that if you needed it in the hybrid model you’d probably also need it the Virtual+ model. We’ll be doing another outreach to parents to get some explicit numbers on the number of kids that would be requesting for support.”

Two main obstacles that the district will have to look at are spacing and supervision.

“We’ll have to look at our square footage here on campus and all of our campuses to see where we can put students,” Davis said. “We know we have good WiFi access, that’s not an issue, but some of the issue is supervision. If we’re looking at putting four kids and an adult in a space for them to be able to do their virtual learning, looking at all of our buildings, how many kids can we actually fit.”

At the August 11 school board meeting, it was announced that the district currently has capacity to supervise 120 children grades K4-6 and 60 students in grades 7-12. More information will be sent out in the upcoming weeks detailing cost and locations. 

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