Mid-Prairie mulls ‘return to learn’ plan

Posted 6/11/20

Mid-Prairie school administrators have begun work on the state-mandated “return to learn” program that must be submitted by July 1.

At Monday’s school board meeting, …

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Mid-Prairie mulls ‘return to learn’ plan

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Mid-Prairie school administrators have begun work on the state-mandated “return to learn” program that must be submitted by July 1.

At Monday’s school board meeting, administrators updated the board on discussions they have had.

“We’ve been meeting weekly on the return to learn plan,” Superintendent Mark Schneider said. “It is due July 1, almost two full months before school starts, and obviously conditions can change a lot between July 1 and Aug. 25.

“We’re talking about a lot of things because since we don’t know what we’re preparing for, we’ve got to prepare for it all.”

He added that everything is just in the brainstorming stage right now.

As part of the plan, schools will submit plans for how they will deliver instruction in the fall.

They are instructed to consider three models: Full online learning, hybrid learning and full in-person instruction.

Mid-Prairie East Elementary Principal Robin Foster is part of a group that has been discussing hybrid learning models.

She said that the group has come up with a number of options.

“We talked about possibly doing a half day for students, where one group of students come in the morning and another group of students come in the afternoon,” Foster said. “Another option would be an every-other-day model. We would have one group go Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the other group would go Tuesday and Thursday, and they would alternate the next week.”

Another option would be to divide students into two groups, where one group would come to school Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other group would come Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday would be a school deep-cleaning day.

“We also talked about an option to do a one-day rotation,” Foster said. “Kids would come to school one day per week. We would divide the class size by five, and the same group of kids would come Monday, a different group would come Tuesday and so on. We could also do that with a two-day rotation.”

Yet another option would be for a group of students would come to school four days a week, then do online learning the next week, while the second group is in school.

“The last option would be for all elementary students to do face-to-face and all secondary students do online learning,” Foster said. “The elementary buildings would be able to take over the secondary buildings.”

High school Principal Jay Strickland has been working with a group to discuss in-person learning and starting school five days earlier than planned.

“Our group discussed changing the calendar and being in school full-time,” Strickland said. “One of the big advantages we saw to tweaking the calendar would be that it would allow us to be done with the semester before Christmas break.

“If we went a little bit earlier, there are some things we could do on the front end. It would probably move graduation up a week before Memorial Day.”

Nathan Carlson, middle school dean of students, is also part of that group.

“Sometimes, things get a little hairy in May,” Carlson said. “Moving it up five days in August, we feel there could possibly be some better learning in August and September than in May.

“Another thing we talked about was even if we push five days, getting out at the same time and building in a fall break in case there’s another spike.”

Home School Education Center Director Rachel Kerns is part of a group discussing online learning.

“We thought that doing full-time online school could really give us some flexibility with starting dates and ending dates as needed,” Kerns said. “We liked the idea of doing a four-day week and giving students a catch-up day.

“What we learned from this spring is that there’s a lot of feeling behind when we’re trying to do online instruction.”

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