With local school districts returning from spring break into a new world of shuttered campuses and social distancing, most districts are moving students to online learning – but the rules for learning from home won’t be the same as if students were still in their classrooms.
The Temecula Valley Unified School District put out an announcement April 3 stating that students’ grades will effectively be frozen as of March 13, the last day of in-person classes. Students can raise their grades through distance learning curriculum, but no assignments will be able to negatively impact them. Basically, students moving to distance learning are also jumping to extra credit only.
“Any assignment placed in the (Infinite Campus) Gradebook from April 6 through the end of the school year can only serve to maintain or improve a student’s overall grade in the course,” the district said.
Many other school districts took the same approach.
Hemet Unified School District is implementing a process in which students are “held harmless” for work they submit during school closures, district representative Alexandrea Sponheim said in an email.
Murrieta Valley Unified School District is doing much the same thing, according to an email sent to parents April 8, although it added the caveat that “students who participate in distance learning on a regular basis” won’t receive lower letter grades than what was listed on their most recent progress report.
Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is getting technology to students. Many students have access to computers, smartphones and various other devices, while many others do not.
Approaches varied across the districts.
TVUSD was planning to provide electronic devices to families who need them but noted that families with devices including desktop computers, laptops, Chromebooks, iPads or other tablets likely do not need a district-provided device. For those who do need one, the district was limiting devices to one per family and said distance learning session plans and times are flexible and should be able to accommodate households with multiple children. The district had distributed more than 7,000 devices by April 17, according to district spokeswoman Laura Boss.
HUSD, however, isn’t providing students with devices – instead, it’s offering its “enrichment” distance learning curriculum to students in both online and packet form.
But nearby San Jacinto Unified School District has been giving thousands of laptops out since March.
“San Jacinto Unified School District has distributed over 5,600 Chromebook computers to students in elementary and middle schools since the closure began in March,” SJUSD representative Dawn Lawrence said in an email. “High school students are issued Chromebooks for use throughout their high school years, so most all had their computers as they left campus on March 13.”
SJUSD is taking the extra step of providing virtual counseling services to students during closures, following up with students who are failing required courses, who have not enrolled in courses for next year and conducting student intent-to-register meetings with seniors who plan on pursuing college after graduation, Lawrence said.
“Our school counselors are working hard to ensure that students have access to the school counseling program and are here to help support students and families during this difficult time. We recognize that many seniors need support during this time as they are navigating the next steps of their post-secondary plan,” Dr. Vanessa Gomez, SJUSD’s coordinator for all school counselors, said.
Will Fritz can be reached by email at email@example.com.