CLEARFIELD – School may be out for summer, but the Clearfield Area School District is busy preparing for the 2021-22 school year.
At Monday night’s regular meeting, the school board voted to approve a virtual “instructional time template” that’s being required by the state Department of Education (PDE).
“It’s for if we’d need to go virtual for whatever reason,” explained Superintendent Terry Struble. “We learned a lot from last year, which simplifies the process.”
He said students in grades 5-12 have school-issued laptops and if the district would go virtual, they’d complete their class rotation online.
“The only change for them is that they’d be at home,” Struble said, “and when the school bell would ring, they wouldn’t be with their teachers and peers, but would still be expected to sign on.”
The instructional plans would be different for students in K-4, Struble said, admitting it’s already difficult to keep the attention of young children, as well as to keep them on task for extended periods.
“It would be difficult to keep any 5-year-old online through any device, except for games and videos they want to play/watch.”
So, there would be a minimal synchronous time expectation, where the students learn together with their peers. There would also be staggered virtual start times.
Struble said the staggered times would be to assist parents and or guardians who have multiple young children in the home. For example, he said kindergarten may start at 9 a.m. and first-grade at 9:30 a.m.
But virtual class time won’t be the end of the elementary school day, Struble said, as teachers would have reading expectations, worksheets, etc., and may also make assignments through other online resources, such as Waggle.
“Our goal – by any means possible – is to have our students with us as much as possible next school year,” Struble said, noting PDE currently has no rolling 14-day count or other measures in place that dictate when the district must go virtual, can resume in-person instruction, etc.
In closing, Struble stressed the same point as PDE, and that’s the virtual instructional template is for the 2021-22 school year only.
This template, he said, is the first step of the process and the district must submit it along with board meeting minutes to PDE for approval in July.
Dr. Michael Spencer said he only voted in favor of the instructional time template because it was being required by the state. “We’ve done a lot of damage – academically – to our students this past year.
“Despite what we do here this summer, they won’t catch up. I will be off the board in November, but hope the district doesn’t go virtual. It’s not the way to go.”