District shares virtual learning details

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Directors gave an update to Superintendent Dana Monogue on Monday morning on the work their departments have been doing since schools were closed.

Mary Beth Paulisse indicated 4K and early childhood will be ready for online instruction when it starts on Wednesday. Her team has had lots of Zoom meetings. Students and families will use Seesaw and they will have play-based programs and lots of interactive games that families can do at home, she said. Her staff is also making sure technology isn't an issue for students, although very few families have indicated it will be, she said.

"Everyone is doing with they need to do,'' Paulisse said. "This is a unique situation but pretty exciting how quickly we have made it happen. It shows there isn't any problem we can't solve if we put our minds to it.''

Rainey Briggs indicated his elementary team is also making sure that families have what they need with regards to technology to be successful. He shared that certified staff is collaborating in teams with a focus on math, writing and reading. Para-eductors will continue to provide support for teams and children, he said. Briggs was also excited about a different 30-minute daily encore schedule based on grade level. Finally, he noted online trainings occured on March 19-20 and will again take place on Monday and Tuesday.

Laura Love reviewed a checklist of what has been done and needs to be accomplished for instructional staff at the secondary level. It includes BUZZ professional training, how to connect with students online, how to input course content into BUZZ and much more. The checklist also includes an assistance plan, including when to contact Help Desk. She noted there are live sessions for students and staff every day this week.

Mandi Sersch-Morstad and Percy Brown noted student and family engagement specialists, the bilingual team and many social workers have been part of daily virtual meetings to make sure students and families have what they need. Sersch-Morstad is working with her bilingual staff to identify point people for families who have questions. She also wants to make sure no one is overwhelmed by the volume of communication. Her team is reviewing the resources and instruction to prepare for virtual learning. She also noted the Two-Way Immersion Program will move to online application process for 2020-21.

The SAFE team wants to make sure technology, whether it be a device or internet access, isn't a barrier for students and families in need, Brown said. His team has also been reaching out to children to make sure they know about the meal distribution program and that they have the food they need. He also has asked his secondary staff to go through BUZZ training so can monitor their students to make sure children are accessing online learning.

Director of Student Services Barb Buffington is asking coordinators to lead school-based teams. Her team is working on an appointment-based website for students who might face mental health challenges. She also wants to make sure students with IEPs and 504s have the technology they need. She noted most families will need to provide passive consent for video conferencing for classes, while famiiles with a child who has an IEP or 504 will need active consent for those meetings.  

Deputy Superintendent Sherri Cyra noted she is working on getting information to submit waivers for instructional minutes, Educator Effectiveness, and state assessments, although there is talk that Governor Evers may override state statutes and not make individual districts submit waivers. She is also looking at graduation and service learning requirements to see what, if any, adjustments might be made.

She also noted staff are expected to be online a few hours each day, including offering classroom hours for students and families to connect with them.

Our goal has been to provide as little stress for students and staff as possible as we go to online instruction,'' Cyra noted.

Operational teams also provided updates. School construction was considered essential by state so J.H. Findorff & Son will continue working at Pope Farm so that the District's seventh elementary school is ready to open for the 2020-21 school year, Assistant Superintendent for Operations Lori Ames said. MHS construction will begin very soon and there are no plans to adjust that timeline, she noted.

Custodial staff have been deep cleaning of all schools and maintenance staff continues to work as well, Ames said. She noted nine drivers , along with food service staff, have been helping with meal distribution. Transportation office staff are updating some plans and working on 2020-21 bus routes.

"Our custodial staff, facilities staff and workers who are driving and distributing the meals have been amazing. I am so thankful for their efforts,'' Ames said.

The Technology Department distributed more than 2,100 Chromebooks to students and families last week. They are holding another distribution of devices on Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at MHS. Social workers also plan to drop off devices to their students who haven't been able to make any of the distribution dates. MiFi devices have also been distributed to some families who don't have internet access. The District has also shared information about free internet access with Charter and TDS over the next two months along with hotspots available in the area.

Employee Services has been working with staff who have FMLA concerns due to COVID-19, director Tabatha Gundrum said. She is also working with principals to further refine staffing needs at all three levels for the 2020-21 school year.